Why do businesses buy Art?
Is it to show how successful they are or to affiliate themselves with successful artists and by extension that they themselves are successful? Is it that they genuinely enjoy collecting art?
Whatever the reason, the days of buying a trophy painting for the reception or boardroom of a company have gone, maybe not permanently but definitely for now. Now it is not terribly fashionable to be seen to be acquiring works of art by businesses, as the sale of works from its own collection by Bank of Ireland have shown.
But what if there is another reason to buy art? Beyond the investment and showmanship. What if the art that a business or institution acquires fulfils a function, consideration as to why there is a necessity to have a particular work over another.
For example, in the recent past we did some work for a Doctor’s medical centre where the waiting area and corridors were a little dark and uninteresting. One of the stipulations was that the artwork we found had to be relaxing due to the nature of the consulting rooms on a particular floor.
This proved to be a very interesting challenge and we managed to find a local artist who was working in oils and had just the right piece we required for the main part of the job. By selecting works that had soft tones and a certain palette range it was possible to create a relaxed mood for the patients while they waited for their consultation.
Businesses will spend a large amount of money on graphic design with advertising companies to convey the image of themselves which they would like to foster. This concept can be brought through the offices when a company and an artist get together in a meaningful way. Rather than having a work behind reception that is the latest by this or that artist, a specially commissioned piece that relates to the business or practice can give visual impact and impart a notion of what the business is about. It might sound a little clichéd but this has gone on for years with the best example perhaps being the Church as patron to the arts. Many of today’s masterpieces are a direct result of the church commissioning theses pieces to convey its own message in a visual way.
For the artist integrity is important and one should not feel that this is in some way selling out or “Prostituting your talent”. There has to be a synergy for both parties to gain from the experience. This can be a very real opportunity for an artist to work with a company not merely for remuneration but thinking laterally as in business, there can be other benefits to consider. Large companies are great at PR and have their own marketing department s, so as part of the process ask them to get behind you and move your profile up a gear. It’s pointless working in isolation where no one gets to see your work or even if they do, they wonder who you are and if it is worth parting with their hard earned cash for.
Art and business have in recent years gained a sullied reputation, but art does have a purpose and a roll to play. Partnership is the way forward through this recession and only by embracing this concept of synergy will art and business not only survive but begin to flourish again.