The Art of Marketing Art

October 30, 2008

Tuesday we were surprised to see that our package had arrived early. Everyone gathered around to see it as I began cutting into the large cardboard box. The result was better than any of us could have imagined.

Let me start from the beginning, let me back up the truck. We had our offices renovated not too long ago with a new Digett sign, new light fixtures, and new paint throughout. Everything looked great, but the freshly painted walls were a little bland—they needed some help. So the order came in from upstairs for some artwork to hang around the office (much like I do all day).

My first instinct, as it may be for many businesses out there, was to pick up an office supply catalog and see what they offered in terms of office art. We have plenty of those types of magazines piled up in the supply closet.

As I flipped page after page of clichéd inspirational posters, I realized there must be hundreds, if not thousands, of companies out there with these same images on the walls. These won't set us apart. Secondly, they're not unique, and they don't inspire. I've seen this guy before, dangling from that same cliff by his pinky, at sunset. The poster says, "Perseverance : What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." That's not what this guy is thinking.

Here's what he's thinking:



So I got to thinking about how we can make our art more than just art. What can we hang on our shiny, new walls that will serve as art and also help market our business?

I made a list:

1) Make it pertain to what you do, where you are, or both.
We work in Boerne and have a good number of clients in Boerne, so we thought something that has to do with this town and its people would be appropriate.

2) Showcase an expertise. We are in the business of making websites, but we house a wide range of capabilities that I'll call tools of the trade, one of which is photography. So we thought some type of photograph might pique the interest of a client who might not otherwise know we had it in us.

If you're not in a 'creative' line of work, think about other possibilities for showcasing your expertise. Think about what may help sell a client on your company; maybe some framed press clippings or a row of awards you've won. I once heard any kind of collection can be hung as art. For example, a publishing company could hang vintage typewriters on the wall. What is not art?

3) Go beyond the visual. Most would agree that art should be visually appealing and should do something to spruce up the place. But can it be beneficial in other ways? Here's an example. Our office is rather noisy, because sound echoes as it would in a cave. So we investigated the availability of acoustic panels that would soak up some noise and help soften the rooms.

With my list of goals at hand I began piecing together our first installation.

Two weekends ago, Boerne hosted Market Days, a monthly gathering of locals and out-of-towners to buy and sell goods and celebrate the city. It also happened to be the weekend of the Rod Run, an annual event in Boerne where people from all over come to showcase their vintage hot rods. This perfect patchwork of the city, its people, and culture that inspired the photograph that was to be our first art piece. From atop a building on Main Street, I snapped a series of photos that I later merged into a beautiful HDR photograph that encompasses all things that make Boerne special.

Our investigation into acoustic panels turned up a company out of Ohio that turns out your artwork onto canvas that is then stretched across a frame and filled with sound-numbing fabric. It was perfect for our needs and it didn't take long to upload our file and place the order.

As I said, the result is better than I thought, truly bangarang. A beautiful, functional slice of Hill Country high life.

So the next time your ready to spruce up the place, ask yourself how you can make the office art more than just ... art.