Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How working with artists and designers can boost your marketing efforts


Last weekend I went to see the Interior Design Show in Toronto.  I used to regularly travel to Toronto from Montreal to see the show a couple of years ago. It used to be an inspiring pilgrimage for me to see what new amazing products and design ideas were emerging. It has changed since the last time I was there. There were a couple interesting installations and booths, but one thing that caught my attention was how the exhibitors who collaborated with a creative person or team were a lot more visible on social media. The most obvious examples of this was between three paint companies present at the show: Beauti-Tone by Home Hardware, Premier paint by Canadian Tire and Benjamin Moore

All three seemed to have similar sized booths, but each took a different approach to essentially connect with current and potential clients. In an age where everything happens online, it seems like the first two had a better grasp on what to do to get people interested and talk about their products outside of the show. This led me to better understand the impact a creative person or team can have on a business and how collaborating with creatives can positively boost marketing efforts for businesses and products so they can stand effectively out from the crowd. Based on what I saw at the show and online, the winner was Beauti-Tone, closely followed by Premier. Unfortunately for Benjamin Moore, they seem to be lagging behind. Here's why: 


Beauti-Tone grabbed people's attention by collaborating with a fashion designer

Beauti-Tone partnered with fashion designer Simon Chang and they came up with a unique and creative way to present their colour palette for 2017 : a wall of painted shoes using each of the trendy colours. By creating such a beautiful wall, they were able to reach more viewers online through social media. I actually saw a photo of it on Instagram before even seeing it at the show. I realized after clicking on the photo that it was part of the interior design show. It's such a original wall that many people (including myself) felt compelled  to take a picture and post it online, which resulted in free advertising for their product and brand. 

They didn't stop there. Their booth was beautifully appointed for an interior design show. They had a space showcasing their paint in a dining room. They also took the time to create a shelving wall featuring various items painted in their feature colour for 2017. The lady at the booth was very welcoming, she made sure the we took one of the paint samples and a nail polish of the same colour before we left. Not only did they appear on many social media accounts, they also created a lasting effect in people's mind because that nail polish is basically mobile advertising for them whenever they use it. Genius! 




They left a great impression in my mind and I'm definitely going to use their paint and nail polish. What makes them the winner for me is that they extended the attention on their brand by giving each visitor something to go home with and showcase online.  

A couple days after the show, doing a search for #beautitone, I found these pictures of  women showing off their colour trend nail polish, essentially continuing to advertise for Beauti-Tone. 


It took someone from the fashion industry to come up with a unique way for the paint company to increase attention towards their brand




Premier got people using their product by partnering with a design firm

Premier paint had a great booth for people to spend time in and interact with the paint. They collaborated with  Citizens and Collaborators, a design firm, to create an interactive mural enabling visitor to paint on the wall and essentially get a feel for their paint while having fun. They also had a really beautiful rainbow ceiling and a juice bar featuring some of their colours through juices. Again, their booth was advertised quite a bit through social media from people taking pictures of the ceiling and the evolving wall, as more people came to add more colour to the wall. It was a very inviting space and the people at the entrance of the booth made sure to ask people carrying magazine if they needed a bag to hold them. Their also won an award for best booth design. They came in second for me because they didn't have something like Beauti-tone to keep their brand on people's feed after the show ended. 





It took a design firm to come up with a fun and effective way to get potential clients to try their products. 


Benjamin Moore didn't get much attention online 

I was a little disappointed by the booth from Benjamin Moore. Their paint is so much better then how it was presented at the show. As you can see below, there were a couple painted squares on a white wall to showcase their colour palette, a giant poster featuring the colour the year and a sitting area that reminded me more of an office and a box for people to pick up a bag on the outskirt of their booth with the word Shadow on it. Womp. Womp.

The booth was kind of boring. Everything looked very "corporate" and there was nothing special enough to grab people's attention or entice visitors to take multiple pictures and post them online for extra reach. I only found 3 photos of visitors standing next to the colour trend wall : giant paint swatches. They weren't even mention on the official Instagram of the show (at least I didn't find them), which to me says a lot. They would benefit a lot from partnering with creatives to come up with unique and inspiring ways to showcase their products and make their booth more exciting, because we creatives are great at thinking outside of the box. 













Here's what I thought about when I saw their booth :

1. Why didn't they make better use of the their featured colour? 
Shadow is such a dramatic colour. Instead of embracing the drama by using the colour in larger quantity, the only had it on a small narrow wall with their logo on it. Also, flanking the poster with white paint on each end takes away from the drama. Perhaps having more wall or even recreating one of the scene from their brochure using their colour of the year, so that visitor can really feel what it's like to be in a room with that colour would have given them a more memorable experience, and something to share online. It feels like they missed the opportunity to impress the visitors.

2. Why didn't they collaborate with other exhibitors? 
Another way to stay in people's mind is to be in as many places as possible. One thing they could have done with their feature colour is to offer exhibitor to paint their wall in exchange for a shoutout. A product such as Gweilo light by Partisans would have been an ideal partnership. It's a great product featuring a sculptural light that is best seen against a dark background. They didn't have one so their product didn't show as well as it could have. Benjamin Moore could have provided them with a simple painted partition wall and floor with a discrete sign identifying themselves and the name of the paint. The light fixture would have stand out more. Beside,  how cool is the analogy of having Shadow paint to feature a lighting product!

They also missed an opportunity to collaborate with  DEKKO Concrete (right behind their booth) who could also have benefited from a dark floor to enhanced their light concrete wall and their beautiful fire pit.

There was also a sculptor on the other side of the exhibition room called CEK who had these amazing concrete sculptures, some with light, which would have looked amazing against a dark wall, and again it would have been an opportunity for Benjamin Moore to show how their featured paint colour can enhance light coloured furniture and artworks. 

3. Why didn't they do something a little more creative with their colour palette? 
The large coloured square on the wall is so uninspiring. I would think most people would pass by it and keep walking. It's not much different then seeing it on the catalogue. One simple way they could have make it more interesting would have been to used 3-D shadow boxes instead of flat squares and put fun objects inside the boxes, painted the same colour to give a bit more interest, texture and interest in the colour. Imagine if they would have taken random items painted the same colour as the boxes and create a story within the boxes that somehow connects to the name of the colour. I think that would have been shared on social media. 

By not collaborating with creatives, they missed a lot of opportunities to increase their reach and consequently increase their sales. 

Overall it was a great experience for me to visit the show as I'm getting a better understanding of how art plays an important role in businesses and how the return on investment when it comes to creativity can be quantified. Don't underestimate the power of creativity and how it can positively impact your business's bottom line! 

Friday, January 20, 2017

What my paintings revealed about me

Progress shot of the 4th iteration of the painting
I'm slowly realizing that everything we do, every single decisions we make, says something about us. As much as we try, we can't really hide anything. We may think we can, just because most people are too busy worrying about what others think about them and most people are not present enough to really notice their surroundings. But if anyone takes the time to take a good look at someone, including themselves, they will soon see all the clues that make up their personality : the clothes we wear, the shape of our body, the food we eat, the music we listen to, the things we talk about, the things we like, the things we dislike, they all say something about us. With that said, I realized that what I choose to paint, also says a lot of things about me. The crazy thing is that it's subconscious. I didn't really see it until I took a step back and started to analyze my paintings and consequently, myself. Here's what I found out: 

1. The featured colour revealed my intent

A deep purple called Shadow. As soon as I saw the colour and the name, I was drawn to it. I was inspired. It was instant. "I love this colour!" That was my first thought. I had to have this colour. What does that say about me? Well, doing a little research on the meaning of colours, I found this rather interesting quote on color-meanings.com
The color purple or violet assists those seeking the meaning of life and spiritual fulfillment. They expand our horizon and connects us to a higher level of consciousness. For the same reason, philosophers around the world are often attracted to these colors. In color psychology, purple and violet represents the future, imagination and dreams. They inspire and improve our psychic abilities and spiritual awareness as well as ensure that we stay grounded and down to earth.
How fitting! I've been on a path of self development for the past couple years, going to workshops, reading lots of books and pondering on various philosophical topics. And this year I decided to start an art project called Dare to Dream. And here's another interesting discovery : I was also drawn to the name "Shadow" for this colour. If it had been called Eggplant or Blueberry, which can also fit the colour, I most likely would not have been as intrigued by it as much. But I do like the mystery of the word shadow and I'm all about uncovering and discovering things. 

2. The main subject reveals part of my personality

Why clouds? Why not landscapes, animals, oceans, places or people I don't know. I was just drawn to them. I realized that I was spending more time painting them and that they started to creep in more and more in my work to the point where I decided to make them the main feature of my paintings. Then I realized that it's very telling of my personality. I'm an idealist : Head in the clouds and feet on the ground kind of idealist. I'm always in my head, thinking, contemplating, analyzing, observing. I'm a dreamer by nature. I've been that way since I was a little kid. There are so many connections that are revealing themselves between my creative personality and clouds, it's a little freaky. Also, I recently found out that my astrological sign is an air sign. Coincidence? 

3. The topic of the first piece reveals my message 

Cloud Cover Casting Shadow No 4 (Acrylic on Canvas) 18"x 24" 
So what inspired the painting? Why did I choose to arrange the clouds that way? I don't know. It was just a feeling. I felt like arranging them that way. But the more I spent time on the topic, using the same colours, the deeper I thought about it. I tend to create first out of intuition and analyze after. Now that I've done four painting on the same topic, a deeper understanding of what I created now seems to surface. 

Why did I chose the title Cloud Cover Casting Shadow for this particular piece? Why did I decide to keep the name Shadow in the title of the painting? I could have used anything, but for some reason I was also drawn to the word shadow. In my mind, shadow goes hand in hand with light. You can't have one without the other. This whole idea of balance through contrast is definitely something I relate to.  


If you look at the various iterations of the paintings, there are clouds all around forming some sort of container and there is light on the right in the back. That light enables the viewer to see that within the clouds is a little cloud, almost like it's protecting or hiding it. Why did I felt compelled to create it that way? Why is the little cloud in the shape of a heart in two of them and what is that shape in the other two paintings?

For me, taking a step back after creating it I see that as starting to reveal a part of myself that I've kept hidden and protected. Things that I hold dear in my heart : my art, my ideals, my aspirations in life, etc. Starting this journey of creating as much as I can no matter what is a difficult one because it's very revealing and when we reveal things we're often afraid of being judged. But at the same time, there's all this energy that's bottled in and need to come out and do what it needs to do in the light. It comes back to that first book I read a couple years ago, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. What he said in the book stayed with me and in it's own way, the words from the book have been gradually coaching me to share my work, especially this quote :



"Creative work is not a selfish act
or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. 
It's a gift to the world and every being in it. 
Don't cheat us of your contribution. 
Give us what you've got."

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art



I remember having an a-ha moment when I heard a character of a TV show say that the role of an artist is to help people see better. That also stayed with me. Perhaps there's a connection there as well and way more for others to find out as they contemplate these particular paintings. Different people will find different meanings and see different things out of the same painting and that's really fascinating. If by creating these pieces I get to contribute to someone else seeing something better, then I've done my job.  

Check out the speed painting videos of the latest two iterations of Cloud Cover Casting Shadow to see the paintings in the makings. Maybe you'll get something special out of it too.

Mini version featuring a heart cloud.




Largest version featuring a blob cloud. Maybe it will make more sense to me in the future.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cloudy Mind

One of the brains I saw last summer (Brain Magic by Janet Lage)
If you've been in the city this past summer, you may have notice quite of few sculptures of decorated brains around Toronto. These sculptures were part of the Brain Project, a city-wide art installation featuring 100 decorated brains in 50 locations bringing awareness to the importance of brain health and support Baycrest. Baycrest is a research and education hospital for the elderly and home of the new Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation. The brain project invited artists and sponsors to decorate a brain sculpture to be displayed in the city and auctioned off to fund Baycrest. You can see all the designed on their page (brainproject.ca/artists).  
 My favourite brain sculpture from the 2016 selected artists : (1) by Community (2) by Rainer Lagemann (3) by Vinicio Momoli (4) by Ekow Nimako (5) by Lisa Santana & Kevin Goddard for Unit Five (6) by Parvez Taj





















Of the 100 brains created last year, the 6 above are my favourites. I'm particularly fond of the one made out of mirrors. It's the kind of sculpture I would display in my home and probably the type of idea I would come up with as well. As it turned out, the Brain Project will be doing this again this summer and sent out a call for artist a little while ago for more designs and I decided to apply. It would be great to participate and share my thoughts on the importance of mindfulness for the health of our brains. Mindfulness in its many forms enable us to reduce stress which is a great thing because sustained chronic stress has been linked to depression. 

Since I'm all about clouds this year, it didn't take too much time for me to come up with an idea : Cloudy Mind. The idea behind my concept is to create a brain may out of polyfill to look like a cloud in the shape of a brain and run LED lights underneath so that it could look like lightning inside the cloud, suggesting activity brewing in the mind. 




My proposal for the 2017 Brain Project

The parallels between the mind and clouds for me are very striking. Just like clouds, our minds are immaterial. They can be beautiful and inspiring, light and airy, evoking imagination and dreams. On the other hand they can be dangerous and scary, heavy and gloomy, evoking depression and nightmares. Being aware of our state of mind, able to take a step back and not hold on to the kinds of thoughts that lead to an increased level of stress is an idea I would like to contribute to the project. I'm looking forward to see who gets selected. Hopefully I get picked but if I don't, I'll keep this idea for a future exhibition opportunity around that topic. Wish me luck :)  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Cloud Cover Casting Shadow No 2

What do you think about when you're on an airplane looking at the clouds from above? I think about a lot of things. My mind wanders. I remember once while observing big fluffy clouds from my window seat. They were so thick that I couldn't see the city under them. And I thought how interesting it was for me to leave the gloomy day before taking the plane and realize that it was only gloomy under the clouds. Above the clouds, everything was nice and sunny. It sounds silly but it came as an epiphany : the sun is always shining above the clouds. Just repositioning myself from under to above, it shifted my mood and that thought stayed with me back under the clouds with a renewed perspective.  Perhaps I took it as an analogy for life : whenever things seems to be going wrong, remember that's it's just a perspective and it's temporary. There's always sunshine above the clouds. 

Perhaps subconsciously this was the thought that inspired this painting : Cloud Cover Casting Shadow No 2 : A visual representation of the idea that often we let temporary things get in the way of our happiness and forget that just because we don't see that thing that makes us happy, doesn't mean it's not there. Sometime me may just need to change position in order to see it. Like the painting, this one was created using Benjamin Moore's paints called Shadow 2117-30 and Cloud Cover OC-25 as part of my Benjamin Moore Colour Trend Art Challenge

Prints of this artwork are now available on Society 6

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Cloud Cover Casting Shadow No 1

Journal Painting for January
It has begun! New year, new art challenge. Before putting paint on a larger canvas I figured I would start in my journal and get a bit of a feel for the paint. I like how it turned out and I really like the colour combination. For this piece I used the colour Shadow 2117-30 and Cloud Cover OC-25. They blend well and like any acrylic paint you have to be fast before the paint dries. I can see some places where I can improve but overall I think it turned out great. Next will be to test this out on a small canvas. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

2016 Reading Challenge Review

Last year I challenged myself to read 52 books for the year, which is quite a big one for me because I didn't use to read that many books. It's only recently over the past few years that I took it upon myself to read more. It first started with a book a month in 2014, then 2 books a month in 2015 and for 2016 I challenged myself to read a book a week! Sadly I failed. Or I should say, I didn't completely reach my goal. I read 35 books instead of 52. I started strong but somewhere in the middle of the year, it stopped being a priority for a couple months and I didn't managed to catch up. Perhaps I was implementing some of the lessons I learned from the books, I got sidetracked with many other things I thought I should do. But I still benefited from those 35 books. I even I re-read some books more then once, like the Power of Now by Eckart Tolle and older reads like Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. But despite being a little disappointed that I didn't reach that particular goal of  52 new books for the year (which is silly because the number is not the point of this exercise) I'm happy I got to learn from these books. They definitely expended my view and understandings of many things, people and systems around me.  Open by Andre Agassi reminded me of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Total Recall book that I had read the year before. It was a great opportunity to see what it takes to be number one in the world. It's certainly not for the faint of heart, but it's also attainable. Some books definitely stand out more then others in terms of the message I got from them at the time. Out of the 35 books I read, the 5 that stood out the most for me are :

  • Power vs Force by David R. Hawkins
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill 
  • When I stop talking you'll know I'm dead by Jerry Weintraub 
  • Open by Andre Agassi
  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle


But I honestly really enjoyed and learn from all of them without exception. I noticed that I started to vary the types of books that I read as well. I find it refreshing to jump around from a business book to a biography and then a spiritual book and sometime a random book that just sounds interesting at the time. Looking at the list of book I read last year, I imagine it probably says something about where my mind was at. It's an interesting way to review the year through your readings. 

So what's my reading challenge for 2017? I must admit, I was hesitant to challenge myself to read 52 books this year since I didn't reach that goal in 2016. But that's probably a bruised ego kind of thought. It's not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. I don't have anything to prove. None of us really do. So, I decided to challenge myself to read 52 books this year again. If I don't reach it, it's okay. I'll still put the effort into it but I'll also keep enjoying the benefits of essentially spending time with so many great authors and getting mentored by them in a way through their righting, expanding my own thoughts through their own personal stories and insights. I highly recommend it. There's something for everyone, no matter what you're into. And just like they say you're the average of the five people you hang out with the most, I believe there's also some sort of transfer that goes beyond just learning from the words in a book or audiobook when it comes to reading. It changes you. 

It will be interesting to see what I discover from my readings this year and how it changes me. Perhaps I will take the time to review them on this blog. At the moment I'm reading The One Thing by Gary Keller, and I already found myself adopting some of the teaching from the book in my every day life. 

* Wishing you an enlightening new year *