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How artists understood the value of brand building

We have the brand we are, the brands we love and of course there are those brands that no matter what they do will always face some kind push back due to their history or current business practices.

But as we look back through history there are those artists who seemed ahead of the curve in building their own brand. They defined a clear vision and style that would forever mark them down for greatness as they now grace the walls of museums or are licensed over and over again by various products and brands looking to harness the equity from the art as well as the artists profile.

Picasso once said “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

Every creative has influences that have sparked a passion or had that soul-like connection when seeing a catalogue of work from someone, whether that is in a museum or on a creative platform like Behance. Something just resonates and you are lost in the craft, skill and beauty of that person’s work. It drives us forward to create better things and that competitive spirit in the world of art is no different to any other creative industry. But the world has not always been so connected and our ability to see different ideas was limited to how far we could travel.

So looking back at the great artists I often ask myself whether they were just creating a signature style that came from raw talent or did they truly understand the world of branding before the term was coined?

Like any great brand you do not need to see the logo on the packaging or advertising campaign to know which brand it belongs to. So strong is the entire brand voice that you instinctively know which brand you are experiencing.

So when looking at artists throughout history you can clearly see from a small detail of the painting which artist created it. We don’t need to see the signature to know who the creator was on each piece. So if you were to define artists in brand terms that we use today how would you describe them? I asked some of the art historians in Bridgeman Images to define each artist’s work in a few words that encapsulated their work and here are the results:

Paul Klee: vivid colours (polychromatic), childlike trait, and expressionist, experimental, highly aesthetic

Image credit: Senecio, 1922 (oil on chalk primer on gauze on cardboard), Paul Klee (1879-1940) / Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland / Bridgeman Images
Image credit: Senecio, 1922 (oil on chalk primer on gauze on cardboard), Paul Klee (1879-1940) / Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland / Bridgeman Images

Botticelli: Delicate, Detailed, Ethereal, Fantastical, Serene.

Image credit: Primavera, c.1478, (tempera on panel), Sandro Botticelli (1444/5-1510) / Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy / Bridgeman Images
Image credit: Primavera, c.1478, (tempera on panel), Sandro Botticelli (1444/5-1510) / Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy / Bridgeman Images. (Banner image)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti: beauty, sensuality, medieval revivalism and mythological subject.

Image Credit: Day Dream, 1880 (oil on canvas), Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82) / Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK / Bridgeman Images
Image Credit: Day Dream, 1880 (oil on canvas), Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82) / Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK / Bridgeman Images

Egon Schiele: Erotic, Ruthless, Expressive, Contradictory, Provocative, poetic.

Image Credit: Seated Woman with Bent Knee, 1917 (gouache, w/c and black crayon on paper), Schiele, Egon (1890-1918) / Narodni Galerie, Prague, Czech Republic / Bridgeman Images
Image Credit: Seated Woman with Bent Knee, 1917 (gouache, w/c and black crayon on paper), Schiele, Egon (1890-1918) / Narodni Galerie, Prague, Czech Republic / Bridgeman Images

Caravaggio: unflinching realism, raw emotion, unmistakable chiaroscuro; led a bad boy lifestyle which gained him rockstar notoriety.

Image Credit: St. John the Baptist, c.1598-99 (oil on canvas), Michelangelo Caravaggio, (1571-1610) (attr. to) / Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome, Italy / Bridgeman Images
Image Credit: St. John the Baptist, c.1598-99 (oil on canvas), Michelangelo Caravaggio, (1571-1610) (attr. to) / Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome, Italy / Bridgeman Images

Michelangelo: Classical, Statuesque, Solid, Focused on the human form, Intense muscularity.

Libyan Sibyl, Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina), by Michelangelo Buonarroti, 16th Century, fresco (post restoration) / Musei e Gallerie Pontificie, Musei Vaticani, Vatican City / Mondadori Portfolio / Bridgeman Images
Libyan Sibyl, Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina), by Michelangelo Buonarroti, 16th Century, fresco (post restoration) / Musei e Gallerie Pontificie, Musei Vaticani, Vatican City / Mondadori Portfolio / Bridgeman Images

Lucian Freud: Visceral use of paint and brush stroke, Unsettling gaze of the sitter, Uncomfortable voyeurism, Gets under the skin, Honest portrayal of beauty in the human form.

Image Credit: Reflection (Self Portrait), 1985 (oil on canvas), Lucian Freud, (1922-2011) / Private Collection / © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images
Image Credit: Reflection (Self Portrait), 1985 (oil on canvas), Lucian Freud, (1922-2011) / Private Collection / © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images

When it comes to crafting an artistic logo, few could compete with Dürer who seemed to be ahead of his time in building in a graphic awareness for his signature logo in every piece of his work. Anyone who has crafted any artwork for a brand will see the thought the artist has put into the placement on every piece.

Image Credit: The Knight, Death and the Devil, 1513 (engraving), Dürer or Duerer, Albrecht (1471-1528) / Cabinet des Estampes et des Dessins, Strasbourg, France / Bridgeman Images
Image Credit: The Knight, Death and the Devil, 1513 (engraving), Dürer or Duerer, Albrecht (1471-1528) / Cabinet des Estampes et des Dessins, Strasbourg, France / Bridgeman Images
Image credit: Madonna with the Pear, 1511 (engraving), Dürer or Duerer, Albrecht (1471-1528) / Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri, USA / Museum / Bridgeman Images
Image credit: Madonna with the Pear, 1511 (engraving), Dürer or Duerer, Albrecht (1471-1528) / Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri, USA / Museum / Bridgeman Images
Image Credit: Deposition, from the series "The Little Passion", 1512 (engraving), Dürer or Duerer, Albrecht (1471-1528) / Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri, USA / Museum purchase / Bridgeman Images
Image Credit: Deposition, from the series “The Little Passion”, 1512 (engraving), Dürer or Duerer, Albrecht (1471-1528) / Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri, USA / Museum purchase / Bridgeman Images

So with this in mind which artist could you define in five words or which ones are the artists that influenced you in your career?

By Alan Firmin, Chief Marketing Officer, Bridgeman Images

bridgemanimages.com

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