As AI-generated artwork continues to flood the advertising scene, luxury labels are looking to stand out from the crowd and return to the human perspective through hand-painted murals for their out-of-home (OOH) advertising.
The effort not only highlights individuality but also offers a dose of heritage and nostalgia.
The move to pivot from the hype around AI-generated artwork also aims to create an emotional connection similar to that provoked by an artisanally crafted pair of shoes or a Birkin.
In a conversation with FashionUnited, Kevin Bartanian, the CEO and founder of Kevani, an OOH media sales organization that focuses on urban-scale media assets, discussed why hand-painted murals are continuing to attract interest, especially in Los Angeles, where Kevani has played a role in starting the digital outdoor advertising industry.
“A painting conveys a sense of individuality, it stands out and communicates that a brand’s products are not run-of-the-mill, that they’re unique,” said Bartanian.
But the pivot to hand-painted murals is not relatively new. In fact, the demand came pouring in from brands such as Chanel over a decade ago, who have leveraged the advertising technique for more than a century.
“Art is something that people have feelings about, and you view art to experience something,” Bartanian continued. “A piece of art means something different to everyone; combine that with the fact that it’s created by an actual person.”
According to Bartanian, the process of hand-painting plays a crucial part in a brand’s marketing strategy since artists working in urban areas tend to generate excitement, curiosity, and engagement with the public. That said, Kevani’s artists are extremely cautious about revealing the brand logo too soon in the hand-painting process, as this could lead to unfinished artwork being shared online, which is not typically the kind of engagement that brands desire.
Furthermore, while Kevani’s team acts as a canvas provider for advertisers, the group understands the significance of respecting the space and the community. The creation of urban-scale art commences with providing specifications to the creative agency responsible for designing the artwork. The Kevani team then utilizes high-resolution imagery and color proofs to scale the artwork on projection, develop multiple panels, mix colors, and, in Bartanian’s words, “let their creativity run wild.”
One of the most notable examples of fashion murals since 2017 is the Gucci wall in SoHo, New York City, a popular destination for luxury shopping. The 2,500 square foot space, owned by Colossal Media, has featured works from various artists, some of whom were discovered by Gucci’s former artistic director Alessandro Michele through Instagram.
Brands such as Rag & Bone and Adidas have also since created murals, with New York City home to the majority of mural art locations in the U.S. Meanwhile, other brands such as Shinola, Chanel, Givenchy, and Paul Smith have taken their advertising to the walls of cities like Los Angeles, the second most popular location for murals, as well as Miami and Chicago, which are the next most popular cities.
Some of Kevani’s luxury clients include L’Oreal, Hermès, and Burberry, who have all incorporated hand-painted murals into their advertising budget, with 80% of clients considering them while also purchasing digital media.
Photo credit: Colossal Media/Gucci