Collaborations between artists and brands hardly surprise anyone nowadays, yet this idea is a relatively new concept. The development of advertising was provoked by the Industrial Revolution and the growing market. While some artists believed that working for commerce meant selling out, others eagerly applied their ideas to promote different products and services. Below are 7 famous modern artists who engaged in product design and advertising.
1. J.C. Leyendecker and the Arrow Collar Man Advertising
J.C. Leyendecker was an artist whose work defined the idealized aesthetic of America prior to the Great Depression. He worked with a number of brands and magazines, but his most famous work was the series of advertisements for men’s shirts with detachable collars. These were created for the brand called Arrow, so the main character soon was dubbed the Arrow Collar Man.
Leyendecker’s Arrow Collar Man presented the new ideal of masculinity: the intelligent, well-mannered, physically fit young man with broad shoulders and a prominent jawline. Men were buying products to look like him, while women desperately fell in love with the imaginary figure, trying to find its equivalent in real life. Little did the public know that the original Arrow Collar Man existed, but hardly could react to the romantic aspirations of his fans. His name was Charles Beach, and he was not only Leyendecker’s favorite model but his manager and romantic partner of almost fifty years. Although Leyendecker worked with other models as well, Beach’s presence was a permanent one. His face can be seen on dozens of artworks created during the artist’s long career.
2. Salvador Dali and Chupa-Chups
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Salvador Dali was famous for doing many things. He even designed the logo for the Chupa-Chups brand. In 1969, during a lunch with an owner of a confectionary factory Enric Bernat, Salvador Dali doodled several options for the new logo. At the time, Bernat had already hired a design team to create the new logo for Chupa-Chups, but he dismissed them immediately after meeting with Dali.
Working with advertisements was not unusual for Surrealists. Many Surrealist photographers, including Dora Maar, produced work for brands and fashion magazines. Even today, advertising campaigns often rely on the Surrealist legacy, recreating the paintings of artists like Rene Magritte when presenting their products. Dali, however, took this idea further, appearing in TV commercials, printed ads, and designing products for fashion brands. Other artists often accused him of greed and they even believed that Dali destroyed his talent for money. Another Surrealist Andre Breton gave him the nickname Avida Dollars (an anagram of Dali’s name) which translates as hungry for dollars.
3. Alphonse Mucha and Cookies
Czech-born Alphonse Mucha is perhaps the first artist that comes when we think of the fascinating mix of art and advertising. The icon of Art Nouveau art created designs for a long list of popular middle-class products: from chocolates and tobacco to posters for theater plays. Many historians believe that Mucha was the pioneer of celebrity-indorsed advertising.
Famous for his association with the legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt, he frequently designed posters for her shows. On the poster for the Lefevre-Utile cookies (now known as LU), Sarah Bernhardt appeared clutching her scarf in a stylized portrait. In the bottom left corner, there was a handwritten inscription stating that the only thing better than a LU cookie was two LU cookies, followed by Bernhardt’s signature. Putting a famous name under a certain product was a new thing a celebrity could do and it would soon become widely spread.
4. Andy Warhol and Shoes
Brand logos and consumer aesthetics were pivotal for the work of Andy Warhol. In a way, Pop Art represented a new kind of urban landscape, filled with neon lights and catchy ads instead of natural scenes. Warhol created dozens of advertisements in his life, yet his artistic success started with a series of shoe drawings.
Andy Warhol’s first job in the media was to design illustrations for Glamour magazine in the 1950s. Impressed by the quality of his drawings, the magazine editors allowed him to publish his work on six additional pages. Yet the real breakthrough happened five years later, in 1955, when Warhol signed a contract with the shoe designer I. Miller. Warhol agreed to draw weekly advertisements for the shoes for the New York Times. Warhol’s designs were less about showing the actual shoe and more about sharing the spirit of the brand. Instead of precise illustration, he drew imaginary footwear and added quirky captions.
5. Norman Rockwell and Food
Norman Rockwell’s advertisements represented the quintessential American white culture. His career lasted for more than six decades, from 1914 to 1976. Rockwell lived through many stages of American political and social life. He was interested in selling pretty much everything, from stockings to life insurance, but became best known for the food advertisements he created for Jell-O, cornflakes, and different canned products. While some accused him of sentimentality, others noted that Rockwell’s works barely had any trace of the ongoing political struggles. His goal was to sell products, not to comment on social issues.
While studying at the Art Students League of New York in 1911, Rockwell and his classmates made a promise to never work with advertisements. Ironically, ad design would bring enormous fame and recognition to the artist several years later and would include collaborations with other celebrities of his time. The 1949 canned peaches advert featured singer and actor Bing Crosby, supposedly praising a peach pie made with the canned product. Rockwell copied Crosby’s image from the promotional photo made for his 1949 film Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
6. Kazimir Malevich and Perfume
Known for his radical theories on art and prominent geometry, Ukrainian-born Kazimir Malevich was an artist who designed numerous products as well. Apart from his series of patriotic propaganda posters created during World War I, he worked on less serious and more playful projects too. For example, in the late 1900s, a Russian perfume company Brocard asked Malevich to design a bottle for their new perfume Severnyi.
Malevich’s idea was to create an iceberg-shaped bottle of clear craquelure glass with a polar bear sitting on top. The perfume was sold for almost a century. The production stopped in the early 2000s. However, the history of its design was surprising even to experts. At the time of Kazimir Malevich, collaborations between brands and artists were not as prestigious as they are today. Wasting your artistic creativity to work on utilitarian designs for companies was a shameful practice for most artists. Malevich was in desperate need of money but he valued his reputation enough to never tell anyone except his closest relatives about the perfume bottle he made for Brocard.
7. Artistic Advertising Project: Chateau Mouton Rothschild Wine Bottles
In 1945 Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the owner of Mouton Rothschild winery established a tradition of designing every year’s wine label in collaboration with a famous artist. The long list of names included Leonor Fini, Marie Laurencin, Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Robert Motherwell, and Pablo Picasso. The latest editions include the 2019 harvest with a design made by Olafur Eliasson, while the 2020 one was created by Peter Doig.
Despite drastically different artistic styles, the label design still looks balanced and unanimous. The artist’s job is not to design the entire label but a strip on top of it, with the rest remaining intact, copying the original Chateau Mouton Rothschild label. Curiously, the idea for such a collaboration first came to Philippe de Rothschild’s mind in 1924, yet it took more than two decades to finally establish the project. Today, Chateau Mouton Rothschild bottles serve as collectible items not only for wine enthusiasts but for art lovers as well.