When art meets business
Collaboration with Korean artists in vogue
By Bahk Eun-ji
For many years, the term “collaboration”often heralded new trends in the worlds of fashion and music. Now, more artists and businesses are collaborating on products such as wine labels for a new brand, luggage, ladies purses, clothes and even delivery boxes for shipping home appliances.
Collaboration is a synergistic way to promote a company’s new product and the work of artists.
Until just a few years ago, this marketing phenomenon was limited to products from fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton and Levis. There was great interest in foreign designers including Murakami Takashi, a contemporary Japanese artist, and Damien Hirst, a famous British concept artist.
However, more recently, Koreans have begun to grab the attention of various manufacturers.
Last December, Samsonite launched the“Bae Bien-u collection” which was well received in the market.
Bae Bein-u is a renowned photographer known for his love of nature, and finds inspiration in Korean pine trees. His photographs of pines are exquisitely printed on one of Samsonites’ suitcase collections.
“These suitcases will make travelers look more fashionable and they can double as quality artwork to decorate a dressing room,” said Kim Min-ji, a Samsonite spokesman.
The suitcases were produced in a limited number of 1,200 and 63 percent of them were sold by the end of April, according to the spokesman.
A very different example of collaboration is that between Sandeulbeot, an agricultural product company, that introduced a new wine collection onto the market called“Magique Muju Waljong Special” and Lee Wal-jong, a famous visual artist and huge fan of Jeju Island.
One of Lee’s prominent paintings, “Middle path in Jeju life” was put onto the labels of Sandeulbeot’s bottles.
The wine is made from wild Korean berries mixed with blueberries.
“Korean wine is generally undervalued compared to French or Chilean wines. Korean agricultural products like wild berries can produce a flavor of wine that is as rich as that of imported wines,” says Lee Seung-joon, the head of Sandeulbeot’s overseas department.
“Through collaborating with an artist, we hope Korean wine gains a high reputation.” Lee said.
But this is not the first time a Korean artist has worked with a wine maker.
Charles Jang, a young Korean pop artist, created the label for the “1865” wine, one of the immensely popular Chilean wines imported to Korea.
Chilean winemaker San Pedro’s collection named “Heart Edition” has positive reviews from young consumers.
Venta Airwasher Korea, a global humidifier manufacturing company based in Germany, now delivers their products in “artistic boxes.”
Kim Yong-kwan, a promising new artist, is cooperating with Venta Korea and has one of his major works, “Histoglyph,” on the delivery boxes.
“We wanted to help new artists who are gaining popularity,” says Kim Dae-hyun, President of Venta Korea.
“By doing this, we wish to provide artistic value to our customers.”
Sonovi, a brand of handbag, is another manufacturer that has cooperated with artists. Since the first launch of artist-designed bags in 2005, Sonovi has worked with and is looking for promising Korean artists to add to its“Museum Line.” Already included is Kim Jum-sun, the first artist to design bags for Sonovi, and Park Young-in who created the artworks for this year’s spring and summer collections.
The increasing collaboration between businesses and artists illustrates that Koreans are becoming more interested in art and recognize how it enriches their lives. Changes in consumer demands forced the companies to try various sales strategies.
“It is a win-win for the corporations and artists. Companies can reposition their brands through collaboration with artists whose artworks appeal to the public,” says Kim from Samsonite.
“The reason for cooperating with Korean artists is that it is meaningful to create products that attract Korean consumers.”