17 Jun 2007

Branding in Art

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Recent auction reports have clearly established that there is a huge demand for contemporary Indian art both within the country and abroad. Artworks by a number of Indian artists feature high on people’s wish list and they are willing to shell out astronomical sums to be able to own their favorite artist. Souza, Raza, Husain are just some of the artists who have acquired cult status and have become huge brands. A must have for any art connoisseur; they are equated with quality, consistent performance and faultless finish, which is what places them at par with international brands. Some of the other features that are equated with a brand - recall value and the promise to deliver start to work here as well. And, that is where collectors are willing to go the extra dollar or rupee to own one.

In creating a brand image, apart from talent, PR skills, marketing and media hype play a huge role. And, global recognition adds to the brand value. Most artist brands are those who have established themselves over the years – they have sustained themselves and have created a niche for their brand of art. What are the factors that help establish an artist? According to art collector Mehul Patel, “an artist must have some unique quality, a statement, and a signature (value). He must have a well thought out theme for each and every solo show. Just PR, branding and Page 3 appearances will not help. Although public relations plays an important role in making the artist famous, but genuine and mature collectors do not buy their artworks.”Art conservationist Venkat Singh explains, “When the artist name itself is a brand, the paintings tend to conform more to a particular style. When you buy a brand, it comes with an assurance of quality, secured investment, heritage and authenticity.“ Therefore, on one hand MF Husain is equated with strong and powerful lines, and who can forget his horses! While Raza’s art reverberates with strong vibrant colors and geometric patterns focuses heavily on the presence of the ‘Bindu’ (a circle). In both cases the signature style adds to the brand recognition.
Mehul reiterates that artists who have sustained themselves are highly talented or they would not have lasted and appreciated with each passing year.

(Published in Financial Times, Bangalore)