Our pick of the best artist-brand collaborations

11.07.18

Francesca Swaine

Research Executive, New York

Categories Blog

Collaboration is hot in 2018. From brand-on-brand partnering, to co-created designer goods, the trend of combining forces is on the uptake — and pack is at the forefront.

Lately, our wandering eyes have come across some great packaging as a result of brand collaborations with artists, but what do brands have to gain from teaming up with creative minds like this?

In terms of appeal alone, artist collaborations provide brands with a way to create visually stimulating pack that engages and excites consumers. There’s a sense of novelty and uniqueness to designs like Rodin’s limited edition Mermaid collection, created in conjunction with artist Donald Robertson, or the recent U.S. launch of the PERRIERXWILD shrink-sleeve label, produced by Cuban artist Juan Travieso, that consumers love. 

Donald Robertson continues his hot streak in the beauty category with this whimsical design for Rodin’s Mermaid collection.
After going down a storm in Europe, Juan Travieso’s wild geometric designs for Perrier were launched in Brooklyn, NY this summer.

However, it’s the communicative dimension of art that really lends itself to packaging — and can prove most beneficial for brands. Through co-creation, brands can push boundaries and tell their story in a different way. 

For example, Jo Malone’s hand cream collection packaging, embellished with illustrations of London by artist Helen Beard, is a lighthearted celebration of the brand’s heritage that feels quintessentially British, yet remains in keeping with it’s otherwise refined and elegant aesthetic.

Celebrated British artist, Helen Beard’s, take on London life has pride of place on Jo Malone’s boxed collection of hand creams.

Meanwhile, Polish brewery Minister Brewery (or ‘Browar Minister’) partnered with artist Kinga Offert on a total brand and pack refresh, drawing on the illustrators’ humorous style in order to break through category norms and ‘cliches’ and position themselves as an unconventional, young, and urban brand. 

Kinga Offert’s unique, humorous style gives Minister Brewery a youthful, edgy feel that stands out in the category.

Adorning pack with custom artwork can also help brands dial up authenticity, which is usually well received by consumers. In the case of Cypriot vineyard Vouni Panayia Winery, a wide array of family, friends, and artists were brought together to produce seven unique, autobiographical bottle labels. Each label boasts a distinct piece of art, created in the style of the individual artist, that illustrates the process — and in some cases, the people — behind the wine on offer; a story that is also scribed on the back of the bottle.

Seven pieces of art were produced for the labels of Vouni Panayia Winery’s bottles, each telling the unique story behind the wine.

Up until now, brand-artist partnerships really found their stride in certain categories. Coffee, unsurprisingly, is an area where creative expression on pack can really excel, providing the perfect medium to capture and convey the artistry, energy, richness, and depth behind the product offering. Brands such as illy and Nespresso have successfully incorporated limited edition artist-series into their annual portfolios, resulting in a long-standing tradition that consumers actively anticipate, and an array of packaging that many consider collectibles. Meanwhile, Nescafe’s Azera brand conduct a yearly crowd-sourcing endeavor to produce their limited edition can designs, which are similarly met with consumer enthusiasm. 

illy celebrates 25 years of the illy Art Collection with limited edition designs by artist Robert Wilson.
Nespresso teamed up with Australian artist duo Craig and Karl for their limited edition holiday series.
Štěpánka Koutná and Tomáš Krčmář won this years ‘Taste of the City’ competition for Nescafe Azera with their design ‘The Azera Square.’

Similarly, art on pack has become a tried and tested favorite of the dynamic world of Alcohol, another category that closely aligns with the expressive meaning behind art. In the last year, we’ve seen Johnnie Walker adopt a vibrant street style with the help of graffiti artist Tristan Eaton, Guinness pay homage to British artist John Gilroy by reviving past ad-campaigns on front of pack, and an injection of Nicaraguan color into Flor de Cãna’s Legacy Box packaging thanks to artist Augusto Silva Gómez.

Tristan Eaton’s ‘artist series’ gift packs evoke the rich heritage, vibrant flavors and aromas of Johnnie Walker’s whisky.
In celebration of what would have been John Gilroy’s 120th birthday, Guinness shines the spotlight on some of his most beloved artworks for the brand.
Flor de Cãna’s patriotic collaboration with Augusto Silva Gómez brings to life Nicaragua’s vibrant geography and culture.

That being said, it appears the future of artist collaborations in pack design is all about communicating brand purpose. With brands like LIFEWTR setting the tone, having just released their 5th series of artist produced packaging around the theme of Art Beyond Borders and creating “cultural understanding, appreciation, and unity,” more and more brands are aligning with creative minds to create artful designs that spread a message. 

LIFEWTR’s 5th series, entitled, Art Beyond Borders features the artworks of Aiko, Yinka Ilori, and Laercio Redondo.

The likes of Stacy’s, AHAVA, and MECCA have utilized the emotional power of art on pack to position themselves as brands that celebrate women and empowering women artists.

The limited edition Stacy’s Pita Chips packaging was produced in honor of Women’s History month and feature images and words of empowerment.
AHAVA’s 30th Anniversary campaign around female empowerment features portraits by six artists around the world.
Claudia Moodoonuthi’s designs for MECCA’s holiday packaging are inspired by her community of strong women and aboriginal artists.

Green Giant released limited-edition cans featuring the artwork of St. Jude’s patients to promote the brand’s philanthropic partnership with the Research Hospital. 

Green Giant’s limited edition cans feature the colorful paintings of patients at St. Jude.

Cream liquor brand Amarula is unveiling limited edition bottle designs this summer, each created by African artists; the designs champion local culture, artisans, and elephant conservation efforts and a portion of all proceeds will go to Wildlife Direct’s conservation programs.

Created by African artists Amarula’s bottle designs encapsulate African design; from fashion and textiles, to art and sculpture.

Meanwhile, Method has taken an ‘art for art’ approach; to raise funding for their local non-profit art center ‘Creative Growth’ for adults with disabilities in Oakland, California they’ve released a limited edition collection of soaps and cleaners that feature the artworks of four of the center’s resident creators.

Method’s Creative Growth designs were produced at the center by Oakland artists Barry Regan, Aurie Ramirez, Allan Lofberg, and Maureen Clay.