Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Does Workplace Artwork Say About A Company?

It's an interesting question when you think about it. I mean, do you really want Edvard Munch's The Scream inducing fits of anxiety in customers and job applicants as they wait in your office lobby? Probably not. What the hell kind of company is this?

The artwork companies select does say something about them, and helping companies choose artwork has become a big business. It also explains why you're more likely to see bland, calming watercolor landscapes populating U.S. office spaces rather than frantic, modern artwork that looks like it was finger-painted by a three-year-old. If your company is adventurous, it might go with newspapers glued to canvas, since that's about all the morning paper is good for these days.



Companies are taking different approaches to artwork selection, according to this article:

Some larger area companies are known for approaching the art fairs with even deeper pockets. Much of the eclectic and extensive art collection at Epic Systems is selected by employees. American Girl also has an employee art committee to buy works and organize in-house exhibits featuring local artists.

At Promega Corp., art "is part of the culture here," said Daniel Swadener, curator of the public art gallery at the biotech center. The company has no real "system" for buying art, although Promega founder Bill Linton is a supporter and has brought home art from Promega locations around the world, Swadener said.

A few art schools, such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, boast creativity in the workplace programs that offer companies advice and assistance in selecting the right artwork.

So the next time you walk into an office, check out the artwork. What does it say to you about the company? Boring? Bland? Risk-taking? Good sense of humor? Chances are, quite a bit of effort went into choosing that particular photo or painting because it's a part of the company's overall branding strategy. With any luck, the artwork won't make you scream.

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