Commercial Artist: Commercial & Advertising Art (2023)

commercial artist

When I embarked on my art journey, I never really considered the possibilities of being a commercial artist and creating art for businesses for branding and promotional purposes.
And although all art is an expression of creativity, emotion, and imagination, there is a distinct difference when it comes to commercial art, and I love the challenge it brings.
Commercial art is a form of promoting consumerism. It is also known as the advertising arts. Appealing designs help brand business products and services, luring consumers to purchase and remember an experience.
One of the earliest artworks used for selling purposes was the Original Bubbles Artwork by renowned master Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896). The British soap company Pears modified the art for print advertising. The artist depicted his own grandson innocently playing with bubbles.
It was the perfect imagery for the company who bought and claimed full copyright ownership of the artwork.
Commercial art gained popularity during the roaring 1920s and 30s, the decade of “Art Deco,” an art movement which fully embraced the art of advertising and greatly influenced all visual culture.
Aimed to communicate the glamour and power of cosmopolitan societies, the poster was a popular form to advertise.
One of my favourite Art Deco posters, Le Chat Noir (The Black Cat), became the symbol of the lewd and mysterious nightlife of late 19th century Paris, and one of the most iconic commercial posters of all time.
Creating artistic pieces that tell the story of a product or brand is a whole different process compared to creating inspired art for yourself where you have full artistic control of the process, and no one to answer to.
There is another layer of challenge when it comes to being a commercial artist. You are creating for someone else! It is important to know who you are creating for. This comes from research and briefing thoroughly with a client to ensure your artistic visions and clarity around the purpose of the art are aligned.
I recently created two poster artworks for Sunshine Coast restaurant business Flo’s Crêperie.
It was such an exciting opportunity to take on my first commercial project as a digital artist. The project was a success and the owners were amazing to work with. I’m so proud to see my art framed and hanging in their two restaurant locations in Noosa Heads and Mooloolaba.
So, what do I need to do better for my next commercial project?
I have discovered that it’s all in the briefing! During the briefing meeting with the owners, my questioning needed to be more specific and detailed.
One key component of information was missing. I went about confidently creating the art poster focusing on Flo’s Crêperie as the focal point of the art.
I created a (in my humble opinion) fabulous line drawing with this vision.
But my vision was off. Rather, the owners wanted a more subtle representation of Flo’s Crêperie, and a scene like a travel poster of each location in which the restaurants reside.
At first I struggled trying to redesign the new poster version, partly because I was so pleased and emotionally invested with the first drawing, and so I initially failed to see differently.
The creative process slowed, and it certainly rocked my confidence for a few days. But I worked through it and was very happy with the changes once they were done. Fortunately, so were Flo’s!
I learnt so much from this experience and it’s in the doing you learn how to do things better. And with this first experience behind me I am soon to embark on a new local commercial project, which I will share with you in next month’s blog.

Alex Mileham