Stand Out: Branding For Creatives Focused on Sustainability 1
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Stand Out: Branding For Creatives Focused on Sustainability

As a creative, being environmentally conscious can play a large role both in how work is created and in how a studio’s work is perceived. Creative entities dedicated to sustainability and environmental awareness naturally perceive these qualities as integral to a studio’s identity. For artists, designers and other creatives who want to communicate this to a wider audience, constructing marketing and branding initiatives around this will be key to gaining wider acclaim.  Whether creating as a team of 1 or 100, there are definite steps entities of every scale can take to align production with environmental protection and to promote an eco-friendly outlook. We’ve outlined some key tenets below for artists, designers and other creators focused on supporting eco-conscious initiatives to make sure their practice is aligned with current best environmental practices.

Sustainability and Support

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Put your Creative Skills to Good Use with Upcycling

For some artists and creatives, the pathway to being recognized as an environmentally sustainable creative force is simple. Artists like Mary Mattingly, creator of the “Swale” project, and Aurora Robson, who produces large-scale installation from upcycled plastics, are easily identifiable as they operate studios centered around environmental stewardship. In addition to fostering a practice rooted in upcycling, another growing trend for creative is to align themselves with events centered around environmental sustainability. One such event, RE-THINK, was held in Miami during the 2018 Miami Art Week. Artists were invited to re-imagine how we can be better stewards of the surrounding environment and work together toward environmental conservation and thwart global warming. Across the creative spectrum, from retail brands such as Patagonia to architecture firms such as MODU, creators are rapidly embracing sustainability and environmental stewardship as key aspects of their business model. A firm doesn’t need to create objects out of recycled materials or create products geared toward sustainability to align themselves within an eco-friendly framework, however. By adhering to best practices internally to conserve water, meticulously recycle and compost as best possible, and following other key points for environmental conservation a firm can promote sustainability in ways more applicable to their specific practice.

If a studio sees environmental awareness as a major part of their mission, but they are not overtly adopting climate-focused initiatives into their finished products, what options do they have to promote their sustainable vision to a wider audience? Marketing narratives highlighting the eco-friendly aspects of an atelier built into social media channels and promoted through articles and press mentions will go a long way in making these environmentally aware considerations publicly known. Where possible, align creative work with partners who are focused on sustainability. For example, if using paper in one’s studio practice, make sure all products are FSC-certified. Travel often for work with clients and other partners? Consider monitoring your carbon footprint and taking actionable steps to mitigate this impact.

While implementing these mindful steps toward sustainability, document your actions! Share what you’ve learned and the steps you’re taking across social media. Creating a new body of work? Showcase the results along with the eco-friendly actions you’ve taken along the way to ensure that the final product is rooted in concern for sustainability. In addition to showcasing your own efforts, share news related to environmental issues across social media as well. Consider setting up Google alerts related to Global Warming and Environmental Sustainability to better monitor news related to conservation. Consider having a dedicated team member who is tasked with publicizing the organization’s work in maintaining an eco-friendly practice across social media, updating the website/blog accordingly and making sure all press releases and related materials are up to environmental standards.

If the studio is ready to take it a step further, consider hiring a branding and/or press team that can expertly position the arts and creative firm as demonstrating an environmentally conscious ethos. Working with branding teams, such as Quarsh Creative, who are well-positioned within sustainability efforts to advise on how an atelier can become sustainably-focused will work wonders in staying ahead of the competition and gaining renown as an eco-conscious studio.

Join the Conversation Around Environmental Awareness

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Showcase How Sustainability is Key to Your Work

Another key aspect of environmental stewardship is understanding one’s place in the greater ecosystem. This refers to both the environmental ecosystem and the industry-wide eco-system that one’s practice is engaged with. An artist’s studio can better attune themselves to opportunities through foundations centered around environmental awareness such as the Rauschenberg Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and others. Creative organizations and entities working across the design spectrum can take the obvious step of pitching to projects with sustainable corporations and clients while also creating a workspace rooted in eco-friendly practices. Creators who take initiative to align themselves with funders and clients with an eco-friendly ethos will gain renown via association. Conversely, choosing the wrong clients can work against a creative’s reputation: choose wisely when following the money. Even if you gain a large payout, the hit to a creator’s reputation when working with clients across industries known for environmental waste and creating a negative impact on global warming can be devastating.

It may be that certain initiatives centered around environmental sustainability require a reduction in pay or may even result in taking on pro-bono work. It’s up to creatives to decide whether the goodwill gained through such projects is worth the effort. Will the partner organization feature their names on promotional material? How large of an audience will see the creative firm’s name affiliated with the initiative? Environmental projects who dedicate time and effort to marketing are more likely to be successful in their efforts, and as a result, working with such partners is a win-win for everyone involved.

Looking to expand marketing awareness of your work as a smaller creative firm or individual? Consider collaborations and/or collectives who adopt environmental stewardship as a key focus. Working together with like-minded creatives can expand audiences for all involved, and promote synergy with a new group of eco-conscious clients. It is also easier to maintain awareness of cutting-edge practices in sustainability by joining a cohort of creatives who strive for environmental stewardship in their practice. It’s also easy to gain inspiration from methods other creatives are already implementing to adhere to best practices of sustainability. Finally, if all else fails, take a page out of other organization’s playbooks and refer to these case studies in eco-conscious branding for inspiration on environmental stewardship!

Have experience with environmentally conscious partners, events and experiences as a creative organization? Share your advice with others looking to align themselves with sustainability in the comments below!

About the author

Audra Lambert

Audra Lambert is Managing Editor+Curator, Artrepreneur's Art Business Journal & Creative Career Center. She is a curator, arts marketing consultant, and editor based in Sunnyside, Queens, where her Chi-Spaniel puppy graciously allows her to cohabit.

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