Good Office Art, Good Work

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  • September 20, 2016
  • Kim Mackley

Anyone who has paid a visit to our HQ knows that we’re not rocking a typical vibe. Somewhere between Soho and Marfa, our space chakras center around a few obvious aspects, like a vibrant kitchen, unexpected bright colors, comfortable furniture that feels like home, and a four-legged friend or two. We’ve also collected a few pieces of kick-ass office art; everyone notices, many comment, and I happen to be an officemate to our two most beloved pieces. That means for most of the past 675 days, I’ve enjoyed the company of a giant yarn bomb and a jolly mythical dinosaur. From my front-row perch, I’ve made some observations about the importance of these silent culture partners.

SPACE SIGNALS

Magda SayegThe first thing people notice when they enter our front door is a 16-foot tall crocheted sculpture made from all shades of the colors you would have worn in the 1970’s. INK commissioned this piece from the mother of the yarn bomb movement herself, Magda Sayeg. In early 00’s Sayeg started yarn bombing around Houston as a way to participate in the traditional boys’ club of the unsanctioned street art. Knit graffiti has spread across the country and around the world ever since. Meant to be lighthearted and fun, much of the movement centered on making the banal into beautiful. Here at INK our crocheted letters signal the same. It sets the tone for our office that things aren’t commonplace here, we’re in a place that likes to do things a bit differently, and we aren’t afraid to shake things up a bit. On a more overt level, you might also say that it signifies that we aren’t afraid to stand tall and be colorful.

JOY TO THE WORLD, AND, THE HALLWAY

Mike "Truth" Johnston

Around the corner from me, just peeking out enough to make continuous (and awkward) eye contact with me throughout the day is one of Mike Johnston’s storybook-meets-streetart-monsters, a giant pink dino-lizard. Next to him are his fellow painted mythical friends and phantoms created by Lucas Aoki and Jason Eatherly. Johnston (aka Truth), Aoki, and Eatherly are all part of the emerging trend of graffiti legitimacy in the art world. Instead of traditional, one-dimensional tags, you’ll find their gremlins, goblins, and ghostly characters in bright colors (sometimes commissioned, sometimes not) on surfaces all over Austin, and around the globe. They all share a common straightforward goal – to make people smile and bring a little joy. Art doesn’t have to be stuffy and pretentious, and oddly enough, neither do communications agency offices. Their creatures and creations line our hallway and remind us every day that it is okay to find a little fun in the world. Their weird forms, spindly legs, and crazy colors don’t make rational sense, but clearly they are kind to each other and making the most of their odd little existence. I think they encourage us to do the same.

Office art can be tough to get just right, and with so many line items in a budget, can be hard to prioritize as a “must have”. But you don’t have to open a gallery full of Rembrandts to make an impact. Choose something that represents your company’s interests and how you think about yourselves. Check out local artists, don’t be afraid to mix and match styles, and try out different mediums. From culture to productivity to inspiration and identity, what you hang on your wall is telling the world something about you and changing the way you view a space whether you think much about it or not.