Street art, Singapore and HP aren’t three obvious bedfellows, however the launch of a new exhibition called 'Art from the Streets' at the ArtScience Museum in the Southeast Asian country signals a significant intention from the printer: it wants to be the go-between for artists, brands and consumers.
The exhibition alone is a significant story for the cultural journey of Singapore, which has a reputation of having a strict government and a very low-level support for subversive cultural movements. However, this has changed in recent years as the government and its citizens embrace more modern and disruptive art forms. For example, graffiti is now allowed in the country but is kept to designated spaces.
For HP, while its history is steeped in print and is therefore close to the creative community, it is still a ‘traditional’ technology provider, but for HP it is innovation and its position as a technology provider that it believes can create a new ecosystem between the art on the streets and the products in its houses.
HP, for example, is the technology that sits between Coca-Cola’s limited edition, unique bottles, designed by artists. Digital technology allows printing to the scale of one to become affordable to both consumers and brands.
Puneet Chadha, director of marketing, Graphics Solutions Business, Asia Pacific and Japan for HP, explains that what started as a straightforward sponsorship of the event has evolved into working with Jogjakarta-based street artist Eko to create products out of his designs alongside the event.
“It started with a deal with the museum and we thought it would be great that people saw this. Then the artist Eko, said, ‘why don’t you take my art?’ I was talking to a few other artists about how to take this forward and some of them are already talking to other brands. We already have the ecosystem and so how do we get together to make this pace faster? We need to be working as a catalyst and reach out to brands and consumers fast,” he says.
In explaining exactly what this ecosystem means to HP, Chadha envisions the business becoming the bridge between the many moving parts for deals like this, particularly due to its scale and access to resource.
“If you think about the proposition of digital and how it needs to be articulated to a brand, the print service providers are not large organisations that are connected to the brands, they are agencies and designers, it’s a tough ecosystem. What HP is trying to enable is to create this ecosystem, to become the bridge for this entry barrier between a print service provider and the brand,” he explains.
“It’s a human element that comes in and it’s about looking at the trends. People want to get something for themselves and make things more relevant, while it is also helping the brands to stand out and make things more unique,” he adds. “We want to reach out to brands and consumers. We are already talking to a few brands about how we can amalgamate getting art on products that consumers can get on a regular basis.”
HP already has staff that sit close to its sales and business development team that are tasked with speaking to the agency and brand community, while annual events see the print service providers hack together answers to brand problems.
The business also sees itself as being able to answer artist’s problems. In an increasingly digital world, the ephemeral nature of street art can be captured, but primarily on the small screen. For the exhibition HP has helped produce a more permanent audience for the short lived works around the world, by printing images alongside the real pieces of art.
The event stands for a new approach to creativity for Singapore and HP. While the exhibition may only be in Singapore until June, again reflecting street art’s ephemeral nature, HP’s message to the creative community is more permanent.