Now is as good a time as any to discuss the crisis of authenticity surrounding art commissioned by large corporations. You and I both know that when Apple partners with local artists on campaigns for new stores, it does so because making tools for creative people is in Apple’s DNA. The iPad and Mac wouldn’t exist without artists, and collaborations are an expression of Apple’s values.
This may no longer be enough. In the era of quick hits on social media, large companies with nebulous connections to the arts turn to commissioned work as performative culture and dilute the efforts of those who care. Whether in an effort to humanize their brands or simply tick a “hire local artist” checkbox on a project brief, these types of collaborations can be disingenuous to customers and ultimately tokenize the artists they support. A mural commissioned by your favorite fast casual chain turned gallery curator wilts faster than its lettuce.
What can Apple do to affirm its intentions as genuine? There is no easy answer, but perhaps the best way to push ahead is by investing in sustained dialogue between artists and creative customers beyond the scope of a single marketing campaign. There is nothing creatives love more than learning and growing from the work of others.