The use of art in the financial banking world is a subject that is in need of serious contemplation. The corporate culture found in most financial institutions tends to gravitate towards the ultra conservative. Therefore the art displayed in lobbies and boardrooms are the typical portraiture of corporation leaders and board members.
On the surface this makes sense. Ultra conservative art, such as those painted portraits of all the bank leaders from the institutions past are a safe bet in a corporate culture set on dominating from the boardroom down. It shows how powerful the institution is with all of it’s grandeur and accumulated wealth.
There is no denying that this is a successful and very tactical use of art as a display of business dominance
and financial prestige. Ultra conservative art tends to exude political confidence and financial power.
Unfortunately, if you’re a banker, the competition realizes this logic is a historical concept. But, odds are also good that they also realize that surviving the business world is about being on the cutting edge. If customers are not willing to create an account with an institution because of outdated business ideals then that institution, like the dinosaurs, will simply not survive.
The days of too big to fail ideology are gone and every institution needs every client. The competition understands this old-school business ideology also contains a rather negative stereotype found in many places of the world where the leader figure is powerfully displayed in conservative business attire mandating policies to the hirelings directly under supposed omniscient leadership. In other words, it hurts your image more than it helps.
Thankfully, art offers a path out of the suit jacket and tie boardroom image into a more resounding modern appeal to the masses and employees. Why? Areas of industry long dominated by the standard operating rules of Victorian styled yesteryear are realizing the wonderful and lucrative partnership that working with creatives, like photographic artists, brings to the bottom line. A recent article by Ceci Moss on the online journal Rhizome sums up the power of these ideas and how they are already happening among several tech giants in the San Francisco Bay area.
Artists are exceptionally talented people who have a knack for thinking outside the box. These creative people add to a financial institution, not by their ability to follow rules, but instead by their ability to help create and express the living values of a corporate entity.
When workers see art that makes them feel good about working in a system, they work harder and are more productive. Customers and clients also see the artwork developed by these artists and they also sense the contemporary edge of that company’s ability to do business in the modern world. It opens a dialogue between the creative and more factual subcultures in an organization.
So look at your corporate institutions and banking financial centers you deal with on a day by day basis. What does their art say about their institution? Are they modern or old-fashioned? What are the values they portray?
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