All signage has a job to perform. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it fun and artistic.

When’s the last time you thought about business signs as a form of artistic expression? Maybe it’s time to take a new look at how and what you’re communicating with your signs and business graphics.

Creating Destinations

Signage is just the most outward example of how businesses can connect with new customers. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, artists and small businesses have formed an allianceto promote each other’s work and connect with new audiences. Their ultimate goal is to create destinations that generate return customers.

Graphic artist Brandon Minga explained the approach to integrating art and marketing in a Q&A to the Kenosha News, discussing two recent projects that brought original artwork into new local businesses. Minga and a team of artists worked with Mike’s Donuts & Chicken and Modern Apothecary (a pharmacy) to create unique hand-painted signs, murals, and table tops. Even handmade lampshades and “picker” secondhand items became decorative works of art.

Creating Experiences

“It is no secret that marketing is not as effective without an experience, a user’s interactions,” remarked Minga. “Take Mike’s Donuts & Chicken for example. There are many artists involved inside and out, from the table tops to their own branded retail coffee to the signs painted and hung on the building.”

Minga challenges the assumption that original art is unaffordable for most small businesses by offering a few practical suggestions (below) for partnering with local artists, depending on whether the goal is to redesign a space or just liven it up. “You’d be surprised what a few paintings or prints can do to elevate and refresh a space, giving your clients something new to see and experience,” he said.

Artistic Collaboration

Here are some creative ways businesses can team up with artists, beyond simply signage:

  • Host an opening for the artist to connect with new customer segments.
  • Purchase existing paintings or prints if you can’t afford a custom mural, or advertising that says you’re looking for one. Some cities offer grant programs to beautify neighborhoods.
  • Consider trading products or services equivalent to the value of the artwork or the artist’s services.

Perhaps Minga’s best advice is in encouraging businesses to first reach out to artists to see what’s possible. “It’s better to communicate with the creative community rather than make assumptions about what you think is affordable or doable.”

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