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Meet ARTiSTORY the company supporting the evolution of cultural institutions beyond bricks and mortar

by Staff GBAF Publications Ltd
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Yizan He, Co-founder and Managing Director of ARTiSTORY talks about the evolution of cultural institutions expanding beyond bricks and mortar

Built upon a proven successful licensing model, ARTiSTORY improves its business model further by adding the “Artefacts to Merchandise and storytelling with content development capabilities. Founded by myself and Natasha Dyson earlier this year, the company has expanded rapidly with five new world-class museum clients on board, growing creative teams and opening sales offices in London, Boston, Barcelona, Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore. 

As a pioneer in art and cultural IP licensing, ARTiSTORY continues to build its client base of museums, galleries, libraries, and science centres around the world.  We have secured multi-year master licensee rights to the Brooklyn Museum (New York), National Gallery (London), National Palace Museum (Taipei), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), and Dunhuang (China), with additional cultural organisations in the pipeline.  This gives ARTiSTORY, and therefore our  licensees and retailers, access to a diverse selection of artefacts and artworks, from ancient Greek potteries to Renaissance masterpieces, from woodblock prints such as the Great Wave off Kanagawa to the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang.

We recently held ARTiSTORY’s annual theme launches in September, the global launch was a virtual event,  to accommodate attendees from multiple time zones ,and an in person event in Shanghai. announcing the Spring/Summer 2022 and Autumn/Winter 2022 themes to consumer brands and retailers in various key markets. We have identified four key themes for SS 2022 and AW 2022, namely, Let’s Play, Botanical Affairs, Dunhuang: Ode to Glamour, and Gathering of the Greats.  Each theme is broken down into episodes that focus on different artists, topics, or periods.  Each episode features illustrations, prints & patterns that are inspired by select artefacts and artworks, supported by specifically crafted editorials, videos, and immersive window displays that consumer brands and global retailers can easily tap into. 

Cultural IP and licensing plays an integral part of the future for museums and galleries across the globe. The global pandemic has not only encouraged more organizations to start their IP licensing programs, but also sped up the digitalisation of the museum and cultural sector: it had to discover new ways to engage with audiences, whether through their phones or through pop-up or satellite experiences. This digital shift is changing the way that younger demographics engage with art and culture. Innovations in technology and the pervasiveness of digital has started to change the museum sector’s reputation for being old fashioned and elitist, opening up the sector to everyone. Following the lead of retailers and brands in other sectors, who have discovered the benefits of showcasing and pop-ups and who have been willing to experiment with digital engagement strategies, the traditional cultural sector is teaming up with licensing specialist firms such as ARTiSTORY, to create new immersive experiences for audiences outside of and away from the museum walls. Our clients are experimenting with remote pop-ups, live-streaming, creating stickers and filters for social media. We are designing digital, sharable tools and engagement strategies which are opening up the cultural world to entirely new audiences. The results have been both encouraging and inspirational. 

The creative theme launch is well-timed as the demand for art and cultural IP has grown rapidly.  Licensing International reported in May 2021 that art and cultural IP has risen from merely 1% in 2015 to 18.7% in terms of the retail value of licensed merchandise in China in 2020.  The EU and the US markets are picking up pace too with many consumer brands and retailers harnessing the power of art and cultural IP.

A key appeal to brands and retailers is the longevity and security that art and cultural licensing provides.  Luxury brands such as LVMH and global retailers such as H&M, Zara, Mango, and Uniqlo have embraced art and cultural IP, and this will further inspire more brands and retailers to explore art and cultural IP.