Meet the brand committed to the democratisation of art.
Consumerism and creativity haven’t always gone hand in hand, and in recent years brands dipping their toe into artistic pools has had varying degrees of success, with the criticism usually being that that the lasting impact on art and those creating it is never enough to advance the creative industry in ways that directly benefit the artists. But any naysayers need look no further than LIFEWTR, the US-based water brand dedicated to supporting emerging artists and furthering their careers in meaningful ways. With each bottle featuring the work of a selected artist, the goal is to inspire consumers while giving back to the arts, creating a cyclical effect that is both altruistic and aspirational, and in two short years LIFEWTR has become ubiquitous at global cultural events – from Frieze New York to Fashion Week and, this week, Miami Art Week. The brainchild of Olga Osminkina, we catch up with the creative polymath to find out what’s next.
LIFEWTR has made a huge impact so far. What can you tell us about the brand’s journey so far? What sets LIFEWTR apart from other brands?
LIFEWTR was born out of a purpose to support emerging artists and to create a platform for them to showcase their work, be discovered by the public, and to inspire others to unleash their creativity. We believe that creative talent, and namely artists, are critical to the advancement and prosperity of our society at large. And data proves it – the arts are often strongly connected with urban economic development and revitalisation projects. This includes the ability of art to educate and nurture “whole brain thinkers,” create new jobs, drive innovation, bridge cultures and inspire openness and be an inclusive catalyst for communities to explore variety of issues and aspirations, among other things. However, with all this importance, emerging talent in the art world is under heavy pressure and need direct support and strong networks to enable them to create and for their talent to be discovered. LIFEWTR provides just that, in turn helping artists and communities alike. LIFEWTR has advanced the careers of more than 20 emerging artists and impacted lives of millions of people, including children with our Arts in Education program since first launching two years ago and the brand continues to serve as a platform for emerging talent. Because of our purpose and the impact it has made in the lives of real individuals, the brand’s journey has been incredibly rewarding.
How does LIFEWTR select which artists to work with, and how does it help to bolster their future careers?
Several times a year LIFEWTR introduces a new Series curated around a culturally relevant topic that we believe deserves broader attention from the public such as Arts in Education or Diversity in Design. We then collaborate with a cultural council made up of curators and other world-renowned industry experts and organisations, such as Frieze and Council of Fashion Designers, to identify three emerging artists who are doing exemplary work in the corresponding space and we work with them to put their art – existing or new – on a bottle. In addition to the exposure, we provide artists intimate access to institutions and leaders at the centre of their field and elevate their work and profiles through media and industry visibility. We also support each artist through advancement programs, for example, with a showcase at New York Fashion Week or a speaking engagement at a Frieze Art Fair. We have a huge honour and humbling responsibility in selecting the artists we work with and we take tremendous pride in the opportunity to help grow their careers and see them thrive.
How important is it that brands continue to connect consumers with art? And what is the danger if this doesn’t happen?
We’ve seen study after study show that art plays a significant role in education and development. Art has the ability to educate and nurture “whole brain thinkers,” boost the economy, drive innovation, bridge cultures and serve as a catalyst for communities to explore a variety of issues and yet we’re seeing it cut from many curriculums and budgets. By building a platform that democratises art and puts it directly in the hands of millions of individuals, LIFEWTR aims to help encourage the flow of creativity and culture within our communities as well as appreciation of the power of art.
And conversely, how important is it that brands continue to support emerging artists that may not have the funds or platform otherwise? Does this happen enough in the industry in your opinion?
It is vital to nurture the next generation of artists. Their point of view and unique perspectives are essential and without a strong foundation for emerging talent, we risk losing out on an important dialogue. Our goal is to advance and support emerging artists on a global stage and to give them a platform. There are a number of wonderful programs that share our mission but there is always room for more.
Can you tell us a little bit about your own personal relationship with art – how does it enrich your life and when did you first fall in love with it?
Thank you for asking! Our purpose is indeed very personal to me. As a child, I took on a number of creative endeavours: attending fine art school, being on TV and a lead singer in a band. At some point I wanted to pursue a career in the creative field, however growing up in Soviet Union, in Siberia, and not knowing how to be discovered made my mother convince me that, while it’s a wonderful hobby, it is not a real job. I ended up pursuing math and computer programming! And later on I learned that my mother’s mother told her the same about her desire to make it as a ballerina. I am very happy with the career I have pursued in the end. However, I have never lost touch with arts and creative communities and the great deal of my personal growth and professional success I attribute to “whole brain thinking” – ability to take data and analytics and translate it into breakthrough creative ideas. My view of the world, my problem solving, my curiosity and empathy would not be the same if it was not for my love and pursuit of arts.
Can you talk us through LIFEWTR’s programming at Miami Art Week this year- why was partnering with the Bass Museum and the Ferngully exhibition the right choice?
We’re thrilled to be supporting The Bass’ new exhibition, which opens during Art Week in Miami. As a partner, The Bass is so inspiring and indicative of a new creative epicentre for all. It is a wonderful place that encourages openness and brings the essence of creativity to art lovers in a democratic and inclusive setting. And the Haas brothers are contemporary inspiration for many emerging artists. For us, the opportunity to support The Bass and the Haas Brothers exhibition was a natural fit. And in addition to our support for the Ferngully exhibition we’ll be working with The Bass on some exciting programs for the community in 2019, as well.
What are the considerations before any partnership or activation? What is the secret to successful collaboration?
All of our partnerships are driven by our purpose. For example, we have a global partnership with Frieze, which beyond showing and selling art, is an institution that provides a platform for powerful conversation, art education and advancement of creative talent in the art world at global scale. There is no one secret to success – it’s about authentic commitments, shared beliefs, organic relationships and a passion for what we can do together to support the artistic community.
LIFEWTR has worked in the spheres of art and fashion so far – what kind of evolution can we expect in the future?
In my opinion, art and fashion go hand-in-hand. They both celebrate craftsmanship and provide a canvas for self-expression. Whatever we do next will highlight that kind of service to our culture.
What have the highlights of LIFEWTR’s journey been thus far?
Watching the careers of our Series Artists advance since our collaborations has been so rewarding. Personally, I value the opportunity to get close to their individual creative processes and see the potential for their imprint on the cultural landscape.
6 December 2018