Collaborations are always an interesting avenue for a company to go down in my opinion. They can turn out absolutely incredible, or they can come out a jumbled mess. Business wise, there's a lot of different ways to approach someone about a collab, but having enough of them under our belt at this point you start to get a feel for it. Positioning the idea is always tricky, and we've been shot down by plenty of artists and companies over the years. The thing you always have to remember with being turned down: The worst thing someone is going to say is "no", and when they do you have to be prepared to move forward, work harder, and do your best work on whatever project you had in mind, don't throw it away because you got rejected.
Now, whether it's with an artist you're dying to work with, an established company you'd love to have your name beside, or an organization you're extremely passionate about, when it does work out it can be a beautiful thing. Back in January we were contacted by The Gibbes Museum here in Charleston, SC to work on a special project, and bring something unique to their Museum Gift Shop. I'll be honest, I was a bit taken back. The Gibbes has been an art institution here in Charleston since 1905. They have a Garden Concert Series and 18th Century paintings in their collection. Why in the world do they want to work with someone who puts pizza on literally everything?!
Thomas Middleton of The Oaks 1770 by Benjamin West // Gibbes Garden Concert
Before responding to their request I decided to do a little research, and when I strolled across the line, "Art is the reason Charleston will endure.", in their Mission Statement I was reminisced... That doesn't sound like a line from someone attending a Garden Party, that sounds like someone with a passion for not only art made in the 18th Century, but art made in ANY century...
It took me back to 2007. I was 21 years old, and my obsession with consuming any type of art was at it's peak. DJing and creating original music, scooping up artwork from as many local artists I could get my hands on, and throwing myself into a community of artists that didn't really have a place for their work to be seen or recognized. I had convinced my good friend and artist SHT! to let me put together an art show at a bar downtown for him, and once we realized it was something we were all equally passionate about, we spiraled a little out of control. We were throwing art show after art show, raising money for kids during the Holidays, and showing incredible pieces from local artist's like Kevin Taylor and Shepard Fairey. I finally had a crowd to DJ for, and my friends had a community hungry for original art in a city that's highlighted artwork is marsh landscapes.
SHT! Art Show at Upper Deck Tavern, 2007
We had a good thing going, but we were kids with no funding to make it any bigger or turn any sort of profit. The artists were our friends, and the people attending were our friends. There was no taking a cut because we had all worked together to make those evenings possible. The realization of what we were doing proved that "Art is the reason", and it didn't matter what type of art it was. The Midnight Society has, in a way, without us even being cognizant, morphed itself into that very idea. Supporting the arts by collaborating with artists, bands, other companies, and now an incredible establishment who's ideals we completely align with.
We couldn't be more excited about this ongoing project with The Gibbes Museum for so many reasons. Being able to be a part of something local means the world to us, and the opportunity to work with people who share those beliefs even more so. It was an honor to transform two iconic fixtures in the museum, The Rotunda Dome and The Veiled Lady, into enamel pins in our own way. Both of these designs are available exclusively at The Gibbes Museum Store in Charleston, SC.
"The Rotunda Dome" Enamel Pin, photo by Erin Nathanson // "The Veiled Lady" Enamel Pin, photo by Erin Nathanson
Photos courtesy of GibbesMuseum.org