We recently sat down with Ian Kelso – one of the the two organisers of LoveBomb, a unique popup merging art, fashion and live music performance on September 24th/25th at StartWell Studios, our dedicated facility for stills and motion capture which is also a killer venue for conferences, presentations and popups!
What is ‘Love Bomb?’
At the high level, Love Bomb is both an art collection and a lifestyle brand that Cat and I co-created from the ground up. Cat’s the creative visionary and I am the cheerleader and producer. We have both been fans of artists like Murakami who blur the lines between the art world and the commercial world.
What is Cat’s background as an artist? What catalyzed this mixed/multi-media approach?
When I met Cat 2.5 years ago she had recently illustrated and co-published a bedtime storybook – an amazing one at that. But that was the extent of her public profile as an artist. Cat had been making art for herself for a very long time, and both her inside of her mind and the walls of her home are overflowing with these little creatures, several of which you see appearing in the Love Bomb collection.
Thoughts on the relationship between ‘branding’ and ‘artistic identity’
Well to me a brand is just a kind of story without words, one that offers a context so that we can judge its as a consumer. It can be authentic or constructed: both can work. Some say that a brand is a promise, but I think of it more as the reason to buy into a promise. Many of the great artists knew the benefits of constructing great stories around their persona as well as their work.
As a team and company, how does catchoo work?
Catchoo & Co is really more of a collaboration than it is a formal company at the moment. Cat is catchoo, that is her artist name. And she has a rare talent, but she was never a part of the creative scene. She grew up in a small city west of Toronto, went to school in another small city west of that. When I met her I was astounded she had never worked professionally as an artist. Her work was so polished. So after over two decades working mainly in business development in creative technology industries I felt that I could at least try to find a way to quickly get her work in circulation!
Goals for the brand?
We are already doing a second pop-up as we speak!
Our primary goal right now is to figure out exactly who the brand and the art resonates with. Pop-ups give us an amazing opportunity to watch reactions up close. It’s a chance to chat with someone who decides to purchase something and find out why they are willing to part with their hard-earned cash. We believe that it’s a compliment when people appreciate our work, but it’s only going to be a hobby unless enough are willing to actually buy things.
Ultimately, we see the world moving more and more toward lifestyle brands. We believe that they will become the arbiters and curators of products and services. Their job is to become the aggregators and integrators, the packagers and the contextualisers of their customers’ experiences . Our aim to create a brand that is deeply connected to a set of real values and that isn’t afraid to be challenge romantic mythologies, which is why I think the products fit so well with the art. Love Bomb is, at its heart, sometimes as pessimistic and ironic about love as it is optimistic and hopeful. And as anyone who has been in love knows, it can be both a wonderful and extremely troublesome thing.
Launching at StartWell Studios: describe the event and contrast your intentions when planning against your experience of the event?
We had originally decided to test our ideas by staging a storefront popup. But when I started searching for space early in the summer I was not finding a lot of commercial landlords willing to be bothered on short events. Plus most of the spaces would require a lot of work to make them at all interesting.
When I found out about StartWell Studios I immediately thought of what we could achieve digitally to paint the space. It allowed us to create an environment… an entire experience that expressed many of the visions we had in our heads and communicate it in a way that was much more than we could ever afford to do building our a physical environment.
Of course in the beginning we had a million ideas but there were still limitations of time and budget on what we could achieve as a tiny startup, so many of those concepts had to be parked until another time. Overall though we feel like the concept worked effectively and really helped to elevate people’s perception of the brand and the artwork. It was something different, and really delivered on translating the FEEL of who we are and what we make.
What outcomes came from hosting at Startwell Studios?
Given we have such a tiny team, we were thrilled by how much we were able to achieve. StartWell Studios is so ideal for staging an event like this where you can split the venue between experiential and physical retail. With built in projection and lighting it didn’t take a lot of effort to transform the space from an immersive art gallery to a musical performance space to just a great place for our guests to have a photo op. We were so encouraged by the response we were got, but felt like a three day popup was too short to really get word of mouth going. So when a longer term pop up space came available a couple of days after the event, we jumped on it and set up shop within a couple of days.