Developing art strategies for passenger ships

Jon Ingleton caught up with ArtLink’s Tal Danai at CSIE to learn about the two main approaches for curating artwork collections onboard passenger ships

Developing art strategies for passenger ships
ArtLink curated an eclectic artwork collection for Holland America Line’s cruise ship Nieuw Statendam

Investing in art is a complex business, but what are the essential components of an art strategy for passenger shipping companies?

“In the first instance, we have to decide if we’re looking at art on a brand level where it serves as an instrument to convey corporate values, or on a ship level where it may be seen as one element in the overall making of a vessel,” said Tal Danai, CEO of ArtLink, which curates artwork collections for passenger ship operators and other hospitality clients.

After determining this, Danai and his team establish who should take ownership of the art strategy. “We need to know whether the ship operator’s executive leadership team will be managing the art strategy as part of their calculated brand decision making, or whether it will be left to those who are responsible for designing the brand’s vessels,” he explained.

If we focus on art strategy at an individual ship level, how is it a separate entity from design? “On one side of the spectrum is art as decoration and this is where the brand would expect the art to complement and enhance the design and feel of the ship,” commented Danai. “On the other side, art is used to add significant value to the overall guest experience.”

Elaborating, Danai added: “Beyond the aesthetics, art delivers brand values, moments of reflection, cultural affinity with the destinations the ship visits and other rewards that enrich and deepen guest experiences better than any other interior element.”

Using art as decoration and implementing art as an experience enhancer introduces fundamental differences in how ArtLink curates the artwork collection. “Under the decoration strategy, the priority is to make sure that artworks assimilate optimally with the overall design of the ship and aid in the creation of a desired environment,” said Danai. “In this scenario, the design team usually takes ownership and chosen pieces must fit a pre-defined budget within the overall design budget.”

However, when the brand wants to use art to enhance and elevate the overall guest experience, ArtLink must consider the benefits of each piece and the associated revenue potential. “The brand selects and guides the experiences it would like to be enhanced by art and we choose the art that best fits those parameters,” said Danai. “In this case, the artwork budget is derived from a combination of design costs and the expected revenue contribution by the implementation of a well strategised art programme.”

Regardless of the preferred route, an informed art curator like ArtLink will always examine every angle and perceived benefit of their choices. “In every art strategy it’s prudent to explore the wider impact of a well-curated programme,” explained Danai. “Social media, for example, becomes an extension of any physical environment and dramatic artwork is an effortless way to get your guests selling your ship for you.”

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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Jon Ingleton
By Jon Ingleton
24 July 2020

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