Five Ways to Create an Art-Centric Experience

Savvy event marketers use art as an engagement tool to inspire creativity and connect with attendees on an emotional level. But increasingly, brands are using art as the activation’s centerpiece; rather than providing a single touchpoint within the overall event, art becomes the experience itself. What’s more, inviting attendees to participate in the art creation process itself makes an impression that resonates long after the event has concluded. Here are five ways in which brands have recently elevated art to center stage to create art-centric experiences.


To build buzz for its new anthology series, “Modern Love,” Amazon Prime Video activates a pop-up in New York City featuring a collection of interactive art exhibits, each inspired by an episode of the series. Dubbed the “Museum of Modern Love” as a nod to New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, the experience invites attendees to meander the space freely, just like a museumgoer, while reading the synopsis of each episode printed on the walls. In one corner, attendees enter a reflective confessional booth and open up about their own unconventional love stories. In another, guests enter a photo booth and choose an aura corresponding to a color—from emotionally unavailable to happily taken—to serve as the background of a portrait that is then projected onto an adjacent white wall.

Standing out amidst a neon color palette is an all-white, life-sized tree installation representing an episode about familial love. This is a great example of using art-centric experiences to create both visually and emotionally powerful moments. Attendees are prompted to think of a loved one, mark their initials or write a note to them on the tree’s surface, and return to the tree later in the evening to see how the messages of love have grown. Before exiting the pop-up, guests place stickers on a map of New York City, the series’ setting, indicating where their own modern love stories take place.


Snap’s activation at the 2019 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity centers around a partnership between the social media platform and Los Angeles-based artist Alex Israel. The Snapchat-enabled exhibit, set in Cannes’ La Malmaison art gallery along the city’s main boulevard, is the experience itself. Here’s how it plays out: Israel creates five self-portraits, each consisting (on the surface) of a floor-to-ceiling outline of the artist’s profile. When attendees point the Snapchat filter toward each one, an animated scene bursts forth, complete with sound effects and music. As augmented continues to rise in popularity, expect to see more art-centric experiences making the most of it. Scenes include a portal opening into a seascape and a palm tree bursting beyond the portrait’s frame. The mini-experiences showcase Snap’s Marker technology, which connects phone-based augmented reality to real objects. After exiting the gallery, attendees point the app toward the top of the building to discover an animated version of Israel himself, seated on the roof and playing with his phone while a stream of cute objects like hearts, donuts and stars fell to the ground.


As a way to illustrate the beautiful complexities of the human body to consumers, supplement and at-home health test brand Thorne creates a biometric art installation in New York City called “The Frontier Within.” The activation consists of measuring participants’ vital signs and transforming them into colorful, digital displays. As attendees breathe in and out, for instance, the data visualization projects onto a giant screen and grows more vivid. Colors of the display change along with attendees’ heart rates and skin gland readings. Art-centric experiences that provide such high levels of interaction and personalization are always impactful. An audio journey with headphones provides details about the interactive digital maps and, nearby, an exhibit of Thorne products and digital displays of human systems complete the experience.

The MGallery Hotel Collection, which considers art as a key component of its brand, converts a pop-up hotel room into a 24-hour interactive art installation in Manhattan’s Penn Plaza. The goal of the activation is to build buzz around the company’s acquisition of 21C Museum Hotels. It does so by creating a single, stark white hotel room encased in glass which gradually transforms into a vibrant, colorful work of art at the hand of muralist Aaron De La Cruz. In the course of 24 hours he paints every inch of the space and its décor—from the lampshades to the bedding to the floors. Art-centric experiences being created in real time are unique and the types of events that get attention. Plus, passersby who post a pic of the “Masterpiece Suite” or visit an MGallery microsite are entered to win a VIP experience, such as picnicking in New Zealand, getting a tattoo in Amsterdam or scoring a horse racing trip to Louisville.

The activation has an additional event component. MGallery invites a group of influencers, media and VIPs to a cocktail party to get a first look at Cruz’s creation. Event attendees enjoy spontaneous poems whipped up by The Haiku Guys and then typed out on a vintage typewriter, a Cruz signature. The brand also announces a luxurious “Paint Your Passport” hotel package as part of the campaign, which includes hotel stays at all eight 21C Museum Hotels—each boasting an impressive contemporary art collection—as well as exclusive experiences.


Renaissance Hotels’ Navigator concierge program introduces guests to unique and undiscovered aspects within the hotels’ local communities. So, when it comes time to celebrate the program on the company’s annual Global Day of Discovery, the brand looks to art-centric experiences and produces a scavenger hunt in the surrounding area of the soon-to-be-built Renaissance Hotel Harlem featuring musical performances, an art exhibit, a pop-up fashion show, and more. The brand incorporates local artists into the experience to communicate the vibe of the forthcoming hotel. For instance, one stop along the hunt is the interior of a brownstone featuring an exhibition by graffiti artist Ces in which he tagged hotel items throughout the space.

The traditional gallery-going experience can be an inspiration in and of itself, providing respite from everyday life and a space to be quietly inspired. Incorporating that creativity into events, with the help of new technologies and modern art forms, can create a communal art-centric experiences and a sense of belonging among attendees. A pretty picture indeed.

Check out brand activations designed and produced by Sparks.

Posted by Dyan Cornacchio | Request as a Speaker

Social media and creative writing connoisseur. Obsessed with my golden retriever, pop culture, and pizza. Nothing makes me happier than being home on LI, relaxing at the beach with my family.