Next Management founder Faith Kates thinks the time of digital art is coming.
The major modeling and talent firm has signed up a handful of “digital artists” that create a lively array of gifs, moving illustrations and even claymation that Kates sees as the next wave of fashion and retail’s digital revolution.
“I think that it’s almost obvious that this is where the world is going,” Kates said. “When we went into social, everything was flat, photos, then we got Instagram and things started moving and now we have these artists who create movement and even short movies.”
Kates added that her new roster of digital artists, Greta Larkins, Frank Nitty, Fahren Feingold, Chopsy, George Redhawk and Luca Mainini, can do “virtually anything” that a brand needs to get it some attention.
“We literally started telling places a week ago and everyone has been answering back, but people have been asking me, ‘Where do you see them fitting in?’ and I’m like, ‘Everywhere,’” Kates said. “What I’m hoping is that this will be the future of retail. Now experiences have to come along with shopping and these artists, they can apply their skills to the retail environment.”
She pointed to Chopsy, a claymation artist whose take on clay versions of fashion icons from Anna Wintour to Alber Elbaz have been featured in the U.K.’s Stylist magazine, as an artist already working with a “big” beauty brand on a new project as an example of the medium’s appeal.
While the labor-intensive nature of claymation has Kates dismissive of the form seeing a full-on revival, despite the hold nostalgia appears to have on Millennials and Generation Z, she said the style’s “elevated and whimsical” look can pay off for those willing to be patient.
And that aesthetic appeal is part of what sparked Kates and Next manager Gina Duckworth’s ambition to expand the firm with digital artists.
“We decided to do this because it appealed to us and we asked, ‘Why don’t we start a division like we did with social influencers?’ who were all just called bloggers at the time,” Kates said. “Of course, we like to be at the forefront and we like to be the first, and this is the beginning of the next thing.”
As for any future expansion, Kates was mum, but she said the response from industries like advertising has been “amazing.”
“The top agencies have really reached out saying ‘How do we hire these guys?’ — they see that this is going to move the needle.”
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