Half Empty, Since 1998

“We’ve really learned the importance of the word NO.”

Commissioning Street Art: Faile

Faile, Wooster Collective. April 4th, 2004

Street art by Patrick McNeal/Faile

Street art by Patrick McNeal/Faile

Street art by Patrick McNeal/Faile

Street art by Patrick McNeal/Faile

WOOSTER COLLECTIVE: So what’s been your criteria for taking on a commission? What elements need to be in place before you’ll commit to a project?

PATRICK McNEAL/FAILE: First of all, a sense of friendship and trust is needed and a liking of the brand we (Faile) are working with. Second, everything needs to be in writing and signed by both parties so there’s no confusion.

WOOSTER: So are there brands that you would love to work with?

McNEAL: I want to do a collaboration that is not expected. I think something outside fashion would be fun, like a furniture company or a jewellery company like Tiffanys. I can’t think of a specific brand like Addidas or Nike though. But if I had to say one brand we would love to work with it would be Bathing Ape.

WOOSTER: Have you ever turned down a commission? What were the circumstances?

McNEAL: The band Fuel wanted to buy or lease the image of our dog for their new CD. We turned down the offer because we are not big fans of the music and we felt it would take away from the image relating to us. It would not have been done out of love or friendship and it just didn’t feel right at the time. The money was good as well as needed, but we felt it was a sell out move if we did it.

WOOSTER: As an artist, looking at work that has been done recently, are there examples where you thought a commission worked really well? Examples where it didn’t?

McNEAL: I think the Louis Vuitton collaboration with Takashi worked well. It has really pushed both the brand and the artist in a positive way. Also the Haze Nike shoe tuned out great.

WOOSTER: What advice would you give to other artists who are approached by brands for commissions?

McNEAL: My advice is to try to form a personal relationship and see if you are comfortable with the people behind the brand. Make sure the brand and the idea for the collaboration excite you. Don’t jump into anything too quick. Take your time and make sure your ideas for what you want are expressed. There will always be offers, so make sure you are into the brand because once you go with one company it is hard to go with another in the same market.

WOOSTER: When it comes to a commission, is it always about the money? Can a commission help a career in ways outside of money?

McNEAL: I agree. An artist can benefit a lot through press and the association with a brand if it has a good reputation behind it. Money is never our first concern.

WOOSTER: Has you perspective on commissions changed over time?

McNEAL: My perspective has changed a lot. We learned the hard way on our own. We’ve really learned the importance of the word NO. We really don’t like to do commissions any more unless we are really interested and challenged by the brand.


Commissioning Street Art

(Included in Half Empty #2)