Purchasable art | The Argonaut Newsweekly

The mural, located at Ocean Front Walk and 19th Avenue in Venice, can be purchased using Google Lens from Android or iOS devices. PHOTO Courtesy of Google

Venice fresco supports local artists and small businesses

By Jenn McKee

There are many vibrant murals around Venice Beach, but only one offers the option of holiday shopping while looking at it.

Google and American Express have teamed up to order four “purchasable murals,” each created by a local artist in a high-traffic location (Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York) to showcase the offerings of several small local businesses before vacation.

“Each mural can be purchased with Google Lens. So all you have to do is point your phone, take a photo, remove the item and buy it, ”said Stephanie Horton, Marketing Director of Google Shopping.
Local artist Crisselle Mendiola designed a bright and fun, manga-style beach mural – located at Ocean Front Walk and 19th Avenue in Venice – showcasing products “from scented candles and teas to beauty products. “said Horton. “All the things that are perfect to give this holiday season. “

But that was not the only criterion for inclusion in the fresco.

“We really wanted to have a nice range of diversity,” said Horton. “So belonging to women, to blacks, to LGBTQ [businesses] – cross the spectrum of people who find it more difficult to be noticed, and who have more difficulty in promoting their business.

Part of it is a response to tracking what consumers now prioritize when they ‘shop for their values’.

“We’ve seen searches for black-owned businesses increase by over 600%, so we know there is a definite demand and people are looking for these types of opportunities,” said Liz Schulten, member of the ‘Google communications team. “We also know that 60% of American consumers who plan to shop for the holidays say they want to shop at local small businesses. So one of the things we want to do is meet the consumer where they are.

The goals of the purchasable mural project also align with Google Shopping’s ongoing partnership with 15 Percent Pledge, a nonprofit that challenges businesses to devote 15% of their storage space to corporate products. belonging to blacks. (Fashion designer and activist Aurora James, following the George Floyd murder, kicked off the 15 percent pledge via an Instagram post.)
So far, 28 retailers have signed up and James has, in the meantime, gathered 1,200 black-owned businesses into a database.

“But some of them haven’t had the training, the skills to really understand the digital landscape and how to take advantage of it,” said Horton. “… So one of the things we do is create a series of trainings for all the black companies in (James’s) database, so they know everything they need to know. It’s a two-year partnership, and we’re really excited to be able to help there as well. It is an excellent initiative.
Murals, of course, offer a much more visible way to connect consumers with small business owners. Still, you might wonder what freedom Mendiola (and the other three wall artists) had when creating the design.

“We actually gave them a lot of leeway,” said Horton. “Really the only requirement from our side is that Google Lens be able to retrieve (the image), so things had to be identifiable. But I think one of the great things about this project is that they are each so endemic to each city, because it is the style of this artist.

Aesthetics aside, the artist also in each case had to educate consumers on how to use the mural for its intended purpose.

“We looked at a draft of the first one and thought, ‘There are no directions. How are people going to know what to do? ‘ Said Horton. “So there’s a part of the mural that’s dedicated, like, it’s how you do it, step by step, so it’s pretty well documented in a big space at the corner of each mural. “

The murals have only been around for a few weeks, but for the record, the companies featured are seeing positive increases in online traffic.

“And one of the companies in New York actually got a corporate order from someone who saw (the mural), so there was definitely a lot of notoriety, and people are noticing companies that they had never heard of it, ”Horton said.
Google Shopping and American Express will do real calculations after the murals fell, to assess their positive impact on the businesses featured.
In the meantime, it’s hard not to wonder if the murals point to our collective buying future.

“Consumers are definitely discovering things more digitally these days, so I think a company’s skills and digital presence are really important,” said Horton. “The bricks and mortar are always here to stay, but I think people want a choice now. Our role in this regard is to make sure that these small businesses have the opportunity to connect with even more consumers, as we are seeing the COVID trend of buying more online is definitely here to stay, so you want to make sure you ‘have all the tips and tools to be able to maximize your impact there.

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Christopher S. Washington