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Custom Sculptures Gone Awry

A custom sculpture that was created for the Maderia airport has created a fair amount of controversy, and this brouhaha offers some important parallels for our business.

The sculpture was a bust of the Portuguese football (soccer) star Cristiano Ronaldo, who the airport was named after. The controversy stemmed from the fact that the sculpture didn’t really look like Ronaldo. Some even considered it “creepy.” 

While we don’t know the exact details of how or why this happened, the net result is something that we have seen often in custom awards, custom sculptures, and, in fact, commissioned art in general. Namely, a piece of commissioned art that doesn’t deliver on its promise.

In our mind, commissioned art truly succeeds when it achieves four key objectives: 1) it satisfies the client and their design objectives; 2) it communicates the message or feeling it was intended to; 3) it grabs the audience’s attention and elicits a strong feeling or reaction; and 4) it has an inherent design integrity and quality. The last criteria is subjective, of course, and is most often one of those “you know it when you see it” things.

The Renaldo sculpture may have achieved a couple of these objectives. Perhaps it was quality craftsmanship, *maybe* the client was happy, and it obviously has generated strong feelings. However, it falls short on delivering on its design intention: to look like a bust of Renaldo! We keep these objectives in mind when designing our custom sculpture awards. If we create a beautiful design, but it doesn’t communicate it’s intended message, or if the client doesn’t like it, we have failed. Or, conversely, if a client approaches us with a design idea, and we feel there is a different design or approach that better enables them to meet their objectives, we owe it to the client to be candid and suggest these.

Just some food for thought…