Creative That Works: April

Our ‘Creative That Works’ for April is all about Colossal Media, a company that takes an imaginative approach to outdoor media and advertising. If you live in or have visited New York, chances are you’ve seen one of their works of art. For the past fifteen years, they’ve been creating hand-painted murals featuring some of the most engaging and innovative out-of-home advertising that we’ve ever seen. We were stoked when a few weeks ago, they invited our team to their workshop in Brooklyn to hear their story and get a first-hand peek into their creative process.

Reimagining Out-of-Home Creative, One Wall at a Time
Creative Company: Colossal Media

The concept for Colossal Media was formulated over a couple of beers in the backyard of founders Paul and Adrian. At the time, Paul was a painter and Adrian was busy running Mass Appeal Magazine. They had a crazy dream to take a process that had long since lost its public allure and form a company that could do things bigger and better than ever. Their initial vision to embrace paint over print as an advertising medium inspired the conception of Colossal.

At the start, they worked with mainly alcohol and video game clients, as these were the companies who were hoping to develop a grittier aesthetic. Colossal has since aided in the transformation of paint being an outdated artistic tool to a highly sought-after medium in the industry. Today they are working with luxury brands, including Gucci and Chanel.

Over the years, they have expanded from an office in a garage to operating their own custom-built shop in East Williamsburg, along with another active space in Los Angeles. Now with a portfolio of over 120 different walls in 7 core markets, Colossal has made quite the name for themselves and the brands they’re painting.

While today they’re thriving more than ever, they had to overcome some initial challenges when they first arrived on the scene. “The biggest hurdle was convincing people we could actually paint artwork the way they wanted it to be painted. Brands will partner with a celebrity and that face has to look exactly as it would in print. Over the years our team has proven again and again that we can do that exactly,” says Natalie Kunstadter, Creative Director at Colossal.

And paint wasn’t exactly the advertising method of choice at the time of Colossal’s inception. “Paint became less of a common medium in advertising with the rise in popularity of vinyl printing, which was much easier and cheaper. With less painters in the workforce, the quality of the product in the industry was going down, so we had to establish ourselves as a highly skilled team to keep campaigns looking the same (or better) than work from different vendors,” says Nicholas Cummins, the VP of Real Estate Acquisitions at Colossal Media.

Cummins recalls an article posted in The New York Times back in 2004, where a television network had stated that although they admired Colossal’s work, they weren’t sure if they could trust them to paint a realistic face for one of their campaigns. Flash forward to last year, and Colossal was mentioned in The New York Times yet again for executing a flawless photo-realistic mural of Kendrick Lamar’s face in a Spotify campaign. Safe to say they have proven themselves as the industry expert.

Colossal is also unconventional in the way they train their artists. Each painter has to go through a rigorous apprenticeship program, in which they learn about the specific tools, how to work in the shop, how to consolidate and mix paint and more – all before the paintbrush touches the wall. They are unique because they allow anyone, no matter their background, to enter the apprenticeship program. Kunstadter conveyed that this was necessary to build a robust team, “there’s really no talent pool from us to pull from. There are a couple painters out there in the world who do this already and we try to find them, but we’re creating our own industry here.”

As CO OPers, we were particularly interested in the way that Colossal utilizes space and real estate in an innovative way to portray a brand message. “From a real estate perspective, outdoor advertising is really place-oriented and you have to have a highly visible, highly unique location; especially if you want to sell it as a premium product and distinguish yourself from other vendors,” says Cummins. “We’re always looking to make new partnerships with developers. We work with some of the largest and smallest landlords in the country because even though we are a national company, we have a very local focus. Most vendors sell walls based on zip code. We’re looking for spots with cultural significance so our clients can reach the exact type of demographic they’re looking for.” We’re definitely hoping to partner with Colossal for on one of our real estate or hospitality activations.

As their hand-painted campaigns continue to gain popular support and attention, we wish nothing but the best for these rockstar creatives.

Check out some photos from our tour below: