Art with a corporate message

Artwork can inspire employees as well as make a statement to customers and clients

The acrylic painting "Brisk January" in the offices of NAI Keystone Commercial & Industrial.

By David A. Kostival
Reading Eagle correspondent

When entering a corporate office for the first time, a visitor’s eye might be drawn to a striking painting or a sculpture.

When that happens, the artwork has accomplished an important task: to give a strong first impression of the company.

But if there is no art whatsoever, your first impression could be any number of things, some which may not portray the business in the best light.

So office art, or corporate art as it often is referred to, plays a significant role in the marketing of a company.

That’s the message Jane Runyeon, owner of All Together Art, tries to convey to business owners.

All Together Art, Shillington, is Runyeon’s art studio and business, and she specializes in creating corporate art collections.

“Without art, you do not have a soul for your building,” Runyeon said. “It’s what people remember. I tell business owners that artwork can help to frame their business and explain it in an inexplicable way.”

Tracy Hoffman, vice president of Niemczyk/Hoffman Group Inc., Shillington, said that from a marketing point of view, corporate art has two purposes.

“The first is to the internal audience,” Hoffman said. “It can communicate strategy and get your internal team motivated. It also inspires and can create an environment of relaxation.”

The second purpose serves external audiences and is intended to make a statement about the company.

“Corporate art is the unspoken part of what a business is all about,” she said. “Creating something visual is different from what you say verbally.”

Runyeon agreed that corporate art can also inspire and motivate employees.

“Artwork is a way to engage employees in a new way so that their dialogue can be about art and not about petty things,” she said. “It becomes the pulse of the environment and brings up new ideas.”

Maxine Manges is president of MKM, an art-acquisition company for corporate, health care and hospitality customers, in Glen Mills, Delaware County. She said corporate art should show what a company is about.

“A company does tend to have a vibe,” Manges said. “It filters down to the greeter to the chairs to whether or not there is a cafeteria. That is all reflected in the artwork.”

Hoffman said one mistake that some companies make is to create their own art.

“I have seen over many years companies, especially manufacturers, create art out of its internal sources, and sometimes that seems forced,” Hoffman said. “The art should represent the top driver in the organization, the philosophy and beliefs.”

Manges said there is a distinct difference between putting together an art collection for a corporation and for a health care facility.

“When you go to the hospital, you don’t feel the same as when you walk into a corporation,” she said. “You are sick or are with someone who is ill, and you will encounter people to care for you. The artwork therefore must be kinder and gentler. … It has to be pleasing and peaceful. Corporate art can be more esoteric. It is more to show how clever the corporation can be.”

Locally, Manges put together a collection for Genesis Healthcare, which operates several skilled nursing-care and assisted-living facilities in Berks County.

Runyeon admitted that selling the concept of corporate art is difficult during tough economic times.

“When the market is forcing companies to let people go, they are certainly not considering artwork,” she said. “But a lot of companies do understand the power of changing the walls and making their space interesting.”

Runyeon has provided corporate art collections for local businesses including Reading Hospital, NAI Keystone Commercial & Industrial LLC, Arrow International Inc., Hamilton Precision Metals Inc. and C.H. Briggs.

Nadia A. Muret, office and marketing manager for NAI Keystone, Exeter Township, said the collection Runyeon put together fit the environment.

“I find her pieces of art very interesting,” Muret said. “We are in a very modern building, so she brought in art that created a nice atmosphere. Much of it can be a good starting point for conversation.”

Runyeon said her work varies from one project to another.

“My best-case scenario is when I am brought in prior to a renovation and allowed to sit in on meetings with the architect,” Runyeon said. “We want to make the artwork look as if it was always meant to be there. I always prefer a long-term commitment where I can work with the company to grow and change the art collection over a period of time.”

Contact David A. Kostival: 610-371-5080 or

Tips for selecting corporate art

Choose elegant and expressive art to convey a message about your company’s image.

Consider what your business does. If your business does financial planning, select art that expresses security and the reward to be gained by intelligent investing. If your business is focused on environmental issues, select art that shows the beauty of the planet.

Place art in the hallways to inspire employees to think beyond the confines of office walls.

Select art that will encourage and motivate employees.

Consider what your employees might prefer. If employees loathe a painting every time they walk by it, that’s not a good thing.

Choose office art that you like since you will have to look at it and pay for it.

Framing is important; high-quality framing can make an impact in the overall effect of art. Choose art by contacting a corporate art service; most business owners do not have the time to invest in visiting galleries.

Periodically rotate your office art to keep the environment fresh and inviting.


Mistakes in corporate art

Ignoring the need for art altogether. Offices without artwork have a larger turnover of employees and clients.

Having old, improperly framed, unframed or damaged pieces. Your artwork shows off how much you care about the business.

Improper lighting or placement.

Having no game plan for the art. The collection has to somehow tie together.

Using cheaply produced prints rather than fine art reflects poorly on the company.

Don’t make it too fancy.

Don’t form a committee to make a decision about art. A committee means less integrity because it turns the selection process into a game where you don’t have a cohesive look.

Source: Jane Runyeon, All Together Art