ICONIC ART SUPPLIES: INTERVIEW WITH BEN HOVANESSIAN, GLOBAL BRAND DIRECTOR OF WINSOR & NEWTON | Arts & Creative Interview | Art Jobs

ICONIC ART SUPPLIES: INTERVIEW WITH BEN HOVANESSIAN, GLOBAL BRAND DIRECTOR OF WINSOR & NEWTON

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1. What makes Winsor & Newton so iconic ?

Winsor & Newton is one of the world’s most established and respected suppliers of artist materials, and the company is able to trace its history back almost two centuries to when the business was founded by William Winsor and Henry Newton in London in 1832. What makes the brand so special is its long-standing historical ties to the artistic community, and the enduring contribution it continues to make to contemporary art practice. The business was established in Bloomsbury, the heart of London’s vibrant art scene, with the founders setting out to provide artists with the best possible materials. No less a figure that JMW Turner provided the fledgling business with personal insight and a wealth of professional experience, and since then Winsor & Newton have collaborated with artists and institutions around the world to promote fine art and encourage emerging talent.

 

" What makes the brand so special is its long-standing historical ties to the artistic community, and the enduring contribution it continues to make to contemporary art practice. "

 

2. What are some of the most revolutionary products that Winsor & Newton ever introduced onto the market ?

The company was founded by the trained chemist, Henry Winsor and the practising artist, William Newton who merged the knowledge of science and creativity to offer an unprecedented choice of colour, clarity and permanence to fine artists. The company has a long tradition of innovation and it has been at the forefront of some of the key developments in fine art practice, ranging from the first durable opaque white watercolour and the use of collapsible tin tubes for both oils and watercolours to the introduction of Designers Gouache, fast drying oils, water mixable oils and the revolutionary Artists’ Acrylic (now Professional Acrylic). William and Henry’s commitment to quality and passion for innovation are part of a rich heritage which informs Winsor & Newton to this very day. 

 

" The company was founded by the trained chemist, Henry Winsor and the practising artist, William Newton who merged the knowledge of science and creativity to offer an unprecedented choice of colour, clarity and permanence to fine artists. "

 

3. In your opinion, what is the signature product ?

The Winsor & Newton Series 7 brush is one of our most loved and iconic products. It is hand made here in England in exactly the same way it has been for the last 150 years. Queen Victoria pronounced the Series 7 as her favourite brush and when one was found on the wreck of the Titanic, it was considered to look (almost) as good as new. Many artists consider the Series 7 to be the best brush of its kind in the world.

 

" Queen Victoria pronounced the Series 7 as her favourite brush and when one was found on the wreck of the Titanic, it was considered to look (almost) as good as new. "

 

4. Which world-renowned artists are known to have used or currently use your products ?

JMW Turner had a particularly close relationship with William Winsor, who encouraged him to experiment with the newly developed lightfast Winsor & Newton paints. Many of the pigments favoured by Turner, such as Cochineal Carmine and the Chrome Yellow shades, were known to fade quickly, even within the artist’s lifetime. Turner also used natural indigo, which when mixed with black or vermillion, faded to leave behind skies coloured in grey or red. Humidity and atmospheric pollution also affects colourfastness and Turner’s preference for absorbent grounds has meant that mould growth, discolouration, embrittlement and flaking affected his artworks. Turner’s willingness to experiment with materials and fugitive colour, and a practice that focused more on achieving an immediate desired aesthetic rather than longevity did not help the preservation of his work and illustrates the grounds for William Winsor’s genuine concerns for the work of an artist that had become both a friend and a customer. Even a genius needs a little advice now and again; of course whether they choose to act on it is another thing entirely. 

More recently Winsor & Newton has played a key role in the realisation of Imran Qureshi’s ambitious Garden Within a Garden public artwork in Bradford as part of the 14-18 Now programme. Qureshi worked with W&N Mars Black, Cobalt Blue Deep and Cobalt Turquoise Professional Acrylic, in addition to his signature colour Perylene Maroon, to produce a beautiful open air installation that will be on show at the Mughal Water Gardens in Lister Park, next to Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, throughout the summer.

 

5. How has Winsor & Newton promoted fine art in the past and encouraged emerging talent ?

Winsor & Newton are a major contributor to The Fine Art Collective, a membership organisation that supports Fine Art students through providing free lectures on art materials and process in colleges and universities around the world.

 

6. Given the nature of the contemporary art scene, would you say fewer artists are reliant on paint as a media? If yes, are you developing new products or ideas to accompany the change ?

Contemporary art practice is constantly evolving, with new technological developments continually providing artists with new media through which to express their creativity. Winsor & Newton has a rich heritage of innovation, and we are committed to exploring new opportunities for artistic expression and bringing innovative and exciting new products to market. A good example of how we put this philosophy into practice would be the recently launched Pigment Marker, a marker pen using professional grade, light fast, Fine Art pigment. The revolutionary design of this marker means that you can blend the pigment as you would with paint, offering a world of exciting new opportunities for professional creatives.

7. Summarise Winsor & Newton’s role in the contemporary art world today ?

Winsor & Newton continues to play a key role at the heart of the contemporary art world, supplying both emerging and established artists with the finest quality Fine Art materials and providing them with new ways to explore their creativity and share their work with a worldwide community. Our commitment to innovation is part of the company’s heritage and we are continually developing new ideas, seeking out the latest technologies and materials in order to help develop the art practice of a new generation of creatives working in a wide range of fields.

 

" Our commitment to innovation is part of the company’s heritage and we are continually developing new ideas, seeking out the latest technologies and materials in order to help develop the art practice of a new generation of creatives working in a wide range of fields."

 

Ben Hovanessian, Global Brand Director
Winsor & Newton

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