You know that special feeling you get when you’re given homemade cookies as opposed to store bought ones? As you bite into one of grandma’s finest, you may think about a family recipe handed down 3 generations, the unique ingredients required, as well as the time and care poured into them. There’s just more soul to it.

This year we applied that same logic to our holiday gifts. We wanted to skip the typical gift baskets and craft a meaningful experience for our clients. Our goal was to tap talent from within our team and draw inspiration from our core values and noble cause to come up with a truly unique gift. Hopefully our approach will inspire you to add more soul to the way that you give.

Our Approach

Aside from being a strategist at DT, I self-medicate with creativity by painting. My recent work focuses on creating vibrant compositions using stripes and patterns. I’ve been lucky enough to partner with companies such as Lululemon who’ve commissioned multiple paintings and invited me to host creative workshops. So I was asked to lead our gift creation process.

Lululemon display at night.

My vision was to create a large composition, from which we could parcel out an equal (yet unique) slice that symbolized each client. As a multipiece production, each piece stands alone. Then, when put together, the pieces meld into a large design, which can be arranged in many formations. Since we believe in camaraderie with our clients, combining the pieces symbolizes our connection as a team.

The gift of variety. Another formation of Nate's paintings.

The Creative Process

My work revolves around repetition and control, but always includes an element of uncertainty. Lately I’ve been working with squeeze bottles and gravity; choosing composition, colors and direction, and then letting colors run.

For our gift concept, I chose to replicate the same composition on each individual piece, knowing that assembling these repeating elements together would create a much different experience on a larger scale. Each small piece is composed of the same 12 colors, but applied in a different order, giving them a unique sense of personality.

Nate letting gravity make its mark.

The canvases are given a base coat of color (using one of four different base colors) before having an angle masked off with tape and then being hung on a wall for the remainder of the process. Colors are applied via squeeze bottle onto the taped surface, and then gravity pulls the paint away from the tape in a somewhat straight line. To avoid colors mixing on the canvas, only one or two colors can be applied at a time on each piece. I usually work on multiple pieces at a time, enjoying the meditative quality of the repetitive process.

Nate carefully measures out the larger blocks of paint on his canvases.

I work with mistints of household paint so each color can’t be replicated. This inimitable aesthetic is part and parcel of my approach to art. While the work looks uniform from a distance, there’s natural variation and spontaneity when you get a closer look. Same goes for the creation of these pieces: While the process is controlled and measured, I let the paint freely fall, and let nature finish the job.

Finishing Up

The next time you’re about to give a gift, look to your team for creativity, inspiration, and resources. Does someone brew craft beer? Is there a master knitter among you? By looking at your team’s talents, you may find all sorts of creative experiences for your gift recipients. Don’t forget to add a bit of soul from your company’s values so you can craft an ideal way to make gifts relevant to what you do & who you are.

If you want to see more of this kind of art, check out the rest here.

In what ways have you infused gifts with soul? Are you inspired to revise your gift-giving process?

Paint drippings

Gravity’s results might just floor you.