The Scotch whisky brand and artist Shawna X turn its iconic bottle technicolour and launch a series of grants as part of an initiative to support the recovery of bar and club scenes worldwide
Nightlife scenes around the worldwide have suffered and shuttered through the pandemic, and underground communities have struggled to unify without collective spaces, studios, or dancefloors. Local artists and creative communities, despite constraints of funding, access, and the ability to physically be together, have rallied to show collective resilience, with work that champions positivity in a year of when it was needed most. In an ambitious global initiative, Ballantine’s has collaborated with artist Shawna X to bring joy back to these communities with some tangible action that bolsters local scenes, all with a technicolour injection of spirit and solidarity.
The partnership sees the brand and visual artist turn the stylish, iconic whisky bottle multicoloured, a nod both to Shawna X’s aesthetic and the spirited, positive campaign. The project is physically realised with the launch of a global mural initiative in various cities, with Shawna and a series of local artists collaborating for pieces of public street art. Grants will also be offered to independent bars, to help revitalise neighbourhoods and help the local nightlife and events industry recover following the pandemic.
Shawna X’s signature style is imbued with positivity and joy, bursting with colour. You might know Shawna X from her vibrant, playful collaborations with Nike, Spotify, or her more recent artistic reinterpretation of the Oscars statue. She’s inspired by the style and aesthetic of Judy Chicago, Tiger Tateishi, and peers like Ram Han and Alessandro Keegan.
On the unique limited edition bottle design, she shares: “I was tapping into the feeling of joy being with a community of people who I connect to, have fun with, and am vulnerable with and supportive to, especially after the past year of isolation. The connection is vibrant and colourful. I love seeing my work in a different context! I think the artwork lives very well on the Ballantine’s bottle.”
The bottle is a striking mish-mash of rainbow colours, amalgamating Shawna’s own signature style and personality with the campaign’s positive message. “I like to think that the colours choose me,” Shawna says, “and they guide me through all of the subjective aspects in my work. Similar to my community, in which I consider a chosen family in a way, to navigate through life.”
Riffing on the colourful whisky bottle design, the murals will be a true collaboration between local artists and Shawna, speaking to local communities and what drives them. “I want artists in each community to have artistic freedom to express their version of community and joy,” Shawna says.
Of the collaboration, Shawna continues: “After the past 20 months, everyone is in need of good vibes and positivity – it’s amazing to be able to bring some joy and colour to communities with Ballantine’s, both on shelves and beyond the bottle into streets and bars. Community spirit is something that has always been important to me so being able to work closely with and champion local communities around the world has been a unique experience.“
A Brooklyn-based artist, Shawna understands the importance of protecting hyperlocal creative communities and night time spaces to gather, connect and enjoy company, and get creatively inspired. “When I do go out, the city is always popping,” she says. “There is so much good music, book launches, comedy shows, experiences that can resonate with any individual.” It’s experiences like these that bolster her own work. “I enjoy being able to step out, be inspired, sometimes even overwhelmed, then come home and reflect. I am constantly challenged with my perspectives.”
And what’s next for Shawna? “I want to focus on personal works that are connected and tied to me energetically, experimenting with generative artwork, in addition to more fine and traditional works with my hands,” she says.
“My work is made with intention, and I hope people can feel the love!” affirms Shawna.
The Ballantine’s Shawna X limited edition bottles and gift packs are available to buy from selected retailers worldwide from November 2021 and online here.