Analysis out of the box

Toiletpaper case study

Analysis out of the boxArt & Business | Founded in 2010 by artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari, Toilet Paper does away with traditional magazine codes, creating an aesthetic language of troubling, trashy and quirky imagery. It has imposed a reference label on the world of luxury, fashion and trends, while developing by-product marketing and consulting partnerships with brands. We delve into an iconoclastic medium which embodies and explores the links between art and marketing.

ToiletPaper (juin 2010) © ToiletPaper
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ToiletPaper (juin 2010)
© ToiletPaper

An art medium-object

In the same vein as magazines such as Charley and Permanent Food, established by Maurizio Cattelan, Toiletpaper is presented as a semi-rigid book using boards of visuals designed exclusively by the creative team. Mid-way between medium and object, the sensory feel is accompanied by visual appreciation, which instils materialistic behaviour in the reader, while encouraging them to keep or collect. The resemblance to an object is also evident in the serial nature of Toiletpaper covers : an object for an image. Each limited edition issue presents an inspiration overview, stimulating desire for the ones to come. The title is the only text, taking on the role of a cognitive engine, promising the reader a journey into an intimate world of fantasy.

Immersion aesthetics

Framing, particularly the close-up, invites the reader-voyeur to immerse themselves in the language of multifarious and stylised mock imagery, composed of metaphors, oxymorons and visual litotes. Each board is a panorama of internationally-captured inspiration that is both complex and simple, in the image of a trends book. Toiletpaper creates images evocative of a modern-day surrealism, offset by pop art whose codes form part of the collective unconscious.

Maurizio Cattelan, an artist come influencer

The Cattelan-Ferrari artistic team takes up where artists such as Damien Hirst left off; artists that formed part of a generalist advertising culture in the 90s, when image and communication companies really took off. Pierpaolo Ferrari started out in advertising photography. Cattelan set himself apart through spontaneous performances and provocation to carve out a place in the contemporary art world. His advertising work marked the beginning of his philosophy of paradox, irony and derision, which has become a dogma. Through the satire of subjects, demonstrated in Toiletpaper, his work frees society from a climate of anxiety. In his magazine, Cattelan employs a clearly-defined iconographic leitmotif. He makes repeated use of allegories evocative of the worlds of fashion, sex, film and advertising. Conscious of the impact of image on the consumer, his aesthetic approach grabs readers through colour and symbols, stimulating emotion, empathy and multi-faceted affinity. This behavioural influence, made possible through identification, makes it clear that he is not only an artist but also a communications genius. He creates emotions and systems and soon made the power of influence a key aspect of Toiletpaper.

The marketing of rarity

Sponsored by partners whose names are discretely inscribed on the back cover - the Beyeler Foundation and Berluti, for example - each issue of Toiletpaper studies the similarities between its artistic and commercial callings. Though initially intended for sale, its reputation was built through the marketing of rarity : a limited number of copies are available in specialist bookstores and the publication is not stocked in newsagents. The magazine’s value increased online - much more quickly than a work of art - and it is now a coveted item. This has had the result of promoting the brand image through its skyrocketing reputation. The partnerships with luxury and design firms have extended Toiletpaper’s power of influence beyond that of a simple magazine.

A label, a company

With the marketing of by-products under the tutelage of Seletti, the collaboration with Kenzo in its recent publicity campaigns and the Kenzine restricted to 1,500 hand-numbered copies, Toiletpaper is following the arketing trend : the use of art in brand strategy or product sales. This role reversal unveils the attractive power of Cattelan’s magazine that aspires to be both elitist and well-known through widespread distribution. Cattelan has also captured the attention of the media - New York Magazine, Libération and M le Magazine du Monde have recently given him carte blanche in their pages - and advertising - in May 2012, he took over the advertising board on the High Line in New York - thus ensuring his posterity and ambiguous desire to make art accessible to the masses.

Maxime Gasnier
Publié le 20/03/2014
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Version française

ToiletPaper (juin 2010) © ToiletPaper Magazine Toilet Paper n° 04 - Novembre 2011 (détail). © DR Couverture du magazine Toilet Paper n° 01 - Juin 2010 (couverture alternative). Edité par Maurizio Cattelan et Pierpaolo Ferrari. Publié par la Deste Foundation, Athènes. © DR Couverture du magazine Toilet Paper - Eté 2011 - TAR edition. Edité par Maurizio Cattelan et Pierpaolo Ferrari. Direction artistique : Micol Talso. Publié par la Deste Foundation, Athènes. © DR Couverture du magazine Toilet Paper n° 02 - Janvier 2011. Edité par Maurizio Cattelan et Pierpaolo Ferrari, Direction artistique : Micol Talso. Publié par la Deste Foundation, Athènes. © DR Couverture du magazine Toilet Paper n° 07 - Décembre 2012. Edité par Maurizio Cattelan et Pierpaolo Ferrari, publié par Damiani - Edition limitée à 1500 exemplaires © DR Couverture du magazine Toilet Paper - Kenzine, issue d’une collaboration avec Kenzo. Edité par Maurizio Cattelan et Pierpaolo Ferrari, publié par Damiani - Edition limitée à 1500 exemplaires © DR

ToiletPaper (juin 2010)
© ToiletPaper

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