Since opening its doors in 2015 Virgin Hotels Chicago has collaborated with numerous artists and musicians, embracing the strong creative roots of the Virgin brand in the process.
While many of these collaborations are designed to create amazing experiences for visitors or local residents, Virgin Hotels has also worked hard to ensure that the team who run the hotel benefit from the same feel-good experiences and creative approach.
One great example of how this vision has been brought to life is through the work of WRDSMTH, a Los Angeles-based street artist of unverified identity who is best known for his iconic image of a vintage typewriter accompanied by inspirational messages. Virgin Hotels took WRDSMTH to the back of the hotel one afternoon and invited him to leave messages across the building that only staff would be able to find, resulting in some delightfully surprising works of art for the team to stumble across during the working day. We caught up with WRDSMTH to find out a little more about why we was keen to bring his art to the hotel.
Why did you want to leave messages for the Virgin Hotels team across the hotel?
I jump at the chance to paint and paste my WRDs anywhere I can. I know the words are resonating and I aim to inspire. I also used to work in the hotel industry in Chicago. So it felt like a homecoming and I'm well aware of what affirmation means on a daily basis - in that industry and in all walks of life.
Finally, getting the opportunity to do the work in Virgin Hotels’ first property, Virgin Hotels Chicago, was thrilling. I love the location, the space, and the mark Virgin Hotels is striving to make in the hotel industry. It's going to fun to watch over the next few years and I hope to be a part of all the fun.
Your artworks are commonly described as positive and inspirational - does focusing on the positives come naturally or is it a choice that you’ve made and work at sticking to?
Both. I am a positive person and when I started WRDSMTHing I intentionally aimed to bring positivity and positive distractions to the streets. The world is going through a lot and that can weigh on us. I like to think my work makes people smile, breathe, ponder, and maybe even laugh.
What’s the motivation for leaving art for people to find, be it on a street corner or in the back room of a hotel?
The thought of someone turning a corner and having my WRDs affect their moment, day, week, or life in a positive manner is all the motivation I need to keep doing what I'm doing - and I get messages all the time from people confirming this reality. There's also a ripple effect happening where people are capturing my work and paying it forward to others - friends, co-workers, and loved ones, which, in turn, acts as creative rocket fuel for me.
What impact do you hope you art has on wider society?
Well, if you asked me four-and-a-half years ago if an artist could change the world, I would have laughed and scoffed at the notion. Having said that, that ripple effect I mentioned has actually got me wondering...