Pixar’s Soul follows a musician on a journey of self-discovery, and Disney is taking an equally artist-driven approach with its consumer products program for the feature film.
The House of Mouse has partnered with marketing and advertising agency HUE Unlimited—through its community incubator TONL—to launch a range of items featuring designs from four emerging Black artists. Each one was tasked with creating original artwork inspired by the movie’s music and story.
Apparel, accessories and homeware featuring these designs rolled out on the Pixar SOUL shop on Amazon in November. And fans could also use the images to create personalized products on the e-commerce platform. As of last week, the range is available through the shopDisney online retail platform, too.
Bee Harris’s The Village design (pictured, right) shines a spotlight on the Black women featured in the film. Joe’s World, by Arrington Porter, is representative of his own experience as an artist and musician. Bianca Pastel’s Joe & His Fro (pictured, left) highlights the connections the movie draws between characters and stories. And The Great Gardener, by Cory Van Lew, focuses on replicating an alternate reality similar to the parallel worlds depicted in Soul.
HUE Unlimited selected the four artists for their unique perspectives and styles. The team builds its roster of artists through a combination of outreach and submission review, and those creators are connected with brands through the TONL platform.
“For this collaboration, there were a number of qualities that we looked for in the artists, but one element in particular was simply being able to create art that translates well on merchandise,” says Michael Watson II, founder and creative director of HUE Unlimited. “There’s a lot of different visual art mediums—from digital illustration and painting, to mixed media—but all art is not created equal when it comes to usage.”
This specific requirement meant the selected artists needed to submit images that would work well on multiple materials and in many different sizes. Lots of intricate details may look beautiful on a canvas, for example, but they don’t always translate effectively to a mug.
Soul bowed Christmas Day on Disney+, and according to ratings tracker Nielsen, it was viewed for 1.669 billion minutes during the week of December 21 to 27 (essentially its opening weekend). Forbes calculated an approximate translation to traditional box-office numbers, estimating Soul would have made the equivalent of US$146 million to US$177 million in domestic theaters.
According to a source at Disney, market response to Soul‘s consumer products program has been equally strong. Moving forward, the House of Mouse is exploring opportunities to celebrate other stories through similar partnerships and product collaborations.