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Paint Your Canvas Bag: 6 Questions With Kipling Artist Collaborator Tobias Gutmann

The renowned Swiss artist shares why Kipling’s new Blank Canvas collection is so unique

Photos: Kipling

If there’s one item that we can’t do without in our daily, busy lives, it has to be a bag. To find out more about a person, an interesting question to ask is, “What’s in your bag?” While the inner contents of a bag can say a lot about someone, so can the outside. Especially if it is personalised.

Kipling, the popular bag brand with the iconic monkey mascot, recently launched their Blank Canvas collection to help you express your personality out loud on a bag! There are three different shapes and types to choose from – Art M, the wide medium-sized tote bag; the Fundamental drawstring backpack; and the New Hiphurray drawstring tote. All of them are made of 100% cotton, a light denim drawable fabric that allows you to easily get creative on using textile markers. Not so much of an artist? You can get some guidance from the set of markers and stencil shapes – they are provided for free with each Blank Canvas bag!

To give us a bit of inspiration, the talented Swiss artist Tobias Gutmann customised a few bags for visitors at a special event hosted by Kipling. Known for Face-o-Mat, his quirky analog portrait booth that has traveled around the world, Gutmann is one of several artists that Kipling is collaborating with in their Blank Canvas campaign.

Find out what drew Gutmann to work with Kipling for this campaign, how he sees the canvas of Singapore, and more in our interview with him below.

Hi Tobias! Can you share with us your main principles when it comes to design?

I see myself as a creator and my principles when it comes to design is that in whatever I create, I want to do it with a sense of consciousness and awareness so that my art adds value and meaning to the lives of the people I meet or in those that view my artwork.

Why did you choose to collaborate with Kipling for the Blank Canvas collection?

I wanted to gain a new experience and know more about the different cultures in Asia. Being given the opportunity to tour Hong Kong, Beijing, and Singapore was an eye opener as I have never been to Asia before. It was enjoyable spreading my creativity and art with Kipling, to the people from all over Asia.

What are some of your thoughts about Kipling and their designs?

Kipling’s new brand vision – Live Light, aligns deeply with my life motto. The city life can be hectic at times and it is always good to let go of the stress and rest easy. There is much more in life beyond the physical and to really embrace the spirit of freedom is something that I seek for.

I love the idea of how Kipling bag designs supports its vision – Live Light, where their bags are light, feasible, and convenient to use. I also love the idea of the Blank Canvas collection, where Kipling allows customers to have their own freedom of expression and complete the design of their bag, that represents their own personality. As a creator, I see myself as a role model, to spread the spirit of creativity, and to encourage everyone that they can be a creator too and create their own artwork. Hence, the Kipling bag designs align deeply with what I stand for.

Can you share with us more about the Blank Canvas collection? What do you love about it?

The Kipling Blank Canvas collection is designed with simplicity and minimalism in mind. The light denim fabric mimics a drawing canvas that leaves space and room for the imagination. Celebrating the unique individuality of each person and the spirit of free-to-be, you are encouraged to personalize the bag in a way that is unique, special, and a perfect reflection of who you are. The bags can be further decorated and personalized at the new ‘Make It Personal’ corner, by choosing from a variety of Kipling charms, straps, key rings. By making every bag personal, the Blank Canvas Collection truly empowers you to go your own way.

As mentioned, the idea of allowing people to have their own freedom of expression and creating bag unique to them is what I love the most about this Blank Canvas collection.

Is this your first time here in Singapore? What do you think about the country?

Yes, it is my first time in Singapore. I love how the luscious greenery comes together with the urban landscape to create a beautiful scenery. The people here are very outgoing and friendly and I really enjoy myself here in Singapore.

If you could design something that expresses Singapore, what kind of design do you think it would be like?

When I think of Singapore I think of vertical lines and a constellation of round shapes. The vertical lines resemble the tall architectural buildings of Singapore and the round shapes that represent the trees and greenery that can be found amongst these buildings. A perfect combination of both the urban and rural.