31 Oct 2013

Lexus project creates art as you drive

Imagine a car that paints a portrait of you every time you drive it.  It may sound absurb but this is exactly what Lexus has done and it’s all in the name of energy efficiency. 

The car brand has created a unique method to demonstrate how efficient - or inefficient - drivers of its Hybrid IS300h are. Lexus has opted against the standard graphics of trees, leaves and mechanics, which appear on the vehicle’s centre display screen, to create a brilliant piece of branded art. 

Teaming with Spanish artist Sergio Albiac, Lexus has equipped its car with a software that paints a portrait of the driver with brush techniques and colours based on the way the driver drives. 

The driver uploads a photograph into the system, and every time he gets behind the wheel this image is painted. The style of brush strokes and colours used in the image are determined by the vehicles speed, engine speed, and how often the hybrid system is used. 

If the driver is cautious and relies mostly on electric driving, the image will use colder colours and be more realistic and true to form. However, if the driver accelerates heavily, uses higher speeds the portrait will feature more warm colours and abstract brushstrokes. 

For Art Is Motion, Lexus has embedded this portraiture software into one car and enlisted art critic Martin Vanhaerents to drive it. After each drive, Martin’s portraits are uploaded to a gallery on Lexus’ dedicated website. There’s also a film showing how the portrait comes to life by also revealing Martin’s speeds and use of the hybrid system and engine speeds. 

Generative artist Sergio Albiac describes the project as an emotive exercise. “A car, a driver and an artist have started a truly unique experiment, that’s aim is to generate the first portrait created by emotion rather than by physical looks. As the driver drives the Lexus IS 300h, sensors will collect information on speed, rpm and electric or petrol usage. These signals will then be translated by an onboard art server, creating an onscreen generative and constantly evolving portrait of the driver.” 

Lexus is holding an online auction for the car in a bid to measure interest in the car and will look to auction the vehicle off in the future.  

The site also suggests that perhaps this will roll out to all vehicles, as Lexus Belgium’s Joris Peeters, says: “Imagine if this wasn’t limited to a single project? Imagine your own evolutionary personal piece of art on the onboard screen of your own car constantly reflecting you, through your driving style?” 


The way you drive says a lot about who you are. This is the premise behind this truly fascinating project by Lexus. 

On one hand it is utterly baffling – I mean why do you want a digital portrait of yourself painted in realtime every time you jump behind the wheel of your car? 

However, on the other hand it is pure brilliance, this is a highly personalized way to monitor and analyse your driving. It is a powerful way to ensure strong awareness of the hybrid system in your car and the more efficient way that you could be driving. 

The project aims to make drivers more conscious of how they drive particularly how they use the electric and hybrid engine of the car. 

Creating an image of the driver gives it instant cut-through and makes it significantly more effective in communicating the message. The better the image, the better the driving and the better you look, whereas the worse the driving, the worse you look – it’s a pretty simple approach that achieves a powerful result. 

This is a brilliant way to generate broader awareness while also creating some special and unique pieces of art – albeit digital art. 

Sure this will certainly be polarizing, and I’m sure people will dub it a stunt – however that’s exactly what I really love about it. 

If you take the view that for art to be truly successful it must be polarizing and elicit strong emotional responses from the viewer, then Lexus may well achieve its greatest aim in creating successful art – branded or otherwise.   

I really like the artistry and bravery of the project, and strategically it is a brilliant fit with the brand, which has serious cred when it comes to art, design and generally inspiring creativity. 

Lexus has invested heavily in creative projects and endeavors all aimed at aligning the brand with the worlds of design, craftsmanship and technology. From the Lexus Design Awards to the many design exhibitions and events - notably Lexus Design Amazing in Milan 2013, its concept cars and luxury brand experiences. 

Lexus has an entire suite of branded Design projects and events, which sit under the Amazing In Motion platform: 

Amazing In Motion: A set of ambitious projects that explore the complexity and beauty in motion through film, photography and technology. The first of these is Steps. 

Crafted For Lexus: A project where artists created items of timeless beauty inspired by Lexus philosophy. 

Intersect by Lexus: A unique branded space where people can experience Lexus without getting behind the wheel of a car.  

Beyond By Lexus: An online journal on design and craftsmanship. 

Lexus Short Films: A project created in collaboration with The Weinstein Company Lexus created 5 beautifully designed film to reflect the brands striking new designs and more engaging experience. 

It is clear to see that Art Is Motion is another fantastic pillar for Lexus to continue to reinforce its positioning as a leader in art, design and technology. 

The idea driving all these branded arts projects is the shift in branding necessitated by the new IS model, which Lexus believes is a radically new driving experience. 

In line with this new striking design and driving experience there was a need to position the brand in a more emotional place, Lexus is a car that moves you both physically and emotionally. 

All of the subsequent projects have used beautifully executed artistry to reinforce the strategy that Lexus is a brand shaped by great design that moves you emotionally. 

From design and craftsmanship to experiences of luxury, Lexus is using branded arts and experiences to enhance the brand and create and occupy an emotional territory in your mind. 

Art Is Motion also plays on the intersection of art and machines, as art critic Martin Vanhaerents says: “The relationship between man and machine has always been one that has fascinated artists throughout the generations.” 

It is certainly at the core of the Lexus brand, particularly as it plays in the realms of branded arts and it is this very notion that underpins both the new IS model and the Amazing In Motion platform. 

Lexus is examining the relationship and dialogue between people and its cars, something it believes is responsive and emotional and it is bringing this to life through a suite of superb branded arts projects and platforms. 

I am immensely impressed by the brand’s commitment to creating genuine brand experiences and artistic platforms to reinforce the brand strategy and positioning. I am a big fan of these projects. 

They had me with Art Is Motion and the rest has just been a delightful discovery. Take the time to explore it all readers, it really is a masterclass in building branded arts platforms. 


Lexus have created a successful and impressive branded arts project with Art Is Motion and I would love to see this roll out across the model as a standard feature. This is a brilliant example of how art can be used to generate awareness of a product benefit and also create an emotional connection between consumers and brands. 

  • 5 stars.
  • Brand: Lexus
  • Creative Company: Happiness Belgium




4 May 2016

Lot of smarts in that ponstig!
Katie Molloy

16 Sep 2014

Very cool. When you can visualise something it makes comprehension so much clearer. Clever way to dramatise the car features / benefits.
Jeremy Garling

16 Sep 2014

Great idea and very clever, but I agree with you Danielle...do I want this every time I drive? Maybe this is a step toward a better car interaction based on the driver? Either way, would be interesting to see how I would fare.

16 Sep 2014

It is an interesting concept and really innovative, I must say. I love this idea and excited to know how it works within a car.

Add your comment