Ergin Unal: Turning Louis Vuitton bags into one of a kind pieces of art


Her-Age Team has interviewed Ergin Unal, an artist at the Louis Vuitton store based in Dubai. turning Louis Vuitton bags into one of a kind pieces of art that stand out uniquely to create an enhanced personalized journey as people seek in the luxury industry for experiences that feel tailored to their needs.



  • Ergin, Can you tell us more about yourself? What is your artistic background ?

  • After graduating Visual Design in  Bilkent University Fine Arts Faculty,  I studied automotive design in Scuola Politecnica di Design Milan. Even though I have a design background I don’t have any training in fine arts. Painting and drawing has always been a great passion of mine so in that sense I can call myself a self-trained artist. 


  • What inspired you to start drawing luxury goods ? How was the idea born and developed?

  • I’ve always had a great interest in luxury goods and leather craftsmanship. After coming back to Turkey from Milan, as a leather enthusiast I started painting with leather paintings sitting around that I had purchased priorly. With the request from my close friend, I did a small painting on her Louis Vuitton wallet. After this small painting it started evolving quickly, and I got so many requests from my close friends and family. This is how my brand Erzen started at the time. Within a short period of time I found myself painting and selling ready goods to Liberty in London and other prestigious boutiques as well as taking custom orders all around the world.

  • How were you introduced to Louis Vuitton Dubai and can you explain your activities and projects with the brand?

  • In 2019 as a client in the Louis Vuitton Berlin store in the travel section, I saw the same type of paintings that I’ve been doing. As I talked with a client advisor, I found out that the store needed a painter as the current painter was on maternity leave and planning to leave her job. After seeing my work they were quick to offer me a position. Due to the pandemic the process stalled and after many obstacles even though the Berlin store opportunity didn’t happen, I found myself talking to the HR of Louis Vuitton Middle East. As of 2022 I’m a full time painter for Louis Vuitton Dubai Mall, which is one of the largest and busiest Louis Vuitton stores in the world. 


  • What kind of items can be customized, and how much time does the process of personalization take ?

  • Even though there are many options for customization, only Hard sided items are allowed to be painted in Louis Vuitton. Hard sided items consist of boxes and trunks, which are the heritage of Louis Vuitton. This is how the brand started back in the day and still keeping the tradition alive with top of the like material, craftsmanship and artisan paintings. When it comes to painting timeframe and process, it depends on the current workload, size and complexity of the design. So it is very hard to give an exact deadline but mostly mid-size paintings finish within 2-5 weeks. 


  • Customized painting is evolving in the luxury industry from product to experience, how are brands letting the customer engage in this journey ?

    Painting service started as initials to differentiate trunks while traveling and now evolved into more creative art pieces. Nowadays these products with the help of customization turn into more unique pieces. In a way we as artists collaborate with the clients, go through the design process and client witnesses the painting process also. Slowly the idea and vision of the client becomes reality with the help of the artist and which is a fulfilling experience for both parties.


  • In your opinion, do you think exclusive personalized items are nowadays defining the priorities of a client's luxury experience?

  • Nowadays many brands offer personalization. Not just for painting but you can have hot stamping, choose accessories for your item (such as straps, twillies, etc.), choose lining of your bag also. There are many variations to help the end user to get more personal items. In Louis Vuitton I’m painting in the store to showcase how we paint the trunks. It's been seen by many brands now, at events and in stores there’s an artisan to showcase the painting service.

  • In a world of emotional investments. Who is the target for luxury personalization today?

  • I think personalization is becoming more in demand as with the new age of social media where everything is becoming more standardized, and people are seeking ways to express their creativity and artistic vision to become more unique. In some cases wanting to stand out from the crowd is a need for the consumer. People with emotional attachment to their items or wanting to create something meaningful to them as an emotional piece.


  • In a digital world with new technologies to achieve many artistic results, what makes hand-made creations special ?

  • With the new help of technologies it is possible to create a piece that is perfectly manufactured, but I think the soul of the pieces lie within the imperfections. It's not only the end result that matters, it is the ability and talent of the artist and how much time, effort and skill that requires to achieve that end result. Hand-made creations are always unique, even if you try it is impossible to achieve the same result, which is in a sense the best and most valuable side of it.

  • How is personalization transforming the luxury industry ? What are the positive impacts? (such as sustainability)

  • Personalization gives freedom to express personal taste and creativity. In terms of sustainability it is a great opportunity to give new life to an already purchased item. You can alter it and give it a new look, and based on my experiences since it's a unique piece that takes much effort, ideas and time clients use them with more care. So basically when you take good care of a product you extend their life time. Sometimes clients can bring bags that they love to use or have sentimental value, but have damage on it. It is also a great way to cover any damage or imperfections caused by the user.


  • What advice would you give for young artists who are just starting out their career ?

    My advice would be to be fearless and think out of the box. Keep trying until they find their style, keep improving their skills and ideas. In this era we are capable of reaching many sources in terms of materials, ideas and people. Don’t be afraid to experiment with materials, trying new ideas, reaching people and lastly being inspiring and influencing others.