Interview With Stylow

You started your career as a freelance artist at a very young age. What aspects exactly encouraged you to choose this path?

I believe I kind of rolled into to that because of my parents. I've always been surrounded with a very creative and artistic family. A nine to five job seemed almost strange to me hahaa. Why would I lock myself into such a position, so I don't have creative freedom anymore,  that was my thinking back then. At Lower and Upper school I went to a Steiner education, which allowed me to become very independent in certain ways. As a person I like some time alone too, so it's really me gravitating towards the natural me. My parents allowed me to keep self improving on what I wanted to do, but that also lead to having no work for a very long time after Highschool. Let's just say for quite a while my bank account was close to zero. But I never had the mindset of I need a lot of money in my life but more I want to do something fun and make a living out of that. There really was no plan B only plan A and I just stuck to that. I guess you have to be very independent to be a freelancers and always push yourself to new situations and along the way that can be really tricky but you'll eventually know how to deal with it and get used to it.

Your career is a continuous rotation of roles like directing music videos, print design, ui design, etc. How do you keep focused and feed your visual imagination?

Curiosity. I just work on the things I really want to work on and push as much love and effort in them as possible. If you are enough developed creatively, than I believe you can tap into multiple areas. It’s almost like cooking for me, I’m trying to discover a lot of spices and see if I can use them in the next recipe hahaa! Focus is a hard one, I have many projects lying around but I often don't finish them. I get trapped into the "OH I have this new idea" thing. So what I do now is I have to really push hard on myself sometimes just to finish it and only then move on. As for imagination, to me it comes from a lot of the great artists alive these days, movies and the weirdest abstract things... I encourage to often look in different categories or even places to get your inspiration from. We tend to often look into the same pool of references, try to look somewhere else, perhaps a goofy bookshop. It's often pretty hard with quick deadlines these days, but if you can give that a go. It can be the tiniest thing that sparks a great idea.

You have been involved in the creation of UI designs for different great films, such as Ghost In The Shell, Ready Player One and Electric Dreams. What precious lessons did you learn from these experiences?

I've always wanted to make things for films, that was the dream goal. A goal that I thought would feel like I've accomplished it and be happily ever after. For such a long time since the age of 17 I looked forward to being a part of film in some way or another. To be honest the feeling I felt when I was finally working on them, was nothing as I thought it was going to be like?! Don't get me wrong I still think its really awesome and I do enjoy working on those projects, but I guess I didn't expect to be like: "so now what... what's next...?". I guess this can be just me, but it shows that my real passion lies in just creating things and directing projects to keep myself motivated. I also learned that it's more about the creative amazing people you get a chance to work with then the final project itself. I've worked on a lot smaller things that mean more to me then the big projects out there because of the people and final outcome. So try and find those great collaborations and create something and in the end just have fun in it.

You designed and created UI interfaces, Huds, Visors, Monitors and Character logo brands for the world of Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’ film. What did working for such a great filmmaker mean to you?

It was really fun going back to 90’s references of ui video games and combining that in some of the ui to give it a retro feel and look. Ready Player One was a very surreal experience, I did a lot of designs and to see and hear the notes from Steven Spielberg himself saying things like: “This is going to be great onscreen” or “I can't wait for this!”. That really pushed me to make great work for such an amazing and caring, humble person.

Recently you decided to start your own studio with business partner Nik Hill. Your main goal is to merge the digital motion side with the physical world. Tell us more about.

As a digital artists these days our screen time is pretty crazy and projects look very digital because of that. So what we want to do more in the studio is work with various artists with different disciplines and see what we can make together. We say we're more of a collective of artists then an agency. Digital art and Physical art is our focus, but where it becomes really interesting is where we mix the two and experiment with new ways of creating visual pleasing projects. Whether those are artsy installations, title sequences or even music videos. We believe that there is a lot to be discovered by combining those two spaces. To me working there as a Designer and Director is another way of saying, I work in a big playground and make cool stuff with great people. We over at TwentyThirdC are very excited about our future.

For your latest project you created one of the BBC two idents by mixing paint with CGI. Please describe the creative process behind it.

BBC creative reached out to and ask us to collaborate on BBC Two’s first rebrand in 20 years. The two main keywords were pleasurable and absorbing for the project. We got asked at the early start to create this project digitally, but we pushed on the idea to do it in camera and use a mixture of techniques to pull this one off. It all started with a reference image that we later discovered was made by an artist named Holton Rower. He uses paint pouring techniques to make beautiful art. So we reached out to paint wizard Davy Evans and bring him onboard. He is the one of the best with paint fx other practical wizardry. We went back and forth between him and us to come up with concepts and placing our paint footage on things like cgi cloth, fluid simulations, strange patterns. But we also 3D printed out some shapes and forms of the BBC two curve so we could experiment with those and the paint pouring. This was an exciting R&D (Research & Development) journey. It took around 45 minutes of paint pouring carefully to create our wipe in animation that eventually was compressed to just 15 frames or rather 15 images of video. We really enjoyed working with BBC creative, because they allowed us to be creative and experimental, which allowed us to come up with interesting ideas and visuals. Part of having a nice projects to work on is having great clients that understand you.

Artists tend to be rather perfectionist while creating. Are there any aspects of the creative process that frustrate you?

There are three things I can think of: Deadlines, Client revisions and Creative roadblocks.

1. Deadlines, while they are necessary they are becoming increasingly faster in this day and age. We live in a very rapid fast paste world where speed because of money truly matters. So it’s more about adapting your workflow and coming up with quick and useful tricks to get the job done asap. What frustrates me personally is calling the project done while for yourself it's not even nearly close to finished.

2. Client revisions with feedback that doesn’t even focus on the main thing, but rather they focus on the tiniest things that bother them personally. Often we forget to look at the big picture, does it say what it needs to say, is it clear.

3. Creative Roadblocks. I think we all had this one. In society these days especially with social media it can be tough. I remembered starting out in 3D and being afraid to share my work or even start on creating anything, because I already knew it wasn't going to be as good as …" fill in here". The only thing you can do is tell yourself, move on and be confident. Play the long game, think years not months. 

What is your dream collaboration with?

There are so many directors and creatives, but the weirdest or interesting collaboration would be to work with somebody as Quentin Tarantino or Pharrell Williams. They both had a big impact on me in different ways. I think Quintin’ style is so fresh and unique and thats the same for Pharrell Williams. They both have a big impact on the creative industry and they shown me that doing it differently is not a bad thing at all, be weird and strange with the things you create. I like people who take some risk in their work.

You developed many futuristic concepts and visuals, but how do you imagine our real future in the next 20 years?

We'll be able to step into a self driving car that is taking us to a restaurant which we reserved by using our custom AI voice system that sounds like us and is hard to distinguish from our own voice. When arriving we have our smart paper to look at the menu that looks like paper but has moving images on them, a selection of Lab meat can be found on the menu. Lab meat will find its place in our supermarkets nearby, that would be a game changer. Probably be more connected to the internet with more devices and the term computer will fade away because almost everything is a computer. It will be the default way of how we meet and how we stay in touch. People will live much longer lives thanks to the full implementation of 3d printed organs. At the end I think the world will become a lot more smarter and much more automatic, but that also means a lot of jobs will be automated more and more. Let's just hope we can keep our creative jobs for a while, until our robots go work and make the money while we live abroad? haha "yeah I don't think so either".

Do you believe in a peaceful coexistence between man and machine?

I do believe its possible, but its hard to control I think. If somebody makes one machine too clever that might mean trouble. They might start questioning us as human beings. Why are they here, why are they destroying x, they probably know so many solutions by then that we perhaps to them seem very stupid, selfish and maybe even not necessary to be on the planet. "Alright that went dark quick!”. But if we control that and learn from it then I do believe in a peaceful coexistence and have positive reactions. I'm pretty sure somebody clever will figure that one out, but if Elon Musk is slightly worried then I think its safe to say that its a tricky situation. He had an interesting question about that: Imagine a car going 150 km/h we see 3 people crossing over the street. The best option here would be that the car decides the crash itself because it only has 1 passenger onboard, rather than crashing into the 3 people. That is only one small example of how messed up things might become, and I have no idea how people will respond to things like that. 

Send a message to your future self.

I hope you do what you wanted to do and found a balance between work and life and most of all found your happiness. If so then you succeeded. If not go out there and do the things you have to do. I hope you don't have any regrets by now for not trying what you had in mind or not doing what you really wanted to do. Greetings your old self.

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Born as a Robotic machine and live forever or born as a human but die around your 40's? 

Artist •• Stylow

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