Friday, 13 July 2012

Introducing... weareseventeen

We love nothing more here at Picasso HQ than introducing new and exciting talent to our roster.  The innovative creative motion-graphics and design studio weareseventeen have just joined us, following their 2012 success at Promax this year where they scooped three Golds and two Silvers! We talk to the founders George Alexander and Steve Simmonds to find out more about them and their stunning portfolio of work...

Picasso: So who are weareseventeen ?
weareseventeen: We are George Alexander & Steve Simmonds

P: Where in the world were you born/grew up?
George : Outer Hebrides / West Highlands of Scotland
Steve: Slightly less scenic than George I was born in the beautiful urban landscape of Croydon, South east London.

P: Where in the world do you currently live?

G: Stoke Newington
S: Well after living in London for the last 8 years my wife and I have taken the kids for a slightly greener lifestyle in leafy Surrey.

P: How did you get into Animation? When did you know it was for you?

G: I’d always wanted to be a designer of some sort when I was younger, interiors or products to begin with. Moving to London in 1997 I got a job at a small 3D Studio and have never looked back. 
S: It was graphic design that originally captured my imagination along with a love of art. Animation came second when I was introduced to broadcast by my godfather who worked at Sky.  I then blagged my way into Ravensbourne college and studied motion graphic design, and it was here that I learned that motion design was for me.

P: So who are weareseventeen? How did you come about? And where did the name come from?
G: I’d been waiting for a long time to meet someone I’d want to go into business with. Steve & I met while working together in 2005, and after a year we decided to set up on our own, having built up great relationships with many broadcast clients. I’ll let Steve tell you about the name – to this day I really have no idea.
S: It took 6 months of working in our underpants from home before we finally got dressed got ourselves a small studio over by the British Museum. Since then we have grown, and just moved into a new larger studio space in East London.The name weareseventeen comes from the Brodmann area, which is a numbering system which maps different areas of the brain. Area 17 is the primary visual cortex part of the brain responsible for processing visual information. This all sounds very clever but the deciding factor when choosing the name was how it looked on paper and we thought seventeen and 17 offered some nice logo opportunities. 

P: How would you describe your style? How did it develop?

G: With my role being more of a conceptual and strategic one than a design / animation one, I’d say my style is an inquisitive, investigative and logical approach to briefs. I like to think.
S: I don't think we ever consciously developed a "house style" but people often refer to our style as being colourful, vibrant and energetic. We come from Broadcast design backgrounds so we have a lot of respect for brands and brand awareness. We try to inject an element of fun into our work, despite the level of sophistication in what we do. 

P: Who/What has been your biggest influence in your career? 
G: Hard to name a name. I have worked with many brilliant people in my time. I have always really liked the people who ask questions, analyse deeply and find a way of conceiving ideas that feel unexpected but at the same time like the only possible answer.  
S: I personally have taken influences from all over. When I was starting out, it was names like Shynola, and Precusor and watching their work at festivals like onedotzero that gave me something to aim at. I have a bunch of very talented friends who all graduated from Ravensbourne and constantly inspire, surprise and push me to do bigger better work. And now there is all the inspiration you could ever need in the form of blogs and webpages that are constantly showing me interesting and unusual things.

P: Where do you see the future of weareseventeen?

G: As our reputation grows we would like to continue to be considered for more high profile commercial and brand projects, plus ultimately being known for insightful and unexpected thinking as well as beautiful moving image work. 
S: We have just moved into a new studio, which will hopefully be our home for the next five years at least. Work wise we want to make exciting and progressive new work and have fun doing it.

P: Is there one specific project that you feel best sums up your style?
G: Our style of course varies depending on what is right for the brief and the client, but our work has always stood out as colourful, tactile and beautifully finished. But we’re open minded about style and it ultimately comes down to the brief, whether the right answer is 3D, 2D, No D? Is that a thing?
S: A few months back we completed a piece for BBC Worldwide for the BBC Knowledge Channel, which was predominantly 2D animation with the odd bit of 3D, rendered in a flat illustrative way. This is close to the sort of work we were doing at the start, and it won two Gold at Promax earlier this year.  I think we all really enjoyed working on this project and it has been really well received too.

P: London is the focus of the world right now, (with The Games etc!) can you give us your insight on living and working in the capital, is it an inspirational place to live and work?
G. It's a relentless city to live in and that suits me Monday to Friday, the pace is infectious and means a lot gets done in those 5 days. As a city it inspires me to work hard.
S. I agree with George, "relentless is the word. However we have a new studio now and it feels like a shield from the mayhem outside. I've just moved out to the country and it's made me realise just how bonkers London is.

Weareseventeen Reel 2012 from weare17 on Vimeo.