Robbin Waldemar Interview

Some time ago Robbin and I were interviewed by fourartists.us – a website run by four art students from the Massachusetts College of Art & Design. They had some good questions for us, read the interview in its whole length below:
Nicole: For Google Fashion Show, what was your process from coming up with ideas to making final edits? Tell us about this project!

Robbin: The Fashion Show ad was one piece in a big and rather complicated process. We explored a number of different routes and takes on how Google could communicate their products in a more exciting way. We worked quite a lot on different creative umbrellas for this campaign and together with the client settled for showing people creating their own small experiments with Google products.

Sometimes we work together close together script by script but a lot of times we sit next to each other, write a sentence, say it out loud and see if the other one sees something interesting in that idea or can build upon it. Waldemar came up with the idea of girls projecting dresses and from there it took a couple of rounds until we had a nice and simple story that also communicated the benefits of the product. One challenge that at the same is very exciting with Google is that they don’t want any fake ads, everything in the Fashion Show is totally feasible. Every search result and step in the ad can be repeated by the viewers. This creates a very complicated situation where we needed to get approval from both the owners of the images and the designers of every single dress.

Our creative lead in Tokyo was very determined to listen to us during the whole creative and production process. They kept us involved in everything from choosing dresses, music, actors, sets etc. things that could had been handed over to a more experienced Japanese team that easily could have bridged the language barrier. We are very grateful that they kept us in the drivers seat.

In the end I think it is the simplicity of the spot that really made people appreciate it. We did not complicate the storytelling and created something that people can picture, literally, themselves doing.

Waldemar: First it was a matter of writing 30 plus different scripts to get to this idea to begging with. Once we had it though, it clicked instantly with everyone and we started to think about producing it. We followed up with storyboards and presented it to the client, that’s when the main work began. We only had four weeks to get everything done, so we settled pretty quick on a great director (Kosai Sekine) and started casting lots of girls. We tried finding actual friends who would act naturally and enjoy the process. It was the coolest thing to see them interacting with the projections on the set, we simply told them to have fun and it worked well. It was quite a big production but our focus was to make it look as real as possible, as if these girls came together and had this fashion show in their living room.

There are a few imperfections that we’ve gone for in order to make it look not professional, and as far from and ad as possible. The biggest challenge was choosing the right dresses and costumes and getting natural reactions from the girls. Other things like the edit and choosing the music fell into place naturally once had that on tape. There was lots and lots of tweaking of details in the end, it drives you crazy but it’s important in order to squeeze everything out of a project.

Nicole: What skills should a good art director have?

Robbin: Whatever skills that can make the Art Director produce kick ass work – in other words skills that help his clients to succeed in business. How to do that depends on what agencies you’re in, what culture, who you work with and what clients you work for and what business they’re in.

The ‘art’ part is bit to dominant in some places for my taste. I want to work with art directors or creatives that solve problems and create new stuff that make’s people react – no matter if that is for ourselves or for a client.

Waldemar: Looking at things from different perspectives: having the big overview that includes the concept and the exact reason for doing a certain project, as well as an eye for details for the tiniest things. If you have both and are able to switch between them, you’re onto something.

Nicole: So at Hyper Island, they say failures are often the best learning experiences. How do you overcome frustrations and become the confident creators you are now?

Robbin: Failure sounds very harsh, for us these fails be everyday small things like not communicating with each other enough, not follow a process or getting wasted before a check in. We overcome these failures by reflecting and realising that we actually committed them. At the same time, I’m quite inspired by Alex Bogusky that says that he want to learn from his success instead of his failures. We should do both.

W: My take is that creatives are quite unconfident. I lose my confidence with every new project and I have to work hard in order to regain it again. I think if I’d fail more, it would get easier over time to be more confident. Failure is a great way to stretch ones comfort zone, and the great ideas are usually outside of it. The more mistakes you make, the more things you can get right.

Nicole: Robbin, I see that you’re into audio documentaries. Is there one you would currently recommend for the aspiring artist or designer?

Robbin: I enjoy walking, and when I walk I tend to listen to documentaries. Most of it’s in Swedish, Wal hates that because I tend to tell him things from the podcasts but he can never listen to the actual source. None of the podcasts are related to advertising, it is science, news, psychology, humor, sports but mostly historical events. So my recommendation would be to just listen and relax to something you might enjoy, keeping in touch with “reality” can never be a bad thing. Hopefully it might help you within the creative field but if nothing else in Trivial Pursuit or on a date.

Nicole: Whether in school or at your workplace, what was a project you’ve gained the most wisdom from, and why?

Robbin: There’s so many levels of wisdom… The Google project was a big task where we got experience both from the concept part, working closely with the client and actually being involved in a rather big production. This in a country where we constantly challenge the cultural and language barrier.

Waldemar: Most of the projects we did at Hyper Island were immense sources of wisdom. The reason is quite simple, they plan in time for you to reflection the project and your behaviour. You really take time to sit down and thing what you did well and what you’d like to do better, you even write all that stuff down. Just realising little these things and giving feedback to your co-workers and receiving feedback from them back helps you grow quite a bit. Sadly in the workplace there is rarely time to reflect, which puts you in danger to rush form one project and work instead of learn. It’s tough to combine both and requires discipline.

Nicole: What song do you recommend I dance to for optimum creative juice flow?

Robbin: Try some Swedish dance music next time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB-4_dPJTWk

Waldemar: The one that makes you want to dance the most! You should enjoy it and not force yourself to. Personally I like loud and happy Balkan music for this or something from Gogol Bordello.

Robbin Waldemar Interview on Fourartists.us