Tag Archives: Art

Multimedia Artist Gavin Mottram talks finding inspiration

As a scholar and practitioner of different types of media that encompass traditional analogue processes to new media technologies Gavin Mottram maintains that, “in an age where contemporary media is increasingly something that is experienced sensually it is our responsibility to be critical of the techniques that are producing meaning today, amidst an increasingly consumerist modernity.”

Growing up in the nineties, Mottram developed a creatively productive relationship with ‘video’. He would constantly record material from television, mainly American Cinema, that he would watch and re-watch in conjunction with exploring ways of illustrating the scenarios he found most compelling through drawing, performance, and other inventive methods of re-enactment. It was only natural for him to become the spirited multimedia artist he is today.

“I suppose the title ‘multimedia artist’ implies flexibility, or ambiguous limitations. I am most compelled by things that skew traditional form, or that disobey or disband contours, and I desire to practice these values when creating something myself”.

Mottram made waves by applying these values last year at Gemini G.E.L., the renowned artists’ workshop and publisher of fine-art limited edition prints and sculptures. The gallery has collaborated with and published work by some of the most influential artists of the past 50 + years, such as Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, David Hockney, Vija Clemens, Bruce Nauman, and currently Richard Serra, Anne Hamilton, Tacita Dean and Julie Mehretu.

In addition to this, living in Los Angeles and being part of a diverse community of young experimental artists and filmmakers, contributing to contemporary, independent and forward thinking projects, Mottram has been inspired in his work, which has been screened at locations such as the Echo Park Film Center, an achievement that he is very proud of.

The opportunity to screen work at the Echo Park Film Center is, to me, a great one, as the center is a hub for experimental filmmaking within the city of LA, dedicated to the practice of analogue filmmaking whilst at the same time being a space that supports innovations in new media. It is an inclusive organization committed to providing access to film/video resources to the local community, with a special focus on ‘at risk’ youth, but the center also has wider influence/impact that spans many territories” he said.

At the distinguished film center, Mottram screened a number of small interrelated experimental film/video works -16mm film, animation and digital media – that focus mainly on the relationship between the screen and subjective identity.

“My enduring interest is the notion of ‘subjectivity’ as a participant – voluntary and involuntary – of an economy of interrelated signifiers and technologies,” he said.

Mottram maintains that it is of great importance to pay attention to the relationships between the different forms of media, images, objects, technologies, that surround us, and to the manifestation of “ideologies” through popular media, into external realities.

Some of these cinematic works of art were evolutions of things he had been working on for years, and some were also the beginning of new work that he hopes to develop in the future.

“I had been generating the work slowly, as a collection of ideas, which allowed me to take the time to explore approaches and processes without any particular agenda or deadline but arranging the screening at EPFC required me to organize the work into some resolved/ presentable form. The opportunity to show work publicly is a valuable one, and having this deadline allowed me to achieve some progression of work that, up until that time had remained private and more like research. To show work to a group in a setting such as EPFC is extremely rewarding in receiving diverse feedback, and to remain involved in dialogue with peers and a wider network,” he said.

This year, Mottram has many artistic projects on the go, and hopes to continue showing his work to a wider audience. He feels blessed to have found himself part of a creative network where critical thinking and dialogue are the foundation, and believes that for anyone compelled to contribute, thoughtfully and creatively, in some way, to the world around them they try to do the same.

 

By John Michaels

Art Director Phenix Miao helps raise thousands for Itron Battery Crowdfunding

Not many children can grasp the understanding of color and architecture the way China’s Phenix Miao could. At a young age, he was quickly able to spot the small details in furniture and props in daily life. It was a hobby and skill that he quickly realized could transition into a career. Working as a successful Production Designer and Art Director, Miao is now a leader of the industry in China.

Throughout his career, Miao has shown what a dynamic Art Director he is. With his work on films such as Shanghai Sojourner and Lottery, Miao’s attention to detail and vast talent is evident. He also lends his skills to commercial work, recently creating a series of promotional videos for Lepow and another for Itron Battery to promote their crowdfunding. With an outstanding number of viewers online, the Itron Battery commercial is one of his greatest successes in his esteemed career.

“Phenix is a very rare talent with both marketing and artistic sense. We worked closely on the Itron commercial, talking a lot about budget and production. Phenix was vital for the success of the commercial, and even found the location at a very affordable price, which helped the feeling of the film. He helped me to balance the art and budget so well. He is an expert when controlling the costs of everything. Phenix understands the difference between marketing value and artistic value, and he understands people. From his angle and visual aspect, he did a great job making the crowdfunding video look appealing. A crowdfunding commercial should be tangible and amiable, not chasing perfect as a normal TV commercial would. Phenix told me that crowdfunding is not charity, you need to let people feel this is a hopeful product and company. This outlook inspired the team. His outstanding communication skills allowed everyone to clearly understand what we were doing. He is a great leader and creator,” said Alice Fan, Producer.

The Itron Battery commercial advertises the company’s portable battery bank, the world’s fastest portable charger. It completely charges in 18 minutes, and within three minutes, one phone can be charged. The commercial showcases the product while still being comical and informative. It features two leading characters, one explaining the charger, and another looking to purchase one. They run through many different scenarios in which one may need a charger, leaving viewers both entertained and in need of the product.

“All the people that worked on this commercial were so professional. We did our work really fast, because we were so familiar with each other. From scene to scene, people just did everything very naturally. There was such chemistry, everything was as natural as breathing,” said Miao.

This commercial was not Miao’s first experience with a crowdfunding style video. He previously helped to raise $217,501 USD for Pivot Turingsense crowdfunding, achieving 274% of their goal, and for HiSmart crowdfunding, they reached 531% funded after raising $297,106, with the videos being the main source of awareness. That being said, the Itron commercial was by far the most successful, with hundreds of thousands of views online and reaching 706% of their goal by raising $289,472. It was also an Official Selection at the 2016 International Peace & Film Festival in Orlando, Florida.

“I still feel really excited about this commercial. When I hear so many people talk about it, I almost want to run up and interrupt them to let them know that I worked on it. That’s how proud of it I am. It is a big success in three aspects: art, commercial and crowdfunding,” he said.

Miao and the Director of the shoot, Peter “Zhen” Pan, had known each other for ten years when the opportunity to work on the commercial arrived. Miao is the director’s go-to art director and was the first person he reached out to. After reading the script, Miao accepted right away.

“Peter and I are golden partners. He knows I am a great Art Director that is full of ideas and the perfect match for what he wants. He just called me and told me the details about this project and we started working on it that same night. He always gives me enough space and time to design and develop my ideas. He fully respects me,” said Miao.

As the Art Director, Miao was in charge of the overall look for the commercial, selecting the best and most suitable artistic elements while leading the creative team. He designed a concise, natural, and clean aesthetic while controlling the style. He understands the difference between market value and artistic value, setting him apart from his colleagues. For this Itron commercial, he designed the color tone with Pan and knew to keep in mind the difference between a regular commercial and a crowdfunding commercial. He made sure to meet the requirements while planning the artistic elements around the brand, creating a higher brand value for the video. This allowed the product to stick in customers’ minds.

What was perhaps Miao’s most considerable contribution to the commercial, however, was finding the location of Elliston Winery. Miao enjoys working in historical settings, and the winery is no different. When decorating a historical set, Miao plays with the flavor that they bring to the table and plans everything around the atmosphere they possess. His passion for the location was passed onto the entire cast and crew. They treated it like their homes, making sure to respect every piece of furniture and brick in the building. Such respect for his setting and its parts is a main reason Miao is such a formidable artist and leader.

“I have been Phenix’s Assistant for years, but I also see him as my guide in my film career. He is not only in charge of the art department but is also a tremendous team leader. He understands style and perfectly controls the appearance of every image. Phenix is a great mentor and teaches me all of his techniques and knowledge. He is a talent but also very easy going. Phenix always knows how to take a director’s idea and turn it into something special. He knows how to make the effects suitable and always has new, practical ideas that come from his plethora of experience. I think the fact that he has also worked as a director and writer allow him to understand the role of the art director even better, and it sets him apart from the rest,” said Qin Zheng.

Watch the Itron Crowdfunding commercial here.

 

Photo taken by Peak City International Film Festival, Phenix Miao and John Whitaker

By Sean Desouza

Production Designer Laura Santoyo talks new film ‘Falling’

Learning about various aspects of humanity is a passion of Colombia’s Laura Santoyo Dangond. Originally from Colombia, she has also lived in Peru and Canada, and loves to travel to experience different cultures and learn new languages, fluent in Spanish, English, French, German, and Portuguese. This desire to learn about the world and its people is part of what led her into filmmaking. With every new project she embarks on, she gets to tell a different story and learn something new about history, society, the human mind, and more. Beyond the stories, she works with people from all over the world that have different backgrounds and ways of seeing life, and together they share and experience their differences through their art. As a production designer, Santoyo takes everything she has seen and practiced and channels that into creating visually stunning and captivating sets and props that fully transport audiences into what they are watching.

“I make an effort to stay true to the story and what the characters are. I do a lot of research on the characters and the environment where they live. I also try to have many exchanges with the director where we discuss characters and share research and inspiration images, etc. to understand their vision and the direction they are taking the story to. I like to play with colors and used them to imply aspects of the story that are not explicitly spoken by the characters,” she said.

Santoyo is known for her work on award-winning films such as Lockdown and Tim of the Jungle, both of which made their way to several of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. Last year, her film The Plague premiered, reminding audiences of what she is capable of, as Santoyo created a dystopian world. Her most recent film premiered just last month at the Slamdance Festival, and once again Santoyo shows she is unrivaled as a production designer.

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Bill Bowles, Laura Santoyo Dangond and Ewen Wright on the set of Falling, photo by Sam Shaib

“As soon as I finished reading the script I felt like I had to be part of the project. It is one of the most original scripts I have read, very intelligent and I thought that it was a story that had to be told and that I wanted to tell it,” she said. “The script of this film describes a number of absurd situations and uses humor to address subjects that are affecting our society. It was very important that the design of the movie supported the comedic tone without ridiculing the situations.”

The film tells the story of a potentially psychosomatic white man, a woman stuck in a vortex of mansplaining, and a young black man confronted by the racial disconnect of society, each trying to make sense of their lives as their worlds are set on an inevitable collision course in this surrealist comedy.

It was important for Santoyo and the rest of the team to differentiate the three storylines that run parallel to each other and to show the absurdity of the situations without being too over the top. Therefore, they assigned one color to each character.

The first story, about a man who can’t walk, represents the feeling of impotence that someone watching the news at night can feel when they see injustices with no way to help. This character takes the “sickness” he feels to the extreme. Therefore, they decided to use the color blue with him, which is very clinical.

The second story, about a woman who’s caught in male-dominated conversations turmoil, was assigned the color red. She is often angry and frustrated, and all the men that she’s with see her and other women as objects. Santoyo felt red reflected these feelings.

The third story is about a black man, who in the most absurd situation, ends up being shot by the police. The filmmakers gave him the color green, because he’s young and innocent at the beginning and at the end it is his case that makes the man in the first story sick.

“As a society, we are still fighting against racism, social injustice and women’s equality and this film raises awareness on these subjects in a comedic tone. I believe that it is very important to have films like this one because we can start generating discussions that could eventually lead to change,” said Santoyo.

Working on Falling has been one of the most fun experiences Santoyo has had throughout her career. From the first time she read the script, she knew it was going to be challenging because there were many locations with three different stories that at the end become one. Each story had elements of magical realism that could also be difficult to achieve in production design. Santoyo wanted to enhance the experiences of the character through the set, but not overdo it to a point that the messages behind each scene were lost. She managed to find the perfect balance, always keeping in mind the color palette they had decided for each character early on in production.

“I think many things make Laura an excellent designer, collaborator, and professional. The first thing that comes to mind is passion. She’s clearly passionate about what she does – she made it clear that she seeks out work that she connects with on a personal and aesthetic level. Once she’s onboard, she’s obviously all-in. That shows at every phase of a project when you see her initial ideas, the hours she’s putting in, the attitude she brings to every meeting and production day, and the diligence with which she executes. Beyond that, she’s a professional with outstanding training, instincts, and experience. She knows how to present her ideas clearly – both verbally and visually, she has leadership skills, she remains calm under pressure, she knows how to prioritize, stay organized, and keep others motivated to work at a high standard,” said Ewen Wright, Director.

Wright was looking through portfolios and films for a costume designer when Santoyo’s work caught his eye. He asked the costume designer who the production designer was that possessed such talent. He immediately reached out to Santoyo, who was extremely responsive and receptive to the idea of the film. They immediately began a strong partnership and shared ideas about the film.

Falling Set
Ewen Wright, Laura Santoyo Dangond and Yonit Olsen, photo by Sam Shaib

“Laura has a creative voice, and in a key role on a collaboration that can’t be undervalued. She brings her lifelong sense of design, studied theory, and just pure instinct to her work in a way that gives her work a through-line. I really enjoyed developing a shorthand with her. Lastly, she has a phenomenal attitude and work ethic. She went above and beyond for our production – and even when things went wrong, or the hours ran long, Laura was a reliable source of positivity and joy. As a leader on the team, she set a tone for those around her that I know contributed to all of us doing better. When I was stressed or needed a moment, I always knew I could rely on Laura for a laugh – just as the rest of the time I relied on her for her eye on the image,” Wright continued.

Working with such a committed team was one of Santoyo’s favorite parts about filming Falling. She found everyone came together to tell such an intricate story, and she was constantly inspired by those she worked alongside. However, it was the message behind the film that truly made the experience for the production designer.

“I am so proud to have been a part of this film. I think it’s a story that captures the feeling that something is wrong in the world and the willingness to change it, but not knowing how to go about doing so. I think many people feel that now. I’m thrilled to know that it’s being watched by many people and it can maybe inspire some change in our society,” she said.

Now that Falling has begun its film festival run, Santoyo is looking forward to her next project. Undoubtedly, she has a very bright future ahead of her, and audiences can continue to look for her name rolling past their eyes in movie credits for years to come.

“I want to keep exploring and finding new stories to tell and more talented people to work with. I am looking forward to creating more worlds where magic is possible. I want my work to reach even larger audiences and present stories to the public that entertain them and that touches them. I have a couple of projects in line for this year that hopefully will help me accomplish this,” she concluded.

 

Top photo by Jesper Duelund

Tooba Rezaei experiences the magic of touching hearts through ‘A Sweet Dream’

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A Sweet Dream film poster

One of the most unique joys of being an artist is knowing that your work evokes raw, human emotions within those around you. Visual arts have the ability to transcend the mundane aspects of human life and to push people to explore themselves and the world around them. Over time, art has created change. It has inspired and influenced. It has created chaos and disruption, and it has birthed a community of dreamers, and creators. It has produced renowned artists like Tooba Rezaei, whose passion has allowed her to touch the lives of several different people throughout her career. For Rezaei, the true joy of her craft comes from the platform it gives her to make people feel things that they may not otherwise have the chance to feel. She gets to tell stories and to motivate her audiences to dream without limits.

When Rezaei was a child, she would immerse herself in cartoon television shows. When each show ended, she would take her pen and paper and challenge herself to draw all of her favorite characters. She was energized by the feeling of her pencils exploring the paper and loved the creating things that hadn’t otherwise existed. As she grew up, she continued to test her skills against various mediums and art forms within the field of visual arts. This led her to discover the wonderful world of animation, a world in which she feels that she belongs. She has a natural affinity for bringing her drawings to life via animation and loves the dynamics that the motion brings to her artwork. As an animator, Rezaei has created a number of well-known animations, such as her original animation, A Sweet Dream. Prior to creating A Sweet Dream, however, Rezaei experienced her first sense of impacting the lives of others through her artwork with her animations for the game SilverFit.

SilverFit was a game designed specifically for use by an older demographic. Essentially, it is a virtual therapy system to be used to train gross motor skills and ADL tasks during rehabilitation sessions. The game presents the necessary exercises for elderly individuals to follow along with and keep their muscles working accordingly. Since its inception, the game received great success and is now used by over 20,000 individuals a week. As SilverFit’s first designer, Rezaei acted as the background designer, background painter, character designer, and character animator. She designed a wide variety of different games, each based on the use of different motor skills to suit the game’s intended audience. In working for SilverFit, Rezaei got a taste of what it felt like to know that her work would directly aid in helping improve the health of its target audience. It gave Rezaei’s art a meaningful sense of purpose and she was addicted to the high of helping those around her. SilverFit’s founder and managing director, Maaike Dekkers-Duijts, was blessed to have Rezaei on board for the project. Her talents exceeded far beyond simply animating.

“Her animations really seem to come alive. They really ‘touch’ you. She is a great artist, creating extraordinarily beautiful animations. She is so artistic and has exceptional talent,” regarded Dekkers-Duijts.

After the success of Silverfit, Rezaei then extended her talents to the children’s show Parparook for Persian Gulf TV. Parparook (meaning ‘Pinwheel’ in the South of Iran) is a special program that is produced and distributed in Kahlije Fars IRIB (Islamis Repablic of Iran Broadcasting, also known as Persian Gulf). Rezaei wrote, directed, designed, painted and animated all the characters and all the objects on the background of Parparook, creating everything from scratch and differentiating her shorts from everything on the show. The producer and manager of the program were so happy with results that years later they used some of Rezaei’s work for other kid’s television programs as well.

Knowing that she had always wanted to create her own animated story, she knew that in order for it to be truly worth her while, she would need to give it an element of social influence. She wanted to do more than just entertain, and out of this determination, A Sweet Dream was born. A Sweet Dream can be described as a bittersweet, allegorical look at the desires of a little girl who wants the world to see her talents shine through her difficult life circumstances. Not only did Rezaei animate this project from start to finish, she also wrote and directed the storyline. To fit with the animated short’s premise, Rezaei felt it fitting to use a simple, two dimensional, flat design. In fact, she felt that the simplicity of the drawings was imperative to the overall mood she was attempting to portray. She wanted it to seem as if the little girl could’ve drawn the lines and shapes herself, making her world easier to relate to for her audience. Rezaei then added a second element to her design concept by showcasing the little girl’s reality through dark blue tones and contrasting it with her dream state, which Rezaei colored in golden tones.

“In her dream world, forms are curvaceous and delicate. There is dance and movement and inspiration. However, in reality, she is in an orphanage and the forms of the beds and the room are sharp and straight with harsh angles, alluding to her real-life struggles and difficulties,” said Rezaei.

Rezaei hoped that A Sweet Dream would challenge her audience to question their own harsh realities and evaluate them against their own hopes and dreams. She wanted them to think about how they would react if they were in the little girl’s shoes. Would their dreams be squandered by their reality? According to Rezaei, if we don’t push ourselves to understand the lives of others, we can never truly improve our society as a whole and make our collective world a better place. She felt as though A Sweet Dream helped to remind her why she does the work that she does. Seeing her audiences shed tears over her story solidified the reality that this is exactly what she wants to be doing and that she had succeeded in her efforts to make them stop and think about the consequences of their actions.

After screening at a number of different film festivals, A Sweet Dream even went on to win Best Animation at the Los Angeles CineFest, as well as Finalist in Animation Short at both the International Film Awards in Berlin, Germany, as well as at Constatine’s Gold Coin Festival in Serbia. If you wish to experience the magic, watch A Sweet Dream for yourself and you won’t be disappointed.

 

Image by Tooba Rezaei, captured from ‘A Sweet Dream’

Art Director Hanna Petersson brings unique touch to packaging

Hanna Petersson is not like other art directors. She is constantly adapting, looking for a new challenge with each new day. Her style is influenced by her Swedish heritage. Scandinavian design is very scaled back, simplistic and focuses on form and function together rather than just putting things into a design solely as decoration. For Petersson, each part of a design must have a purpose, and if it does not, she knows exactly how to give it one. That is what makes her such an outstanding talent, and why she is known internationally for what she does.

At just 23, Petersson has put her artistic touch on some of the world’s largest brands. She has collaborated with many teams, creating imagery and customer engagement for Samsung, Swedish Match, and more. Her artwork captivates, and her individual exhibition at the House of Culture in central Stockholm garnered a lot of attention and earned her quite the fan base. She uses illustrations to tell a story, and uses her talent to help many brands increase sales.

“As an art director, it is incredibly important to research the client and the target audience and to create content based off of this that is rooted in facts and human truths. A design can look amazing, but unless that design is perfectly suited to the client and target audience the design is useless. What I need to make sure is that I always do my homework on whatever project I may work on, that I am passionate about it, and that I make sure that every detail is perfect before going into the physical production of the idea. The art director comes up with an idea and is in charge of directing it all the way from idea to finalized product. It is a great responsibility and a big challenge, but also incredibly rewarding and interesting to work on,” Petersson described.

Having worked with reputable retail agencies like WorkShop and Grey, Petersson also recently worked with AdPlant. With the company, she worked on a variety of projects to create visual development and branding for big companies, which will be released next year.  Although the official projects can’t be mentioned for this reason, Petersson’s work with the company astounded all she worked with.

“Hanna is an excellent creative talent. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Hanna as both an illustrator and a communication creative for AdPlant network. She is a quick, smart person who pays attention to details in her handicraft. She is a warm and kind person who will ‘run that extra mile’ to deliver pitch perfect creative work,” said Marcus Enström, Founder of AdPlant and Lead Creative.

Petersson’s work greatly impressed AdPlant’s client. Despite not yet being released, the project she worked on has already had a lot of success, and the client is looking to have similar projects follow this one. They know it will be a hit, and they want to work with Petersson and AdPlant again after such a successful collaboration. The product category is one of the most sold in Sweden, and the designs Petersson has produced are one of a kind. They will undoubtedly increase sales and attract new customers to try the product. Petersson knew exactly how to please the company and potential customers at the same time, which is quite the challenge for many art directors.

To do this, she first had to identify exactly what was needed. In this case, it was a series of packaging designs with a unique set of illustrations that she would produce. She then needed to create a new set of color combinations to be used that would not only communicate the right feeling, but also easily convey what the product is and what it stands for. According to Petersson, designing a series of new products within the same category means that they must all be similar to each other and feel like a series, but they need to stand out from each other and be the most unique at the same time. Finding that balance takes some time and a lot of work goes into just coming up with an extraordinary amount of different variations and suggestions that then will be used to decide exactly what the finished product should look like. The process took Petersson quite a long time, because the client wanted to make sure that they were a part of the process every step of the way and got their say in the final product. As Petersson is known for her excellent communication skills, this was not a problem, and she knew exactly what they wanted before they even had to say it.

“This was a blast to work on because I really got to improve a design style I had dipped my toes in not too long before. What was also great was that I knew that these designs would be seen by hundreds of thousands of people in their everyday lives and that my work would be one of the main reasons for the success of the products,” said Petersson.

After seeing Petersson’s previous designs, Enström approached the art director knowing she would be a necessity for the success of his upcoming project. Petersson had previously done a project where she designed and sold apparel through her own shop. These designs were unique, and the founder of AdPlant later found the project in an online shop and asked her if she was interested in working on a project using a similar style of design. Despite working on other projects at the time, Petersson said yes to AdPlant. She was immediately interested in working on the project when she heard about it, and wanted to work on a packaging design project that would be a vital part in the sales of a company. She knew she would be able to influence what the design of the product category could look like and innovate the category from what it was at the time.

“It was very nice to hear that a company was interested in my designs and talents and therefore I was very happy to work on the project from the start since I knew that they wanted me specifically and therefore trusted my opinions, which let me have more freedom in my work and to really push the designs further,” said Petersson. “That I got this responsibility was a great honor and it really allowed me to trust more in myself and my skills. Not only was this a great project from an art perspective, but also from a work experience perspective as I got to communicate with a very large, international company and that they got to see my work directly,” she concluded.

Petersson’s advertising experience and her natural artistic talents make her the perfect art director. She will undoubtedly continue bringing success to anything she works on, and is definitely one to watch.

Graphic Designer Suzy van der Velden beautifully captured surf lifestyle for O’Neill

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Designer Suzy van der Velden

Suzy van der Velden was just six years old when her father made her first desk. It was then when her creativity awoke. She could sit at her desk and spend the day drawing whatever came to her. She still does this today, however, it is often for some of the world’s biggest brands.

Van der Velden has quickly become one of the best Dutch graphic designers. She has established herself through her impressive work with Lululemon, Oilily, and more. When working with the internationally successful sporting wear brand O’Neill, van der Velden once again showed the world what she was capable of.

“I wanted to be part of O’Neill because it’s a brand with a rich heritage. Not a lot of brands have a real story, but O’Neill does and it’s a great one. Rooted in surf, it’s founder Jack O’Neill has changed and touched the lives of many by inventing the wetsuit. That mindset of innovation and to see how we can enjoy nature for longer is something that really attracted me to the brand. As an outdoor enthusiast, I love spending time exploring nature and to be part of a brand that views nature as a playground is an amazing thing,” said van der Velden.

While with O’Neill, van der Velden was responsible for all artwork for the Women’s & Girls collection, including swim wear, snow jackets, lifestyle, outerwear and collaborations such as Liberty London. With such a vast range of work, she researched the different categories extensively, looking to find what the best print techniques were, what was suitable for them, and how to push the limits to innovate and what the trends were. With a shift towards craftsmanship in the company, van der Velden was then free to use her creative freedom, producing the high-quality artwork she is known for, which was more expressive and pushed the brand forward. She worked to create an image for each specific product, as well as the brand as a whole.

“For Swim, I would design in a different way than for a Snow jacket so to say. This could have to do with scale, but also the esthetic would differ and use of color. This made the role interesting and never dull. I became a specialist in knowing what was the best way to approach all the different categories,” she described.

Van der Velden’s passion for the brand was evident in each piece of work she produced. She designs with the end customer in the back of her mind, and at O’Neill she gained a strong understanding of the action sport industry and the lifestyle that goes with it. The energy of the board sports, she says, is reflected in the collections, making it a really diverse and fun environment to be in. Van der Velden also travelled frequently for work, and she really got to see how the brand was appreciated beyond just the walls of her office. She immediately noticed the team spirit from those that wear it.

“I loved the fact that the product I worked on gave people the opportunity to enjoy what they loved most. My greatest reward was being able to see my designs come to life and seeing people wear my clothes in all areas around the world,” she said.

It wasn’t just customers that were impressed with what van der Velden produced. She was able to take trends and translate them into her work in a way that made sense for the brand, greatly contributing to its success. She consistently hit the right tone for each specific product, and her artistic instincts were greatly appreciated by all she worked with.

“It was great working with Suzy and I personally really enjoyed it. She was very well respected by the entire team and had an easy yet professional nature. I found that Suzy could bring a graphic story and direction across with natural authenticity and could get people to buy into the big picture with her simple but very educated communication style,” said David Henry, the Global Snow Performance Product Manager and European Accessories Product Manager at O’Neill. “Three words spring to mind when I think of Suzy: easy going, knowledgeable, and professional. Suzy was always on top of things and this gave me confidence that we were on the right track. She was also always open to others point of view and the resulted in meetings that were well balanced. Suzy always brought a sense of calm with sometimes big egos and I really liked that about her.”

Initially, van der Velden wanted to work at O’Neill for the experience, but it quickly became much more than that. As soon as she started working at O’Neill, she knew she wanted to stay a part of the team of young talented individuals with a passion for action sports. Although it was initially a temporary position, van der Velden’s work ethic and talent quickly impressed, and she was offered a permanent spot not long after.

Van der Velden also was inspired by the story of the founder, Jack O’Neill, who invented the wetsuit. This allowed people to surf in all areas of the world that were never able to otherwise. The goal of the company is to ensure people can surf no matter the water temperature. Their mission is ‘to surf longer’. O’Neill is known for its extraordinary athletes that are always pushing the boundaries, causing people to always be engaged to what the brand is going to do next. Van der Velden’s designs captured those ideals perfectly.

“Innovation is in the brands DNA and this makes sure O’Neill is ahead of the game, plus there is always an element of fun keeping it light,” said van der Velden.

The six years van der Velden spent at O’Neill, were in her words, a “blast.” However, it was always the inspiring story of Jack O’Neill that appealed to her, which she describes as timeless.

“Jack O’Neill passed away on the second of June of this year. It’s sad to see such a legend pass away, but I’m grateful for what he has built and that I’ve been able to be a part of the experience in a way,” she concluded.