Curators, art directors, publishers, designers - it’s difficult to pin down exactly what Paris-based collective Ill Studio do. A truly multidisciplinary network, Léonard Vernhet, Thomas Subreville, Nicolas Malinowsky, Thierry Audurand, Pierre Dixsaut and Sebastien Michelini have spun a fertile web of art, design, thought, and innovation, into a self-sufficient international business model.
The Internet has mutated into this infinite area of free creativity built around the notion of amateurism
Ill Studio’s diverse set of industry leading clients includes the likes of the New York Times, Nike, and Louis Vuitton. But as well as managing the ever expanding business, each member remains an artist in their own right, the driving force and lifeline behind the companies continued evolution. Their latest project, 72 Dots Per Inch - open now at Hoxton’s infamous KK Outlet - is an Internet-natives digest on the folklore and random amateur aesthetic of the World Wide Web. Dazed caught up with Ill Studio from Paris to find out more...
Dazed Digital: You've put your stamp on many different projects. Curators, businessmen, artists, art directors, publishers - how would you describe what you do?
Ill Studio: We are lucky enough to be able to work within quite different and interesting creative fields and through various mediums such as publishing, films, fashion, exhibitions… But whether we direct a video, design a magazine, or curate an exhibition, we always do it with the same vision. It is only the form and the technique that changes from one discipline to another. So it is all linked by the same undercurrent aesthetic. If we had to pick up one job, we would choose "art directors" which is probably the term that defines what we do best. We like to adapt our aesthetic and vision of things to many different projects. That is what makes our job exciting.
DD: As someone whose day to day work is based largely around the internet, how does the evolving nature of its content and ideas inspire the way you work?
Ill Studio: The Internet has mutated into this infinite area of free creativity built around the notion of amateurism. Anyone can make his own animated gif, blog, photoshop hoax, meme, viral video and this all creates a massive mess where cultural references which have nothing to do with each other mix, where reality is twisted, where any notion of time has disappeared, where bad tastes become good tastes. We like to mix-up very different cultural references in our work and Internet is an incredible source of inspiration for that.
DD: What was your idea behind 72 Dots Per Inch?
Ill Studio: We wanted to do something about the Internet world for quite a long time and thought this exhibition was the perfect occasion. We've been quite obsessed by all this Internet amateur aesthetic for a while and we spend a lot of time wondering around on many different websites about very random subjects. Bart Simpson next to Marco Van Basten and a pineapple. This is the randomness that we wanted to capture through the exhibition.
Anyone can make his own animated gif, blog, photoshop hoax, meme, viral video and this all creates a massive mess where cultural references which have nothing to do with each other mix, where reality is twisted, where any notion of time has disappeared, where bad tastes become good tastes
DD: How do you manage balancing personal projects with Ill Studio's professional work?
Ill Studio: We don't really make a difference between personal and commissioned work. They are both very challenging sides of our work for different reasons. The only difference is that you usually have a deadline and a given budget when you work for a client. But whether you work for a self-initiated project or for a big company, you get new constraints to deal with all the time which makes every project a different challenge.
Again, we consider ourselves as art directors more than artists and our job is to apply our own aesthetic and vision of things to a specific project or product. Aside from the money parameter, it is really important for us to be able to work on both commissioned and self-initiated things. Even if we were millionaires, we would probably carry on collaborating with brands and not try to only produce our own "art" only. We would get bored after a while.
DD: Can you tell me a bit about the book, Moodcyclopedia, that Ill-Studio published recently?
Ill Studio: Well, cultural references are such an important thing to us that we decided to put together all the mood images used to produce 15 of our recent projects, creating an encyclopedia of inspiration. A mathematical explanation of where each of these projects came from. We like to mix very different ideas and references to come up with our own personal thing. We love the fact of going to dig some inspiration very deep in a lot of different creative or non creative areas and from any eras to bring them in a different context.
It can be anything, from 1960 Polish conceptualism to early 80's obscure music or modern internet Junk. The idea of the book was also to question the fine line between lineage and innovation, or even between creating and stealing things/ Most of the time, designers hide their sources to avoid criticism on their originality, but with this project we wanted to literally "reveal" our sources and assume our work process.
DD: What can we expect to see from Ill-Studio next?
Ill Studio: We just finished the design and art direction of a magazine in collaboration with colette for her fifteen year anniversary that should be available within the next couple of days. We are directing a video for Louis Vuitton right now that should be out sometime in April. We also just finished designing our own helmet with the French company Ruby. Also, a little collaboration with the record label Tigersushi, that should be out within the end of March. Oh, and we are just finishing a personal book project that we've been working on since about a year!
Ill Sudio, until March 31st, 2012, KK Outlet, 42 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6PB