NEST HQ was created with the intention of being a platform aimed at promoting and encouraging the growth of artists of all genres and mediums. While we’ve worked mostly within music up to this point, we are expanding on a new content series that will showcase multimedia artists of various backgrounds including painters, graphic designers, architects, and others of the sort; this is installation. Every week, we’ll post hand-selected pieces from our featured artists via our Instagram @nesthq, along with excerpts from the full interviews which will be posted on the Friday of that week.
This week on installation, we present the motion design and film studio Immanent.
Can you tell us a bit about how your story as a company began?
My background is a mix of motion graphics and music business (which was kind of a double life at first). I grew up in Chicago, moved to LA when I was 22. I began as a VJ around 2005 for the Vanguard nightclub in Hollywood and worked with Insomniac on their events and festivals. My day job was making broadcast graphics for television and trailer graphics for films. At the time, the VJ world felt very experimental and people just seemed happy that you were using the screen. Within the last five years though, I started seeing more musicians incorporate specific content for songs and moments in their shows. This inspired me to start working with some artists I’m friends with on doing the same for their shows. The VJ / visual content work increased and led me to touring fairly regularly. I started hiring other designers and animators to help me finish projects. Last year, I decided that I wanted to start a company to work with more musicians on their live video productions. So, I put together the necessary steps to start a design studio and we launched Immanent.
What is the reason for the medium you choose to become proficient in? What does this medium allow you to do that other mediums may not?
I chose visual content because it combines everything I’m into. I was a DJ all through high school and I got into graphics as a way to promote my music (mixtape covers, event flyers, zines, etc.). That led me into computer animation, post production, and visual effects. A lot of my friends are in the music world and I saw VJ’ing as a way to tie it all together. It became really interesting to me when I started creating customs graphics with artists for their performances. I love playing a role in the story that they are telling.
The most important thing to me is having creative freedom in your field. I worked for so many years on TV network graphics, movie titles, and commercials. It felt limiting and everything was created by a bureaucratic committee. I remember arguing with producers about mundane things like “what color the lens flare should be.” The visual world allows for a lot of creative freedom. I like to make weird content that either entertains, amazes, or disturbs the audience. I’ve found the wilder the ideas you push in this industry, the better the outcome.
What were the inspirations behind these 3 pieces specifically?
I’ve been working with 12th Planet for ten years now. I’ve been able to do some pretty funny things on camera. This one always catches people’s eye. We were working on his whole year 2012 / Mayan Calendar / end of the world theme and we decided to make a news cast from Planet Nibiru. Thus, the Channel 12 News was born. For me personally, it was my way of sticking up the middle finger to all the news broadcast graphics packages I had worked on for so many years. I got 12th to wear a suit and wig and go berserk behind a desk on camera. We were laughing the entire time and it still goes off in the show.
We were kind of riffing off A$AP Ferg’s “Master Bruce” / Batman references. Apparently he’s a big fan of Batman, so he loved our idea building a Ferg related Gotham City for his “New Level” song. We took 3D models of buildings and added gothic church elements to the rooftops to give it that early skyscraper feel. Add Ferg’s logo to the search light and it worked.
We were asked by Flosstradamus to come up with ideas for their “Desert Storm” theme. I pitched to them this crazy concept of taking the audience into the chaos that took place in the world around the original Desert Storm war. So not only did it have the obvious military themes, but we were referencing everything from Public Enemy, Industrial music, LA Riots, and news coverage. Our creative pitch to them said “Imagine if the Terminator and Predator battled Saddam Hussein’s industrial sized ghetto blaster filled with gangster rap. Live on CNN.” The guys loved it and let us run with it.
What are some of the defining moments in the company’s career so far? How have they affected the way you approach your art and your creations?
Working with A$AP Rocky on his Coachella show was really cool. We created some interactive illusions where his silhouette would disappear and re-appear on other platforms. We also have created a lot of animated “matte paintings” with A$AP Rocky over the years. This is when we transformed an LED or projection screen into a set design created from video. This is a technique we have used for other artists and potentially some theatre performances in the near future.
Also, the unveiling of the new Flosstradamus visuals at HARD Festival this summer was a great experience. This was the first time the new graphics package was presented with their new stage design. We got a lot of great feedback after that show.
How do you feel the industry is doing right now? Which trends are really pushing the industry forward, and which are holding it back?
I think this particular part of the industry is very strong and will only continue to grow. As the price of video equipment comes down, there are more festivals and touring artists using video in their production. Also, as the music industry has shifted from record sales to touring, more and more artists are on the road. This has created a demand for musicians to produce a bigger and better show. The fans are the ones who benefit the most, and successful productions continue to succeed as fans will come back again and again.
What are some other artists that you are currently into?
This is a hard questions because I’m a visual art junkie and am inspired by so many things. From film, photo, visual art, architecture, furniture, concept art, graphic design, motion design, animation, advertising, and more — I reference tons of material when coming up with visual concepts.
There are a number of other artists in this field that I really love. Some of them I’ve been able to call my peers, others I’m an admirer of. Ash Thorp, Steve Teeps, Scott Pagano, Joanie Lemercier, Andrew Thomas Huang, Carlo Sa, Mike Winklemann (Beeple), Miguel Vega, and Strangeloop to name a few.
Los Angeles has such a big scene for motion graphics. There is just so much design and animation talent in LA and it’s always inspiring. Some of my favorite shops have been Prologue, Imaginary Forces, Buck, Stardust, Method, Blur, and Blind.
What are some of your goals for 2016?
We want to build on the idea of a motion design studio that encourages creativity and experimentation. This requires a great team of artists, animators, and production staff. Many of the people we have worked with already are new to visual content for the stage and come from more commercial roots. I’ve enjoyed seeing how they take their work to another level. It can be liberating as an artist to do things you are usually told not to do.
Why did you choose these pieces to represent yourself on this spread?
I wanted to show a wide variety of the type of work we do. Sometimes we create work in a serious tone, others times it can be political or just downright funny. I enjoy it all. It just needs to be a perfect fit for the music.