Wang & Söderström is a Copenhagen based creative studio with a focus on digital explorations, production and art direction. They create mind tickling and unexpected experiences through materiality and technology. Their hyper-real inspired practice explores a spectrum of visual art disciplines realised in projects from illustrations for magazines to 3D animations on large screens, installations, campaigns, and computer games.
Wild Minded caught up with Tim Söderström to find out how they come up with their ideas, inspirations, collaborations and pushing boundaries..
When did you start creating with 3D software?
I went to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture here in Copenhagen and during my years there, I involved more and more 3D software into my creative process. In the start I used 3D tools to create architectural models – both abstract process models as well as constructional models. Whilst doing this, I experimented with what else these tools could do and got intrigued by what seemed like never-ending possibilities.
How do go about coming up with a new idea? Is it all very experimental?
Many times it is a simple idea, based on a new function found in software or based on a physical reaction you see IRL. When you start to work with that simple idea the process in itself often present the next step, if that make sense. It could also be byproducts from other projects, something you find during that process that you later explore in another direction. It is all very process based I think, using tools in unintended ways and at all times being open to weird ideas that later just seems obvious.
Are all of your works completely digital? Do you mix mediums?
My inspiration is definitely more from the physical world and since our bodies are very much physical (at least for now) we tend to relate more to visual art, that in some way has a connection to physicality. Seeing something digital move or collapse in a somewhat accurate physical way tickles your senses. The great thing with digital tools is you can really mess around with all the physical rules and take things further than you would IRL. Another thing with digital tools is how satisfyingly precise you can be.
I would love to explore more with hardware that would let me work more in the section just between digital and physical. I will definitely get more into 3D scanning and CNC-milling in both my artistic and architectural projects. However, right now, the focus is definitely on digital tools.
You’ve collaborated with other 3D artists like Anny Wang, what’s that process of working with other artists like? Do you find you challenge each other to push boundaries?
For me it takes things to the next level. You challenge your own perception of things and force yourself to be motivated with your choices. Of course it works better with some than with others but when I feel a synergy with someone, that is fantastic. Seeing the end results getting so much better it really motivating to work with your preconceptions and never kill someone else’s idea too early in the process. Often something I maybe did not think was a great direction in the start ends up being my absolute favourite part in the end. At the same time it helps me understand what my biggest strengths are, how to improve them and how to implement them efficiently.
Tell us about your recent work together on the Nike project. How did that come about?
Last year Anny and I did an installation for Nike on a re-release of one of their shoes in Stockholm, Sweden. Anny has worked with them before and needed help this time to come up with an interactive spacial piece. It was basically a big kaleidoscope projected on the walls of a transition area that visitors of the event could control through a touchpad, doing so changing the lights and atmosphere of the space. An example of how you spatially and physically could present digital work.
Are you finding you’re being approached for more commercial projects recently as brands start to heavily focus their marketing efforts on digital, and look for a unique approach to content creation?
Definitely. Some companies understand the process better then others but the ones that allow for most artistic freedom in the project are certainly doing it most right.
How often do you get approached via your own Instagram for new work?
Often, and you start to get a feel of which projects will fit and which don’t. Sometimes people don’t understand how time consuming 3D can be so if its not an acceptable budget it really has to be something that interests me a lot to proceed and do a good work. Maybe if it aligns well with some personal ideas I’ve had or if the cause is for something I am involved in.
You’re based in Copenhagen, do you work with any international clients? How do you find the different kinds of requests, are the ideas pretty varied? Do you think most countries are at different stages when it comes to 3D animation?
The technical aspect is certainly global. I could not pinpoint a certain area in the world were the best digital artists are located. I stumble upon great autodidact artists from everywhere. What you could see is probably different styles and waves but they are often more connected to certain digital forums rather then geographic places. Concerning international clients, as long as I have a good internet connection and my computer I can work from anywhere and I sometimes dream about working from a hut in the Swedish woods.
That said, the atmosphere and everyday life in Copenhagen suits me very well and the cultural life here is very varied and vital.
How do you approach your client work? What do you require from the client to be able to come up with a unique creative approach?
It really differs. But a brief that is inspiring, open and willing to experiment is a great start. When the client understands you, the results are better, so a well working dialog is the most important part of any successful project.
Do you have anything exciting in the works?
Yes! Anny Wang and I recently opened our own studio here in Copenhagen. With a lot of time now for big personal projects as well as exciting projects for clients, we appreciate we feel we are going to step up our game more than a couple of notches this coming year.