Art-See

ART-SEE: THING Studio, Los Angeles-Based Design Duo

Welcome to the latest installment of Art-See – a recurring space devoted to featuring quirky artists whose work may be lesser-known to those with only a surface interest in the art sphere. 

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It’s easy to forget about the people behind all of the enticing design details that we’re inundated with on a daily basis–whether it be a website layout, an advertising scheme, or a store’s branding/logo. THING Studio, a Los Angeles based multidisciplinary design studio, is a solid reminder of all the creative work going on behind the scenes of our favorite companies and products. Working with brands as diverse as The Standard Hotel, BCBG, Herve Leger, Libertine, and the Royal T Arts Space, the two ladies behind THING have dipped their toes in quite a bit of visual stimuli, resisting the confines of an easily identifiable style for the more alluring ability to transform and surprise. I caught up with the duo to find out more about their process, their most recent project, and, of course, what wisdom they have to bestow on us twenty-somethings.

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1. What is THING Studio? THING Studio is a boutique visual design studio based out of Los Angeles, led by us: Lulu Biazus and Carrie Lau. The bulk of what we do is art direction and visual collaborations with a range of brands, people, and publications. Carrie is originally from Hong Kong and I’m from the L.A. area (aside from a 4 year stint in London), so it’s the mix of our backgrounds and our mutual love of seeing the world as a magical wonderland.

2. How did the idea for it come about? We met at a corporate fashion company where we were both working on design and art direction. It didn’t take long to realize that our aesthetic taste was super similar, and we were into the same pop-tastic stuff. Not to mention we became best friends and went on holidays together, ha. We took the plunge and quit our day jobs when we started getting approached to collaborate with a few brands we like. The rest is recent history.

3. Tell us about some of your favorite recent projects. The most recent project we are excited about is a collaboration with a string of fashion boutiques in Hong Kong called Kapok. We worked on Holiday 2013 artwork that was displayed on the windows, in the shops, and on seasonal products.

A few months ago we developed a story called Apocapop, launched at the opening of our collaboration with The Standard hotel in late July 2013, which takes place in a post-human future. Volcanoes erupt all over the planet, and these colorful ameoba-shaped characters, Apocapops,  burst from within the Earth’s core and start noshing on the residue left behind by humans, ultimately saving the planet from total destruction in the cutest way possible. The Kapok collaboration follows the Apocapops into outer space, where they have ventured to explore areas where no men have gone before.

4. Do you guys differentiate between the art and fashion worlds, or see them as one? Sometimes. [When working] in fashion it’s important to keep in mind the commercial aspect of what we’re doing. Unfortunately a lot is dictated by sales, but rather than seeing this as a roadblock we try to use it as a visual challenge to get excited about. The art world has its own version of commercialism, but we aim to keep it real and maintain a sense of authenticity.

5. What is the process you follow when looking for companies to work with at Thing? We have been lucky to have been approached by companies that have seen previous projects or heard about us through the industry, but we also reach out to companies that fall in line with what we like to make and cross our fingers.

6. What advice would you give to young people who are interested in starting their own project/company/etc.? The best advice I can give is to do the work then send it out into the world. If it’s in your head no one will know about it. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s better to be out there than not at all.

7. Where do you get the most inspiration? In the same vein, what keeps you motivated? We get inspiration from other artists, fashion designers, architects, writers, bands, magazines, photographers, restaurants, cities, websites, and friends. There’s no end to inspiration. Sometimes we get overloaded and have smoke coming out of our ears.

I’m not sure what exactly keeps us motivated, but that motivation is what drives us to do what we do everyday.

8. How old are you both now? What do you wish you knew about life and work in your early twenties? We both just entered our 30s, so there are plenty of nuggets we have picked up along the way. Surround yourself with positive people and significant others. Do the work more, talk about it less. Go on as many adventures as possible. Try something new every day. Talk to strangers. Challenge rules you have created for yourself to make sure they aren’t based on old beliefs (if you hate olives, try them because your taste buds change!). Friend time is just as important as work time. Don’t be late for dinners or appointments. Be the sun, and shine bright on everything around you.

9. Describe your ideal creative environment. A large open area with massive windows, hanging plants, bookshelves filled with inspiration, large tables to work on, a large sitting area, a coffee/tea station, a music station/record player, a patio area with lots of work space, and talented people to collaborate with.

10. What’s up next for Thing Studio? Hint: Come to NYC! The million dollar question. We hope to continue our mission of bringing color and happiness to the darkest corners of the world as well as collaborating with more companies that we love. Yes, that means coming to NYC!

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