I love to make stuff. I enjoy my job most when I get to bring ideas into being in real life, rather than sitting at a computer and making things happen with my keyboard. Spoke Visuals are a team of three who have turned their love of making all sorts stuff into their careers. Their work involves everything from building a twenty foot tall pyramid to house a drum circle of forty drums at a Loomstate event, to dripping wax from a hundred candles just so and hand tie-dying yards and yards of fabric for tents for a Pamela Love installation. David McGovern sat down with Christen Genga from Spoke to get some background for us into what all they do and how they got started.
David: How did Spoke Visuals form?
Genga: We worked together for close to ten years in the creative/visual department for a fashion retailer. There were definitely conversations over the years about how we could start a company to provide visual and creative support to people and organizations that didn’t necessarily have the resources for an in-house creative department. Ultimately, the decision to seek out clients and projects was made easy for us. Two thirds of us got fired. And as is the case with many endeavors like Spoke, we were fortunate enough to have the help and support of our friends. We had some conversations with Pamela Love about how to go about starting a business and she offered us what turned out to be a great opportunity. Last September we had our first project designing and installing Pam’s spring 2010 Fashion Week presentation at Milk Studios.
David: On the site you mention an array of projects you work on, from designing fixtures to merchandising consultation. What memorable tasks have you been assigned?
Genga: We definitely enjoyed working with the people at Loomstate for their Earth Day event. It was a pretty unique set of challenges to construct a 20′ tall pyramid onto which we could project video while 40 drummers performed under and around the pyramid. We were able to develop software that allowed the colors in the video to react to the sound of the drumming. And we definitely have some stories about building set pieces for the LnA Fashion Week presentation in January. Most of which center around working in a back yard in Bushwick. At night. In 12 inches of snow.
David: Who is your typical client?
Genga: Really it could be anybody. We’ve done some Fashion Week presentations, a couple showrooms, some interior residential work and even had conversations with some people about flea market booths. So we’re definitely not all that concerned with the scale or prestige of the project. For us it’s really about the process and what we look and hope for in clients is the desire to have a true creative collaboration.
David: We’re all aware it can be difficult to convince companies to budget for visuals and creative endeavors. What is your pitch?
Genga: A lot of our clients, so far, have been designers who have a strong vision and are looking for someone to help them define it and take it as far as possible. And we’ve been really lucky in that most of our projects have led to conversations about future projects, either with the same client or with a new client who has had the opportunity to see how we work. So we’ve been able to avoid the full-on sales pitch by being involved in projects from their inception. Since we don’t operate like a traditional set shop we’ve been able to establish ourselves as a company that can assist in all aspects of a creative endeavor. Or as we like to say, from inspiration to installation.
David: Creative block will undoubtedly strike on some projects. What do you have in the office to keep you inspired?
Genga: We’re inspired by the hope of someday having an office.
David: What’s next for you guys?
Genga: We’ll see. We’ve been involved in some pretty interesting projects and worked with some inspired/inspiring people so far. Hopefully that will continue. And we also hope to take on some projects where we can be our own client. Try to give the shoemaker’s kids some shoes. Some very cool, good looking shoes.