Interview with Makers Company

makers company

Hello Gert & Stephan!
As far as we know, Makers Company involves two creative minds. How did you guys come all together? How did Makers Company get started?
We met working together at a previous company and noticed our values and approach to the arts aligned. New opportunities came along, and we decided to take a bold step and start something new together. Simple, they say.

What are the biggest challenges of working as a duo?
We like to keep things lean as we favour quality over quantity, but that obviously comes at a cost. A smaller team means less perspectives, and being two, democracy gets challenging when we differ in opinions.

Also, we feel that we’re a bit limited in terms of resources. A bigger team share workloads better, so there’s more breathing room to try new things.

Can creativity be learned later, or is it a feeling that is always within the human being?
I believe it’s a bit of both, by nature and nurture. Some have a natural ‘urge’ and ‘feeling’ about design and illustration (whether something works or not), which can’t always be expressed in words.  And then there’s a very practical way of learning to be more creative. It’s like a muscle that you exercise in the gym. There are so many creative people who just don’t put the effort in to be better.

You have a project called “Town Squares”. What is the story behind it? How did you start? Are you thinking of printing them? We love the Istanbul postage stamp, btw! 🙂
Both of us are intrigued by vintage ephemera, especially in this digital disposable age we live in.  We are constantly inspired by the craftsmanship that went into mid-century printed materials, no matter how small. The humble postage stamp is a good example of this. We took a “workation” to Europe for 3 months in 2016. And from the get-go we were inspired by the new sights and sounds, so we thought it would be a great way to capture the essence of the cities we visited in a fun way. We continued to travel (via Google maps) afterward and took every Friday off to expand our skills and create a fun new stamp for the rest of the year. We would love to make some prints of them and even considered an exhibition.

We also would like to know more about Friday Friends. How did you start this project?
We realized that a part of our portfolio that we can improve on is character illustration, and we wanted to find a practical way to accomplish this. Learning from the Town Squares project, we needed to train that muscle and Friday Friends was born. Every Friday we try to create a new character, sometimes it’s based on current affairs, special occasions or just a random person that caught our attention on the bus, or at a coffee shop. People seem to really like them and we’ve really improved our character skills along the way.

It seems that you like doing side projects a lot. Is there any difference between doing your own projects and client projects?
Yes, other than the fact that we’re not getting paid for it, doing your own projects means we’re a much harder client to please 🙂 Sometimes client projects provide limited creative freedom.  We’ve realized we can get stuck in a creative rut by going from one commissioned project to the next. We’ve found that one way to help us keep experimenting with new techniques, tools, and platforms, and adding fresh work to our portfolio is through side projects. It’s a great place to grow and think it is essential for every artist to have that place of play. Most of our projects on the side never see the light of day or Instagram.

You are also doing animation/ motion design. What is the most enjoying part of an animation project?
The most enjoyable part is being part of every part of it. (We’re not experts yet, every animation so far is a big learning curve), but we like to see how an idea and story can come to life insight and sounds. It’s also great to collaborate with the many talented guys here in Cape Town, who really understand that the devil’s in the details (and share some cheesecake in the meetings).

Tell us a fact about Makers Company that we don’t know…
Our logo mascot has our company name hidden inside it 😉

How does living in Cape Town affect your creativity? How is the creative scene there?
Cape Town definitely has a flourishing creative scene. We have great wine, great coffee and a massive mountain in the middle of the city, everything you need to be creative as can be. It wasn’t nominated as the Creative Capital in 2014 for nothing.  There are plenty of illustration and design studios that call it home as well as many exhibitions and festivals that are held regularly to celebrate and welcome creatives from all over the world. The city has a very laid back vibe – the unofficial slogan is basically “Slow down it’s Cape Town”.

Have you worked with an illustration agency to represent your work? If yes, how do you feel about being part of an agency?
Yes. We are represented by MP-Arts in the UK and Europe for the past 4 years now, and I cannot see how we could’ve been where we are today without their hard work, support & knowledge. 

What are your top five songs on your playlist?
Amor Vitone – Voluit Lewe
Kings of Convenience – Know-How
Arcade Fire – Awful Sound
Tame Impala – Yes I’m Changing
Angels and Airwaves – Heaven

Where are your favorite spots in Cape Town? Food, coffee, shops, etc. 
Rosetta Coffee Roasters
House of Machines for the classic ‘Old Fashion’ cocktail.
New York Bagel for the best Cheesecake 
Jerry’s Burger Bar

Have you found any inspiration in an unexpected place recently?
Gert: I visited a bird park recently (in Houtbay, Cape Town), the biggest bird park in Africa, and the wonderful colour combinations of many birds drove me crazy with inspiration.

Stephan: Libraries and old book shops.  Sometimes inspiration on the internet can feel very cyclical. We love to go back in the archives.

What other illustrators/designers are you digging these days?
Eight Hour Day
Richard Perez
Owen Davey

Justyna Stasik
Jay Quercia
Timo Kuilder
Jolby & Friends

If you weren’t working in the creative industry what you be doing?
Stephan: I almost became an architect.  Does that count as a creative industry?  Otherwise, I’m a big tree hugger so probably something with conservation.

Gert: Architecture or Mechanical Engineering. (My logic and Creative brains are always in combat)

Could you give us three fun facts about yourself?
1- I’m into film photography.
2- I look like a young Elvis Presley
3- I can bend my thumb 90 degrees backward.

1- I like writing (children stories, poetry & songs) on the side.
2- I really do like long walks (or jogs) on the beach
3- Anything ‘pumpkin’ is my favourite food.

Finally, is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do?
What client or job would be your ideal one to work on?
Answer: Patagonia or Nest 🙂

Thank you!

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