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Interview with Creative Agency FACTORY311

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ON October 22 '09

IN Interview

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Where most creative agencies obsess over typefaces and kerning Factory311 has a different philosophy. They’re all about blowing the proverbial roof off the house. Their weapon of choice? Sheer visual awesomeness.

Last week I managed to steal some time from Factory311’s director Nicholas Hardy for an interview I’ve been wanting to do from the moment I saw the awesome work they produce. Factory features a star cast of the hottest digital media artists featuring names like SOEMONE, Alberto Seveso, Federico Bebber and Sakke Soini. It’s this creative talent combined with the impressive list of professional photographers such as Jamie Nelson, Paco Peregrin, Valerie Morignat, Eric Canto and Andreas Stavrinides that gives Factory 311 the cutting edge style and versatility they are know for.

Welcome Nicholas. Thanks for taking the time off for this interview. Please introduce yourself to the Designfeedr readers.

Nicholas Hardy

Hi… Im Nick the director here at Factory311. Factory311 is an agency that represents international artists and photographers. Our main studio is based is in London where we work on really cool projects, mostly revolving around the fashion and music industry.

We’re constantly pushing our talent towards big magazines, focusing on high end editorial works. We are a very young company, only two years old, so we work with a small but tight knit base of artists and try to keep everything very personal. Factory311 consists of 5 photographers, 7 illustrators, 3 street artists and the in-house team of Sara, Maurice and myself.

We are definitely not your normal kind of agency. We started the way we wanted, worked with who we wanted and just grew the way we were supposed to. The backbone of 311 is that we only get involved in cool shit *chuckles*

Factory 311
Factory 311

Your photographers and artists come from all over the world. How hard is it to assemble and manage such a widespread and diverse team of talent?

Nicholas Hardy

I think it all came quite naturally. Everything started with one spanish graffiti artist, after that it was a real natural progression. All kinds of artists from all kinds of countries started contacting us online so the internet became a huge part of what we do. When we set out we didn’t mean to get involved with people from other countries, it kind of just came together that way.

What we didn’t want was to just take the easy and obvious route, you know, to take what was right on our doorstep.. you know what I mean!? We wanted to find undiscovered artists whose work hadn’t been seen before.

Once we found our artists it became a matter of communication. We use tools like as skype on a daily basis to communicate. The one really difficult thing about working with our international talent are all the different time zones. I remember sitting at my kitchen tables at 11pm freezing my nuts off speaking with Lionel Deluy in Los Angeles who was sitting on his balcony getting a tan! Fortunately that changed when we started pulling in the work which allowed us to travel away and out of Manchester… Now we get to sit on Lionel’s Balcony in the sun!

One of Factory311’s main draws is celebrated photographer Lionel Deluy. How important has getting someone like him on board been for the company’s growth?

Nicholas Hardy

Lionel brought fantastic imagery to the table since the early days. You really can’t do too much with someone like Lionel! His portfolio was immense and way beyond anything we could help grow and define! What i thought to myself was “what can we do different? What can 311 bring to this table?” Thats when we first thought about mixing it up with photo real street art and insane digital illustration – to use his existing portfolio out in the streets in a way thats never been seen. On one hand we were producing four meter high picture perfect murals created using spray cans and on the other hand we were creating exhibitions that included some of the biggest names in the movie and music industry, putting them in environments you would never think or dream of. So yes, working with someone like Lionel Deluy has been a great opportunity.

Factory 311
Factory 311
Factory 311

Factory does work for established celebrities and music industry artists on a frequent basis. How hard was it to get to that point?

Nicholas Hardy

As i said before a lot of the initial work sprang forth from Lionel’s portfolio but after the success of the Evolution exhibition we started to get approached by celebrities, magazines and record labels. What started out as a collaboration is actually turning out to be something very unique and popular, and definitely something we will continue to do and grow as an agency.

The line of clients factory works for are very trend sensitive. A style or means of communication might be hot today and gone tomorrow. How does this influence the way Factory approaches their work?

Nicholas Hardy

From day one Fac311 has always targeted the people we want to work for, whether that be an artist or a clothing brand. Our team is constantly out there researching new things, putting together new ideas and running internal projects. We dont follow patterns or trends, we’re constantly creating our own new things, which then gets filtered through to our clientele.

Factory 311
Factory 311
Factory 311

What advice would you give designers and illustrators that are trying to enter the industry wanting to work for a similar client base as factory311?

Nicholas Hardy

I would tell them dont bother… we have it covered!! *laughs*

Seriously though, I think with anyone entering the market you must be fresh and exciting.
Todays market is so open… you just need to stand out, take risks and do things different. The most important thing is to be true and focused, by which I mean you really have to devote everything you have!

What’s the most important aspect you look for when you decide whether to work with a certain individual?

Nicholas Hardy

Im not exactly sure what it is i look for in creatives. I think its very much like my music, I dont have a specific genre that i follow its just what moves me. Within the first few seconds I can tell whether or not someone is suitable for us.

The best artists are the ones that send their portfolios and just blow you away, work that actually makes your mind think of new possibilities and combinations. Those are the artists I look for.

That’s a wrap people. I would like to thank Nicholas for his time and I hope you guys enjoyed the interview. For more Factory 311 check out their website.

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