In 2007, three French guys decided to launch their own structure called Akatre Studio, at first focused on the conception of new typographies. But after their success, they started getting involved in other fields such as graphic design, video, artistic installations, photography and musical production. This Paris based multidisciplinary studio diverts itself from codes and offers its customers a unique creative experience. We spoke to them about some of their works and their harmony within the studio.
Could the three of you please speak about yourselves and your backgrounds?
We studied graphic design together in Paris, we are all from the same year group. Once graduated, we gave ourselves one year to learn the profession within studios working for visual identities in the cultural field before creating our own structure.
Akatre is a multidisciplinary concept: could you tell us more about it? First of all, what does Akatre mean and what does it stand for? How and when did you decide to join your forces to create the studio? And why did you focus yourselves on so many forms of art?
The desire and the realisation of our structure came while we were still studying. Akatre came from the paper format A4, which is the one we use as a letter to communicate. Although we are three in the studio, this abstract name followed us. We were attracted by the publishing world, the books’ conception and the letters’ drawing. We created a typography for each of our projects, which was a way of bringing our personal touch and an even bigger involvement. Besides, we were quickly confronted with the desire to do images and to keep going with the conception of all the shapes we used to use. Thus, we seized this opportunity on our first visual identities by conceiving hundreds of images that aroused spectators’ curiosity. Our images were close to the artistic installations and staging we wanted to realize. We were doing webpages and editing, which followed the studio’s progress only if it was a project that we were entirely taking over.
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By the way, isn’t it very hard to manage each one of these artistic disciplines or expressions? How do you share the work between all of you? Are you always collaborating when you receive new projects inquiries?
To have the opportunity to alternate different activities is rather a kind of valve for all three of us, because some can be more constraining and ungrateful than others. This permits to keep freshness in relation to our desires and our links with different customers. We love conceiving an art book as much as taking a photograph for an artist or a brand, or doing a music video for a musician or an ad.
How did you manage to gather so many skills in so many different arts within your studio? And has each of you an art in which he’s more comfortable to work with?
We always fancied not to repeat ourselves, not to be satisfied with our knowledge and skills. Everything was a challenge, and a mix of collective and personal desires. Our graphic design background may have allowed us to take photography and video up differently. This could have been an obstacle concerning some proposals, but it’s also a uniqueness that has helped us to move forward with style and personality. We work on communal or complementary things according to our desires or affinities. The important thing is to enjoy.
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Most of your works ooze imagination and creativity. Where does inspiration come from? What influences you on a regular basis?
The imagination of new shapes for an alphabet, the good layout researches for a magazine or a book, an image’s twist or the universe creation in a clip are linked to our personal desires to build and play with codes we love to divert. Everything can influence our work: an encounter, music, a fabric’s discovery, etc. Moreover, the imposed constraints (periods, budget, themes, activities) can obviously feed the creative process.
How would define your studio’s identity? What are the values and messages you would like to share through your numerous works of art?
We use to work around the broader image and all the mediums, including musical production. Recently, we released an album entitled Blck Rck that gathers the soundtrack we composed for our artistic creations. It’s a personal project that gave us the opportunity to complete a black and white clip called Somewhere that spotlights an astronaut drifting in a deep darkness. A sort of preamble to our desire to make cinematographic videos.
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Let’s first talk about art: it seems that you love to explore, discover, and try out new materials and shapes that you then unite together to create a piece, an installation or a whole universe that shares Akatre’s perceptions of art. How has your vision of art evolved since the beginning of the studio?
It’s totally true. The DIY store and the supermarket have been our favourite stores for a very long time. We diverted everyday life objects we found to make the most of their graphic qualities. Both through photographs, installations and in the papers’ selection of the printed objects we did, the fabric is always essential. Even our models’ bodies have quickly become a multiform transformation playground from diverse materials.
After having come across all your art videos, photographs and designs, I can’t forget the work you’ve done for Yalta Club, it’s amazing! What were the guidelines you followed to respect the group’s identity? Were you working alone on the project or there was a whole creative team behind it as well? Also, could you speak about the creation process of these two video clips?
Yalta directly came to us and inquired us to do their cover and clip. They liked our previous music works in collaboration with Benjamin Clementine, AaRon and Quadrupede. They fancied to talk about boundaries, money, duality within civilisations. It was very interesting because they trusted us and let us approach these topics very freely. We wished to communicate on a face that would be the group emblem and that we would be able to take for the two following clips. Working on the whole projects handling the different mediums, from cover’s conception to vinyl’s layout and video clip’s shoot, is clearly what we prefer.
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I went through your Soundclound profile and listened to your two beats. How would you explain your interest in creating electronic music? Is it what matches the most with the visual creations you are conceiving at the studio?
We use to listen to a lot of different kinds of music. When we do videos or exhibitions, we need to conceive sounds to go with our work. On our Soundcloud profile there are two beats that have been made for a playful video dedicated to mobile phones. That’s the reason why the beat is rather minimalist and close to tinkered sounds. Otherwise, our album Blck Rck, which is available in vinyl (limited edition) or on such platforms as Spotify or iTunes, is more linked to music for the image, as John Carpenter can do in his movies or other musicians in their live entertainment. We would be very interested in producing music for cinema or modern dance.
Tell us more about the typography: how, when and why did you get into it? What tools do you use to create a new one?
It was our first strengths, as we didn’t have the money to buy typographies at the beginning, so we created them. Moreover, we always got frustrated with the typographies we had. Drawing our own typographies is definitely a big constraint but above all a beautiful liberty that we keep doing.
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Your work seems to be very popular in the eyes of your clients. Indeed, according to your website, you’ve already teamed up with famous magazines, artists, and big fashion houses. Moreover, your works have been featured in art centres. How is it to get the opportunity to work with clients like these on a regular basis? What will the next collaborations be? And what are the companies you would love to team up with?
Thank you, really appreciate it. We would like to team up more with international fashion brands and do a whole long-term creative direction by proposing shoots, publishing and videos. Also, we would like to work again with magazines, and take liberties on conception and musical collaborations. We are very interested in the capture of new technologies for video as well. Now, it’s all about finding the project that lends itself to it.
Are you currently working on a project you would like to share with us?
As we said before, we just released our album Blck Rck with the clip called Somewhere that has been showcased at Short Film Corner at Cannes Festival. We also realized a video for Hermès, which is about to release, and a 3-D clip for Grand Yellow group. We are currently working on the cover and the clip of a musician that we love. We are happy he directly came to us. We have this book as well, which will come out this yea. And in September, Akatre will be ten years old!
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