Creative Connections: Insights for the new normal
to keep our creative community connected, inspired and supported.
Times are uncertain and with feelings of separation high, we want to know how you are staying plugged in, what is keeping you creative and what may be getting in the way?
Vico Sharabani, executive creative director of The-Artery, answered:
Please give a brief introduction to yourself and/or studio. Please include where you are located and how many people are on your team.
My name is Vico Sharabani and I am the Founder and Executive Creative Director of multi-award-winning creative studio The-Artery. Before the lockdown, my team of 20 people was operating in our newly-expanded office in Chelsea, Manhattan, before transitioning to remote work.
How are you?
For human beings on planet Earth right now, we are very fortunate. All of our team members are healthy, safe, and busy. Hoping it stays that way and the hardship around us is stabilized and relieved soon.
How is work and the pace of your projects? Busier, same, slower?
Our overall workload is pretty much the same with an obvious decline in film since live-action shoots are all halted. However, we have seen a surge in the commercial/branded content side of the business with increasing requests for the following categories: photoreal CG/VFX, motion graphics, virtual productions, remote talent, and stock footage repurposing.
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What are you working on?
We recently helmed a remotely filmed and produced music video, entitled “Featuring”, for two-time Grammy nominated musician J.Views:
We are currently working on a few ad campaigns that were started earlier this year, including a six-spot car campaign, a couple of pharma jobs, another music video, as well as a narrative for a major beer brand.
Do you typically work remotely? If so, what tips do you have for newbies?
Remote work is something I pioneered back in 2011 when I brought to life a VFX studio on the cloud, which turned into the very foundation The-Artery was built upon. The interesting thing about this particular time is that our remote team still remains very tight and knows each other intimately — which, in part, is from all of the time spent together on the premises. These personal and professional dynamics have proven to be an even stronger camaraderie and mutual support than most of the virtual teams I have seen and been a part of over the past 10 years. Most creatives, who know me, expect any tips from me to be about specific softwares or project management tools, but at the end of the day, the curation of talent is more important than ever. My fellow studio founders and owners should focus on that. Don’t get me wrong, one efficient platform or another can save a few emails or phone calls, but the right team has a much greater impact on the artistic and technical process.
How is remote work going?
Of course, the current situation has us working a little less efficiently than in our studio under one roof. Not only because of the distributed format of the work, but the current pandemic (even for those who are healthy, safe, and busy such as ourselves) is emotionally taxing on everyone from clients to internal talent.
What apps are keeping you connected to your team?
We have been writing and continuously updating our own tools for remote workflow. Given our versatile work, we use different apps and services for different industries. For example, Shotgun is useful for our long-form projects, Frame.io for short-form approvals, Interdubs for most postings, Slack for project communications, and, depending on the client systems, Dropbox/Google/FTP/etc.
How do you stay focused when working from home?
Focus was never an issue for me, but efficiency is a much longer conversation ;-)
What is the most hilarious thing you’ve seen that distracted you from work?
Not so much hilarious, but unexpectedly heartwarming, I found a stylized female porn director who produces visually and emotionally compelling work.
When you feel stuck, or need inspiration, what are your go-to’s?
I’ve always turned to taking in nature and observing human behaviour. These two are the most interesting topics/inspirations for me.
Can you list insightful do’s and don’ts to improve workflow?
Do: Things that are aligned with your personality and desires. Don’t: Chase the industry or the external circumstances.
How do you quiet your inner critic?
Do you quiet your alarm system at home? I don’t silence my inner critic. That’s one of the voices that focuses me on things that need attention. If you mean self-judgement, that might be a damaging practice. For me, it got toned down with age and experience through consistent work. I do see the two as distinctly different though.
What can we learn and take from this current situation?
There are many things to learn, but I believe the first lessons to tackle are the individual ones and only then we can answer “What can we learn…”. My recommendation is to shift the focus from the external situation to the personal alignment of what you do and how you do it. It made the biggest impact on me and gave me the greatest clarity about my personal and professional lives.
Where do you see our industry’s future?
I understand creativity as “Combining two or more existing things in a way that was never done before.” If that’s your understanding too, then not much is going to change in terms of the process. The budgets may be different, production may be restricted, but creativity is a practice that continues regardless of the circumstances.
What are you streaming / watching / reading / podcasting?
I don’t do much of these things. I instinctively like to observe life, analyze, and create.
What is your “go-to” song? And give us some backstory if inclined.
I’ve been listening to The-Artery Quarantine Playlist on Spotify — which my team collaborated on together. It’s fun to hear what everyone’s jamming to right now.
What is something you are incorporating into your daily routine that brings some joy or comfort?
A bike ride, preferably with my kids, at magic hour.
Are you exercising? If so, how and what and when?
I am very lazy and never really exercise. This crisis felt like the perfect opportunity to get into it, but so far, I can only do around forty push-ups and one calm bike ride a day.
If you had a mantra right now, what would it be?
I do have a current mantra and it is, “Feel more, think less.”
I absolutely love Motionographer and I’m happy to see that the editorial team is continuing to push out much needed inspiring and motivational content during this WFH life.