Our time in New York has been great so far and nobody will deny that some of the best studios in the world are located in this city. One of those awesome studios is Buck NY located on 31 Howard st. in Manhattan. And we met up with Jon Gorman, Art Director at Buck, at their studio yesterday!
We were amazed when we walked in the studio of how big it actually is and how many people work over there. The studio has an awesome vibe and is a truly inspiring place just to walk in. There are a couple of small offices but most of the guys just work together in one big open place. The place is ‘divided’ in a design section, a 3D section, 2D section, Illustration and more.
Jon took us to the color correction / grading studio which was free for now so we could sit and talk more about the project. After we talked a bit about the other people we are meeting and he gave us some cool tips for our road trip around California we got down to the more ‘serious stuff’.
Jon told a bit about how he originally comes from Australia and how his reel got picked up overnight and he got an email from Buck LA a couple years ago offering him a job. He always wanted to work in The States so to make a long story short, he got the job! That sounds like a very fluent transition and ‘easy’ process, but Jon also told that before all that he had to work in a kitchen in Australia. He can recommend that to everyone before going to an art school; go work in a kitchen! Because then you know you never want to go back to a place like that again!! Nevertheless he also got some really valuable lessons from that period in his life, working under hard deadlines when you have to deliver something in a very short period of time. Work together with a team in a sometimes pretty chaotic and stressful environment. All lessons he has benefited from in his career so far.
But back to the here and now; “how do you guys at Buck NY keep pushing your creative boundaries? How do you keep being original and putting your own style in the projects in combination with the wishes of the clients?” Jon said they are more focussed on the process than the end result. We are focussed on solving a problem the client has, not just ‘being original’. That’s also the case in the new business department, there will always be compromises and the end result is somewhere between “Whats best for the client” and “What’s best for us”. “Look at Goodbooks for example from Buck LA” Jon said. They barely broke even on the project, but for the client it was a really good production and for Buck it’s a great investment for new business. When there is a new client and they give some references they often hear, we want something like ‘Goodbooks’!
“So when we take on new projects we always look how can we make something that solves the problem perfectly for the client and also works for Buck.”
Buck – Goodbooks:
It’s something we also heard from the other directors/studios we visited. It’s not the budget of the project that’s most important, it’s searching for the best solution for both the client and the studio. Sometimes it’s good for your reel and sometimes it’s good for business.
The fact that they are working in one single space is also because they as a studio think the process is really important. It’s impossible to hide yourself in the room, so everyone can see what you are working on and the guys are forced to be open about their process. They also want to be very open about how they make things, sure it can be replicated by someone else… but that’s fine because you’re not going to make the same thing again anyway.
We told Jon about the fact we’re making this world-trip and “The Life-Light” film to step out of our comfort zone (very literally). Because sometimes you need to take a leap in the unknown and step out of that box that’s so comfortable… because we believe that is where the magic happens! I (Jordi) told about how I experience the city and the crazy amount of walking I do over here. Although it costs me very much, I really want to do it because I get to see more of this city. I believe this mentality of pushing your personal boundaries is also really important in the creative field: to achieve something you really want you sometimes have to go that extra mile.
Jon responded by saying he couldn’t agree more on that fact and it’s something he’s also been thinking about the last couple of years. You always have to keep pushing your boundaries especially when something go or turns out different than you expected. Jon told that they did some really risky things in pitches that didn’t always turned out good. Sometimes they didn’t even present the piece at all. But it’s important to still make that kind of work. Maybe it’s sounds a bit cliché that your learn just as much, if not more from doing things wrong as doing things right. Secondarily to that, the change of mind about your capabilities as a person is also really valuable. If you really want to do something it only takes time and effort, you always have to stay experimenting and developing yourself as a human being. Jon told us he just started working with furniture as a side project while he never really worked with wood before. As a creative you can never stop growing and learning, there is no end! And it’s really rewarding to do it and just figuring it out for yourself.
Not too long ago they had to do a stop motion project and the only guys available for the project had never done something like that before. They had some real good basics in animation of course, but had to start from the ground up making this stop motion production. So they locked them up in a room to “just do it”. And in the end they delivered a really good product!
We also wondered if there is a competitive relationship with Buck LA or are they often working together on projects. Jon said there is indeed a competitive relationship with Buck LA but in a good way. They sometimes do work together on projects but logistically it’s not ideal so it doesn’t happen very often. There is always a competitive vibe because you challenge each other to be better, you can’t rest on your laurels… because some guy in LA just made an awesome production.
At the end of our talk Jon showed us around the studio so we could take some pictures (the ones you saw above). An inspiring talk with one topnotch art director. We are thankful Jon had some time for us to hang out in the studio and also told something about his personal experiences and vision. We’re also looking forward to meet up with Joe Mullen at Buck LA in a month. Curious to see how the studio in LA compares to the studio in NYC!
Keep following the blog because we’ll fly over to San Francisco to drive around California for a month and meet up with some great talents!! In NYC we also met up with Aras Darmawan and we’ll write a blog post about that conversation in a couple of days!!
– Best, Jordi & Daan