Computer Arts: What’s Upper First all about?
Erik Arheden: Upper First is a production collective of motion designers, 3D and VFX artists, directors and producers. We work in a very collaborative way, where as many of us as possible weigh in early during the process. Sometimes that's all of us, other times it may be just two-three people. The term "hive mind" has been useful to describe us in many situations.
CA: What sort of work do you do?
EA: Mixed-media would be a boring but accurate way to put it. We like to find new expressions on old themes. It's hard, if not impossible, to come up with something that has /never/ been done before in any shape or form. So we try to reinvent the idea through expressive visuals, often mixing live-action with high-end 3D. If we can throw a bit of grime and grit into the mix we're happy to do so. Imperfect is perfect in 3D. Sometimes we stumble onto something that's truly original. Then we sit down to "fika" and celebrate.
CA: What gets you guys going?
EA: Good work and workout. Either if it's a truly great idea or if someone else produces amazing work we tend to get fired up. Also, the fact that we actively try to maintain a life outside work, though hard at times, be it through beach volley, cross fit training, running, coffee, friends and family.
CA: How do you stay fresh?
EA: The best ideas can come from the most unexpected places, so one way is to just stay open. A cosmopolitan mind and openness, as Ulrich Beck would say. Haha no, not really – well yes, but in a not so pretentious way. Trying to see things from someone else's perspective, to move outside of your own preconceived ideas helps us discover new things. Since we do work in an integrated fashion, one person’s taste or sensibilities differ from the next. That forces us to reconsider our own taste almost everyday. It can be frustrating but is really helpful. Looking at all kinds of design, fashion, movies, books… An idea can come from anywhere.
CA: What has been your favorite project to work on at Upper First so far?
EA: The title for OFFF 2012 Barcelona. Hector Ayuso contacted us and asked if we would consider doing it in collaboration with Brosmind. The brief was "do anything, make it amazing!" It's been our favorite project because there were no limits other than budget. We had to come up with something that would wow the creative community of our time, with no money to do it. That's been extremely challenging and motivating. We met with the Bros. They had a kernel of an idea that we interpreted Upper First style…
Second to that we would have to say MTV's Breakfast Club for similar reasons. The brief was really open and the result had to be "strange and inspiring". The result was a vibrant and colourful collection of films that still makes us smile.
CA: What’s coming up in the future for Upper First?
EA: We don't know. Hopefully more unexpected work.
CA: Who did you most want to see at OFFF?
EA: Matt Lambert, because his work is really interesting and different from ours. Others would be ilovedust and Radical Friend, but there's going to be a bunch of greats!
CA: How important are events like OFFF to Upper First?
EA: There are many levels of importance in events like OFFF. One is to celebrate the importance of the creative industries and artists. Most of the time we're all cooped up in our respective creative universes. To come out and meet people of similar interests and persuasion, and be able to talk face-to-face is a real boost. On top of that it allows us to both see and be seen.
CA: If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be?
EA: Unicorn or butterfly. What?! Can we say mauve?
CA: Anything else you’d like to add?
EA: Ricky Bruch forever!!
Head over to the Upper First website to check out more of their awesome work.