Studio Interview: The Young Never Sleep Studio

The Young Never Sleep Studio is an interdisciplinary studio based out of Los Angeles, San Francisco and the internet. The studio is currently operated by its founder, Branden Collins, and Madeline Moore, both multidisciplinary artists and designers. The studio works in a variety of mediums, from surface design, film, photography, costume and more. They also carry a list of several noteworthy clients, such as Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, Urban Outfitters and Sight Unseen. In this interview we discuss their ideas about the future and application of surface design, their ideas behind being interdisciplinary artists, and their current inspiration.

PB: Describe the background behind The Young Never Sleep Studio. How did you get started and who's involved?

YNS: The Young Never Sleep Studio was created when I was at a point where I was doing a lot of print and web graphic design work, but wanted to expand my horizons creatively and work collaboratively with friends to make more interesting, dynamic work. Around that time I started doing more self-initiated illustration, installation, photography and costume projects and have spent the last few years fine tuning the work and using one discipline to inform the other.

The shift from primarily graphic design to this diverse range of disciplines came from a love of experimenting and the belief that the same rules at the foundation of one creative discipline can be transferred to another.

From that point on, I've worked through the studio and use it as its own amorphous organism. That organism allows my collaborators and I to explore new realms of art and design through our collaborations. I really consider everyone that collaborates through the studio an extension of the whole. About two years ago, I met artist and stylist Madeline Moore. Since that time we have worked together regularly on most of the projects that come out of the studio. Madeline has a textile and fashion background and also works as a set stylist. Her work with our costumes, being on set during shoots, and her modeling has been invaluable.

PB: What is the aesthetic of your studio? What are you inspired by?

YNS: The aesthetic of the studio has really just started to feel cohesive over the past couple years. After being all over the place for a while, it's come to a place where a visual identity has formed. A central focus that we try to constantly achieve through the work we create is an element of intrigue. This intrigue comes through a lens of sophistication and playfulness. Personally, I'm inspired by a wide range of things, such as biotechnology, race, religious imagery, astronomy, children's toys, cartoons, and everything in between. The challenge is to take all of these interests and funnel them into a digestible visual form, which isn't always easy. I like to try to take common perspectives and approach them in an uncommon way, presenting imagery that's potent, vibrant, and at times, uncomfortable. At least that's the goal.

PB: Your work spans many different mediums. How do those play in and influence each other?

YNS: I try to acknowledge, in various aspects of my life, that everything is inherently connected to everything else. With that approach to creative work, it means that aspects of photography are naturally related to industrial design, fashion, set design and illustration. They all influence each other at a fundamental level. It flies in the face of the long held idea that you can only do one thing well, which is a fun and challenging barrier to break through. My background is rooted in drawing. I wanted to be an animator or comic book artist when I was a child. I've spent a lot of time thinking about composition and fine-tuning that muscle because of the time I spent drawing as a child and my later years as a graphic designer in advertising. It's something I constantly work at and I see each discipline as a tool with which to craft images where composition and communication effectively meet. One project that was a great exercise for me was a series of three images that I created for the Adult Swim Singles program in 2013. I was responsible for creating three images, each one relating to a song by independent artists. By listening to their music, I had to develop concepts that related to the artist and their work and create a visual story in a single image. So from listening to the music, I drew concepts and had to execute three separate projects, each of which included aspects of costume design, set design, graphic design, photography and film. It was a big push for me, and one of my most exciting projects to date.

PB: How do you see the influence of contemporary surface design in other aspects of media and art in the future and present?

YNS: I really see the future through the lens of the past. In my opinion, a lot of what lies ahead in terms of surface design in other aspects of the media is rooted in practices from our creative cultural history. More and more, we're seeing the growth of endeavors that fall under creative commons licensing, the advent of 3-D printing and crowd-funded projects. The sharing economy, something that's rooted in a more archaic social structuring, is the wave of the future. So, with new advancements in the tools we use, we're returning to this place where creators have power and their craft are seen more often as a resource and less as something to be simply exploited and profited from. My most immediate reference for this is Print All Over Me, and the platform they've created for designers. They represent for me, and I'm sure other designers like me, a peek into the future of apparel, accessory and homeware design. Being able to play with the wide range of clothing and accessories they offer, as an independent creative, opens up a world of possibilities. Those aren’t just for the creator, but for the consumer as well. It's rewarding to me, as a designer, to be able to experiment with fashion in a way that I never could have before, create something and have someone purchase it directly from me and wear it.

PB: Who are your favorite artists and designers and who would you love to collaborate with?

YNS: Studiostore, Cocolia, Canada, and David Méndez Alonso are all based in Barcelona and I would absolutely love to work with any of them. They are all exceptional creative studios and individuals. There's a lot of great creative happening in Barcelona right now, and I'm kind of obsessed with it all. Although I've already done some collaborative work with Chris Golden, I'd love to continue working with him. He's awesome.

PB: What is some recent work you've done and what do you have planned into the future?

YNS: Madeline and I recently produced and directed a photo shoot alongside good friend and super-talented photographer, John Michael Fulton. The series explores aspects of discomfort, restraint and eroticism, with model Rivi Madison as the subject. It will be the fourth in an installment of shoots Madeline and I have done with John Michael. It's our photo "dream team" and I'm excited to release that soon. For the immediate future, we have a booth at West Coast Craft Fair this June along with some photo work with accessory designer Larissa Hadjio. It's going to be a busy and exciting summer!

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For more about The Young Never Sleep Studio, check out the studio's website at www.theyoungneversleep.com