November 6, 2012

What do you get when you cross one of the country’s hottest creative studios with 6000 polystrene cups and a truckload of Urban Outfitters clothes? Our winter catalogue shoot, that’s what. Catch up with Alex Bec, Creative Director of INT, and awesome joke-teller.

What’s your name then?
Alex Bec.

And what do you do?
I’m the director of creative studio INT Works and publishing platform It’s Nice That.

Tell us a bit about the company…
At INT Works we have a mantra of ‘anything’s possible’ because we have such a huge, talented network of collaborators around us that allow us to do a massive range of projects. Essentially we come up with great ideas in house, and then art direct brilliant creatives to make those things a reality. This year we’ve done everything from helping re-develop a park in Hackney, to designing some book jackets.

What’s it like working there?
Because of the variety in our work every day is a new learning experience, and gives us the chance to meet amazingly talented people, so it’s a pretty rewarding place to come in to every day. Also, our internal team is full of bright, young, diverse and enthusiastic minds so just being around everyone is a pleasure.

How did you come to be working with Urban Outfitters?
Well I’ve known the Creative Director for a little while now and we’ve always tried to find a nice project to work on together, and this is the first time all the right pieces have fallen into place. Whenever we’re thinking about new companies we’d like to work for we always look for some shared values and Urban have heaps of them.

What was the brief?
To design and build a set for their winter catalogue that kept in line with the Urban aesthetics, looked cold, but was actually shot in a studio in London…

And how did you make it awesome?
The crucial part was teaming up with Sam and Arthur, two of the most talented set designers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with – they’re the real heroes of this project. We worked on some initial references and approaches first, then had a bit of a chat with them and ended up ordering truck loads of polystyrene cups!

Why cups?
We loved the way the light shone through them and the weird, almost organic undulations they produced when stuck together. We were really looking for abstract representations of coldness and icy landscapes, so they seemed to fit well.

How many did you use?
There were upwards of 6,000 cups in the complete structure, all meticulously glued together to create the large, abstract forms. Nuts!

Did you glue your fingers together a lot?
There were a lot of things that ended up being glued together that day, certainly including many fingers. By the end of the install some of the glue gun’s mechanisms completely failed due to the sheer amount of glue they’d pumped.

How many people did it take to put up the set?
There were 11 of us on set at one point, though numbers varied over the day as the scaffolding rigger and the extra team of cup gluers came and went.

And how long did it take to bring it all back down?
The Urban Outfitters crew at the shoot were kind enough to break up a good amount of the polystyrene for us (I don’t think they took much persuading!) The remaining polystyrene cups, boxes and sheets were dismantled, deconstructed, and downstairs ready for collection to be recycled in just under four and a half hours.

What are the UO team like?
They were all very nice (of course)! What was great about the guys at UO was they really understood that we were going to have to play a little bit when we got on set to get this absolutely right. Although there was lots of planning, there’s only so much you can really nail down before you get in the actual space and start moving things around… so the trust they put in us was fantastic.

What’s the best thing about Christmas?
Gravy! Also, in our world it’s nice to have a chunk of time off when everyone else is also off!

And what’s on your Christmas list?
I like surprises, so whatever’s going really!

Have you been good this year?
Most definitely.

Tell us a joke…
I took part in the suntan Olympics – I got bronze.