Interview // ic! Berlin Featuring Illustrator Owen Davey
BRINGING THE CINEMATIK COLLECTION TO LIFE
ic! berlin commissioned award-winning British artist Owen Davey to portray 12 cinematic archetypes wearing illustrated versions of the brand’s frame designs. It takes an extraordinary artist to bring a special campaign for the Cinematik collection to life. And that’s exactly what Owen has done. His imaginative, original artistic style uses a playful visual language that captures the collection’s essence in a powerful way. For the launch of this larger than life Eyewear collection, we sat down with both the artist Owen Davey and brand director Pablo La Rosa to find out more about this colour-intense, beautiful project. Roll camera!
ic! Berlin have always stood for doing things differently.
- Please tell us how the cooperation between ic! Berlin and Owen Davey came about?
Pablo: I had been thinking about campaign ideas for the Cinematik Collection and knew we needed to do something special since the concept behind the collection was already so unique. Of course, the obvious thing would have been to shoot models dressed up as a few of the film archetypes in a high-fashion way, but ic! Berlin have always stood for doing things differently. Around this time, I had seen some work by a very creative group of Swedish artists – it was a music video that mixed up real people with animation. I thought this would be perfect, so I got in contact with them, but unfortunately, they had just gotten a major studio movie deal and were deep in the project. I realized maybe I was thinking too big, and so the idea to simply illustrate the campaign characters was born.
Owen: ic! Berlin contacted me and asked me if I’d be interested in the project. It seemed like a fun project and they were open to me having some kind of creative control, which is rare in the world of advertising. Usually, brands know exactly what they want but here, I had the opportunity to come up with my own ideas.
- What did you specifically like about Owen’s artwork and why did you find it suitable for this collection?
Pablo: I asked my team to start looking for an illustrator and of course there are so many out there, and so many styles from Manga to cartoon to real life. They searched Instagram and various online communities for illustrators and came upon Owen’s work. There was an immediate attraction to the playful style that is carried over everything he does. He hadn’t done anything in fashion specifically, so I decided to have him animate The Femme Fatale as a test. The first drawing is pretty much what you see now—he nailed it spot-on, so we knew we’d found the right artist for the job.
3. Pablo, you gave Owen lots of creative space for his work. What was your original guideline for him?
Pablo: Indeed, Owen had a lot of freedom to come up with his own interpretation of what these film character archetypes could look like. We specifically briefed him that we wanted something bold and eye-catching with lots of rich, saturated colors. We wanted it to be highly stylized rather than realistic and suited for social media feeds. Most importantly, we wanted to make sure that the frames themselves could be recognized. We actually sent Owen full renders of each frame and some photos of prototypes on faces, so he could match them. This was something where we were particularly impressed, because he was extremely good at picking up the details of the frames and even matched some of the colorways in the illustrations.
Owen: They already had in mind the sort of archetypes the glasses embodied and I was given the option to explore what that actually meant, in terms of how I visualised the characters around them. That was really fun because I could use my own inspirations and my own love for TV and film to find the right characters.
4. Owen, what was the most challenging part of the whole process?
Owen: For me it was to fit all the personality traits of a character into one image. For The Anti-Hero, there has been a lot of back and forth with the brand because it was difficult to capture the contradiction and right balance of being both a Baddy and a Goodie. It had to be both and that was challenging but I think we nailed it in the end.
There are reasons behind colour usage and I wanted them to be an extension of the characters themselves.
- For this collection you used a new kind of acetate for the first time. Please tell us more about it! What is so special about it?
Pablo: For this collection, as well as a few of the other pieces in our Silmo 2018 releases, we did indeed develop some new features with our acetate. The first thing you’ll notice are some very striking custom colors we developed that are not available elsewhere – for example the new Blood Orange featured on The Drama Queen or the Cosmic Plum on The Dreamer. We take a 1mm mono layer of acetate on the front and put a milky layer on the back, and then with ultra-fine precision we mill away parts of the front to reveal the milky layer behind. On The Dreamer the result is a beautifully highlighted top line and on The Drama Queen the bottom is accentuated as light shines through. It’s this kind of detail that makes ic! berlin frames so special.
Owen: On my side, it was a great experience to play with colours to convey the different moods of the characters. For example, The Femme Fatale has blood red in it, which is both dangerous and seductive. For The Everyman I used a lot of brown and beige, he’s almost boring but in a good way! There are reasons behind colours usage and I wanted them to be an extension of the characters themselves. It’s a bit how music acts in films and how it tells you what emotions to have.
For me, it’s not about being pretentious, it’s about breaking through.
- ic! berlin is well known for their high-qualitative and elaborate ad campaigns. Why is it so important for you to proceed this way? Is an ambitious campaign of importance when it comes to achieving more sales?
Pablo: I would say the tradition of innovative campaigns is something that our founder Ralph Anderl started right from the beginning. It was always important for him that ic! berlin be perceived as different than the rest. As we are an independent boutique brand, we also have to be a bit stickier than the bigger names to gain attention and mindshare. For me, it’s not about being pretentious, it’s about breaking through. And yes, a great campaign can stimulate interest, but the product has to be right if it’s going to sell. And in this case I think we achieved both goals!
7. The idea of connecting art with eyewear is not entirely new and in your case, it worked pretty well… Are more cooperations of that order planned for the future?
Pablo: The response to this campaign has been phenomenal. Our opticians, distributors and partners got a preview before Silmo and were immediately asking for the assets to use in their shops and marketing, which was great. The end-consumer campaign started in November and has been performing very well on Instagram. With so much positive feedback it’s tempting to repeat the concept for the next few collections, but that would be too easy. I think we’ll take a break and reserve this type of collaboration for special collections only. It’s about using the right mediums for the right concepts in the end. But for sure ic! berlin will work with more creative talents like Owen in the future.