Case Study 1: Impactist

Everyone loves getting packages in the mail. We’re no exception. From cool new techie toys to books and posters we’ve ordered from all over the place, it’s great to pop open something we’ve been anxiously awaiting. However, it’s even better when we get a great surprise in the mail, like the package we recently received from Daniel Elwing of the terrific motion graphics and production firm, Impactist. So impressed were we with the content, complete with their amazing reel beautifully packaged with Jewelboxing, to the gritty paper bag-textured insert with printed company info, we knew we had to do something special. Daniel was game, and we were eager, so we put together the following Q & A session. We hope you’ll enjoy their work as much as we have

Can you tell me a bit about your company?

Impactist is the collaborative work between myself and Kelly Meador. We are a motion graphic design and production studio located in Portland, Oregon. The company was born out of the desire to create an environment that allowed for freedom of thought and creativity. No longer would the emphasis be on following a trend, but instead to create new images out of new ideas. Both Kelly and I have worked in the business for several years, independently, and have subsequently formed Impactist, thus pooling our experience and creative backgrounds.

What clients do you work with currently and have worked with in the past?

Obviously, Nike has been a major client for us. They have provided many great projects and opportunities for experimentation. Over the years our clients have been quite varied, from music videos to work for global leaders in microprocessor technology. Since the creation of Impactist is still relatively new, we’re always looking to expand our client base and engage in new collaborative work.

It seems like a lot of the coolest designers, at one time or another, wind up working with Nike. How are they as a client? A lot of freedom in the design process?

Nike is such a large, global company that working with them has been great considering their reach. We’ve created content for distribution here within the u.s. and also globally. Projects for Niketowns around the world, World Cup Soccer, the olympics, and various special events. The unique venues where their media is shown affect our design just as much as the concept itself. From the three story video wall in Niketown New York, custom projections and environmental displays, to your standard 4:3 monitor. Depending upon the project, the amount of freedom we have been given can fluctuate. Though, initially we try to conceive without limits then work with the client to determine how far we want to push things forward.

What is Robots on Strike?

It’s the online home to some of the non-commercial work we’ve created. Motion, still, and audio work. We asked ourselves, “What would robots do if they weren’t working on the assembly line?” We would guess that they’d pick up a camera and start shooting immediately. When we’re not working on projects for Impactist, you’ll find us working away on our own stuff, be it motion, photography, or sound design.

Your work seems to have both a new, futuristic feel to it, but also, given the textures and imagery you use, and some of the subject you’ve covered, firmly grounded in the past. Does that have something to do with the sort of inherent collage-ness that motion graphics seems to have?

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the tools that allow us to work in our business, but with the workflow being so dependent on digital technology, it’s a joy to work with and incorporate more analog methods along the way. The past really inspires and influences our work. We grew up within families that valued the archiving of moments by means of photography and endless reels of super8 footage. We believe it’s most important to utilize the tools of today without disregarding those processes of the past which can be reinterpreted and combined to create something new.

What kind of influences do you draw from to create these pieces?

We both come from a background rooted in fine arts and design, so naturally those early teachings will always be with us. We’re also fortunate to be in the Northwest. Geographically, Oregon is such a diverse place that you can drive an hour in any direction and be in a completely different climate and visual environment which we are sure has greatly affected our design and direction within our work. Also, music and sound design are big influences as well, since there are such strong similarities between motion design and music in regards to rhythm and tone. Some people need to work in silence, whereas we need the stereo to be playing tracks on consistent rotation.

What made you choose Jewelboxing?

Being a company that creates visual communications and experiences, it was important to use a system for our promotional materials that echoed this. The Jewelboxing cases basically granted us freedom from other existing systems that are simply boring and uninspiring. These cases came along at just the right time for us. Beta cassettes were formally the kings of reel distribution, but dvd’s have taken over and they need a great place to live! We chose to house ours in the ultra stylish and ultra cool Jewelboxing cases.

Did you find the system easy to work with?

Interestingly enough, we believe the system works so well because it does exactly what it’s supposed to. It simply works! Other cases either look low quality or are low quality. The construction is soft or the insert system is messy. The Jewelboxing cases are sturdy and are so clean. Even if you weren’t inclined to use the insert system and only place a single, solitary cd or dvd within the transparent case, it would still come out looking more refined and sophisticated than previously available cases.

How did the idea to put a piece of wood in the spine come about?

Without being overly dramatic, the simple answer would be that we are users of all technology, old and new. One minute we could be creating everything within the computer, the next we could be fashioning real world elements out of concrete and hardwoods to be photographed or filmed. Thus, the inclusion of the small piece of cherry wood. You couldn’t do that with other cases.

Of those who have seen your new reel, what have the reactions been?

The response to both the content and the packaging has been outstanding. You can’t view the contents of the disc without a player, so the initial physical presentation has to be right on. We try to hold ourselves to a high standard, so likewise the delivery system needs to reflect that as well.

How will you be using the paper bag-textured, record-sized poster, included with your reel?

The included inserts serve to compliment the reel design and also provide additional information about ourselves. Forgive us, but we just love that paper stock!

What do you see for Impactist’s future?

Naturally, we’d like to expand and grow, but not necessarily in size. Every project brings a new set of creative problems to be solved. In that respect, we look to continue to develop and create new images and experiences. There has been such an explosion in the way that content is being delivered these days via television, in the theaters, and on the web that we are anticipating great things for both ourselves and the industry itself. And with our varied backgrounds and experience, we are fortunate to find ourselves operating during this exciting moment in the timeline of motion design.