Case Study 5: EyeballNYC

Part of the joy of Jewelboxing is that we have some of the coolest clients around. Being the design-junkies we are, we’ll get an order in from a company we so admire, it’s sort of like an avid “US Weekly” reader running into George Clooney on the street and having him say, “Hey, I like your work.” That’s the way we feel about our long-time client EyeballNYC. Not only are they making some of the greatest spots and identities for virtually everyone (you’ve seen them), they’re also an incredibly nice batch of people. So, with all of that, it goes without saying that we were honored when we got the chance to talk with Limore Shur, EyeballNYC’s Creative Director and Owner:

1. Can you tell us a bit about EyeballNYC?  And your role in the company?

EyeballNYC is a cool little company. We like to come to work everyday and design the world the way we like to see it. Each new project allows us to find a new and challenging way to communicate our clients message.  I credit much of our success to the desire to constantly evolve and grow as designers and as a company. It is always difficult to describe what we do with words. One has to see what we do in order really understand what this company is about.

For the past 13 years we have been witness to and participated in the growth of a new industry. This is a rare opportunity for most new companies. Unlike many internet companies that were supported by a slow build up, a boom and lots of support from existing industries, our industry has been a very quiet and organic development. Having survived the ups and downs of any new industry, Eyeball has found its stride.

I graduated with a degree in Illustration from Pratt Institute in 1991. After freelancing for a bit I started the company out of my Brooklyn apartment in 1992. Eyeball on the Floor was the original name of my company. Not sure what I did as a company I found myself taking on any job that I could find that used my new talents as a self taught 3d and 2d animator. Slowly, but not surely, various types of work came through my door. In 1994 I moved to my first real office in the heart of the Manhattan F.I.T. campus. This small room inside a video editing resellers office grew into a multi room office with a handful of designers and a lot of desire. We did a variety of work for networks at the time, most notably and still on the air, TLC’s  “Trauma, Life and Death in the E.R.”. After a few years and a few accomplishments we moved downtown to Soho.

Our new office really didn’t feel in full swing till the beginning of the year 2000. This was a major turning point in our history. 2000 was the year that I began to understand the make up of my company. I began to understand the needs of the creatives who I collaborated with and the clients we worked for. The first 7 years were the education years and moving forward with greater ease was now possible. Since 2000 I have turned my focus to not only being a creative director for the design we create, but to be a creative director for the companies environment that supports our passion for what we do. This is not a small task when it comes to consistency and longevity. We are in our infancy as a design company. We are growing up with our industry, and I look forward to all the challenges that each day brings. I hope to look back one day and be happy with what we have done, because I still as a designer, dislike most of our work once we finish and keep hoping the next job will finally be one that I like. This is the curse of marrying creative and business.

2. Every year, Eyeball creates so many iconic identities and commercial spots.  Are there certain ones that you’re known for, that when people think, Eyeball, they think, “Oh yeah, that’s the group that did….”?

I rarely find anyone who knows the difference between EyeballNYC or any other company in our industry. When I do speak with those who do, they are usually in our industry and already fans of our work. Generally, I have found that no one really knows that our industry exists or understands exactly what we do. My peers in motion graphics are usually remarking that  “my mom doesn’t even understand what I do.” This stated, most people who have remarked on our work, usually mention Mos Def “Miss Fat Booty”, Nike “Lebron James”, Comedy Central ID’s 2002 – 2005, CMT Identity, and the current Best Buy work.

3. Continuing along those lines, because of EyeballNYC’s reputation, are there a lot of situations where the company’s you’re working with or the agencies, just had over a project to you with no direction, because they just know you’ll give them back something cool?

Yes. This happens quiet often in various degrees. This is the foundation of our relationship with Nike, Best Buy, CMT and Comedy Central. Each client varies in the amount that they contribute but the sentiment reflects the question as you have put it.  Creative briefs come in many forms, and the more aware the client is of themselves, the easier it is for us to interpret the assignment with the focus on coming up with original thinking and design.

4. Any favorites of yours that the firm has released?

Nike “Lebron James”, Nike “Made to Move”, Comedy Central “Holiday ID’s”, CMT

5. The motion graphics world seems to be one where there’s time spent looking at others’ work and saying, “Wow, how’d they do that?!  That’s amazing!” and then trying to top them.  Friendly competition that ultimately benefits the viewer in the end.  That said, what other firms, individual designers, or groups are you consistently impressed by and keep your eye on?

Too many to list. I would say that collectively we view 100’s of pieces a week that we find interesting and exciting. These pieces are by various groups of design based agencies. There is a great amount of work to see and we have started to see our industries work saturate televisions, theatres and computer screens around the world.

6. Identity packages seem to be some of the most interesting stuff on television anymore, and you’ve done some of the best in the business.  When approaching that type of work, obviously the goal is to make the client look good, but they’ve also come to you because they want something new and original.  I suppose what I’m leading toward here is how difficult is it to walk that line, where you’ve got to work with this gigantic, familiar presence, but make it something altogether new.

I think that it is an easy thing to do when you have simplified the process of branding to a few key elements. This minimal criteria allows for the simple solution, if you understand the brand and the messaging completely and use that information as an artist to make a piece of work, how can you go wrong. All that is left is subjectivity, and when it comes to that, we generally fall on the approving side.

7. If you can talk about it, what’s coming up next for EyeballNYC?

Next for EyeballNYC is more of the same. Continuing to be cautious in what work we take on and how far we stick our neck out. I encourage each and every person that I work with to stay awake and aware of what is happening around us. I don’t believe that we know what the future holds for us, it is the potential that we look forward to and I hope that we continue to break new ground and find ourselves doing projects that we never imagined.

8. What projects are you using Jewelboxing with?  And why did you decided to use the system?

We use Jewelboxes for our company demo reel. This is the second year that we’ve used them. Everyone’s always looking for a cool way to package DVD’s or CD’s. We tried clamshells a while back but they suck. There’s really no presence with them. I may as well tape our Demo reel to a frisbee.  With Jewelboxes we can design the artwork that our demo reel comes in. It allows us to set the stage and to a degree the personality of our brand. It’s a nice, clean, durable package that reflects a professional image.

9. The company seems at the top of its game, but growth is always something everyone’s striving for.  Where do you see EyeballNYC in the future?

Growth is a tricky subject in creative industries. I look at it with a generally negative viewpoint. There is good growth, but it is rarely combined with growth in the size of a company. Outside of Pixar, there are few companies that seem to have really figured out how to keep hundreds of creatives excited about the work that they do every day. In EyeballNYC’s case I would really like to see us stay around the same size as we are now. We are comfortable with a staff of 30ish. We would prefer to see our company move into new areas while leaving some behind. This is something that you can see in our previous work. I hope to continue to foster creative growth and a collaborative environment. My focus is always to “protect the creative”. This is the core of our company. I hope that I am allowed the privilege of doing what I do until I have exhausted what I have to offer, and I hope that those who remain will want to out-do what I did. This is the future I look forward to.