Artist in residence: XK Studio

Digital artists Alexa Sirbu and Lukas Vojir explain the creative process behind their captivating 3D illustrated films

01 April, 2020

Celebrating The Royal Exchange as a place where tradition meets innovation, and continuing our artist in residence series, we commissioned digital artists XK Studio to produce a moment of escapism inspired by the idea of modern luxury. The first moving image in the series encapsulates the theme of Future/Craft in a 3D illustration that represents material elements, man-made shapes, innovative vision and exquisite craftsmanship. Here, we find out more about the creative duo and the unique work they create.


WHERE ARE YOU BASED AND HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?

ALEXA SIRBU: We are based in East London and met at a design studio called FutureDeluxe a few years back.


HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE KIND OF ART THAT XK STUDIO CREATES, AND WHAT INSPIRES YOUR ARTWORK?

LUKAS VOJIR: We try to experiment and research as much as we can by taking tools and techniques intended for use in high-end visual effects for film and TV, and throwing them at more artistic, design-led projects and pieces.

AS: We love to study the subject of our projects and take clues from the latest developments across different fields, be it modern gastronomy, fashion, styling, photography or nature.


WHAT SKILLS AND PHILOSOPHIES DO EACH OF YOU BRING TO YOUR CREATIVE PARTNERSHIP?

LV: While we are both generalists (meaning we can both contribute at any point of the creative process), we each bring different expertise. Alexa is more style focused while I bring more of a technical approach, but our roles often blend.


WHAT WAS YOUR APPROACH TO CREATING AN ARTWORK FOR THE ROYAL EXCHANGE’S FUTURE/CRAFT CAMPAIGN?

AS: Our brief was to explore Future/Craft from the angle of modern luxury.

LV: Straight away we thought of fashion and product design being represented in an abstract way. We’ve combined fabric shapes with metallic and glass elements, which resemble details that could be found on a handbag, or jewellery pieces, but wouldn’t be immediately recognisable as that.


HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE, AND HOW IS IT EXPRESSED IN THE ARTWORK YOU’VE CREATED FOR THE ROYAL EXCHANGE?

AS: We strive to create a daring, fresh look while approaching the subject from a new angle. We like to use organic forms in combination with more man-made looking shapes. We love to make small new worlds from these elements and observe the interplay between its inhabitants. In the work we’ve created for The Royal Exchange this is expressed through the interaction of metal, glass and cloth.


COULD YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF CONCEIVING AND CREATING THIS PARTICULAR PIECE OF WORK?

LV: As is common in any creative process, we start with a moodboard, which works as a filter for our ideas and helps us to narrow down the style. We then start making the individual elements before arranging them into compositions. We went back and forth with different elements, making and trying new objects in the composition, until we were happy with it.

IS IT HARD TO BE INNOVATIVE AS AN ARTIST?

AS: It can be both really easy or practically impossible, depending on how you define innovation. For us it means trying to not repeat ourselves and avoiding some of the most obvious trends, or at least giving them a fresh spin.


DO YOU HAVE ANY HABITS OR RITUALS THAT HELP YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

LV: Coffee works for me, yoga for Alexa.


WHAT IMPACT DO YOU HOPE THIS WORK WILL HAVE ON THE PEOPLE WHO SEE IT?

LV: We hope to invite the viewer into our world for a visit, no matter how short or long it might be.


IN THESE UNPRECEDENTED TIMES, WHAT WILL YOU BOTH BE DOING TO STAY MENTALLY STRONG, CREATIVE AND PRODUCTIVE?

AS: We focus on what we can change. Keep a positive outlook, keep calm and carry on with our work.


Delve deeper into our #FutureCraft campaign content here, or by following us on Instagram @theroyalexchange and Twitter @rexshopper, and experience XK Studio’s series of special commissions for The Royal Exchange, as they are unveiled on social media by searching #XKxTRE