James Earls on the work of Studio Crême and sister studio Tomorrow Bureau
James Earls founded London-based creative practice Studio Crême in 2015 alongside Jack Featherstone. Together they work on a range of considered brand, art direction and packaging projects as well as surreal, experimental moving image through Studio Crême’s sister studio Tomorrow Bureau.
EM Hi James. Can you tell us about your background, and how you came to start Studio Crême?
JE Jack and I started the studio coming up to four years ago now.
We had been sharing a studio for a while and had discussed teaming up. We wanted to diversify our work, so bringing moving image, brand and art direction together made a lot of sense to us. Over the last 3.5 years, it has allowed us to work with a vast spectrum of people and brands.
It is really important for us to always deliver ideas that our singular and considered. As it means we challenge ourselves and our clients with every brief.
EM What qualities do you and Jack possess that make you a good team?
JE I think we are two quite complementary halves. I am an extrovert, whilst Jack is insightful and visionary. We push each other. And do have a lot of similarities, in our visual craft, a conviction in our ideas, drive, and ambition.
Our design background gives us a particular approach to creating CGI.
EM How does the relationship work between Studio Crême and its sister studio Tomorrow Bureau?
JE We run both studios together, each studio working on very different types of projects. Our design background gives us a particular approach to creating CGI.
We realised that Studio Crême had evolved into a practice that created two distinct kinds of work, each with a singular approach and vision. On one side future-facing, experimental moving image work. On the other, a strong focus on design and brand storytelling. To give both them room to breathe and evolve independently, we decided to create Tomorrow Bureau as a new space for our moving image work to live.
EM Do you have separate teams for each studio?
JE We work across both but have a solid group of freelancers we work with when needed.
EM Do clients approach you knowing that you offer branding and CGI under one roof, or is it usually one or the other?
JE It tends to be one or the other. But being able to offer both can arrive at some really interesting results.
Our identity for Faber Futures is a good example of how we explored 3D visuals whilst developing their visual identity.
EM You’ve just announced a partnership between Studio Crême and Art Factory in Dubai. How did that move come about?
JE We were initially approached by Art Factory to work on a visual identity for one of their new clients.
Based on our response and approach, the founder realised that we were very much aligned in terms of ethos and wanted to discuss future opportunities and the potential for a longer-term working relationship.
We saw this as a mutually beneficial partnership, allowing both sides to go after more significant projects and having a very focused approach in delivering new ideas to an emerging market.
EM Will this partnership change the dynamic of the studio, and the type of work you’re doing?
JE As we see it, there won’t be any significant changes to the studio. Keeping a diverse client base and output is core to our MO – and was one of the reasons Art Factory approached us. So no one is looking to change that.
The projects we are looking at with Art Factory are pretty varied, ranging from campaigns, visual identities and digital – we are excited at the prospect of challenging, and collaborating with emerging and established brands alike in the Middle East.
We wanted to give her logo a tangible and physical quality.
EM One of our favourite identities you’ve designed is Alter Projects, and we particularly like the 3D effect used on the logo. What was the thinking behind doing it that way?
JE Thanks, yeah it has been a really great project.
A lot of the work commissioned by Anne-Laure lives in physical spaces, ranging from installations, sculptures to interactive pieces, we wanted to give her logo a tangible and physical quality.
Also reflecting her way of working, she wants the work to leave an impression. So in turn, beyond the detail of the logo’s design, visually it needed to be more than just a flat vector graphic. Adding detail and elevating it.
EM Also, love the flexibility of the label system for Three Hills Brewing. Can you talk us through how that works?
JE We’ve been working with Three Hills for around 3.5 years now. They opened the brewery around the same time as we started Studio Crême.
The founder, Andrew, set up Three Hills to create innovative and experimental small-batch beers. Rather than reproducing the same beers, they focus on creating new recipes every time to keep things interesting. This way of working gives us a lot of freedom to rethink the visual language every time. And it’s always a fun challenge.
EM What is your favourite stage of a project, and why?
JE The discovery period is always the most exciting. When a brief allows you to delve deep and develop concepts that are at the same time exciting and push both us and the client. This period of play is key to any project.
EM Do you have any advice for a designer that might be planning to send their portfolio over to you?
JE Be considered and genuine in your approach. Your reference points and ideas outweigh your Adobe knowledge. And, don’t send us your Instagram as a portfolio.
EM What’s coming up next for Studio Crême?
JE We are working on a studio project at the moment which we will be able to reveal later this year.
Something a bit different.