this is network

network is an interesting new idea from seasoned producer Alex Dervin, who started with Imaginary Forces 10 years ago and was an integral part of The Ebeling Group’s establishment. The defining quality of network is its artist in residence program, which “offers creatives the opportunity to continue exploring the art that inspires their designs, showcasing their independent work through the studio’s on-site boutique and online shop.”

Admittedly, that sounds a little like marketing fluff, but I think the actual idea is fairly courageous: instead of a static team, create a ever-changing roster of talent. This has some obvious advantages: stagnation will be kept at bay, budding designers have a place to blossom, and network—as a brand—could build a reputation as the place to go for unexpected solutions to design challenges.

Those are the ideal outcomes, at least. The challenges are also obvious: Finding the right talent, knowing when to bring on new talent (and free up space), and establishing a clear enough identity that clients have at least some idea what to expect. It’s a pretty sophisticated balancing act. But I suppose if anyone can do it, Alex can.

network.jpg

network reminds me a little (in spirit, at least) of Blacklist, Psyop’s initiative to promote, young, international, boundary-pushing designers. These experiments indicate a couple things to me: 1) a growing need for “fringe” designers, i.e. creatives who live and work just outside the mainstream, and 2) a future that is increasingly hospitable to small, agile studios, especially as alternatives to big, lumbering ones. I’ve wondered for a while at what point a studio’s size and maturity become more of a liability than an asset. Maybe these experiments will help us figure that out.

network’s first artist in residence is Tatiana Arocha, who’s body of work is a diverse medley of styles and tones befitting network’s promise of eclecticism. Don’t miss her still designs as well.

About the author

Justin Cone

/ justincone.com
Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.

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4 Comments

Alex

I think you seem a bit optimistic and wishful with your conclusion. Although i agree that the studio’s size concern is a good point.

Will the “fringe” one day be the same as mainstream ? Most important will the “fringe” be consumed more than the mainstream ? These are paradoxal question of course. Which make me wonder if it’s just a desperate move from Alex or Psyop. Or, what i believe, they seem to be willing to pay back to where they came from and trying to keep things fresh. And this seems to me as a more interesting tendency – if it is one at all.

As for the size of a studio, i believe that as long as you don’t know what you’re doing, it doesnt matter if you have 2 or 400 people working together. It’s a matter of having a clear vision and choosing to pursue it. You could be wrong (as always) but size won’t matter i think.

Shelly

I can’t help but run whenever I hear the term “Art Collective” attached to something that is and let’s face the truth, a way to make money and a way to make the same old same old seem interesting. I have to be honest I am totally skeptical about Alex Dervin and his company Network.

Also I think the “Art Collective” line is nothing more than a bullshit line from someone who isn’t art educated and is just after making money and screwing the artist. It’s fairly evident by looking at the site already that they don’t have a clue.

Stacy

I think the idea of a core group of creatives with a featured artist in residence is great. I believe “art collective” is a misplaced description of thisisnetwork’s strategy, since the term is neither mentioned in this article, or on their website. It strikes me that the a.i.r program is a partnership which should align the creative and economic incentives of both the producer and the artist, and in effect, create a very nice synergy that will ultimately be beneficial to both parties. Perhaps I am much less jaded, and have a little more faith in people’s motives, to believe that they are not all out to screw over the person who helped make them successful. If the views represented above are widespread, then Alex Dervin and thisisnetwork should bring a much needed breath of fresh air to the industry.

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