The Edge: Bruce Bigelow’s Electric Art and Furry Beards
July 15, 20144 min read
Novedge:Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do
Bruce Bigelow: My name is Bruce Bigelow and yes that is my real name. I am the Creative Director and Head of 3D of Electric Art in Sydney Australia.
Novedge: What has been most important in developing and growing a successful team?
Bruce Bigelow: Everyone who's here is here because they want to be. We all share a common desire to create great images and content. A lack of ego is also important, because for a bunch of people to combine to create the best result possible, they need to give over some of the process to other people who are better than them at a given part of that process. Collaboration is the new selfishness. At the risk of sounding geeky (which I'm not), it's like in Star Trek when the evil Borg think with one mind to create one outcome. Except that we're not evil – unless you think advertising is evil. Next question. Oh, I forgot humour – humour and a sense of irony. Being immature for at least five minutes a day is mandatory at EA, as we find it exercises the part of you that makes you a better person. But don't do it all in one five minute stretch or you will just look silly.
Novedge: How do you collaborate with clients during the creative process?
Bruce Bigelow: Clients have to want to collaborate first, after so many years in this game you get to kinda know the ones that will collaborate, and the ones that won't. Generally, the ones who do are going to end up with a better job because shared creative process with everyone handling their little area of expertise will always beat one egotist trying to do everything by themselves. Paul Figg, a great Art Director, once said to me "a great Art Director is like the conductor of an orchestra. Although they know what all the instruments do, they don't jump down into the pit and start trying to play the first violin. They direct. And let everyone do their job." The best way for us to collaborate with clients on a project is to get involved early in the creative process, that way we can do what we do best, and advise the best way of executing the job and add creative and technical input to the process.
Novedge: As Electric Art has become more of an international company and projects now span multiple mediums, how does your team approach each new campaign?
Bruce Bigelow: We approach every single campaign the same: we start by asking the questions of what the client aims are for the particular ad we're producing. What are the communication objectives, the brand objectives and what is the driving creative vision for the piece of work? It's really important for us to get inside the creative heads and find out what they are thinking. We often ask for mood references, and often get them to unravel the process of how they got to this point. Sometimes that is just as revealing, as you find out what their client didn't want as well as what they wanted.
Sometimes the client is open to creative exploration, and generally that is a good thing – sometimes accidents or coincidences or inspirations happen along the way and will lead you to visual execution you maybe did not expect. Sometimes they just want you to recreate a style and add a bit of something to it along the way, and that's fine too.
We have always been creative and technical innovators and I believe that this curiosity allows us some form of edge. Sometimes a technical process can give you a creative inspiration and vice versa.
Novedge: What is a recent project that your team worked on?
Bruce Bigelow: CSX for Mullen is a recent project we worked on that uses a combination of a lot of our skills. The challenge was to great something that was real to the edge of being "hyper real". It had to literally look like the pieces have been cut out of rock stratas, roads rail lines, soil etc, and placed together in a "sculpture". By lighting everything with a high res HDRI, we were able to give the impression that the sculpture was placed in an outdoor kind of situation to suit the nature of the subject matter.
You can find some info on CSX including creative credits here.
Shick beards is another recent project we have done which has had an enormous amount of global interest.
You can find some info on Schick including creative credits here.
And there is a retouching build on Schick on YouTube.
Novedge: What software do you use at Electric Art?
Bruce Bigelow: We use Autodesk, 3dsMax, Maya, Mudbox. As renderer, we use VRay. Also, ZBrush, Real Flow, Mesh Lab. And these are the plugins we use: Rayfire, Fume Fx, Forest Pack. We use Polhemus 3d scanner for object capture. And of course we use the Adobe Creative Cloud.
Novedge: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Bruce Bigelow: The best advice I think I have received was from my photography lecturer, Colin Beard at Sydney College of the Arts. At the time I was studying industrial design, but my real love was photography and visual communications. As a lecturer I guess he shouldn't have given me this advice but he told me to just follow what was closest to my heart. I did this, left college, and got a job as an art director and never looked back.