We started planning the art for the Post Magazine’s first Readers’ Favorites Issue in April. We wanted something fun. After considering more than 40 artists, we landed on Snask, a Swedish creative agency that does branding, design and film.
We loved the cover image Snask came up with, but couldn’t quite tell how it was constructed. (What is that hot dog made of?!) We e-mailed Snask founder and Creative Director Fredrik Öst to find out.
Lightly edited for length and clarity.
What inspired the imagery for the Favorites Issue?
At Snask we make a lot of our design by hand. We started out learning how to use design software at a young age. After that we all got educated in design that most often starts with ideation, pen and paper, and, after that, taken into the computer and the software. What we love to do is to take the design out of the computer again and make it all by hand in a very tactile way.
For this specific design, we wanted to capture the essence of every category in the design and illustration of each letter of the word “Favorites” by creating fun, unique and physical icons that would reflect the characteristics of each topic, all in different materials.
For example, choosing a clean, stylish Art Deco typeface made from glass to create the essence of a fancy cocktail for the topic “Drinking.”
How many hours did the project take to complete?
100 to 200 hours divided among five people. The main design and execution was by Snask designers Magdalena Czarnecki & Richard Gray.
What usually takes longer, the idea or the execution?
It varies a lot from project to project. If the idea doesn’t come easy, we work until it does. In this case we got it pretty quickly, and since we put a lot of pride in the execution as well, it took longer than the ideation.
How big was the actual artwork?
1.5 meters tall, .9 meters wide. (Five feet by three feet)
Is the “T” made of wood? How did you make it?
Yes, it’s made out of plywood and is cut out with a water cutting machine.
What about the “S”? Is it made of stone?
The “S” is made out of concrete and also cut out with a water cutting machine.
What’s the hot dog made of?
Did you have a neon “I” on hand? Or did you get one for this project?
We ordered real neon from an Italian brand, Seletti.
Did you learn anything putting this project together?
Yes, we learn from everything we do. This was a really interesting project to do. The hardest bit was to plan and shoot everything. To put on the paint on the “A” was very crucial since we only had one chance to get it right or it would have taken a lot of work to redo it.
What’s Snask’s origin story? When was it founded?
Snask was founded in 2007 by Fredrik Öst and Magnus Berg. We believe in standing out and have opinions to stand up for. To constantly challenge the conservative world by making enemies and gaining fans. There are enough of old men with too much power in this world as well as our industry. We have decided to challenge that.
Why do you call yourself Snask? What does it mean?
Me and Magnus started the company in our student dorm in the northern part of the U.K., where we studied graphic design. At university, we often talked about eye candy, an expression we don’t use in Sweden too much. So we decided to call ourselves Snask since it means candy, filth and gossip in Swedish old slang. The plan was to open the agency in London or NYC where no one would know the meaning and we could use it like “We Snask You,” “Sometimes I Snask,” “Sweet Mother of Snask,” “I Will Always Snask You,” “Snask Off!” and so on.
In the end we moved back to Sweden, where everyone knows the meaning, and the name is quite controversial for a business, for reasons I don’t understand. Just because you wear a black suit doesn’t mean you’re successful. In the same way, just because you have a name that stands out doesn’t mean you’re unprofessional. Once again it’s the old, conservative world that hates our name, and to us that’s totally fine, since they’re our No. 1 enemy.
How many employees did you have when you started? How many do you have now?
We were only two people when we started up, and now we are nine. We have this philosophy that we want to have a team where everyone are superstars at what they are doing. Not being an agency where only the top will get all the credits.
You do branding and design, create stop-motion and live-action video, lecture about creative entrepreneurship, run a record label, and designed your own three-speed pink bike that’s for sale in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. What don’t you do?
Well, what don’t we do, haha. That’s a good question. Apart from what you just said, we also have our own creative conference called Yay Festival, as well as our own track and field event called Snask & Field. I guess we love to lead a fun life that we call the Snask Way, or living the Snask Lifestyle. It means we don’t only go to work but also to a hobby. A place where we can make ideas become reality. We still don’t have our own country.
In a world of CGI and Photoshop, why do you work with real objects?
Simply because we find much more passion in working by hand instead of sitting in front of a screen. There are great artists and agencies who do fabulous work in CGI and Photoshop, so don’t get me wrong. We just feel that the Snask way is to make things tactile by hand and for real.
Do you have any workplace traditions?
I guess we do. Every year we travel somewhere with everyone for a week. This year we’re doing two. We just got back from a week in Barcelona and are going to NYC in September.
Other than that we have a bar, so every Friday usually ends there. We have a Christmas quiz that is a tradition. Last year we all went around in a pink limousine singing karaoke and drinking champagne with mobile filming being allowed. It was, hmmm, very interesting, and I actually do think it will become a tradition.
When you start a project, what’s the first thing you do?
In a lot of cases, we rewrite the brief since we don’t think it’s correct. After checking it with the client, we sit down with everyone involved and do ideation. In this process we normally do a lot of research and gather references of what we would like to do. This sounds so boring. I should have just lied and said we start every project by putting pink feathers in a balloon and send it off to outer space.
What’s the biggest (in scale, time, or importance) project you’ve ever tackled?
Wow, that all depends. We rebranded the biggest investment bank in the Nordics, Nordea Markets. That was big.
But the most impressive one would be Malmö Festival, Scandinavia’s largest city festival, last year, where we decided to turn their poster into an art installation, thus creating the biggest poster ever made, measuring 13 by 9 meters (43 by 29.5 feet) in real life. In order to photograph the poster and get the angles right, we had to be 30 meters (33 yards) up in the air. After advertising the festival for three months, people came to the festival and could actually climb and interact with the real installation standing proud on the streets.
Malmö Festival just won a Platinum award, the highest possible, at Creativity International Awards.
Do you really have your own Snask beer? Any way we can get some?
We’re right now working on creating our own brewery together with the famous PangPang Brewery here in Sweden. So yes!