We haven’t talked to you in awhile, so we are really curious, what are you working on these days? Where are you based now? I have been living in Amsterdam for 3 years now. After living 4 years in Milan I decided that it was time to move. An advertising agency called Wieden+Kennedy offered me a job as an art director at their agency in Amsterdam. I decided to accept the offer and to move to Amsterdam, which I had been before and I really liked it. Now I love it!
I had 2 great years in Wieden+Kennedy. It was like an intensive course. In May of last year I decided to quit that job and to focus more on my works and production. The stars had the right alignment to make it happen.
I decided to open a studio/shop. That way I was not forced all day to be the in studio alone, but instead always having people around. It really helps me to work. And since I am fully supporting my own self production, I am able to create a place where other creatives can show their works and hopefully sell them. Then I am fully on my little child Aiko.
What are your goals that you have for the studio and shop in the upcoming year (2007)? For me it is already amazing that I have my own place. Coming here in the morning and opening the door feels so good, it is incredible. I opened Hanazuki with a girl from Amsterdam, her name is Hanneke. She is a really tough girl with lots and lots of energy and passion in what she does. Together we had in mind the same idea and felt the same urge to create. With Hanazuki we want to focus on creativity, on inspiring people to act and create. Having an open space for people to visit and stay is a great starting point. We already have people coming in asking if they can use the sewing machine, if they can make their own puppets, if they can print and so on. This means that we have started on the right path, they feel this is a creative place and when they leave from here they go home wondering with a smile on their face. I just hope I can keep this alive.
With all the focus and energy into Hanazuki, are you still working for clients? Or you have gone the path of customers instead of clients? Most of our income still comes from commercial works. We do not dislike it. Now we just have the luck to be able to choose what projects to work on. Kind of choosing the best project that fits us. In this way our personal and commercial works merge more. This is a result from 9 years of hard work. I have been working all over and for a lot of different clients and agencies. This gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of great people that I now share projects with. The studio right now is producing works for Nokia, Electronic Arts, MTV Network, Katapult Records. I don’t know if I am ever going to quit doing work for clients. Sometimes it can be very frustrating, but other times if you are lucky and find the right project, then it is just great. Like everything it goes up and down. I think I will keep working for clients as long as they keep calling me.
We are not sure if many people know your client work as much as your personal artwork. Is your commercial work a totally different realm of execution, or are you applying your characters and little stories into your clients projects as well? It really depends on the project or client. I started as a designer in Milan, so I was used to trying to find visual solutions to follow the brief given by the client. This means that I had o adapt and find different styles to execute the concept. Sometimes clients ask me to go free and follow my own style. Other times I am ask me to adapt my style. But in the back of my mind I always work using the same mindset and attitude. Visually the project can differ but conceptually they have a lot in common. The little characters and stories are mine. I don’t know if I am ever going to give them to someone for advertising purposes. I really don’t think so.
Your have lived all over Europe, Italy being one of them. How has the move from Italy to Amsterdam affected you and your work? Amsterdam is a place that one can easily get side tracked, have you been able to still keep the same work ethic and focus? Since I was born, I have been on the move. I always lived each movement like stages in my life. I can associate feeling and emotions to different places in the world. Amsterdam is just the stage in which I am right now. I don’t know where I am going to be next. Maybe I stop, maybe I keep going? I love to discover places and people; Amsterdam is such a mix of culture that I fell completely in love with it. It is a small town so it is easy to move around and meet friends. At the same time it is a “place to visit” for millions of people from all over. I never liked the way of working in Italy, you have to know the right people, get introduced, act cool, etc. Here it is more natural, people appreciate more talents and there is generally more respect in what someone can do. It is more rewarding. I have been sidetracked all my life, I was more than ready to move here and be in control of my action, ethic, etc. Even though sometimes I sleep out of track, but that is just cool.
Do you like Yogurt? If so what flavor? I love it! I like the pure one with honey and nuts. Like the one they make in Greece. Uff so gooooood!
About Niko Stumpo
Niko Stumpo was born in Drammen, Norway. He grew up in the ice lands of Norway, and at the age 6 he moved to Italy, and began vigorously skateboarding. During many years, skateboarding became his life. He had become a sponsored skater and toured around Europe with his sponsors. The fun stopped when he had a severe injury, and was forced to change his career to another focus, which led to “art.” He had finished High School in the field of art, and later enrolled in a Fine Art Academy, however never completed the actual course. Even though, he had a great passion in art and could see the great potential of it – through his own creativity. Instead of continuing school, he became fascinated with Web design, and one of his early inspirations on the World Wide Web was an animated butterfly on the first edition, “The Remedi Project.” Since then, he has contributed to “The Remedi Project;” he has worked as a creative director at a major design agency in Milan, Italy,then he started freelancing for different companies, then as an art director for Wieden+Kennedy in Amsterdam, now he runs his own companies called HANAZUKI and Aiko focusing more on artistic projects and creations of events.His artwork has been exhibited in places such as the Biennial of Tirana and Valencia, the World Wide Web Exhibition in Sao Paolo, Brazil, the George Pompidou in Paris, the Riviera Gallery in Brooklin Ny, The MACBA in Barcelona, in the Bomuldsfabriken in Norway, the 55Diesel store in Milan, Palazzo Fortuny in Venice, the 451F gallery in Amsterdam, The MONTANA gallery In Barcelona etc. His works include clients such as MTVitaly, MTVfrance, MTV USA, Electronic Arts , Sony PS2, Nike, 55Dsl, Lexus, Condé Nast, MandarinaDuck, Capcomm, Powerade, Heineken, Goretex, Vodafone, E3,Thomas Cook, Nokia.