Matt Knott from the animation studio Versus, who are safely lodged in Pill Box in Bethnal Green, took some time out to tell us about who they've have worked for - including Nickelodeon, Disney, BBC and MTV - and how they see their company progressing.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
We both come from a graphic design background and have been working in the industry for about fifteen years. Adriana has been working in broadcast since she graduated. I started out as a print designer and then moved into animation. We both did a MA in Screen Design for Film and Television at Kingston University - that's were we met. I went on to work at a branding agency for a few years, while Adriana worked at MTV. Then we both went freelance.
Tell us about Versus and how you got started.
After a few years of freelancing, we wanted to be more in control of the creative process. By starting our own studio we'd be able to take on whole projects to direct and create from concept to end. In 2010 we setup Versus. As a married couple we weren't quite sure how it would work out, but we landed an animation project for Burberry and used that to test the waters. It went well, and we got a second project from them. That was our real starting point.
Where were you based before? Why have you decided to move into Pill Box?
We were previously based in Hackney Downs Studios. We moved because we wanted a more business-focused environment, but which had a creative feel to it and a unique character.
Business-wise, what are you most proud of?
It always comes back to our work. When we produce a project that satisfies us creatively and meets or exceeds the client's expectations, that always makes us feel proud.
What have been your biggest business challenges?
Managing projects and resources - we don't have any other permanent staff but use freelancers to grow and shrink the team. It can be difficult juggling the logistics of getting the right people, with the right skills, at the right time and keeping everything within budget. Finding new clients is also a challenge - we have good long-term relationships with some but that can lead to being pidgeon-holed in a particular niche or sector (in our case children's TV). It has been hard to break out of that.
How are you funded?
Before setting up the studio we saved up a three month cash buffer, and to minimise our costs we worked from home for the first year or so.
Where do you see Versus in a year's time? And in 3 years' time?
Over the next year we'd like to employ a designer/animator with a complementary skillset on a more permanent basis. In 3 years' time we'd like to have expanded both our pool of clients and the types of work we produce.
What are the most important trends in design and animation? How is what you do going to change in the future?
Broadcast budgets are shrinking but there seems to be a growth in design, animation and video production for other digital platforms and spatial applications (events/retail/etc). The work we do at the moment is mostly for broadcast, but we're looking to branch out into these other areas.
If you weren't in charge of Versus, what would you be doing?
We'd be doing the same, but as freelancers.
What are the most important things for you in an office space? What's your office luxury?
The most important things are a fast and reliable internet connection, good natural light and a secure building. Our office luxury is having a space to relax, read, think, and have lunch away from our desks.
Have a look at the Versus website. Check them out on Vimeo.
Get in touch if you're based at Workspace and would like to take part in the profile feature.