Tupac Martir leads an expert team of multidisciplinary designers who merge artistic vision and event technology to create breathtaking modern projects for the world’s biggest names and brands. We chatted about process and insights for teams tackling complex modern challenges for events.
Hi Tupac, tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a visual artist, creative director, and founder of Satore Studio – a multidisciplinary creative studio. Originally I trained as a painter. Later on, I used that foundation to develop my skills as a conceptual artist and visual designer within the virtual and lighting worlds.
Who do you work with?
My team and I have had the privilege of working with some of the world’s greatest creative minds. We’ve crafted production design, visuals and lighting direction for the likes of Elton John, Alexander McQueen and Sting, as well as for Coachella, Xu Bing at the V&A Museum, the Serpentine Gallery and the Old Vic Tunnels.
With collaborators like that, what live event are you most proud of and why?
I am proud of every piece of work I produce, but one that really stands out for me is a project we did for Mexico City Arts Week known as HIK+. We collaborated with Johnnie Walker, Virtue (VICE’s creative agency), and Isaac Hernández (lead principal with English National Ballet), to take over Torre Reforma – Mexico City’s largest skyscraper – and turn it into a virtual canvas.
Thanks to a blend of motion capture, state-of-the-art projection tech, and a global team, we were able to turn an unconventional idea into reality.
Using complex algorithms and the latest projection technology, the people of Mexico were able to share moments from their social media with the rest of the city. The thing about this project is that it wasn’t just mine, or Johnnie Walker’s, or Virtue’s. It was for Mexico, and it brought people closer together. That’s what I’m most proud of.
That’s a big undertaking. When you’re designing for live performances, what do you do to ensure that everything goes smoothly during the event?
Every piece of work we produce is rehearsed time and time again until it’s as perfect as can be. We look into all possible issues – and even some of the most impossible to be sure everything goes to plan. And even then, you develop a plan A, B and C to be certain. You can even pull together a plan D at the last minute if needed.
What are the most challenging aspects of a multidisciplinary design studio? Especially with a heavy technology focus, you must often have to switch between mediums, scales, and types of projects.
I wouldn’t say it’s the most challenging of aspects, but you have to be prepared to move successfully around various projects within the space of a day. Within a five-hour period we’ll each move between fifteen different projects that are usually unrelated.
Switching between projects is how you open up and develop the best creative ideas. It allows you to learn much faster.
You have to understand where each project is, what it requires, the design brief for it, what has been signed off, and how to interact with the people who are working on that project. It can be challenging, but switching between projects is how you open up and develop the best creative ideas. It allows you to learn much faster.
And how do you build a team that can successfully execute on highly demanding projects?
It has to be the people. They are the foundation of your studio and represent who you are and what you stand for. The key to building a successful team is understanding what their individual needs are: what do they want to do? Where do they see themselves in five years?
You also need to evaluate how an individual’s skills integrate into the team you already have – it wouldn’t make sense to have eleven people with the exact same skill set. But most importantly, it’s about how someone fits into the existing team and what they can bring to the studio. You need someone who works happily with everyone and is eager to become a part of your family, both inside and outside of the studio.
How do you balance innovation and experimentation with tight event deadlines?
For Satore Studio, we do so much research and development outside of the briefs we are given that it’s never a case of balancing against deadlines. We are a naturally curious team that regularly experiments with the latest tech because we are genuinely passionate about how to take our artistic ideas to the next level through technology.
What generally tends to happen with a brief is that we’ll go through it and think, ‘Oh, that tech I experimented with a couple months ago would work brilliantly here and bring it to life well’. That means we can turn innovative projects around very quickly.
For example, the skyscraper project HIK+ took us only a month to fully produce thanks to the amount of R&D we invest in outside of our briefs. When that project came in, we put our experience directly into the project, meaning we didn’t need to use any of the budget to fund R&D specifically for it.
And do you prefer working with total freedom, or collaborating to realize a specific vision?
Honestly, we enjoy both sides of the collaborative spectrum. Total freedom allows us to create our own thing, use our own creative minds to explore, and see how far we can push things. Meanwhile, the beauty of collaborating means learning from others and understanding how they see their brands and the wider world. It never hurts to have another perspective added into the mix.
What about projects where you play multiple roles and might be on both sides of that spectrum at once?
When team members play multiple roles, we deliver a more cohesive piece of work. We can approach a brief from various angles at the same time rather than focusing on just one aspect. It means we can deliver every element of a single project.
The only issue with working in various roles with the same people is the potential to get stuck inside a creative bubble. Sometimes it’s necessary to bring in someone from outside the agency to get you thinking outside of your comfort zone. It helps you to not get too caught up in your own ideas.
More often than not, we get team members who aren’t involved in a particular project to provide a peer review. It really helps ensure you’re not stuck in that bubble.
Finally, what’s your favorite thing about your job?
It has to be the amount of variety in what we do. From fashion, lighting and art projects to video, tech and motion capture, no two days are ever the same.
Thanks for your time and insights, Tupac.