An interview with 3D designer Stoav

Stoav (Steven De Loenen) has always been very visually focused. The urge to create is often the result of visual stimuli that surround his work. As a kid it was mostly pencils and paper, now it’s more computers.

It’s basically the same thing, the tools are just different because they are analogue or digital These last few years I’ve been focusing more on animation, which brings new dimensions.

Describe the creative process behind one of your submitted works.

The movie projects I do for Hybrid/20th Century FOX are often the ideal work situations. Since I’ve been doing a lot of movie projects, the approach has become some kind of routine but not to the point where it gets boring. Just the steps in the design process are always the same. Since every assignment is a new movie, it’s a different story that needs its appropriate language. The first step is always watching the movie and that immediately gives a lot of inspiration.

After watching the movie certain key moments stick. The next step is creating background visuals and matching an appropriate interface. The general look is determined here. The static backgrounds are then replaced with video and animated interface tools are added. For the navigation, I try to come up with a very unique approach every time to make every site a unique experience in terms of interactivity

How would you describe your style of work to people who first come across it?

I leave it to others to call it a certain style. I’m mostly interested in telling different stories in different (graphic) languages. For every assignment, I try to find the most appropriate style that brings the right atmosphere. I’m also easily bored so I don’t believe in one style.

Is there anything intrinsically Belgian that you think has been a strong influence or inspiration in what you do?

The state of mind I guess. I think it’s very Belgian to be a bit too critical and serious. That has often a been both a good and a bad thing. It has helped me to want to create good things but also froze me now and then

Do you see any particular trends emerging in Belgian design? What do you think the future will bring for design in Belgium?

I see more and more people working from home for projects all over the world. Design agencies will, hopefully, work more and more with freelancers.

The technical possibilities in web design and animation are getting so advanced that’s it’s a good idea as a designer to find your own speciality and find your unique identity. The competition is much harder these days because everything is more global.

How important is the ‘play’ factor in your work?

What was playing for me once, now has become my job. The downside is in stressful periods it’s hard to keep it fun. It’s very necessary though to keep it fun since it’s hard work and you need to find a positive drive to bring an assignment to a good end. Listening to the right music always helps me a lot while I’m working

You work a lot for the movie business, how does it differ from print?

For print, it’s all about giving people an immediate sense of what needs to be communicated.

For the movie projects, you spend a lot more time telling the story. What’s interesting for me is the different disciplines you can use and the power of the combination of sound and animation. I wouldn’t say the one has more impact than the other but there’s a lot of excitement in triggering more senses at the same time.

Are there big differences between Belgian and international clients?

Everyone wants the best results of course but international clients often understand better how much effort it takes to get there.

There’s a difference though when working with clients who also do design or animation.

Working for MTV networks, for example, is an ideal situation. Since they produce most of the content in-house they know exactly how to communicate and they have a good idea about how much effort it took you to get to the end result

How important is experimenting with design to you?

Experimenting is essential to stay fresh and keep the work interesting. I’m influenced by what surrounds me, so trends are an influence but it’s not something I try to follow.

It’s also very important to keep creating personal free work to avoid a burn-out. I also need to get back to brushes and paint now and then to escape the digital habit.

Do you have different approaches in terms of creativity when you deal with motion and graphic works?

The motion work usually starts with video stills to create a mood board. So I guess in a way print is that first step. Where print has its strength in the frozen moment, motion can capture an entire event but evidently, it brings a lot more work

Do you believe that Belgium provides good resources for design? Is it easy for new designers to promote themselves? I couldn’t say.

I put up my first portfolio website about 8 years ago and most of my clients came because of the website. So I’ve been working for various clients in and outside the country since the beginning. I would say put your stuff on the web and hopefully get lucky

Can you say that Belgium has a creative client base?

In my experience, a lot of Belgian clients often look too much at other countries. Often they want some kind of copy of what’s going on abroad instead of trying to find their own identity

So Stoav, what you will be doing around the same time next year?

Working at the attic at my workstation and hopefully find some time to finish some songs.

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Published by

Timothy Helmer

Designer, curator of Let's Talk Design and founder of Creative Network.