The Block

News — 2 months ago

Everpress Takeover: Barcelona

Launched this year, our Everpress Takeover series sees us explore the world’s most exciting creative cities, delving into the scenes at the heart of them and meeting the artists who make it all happen.  

 

Having kicked off at the start of summer with Berlin, this time round we headed to sunny Barcelona. 

 

With over 100 creatives taking part, we thought we’d ask a few to tell us what Barcelona means to them. Read on to find out about the pressures, creative community and what makes the city unique, according to graphic designer and artist Kim Van Vuuren, Ezequiel Pini, of contemporary design studio Six N. Five, art director and graphic designer Carla Gal, and illustrator Jor Ros.

 

To shop the Takeover T-shirts, head here.

Share
Lucas Otto and Alexa Meffe in Barcelona, photographed by Everpress

It’s well-known that the Catalan capital has a thriving arts scene. Barcelona has long been a mecca for artists – from Gaudí to Picasso – and today is no different, with a whole host of galleries, studios, and creatives calling this city by the sea home. Some of Barcelona’s pressures and positives will feel familiar to artists across the globe – rising rents, finding a balance between working and living, and drawing inspiration from a tight knit community. But here, some of our takeover artists explain what makes their city unique.

Carla Gal, photo courtesy of the artist

CARLA GAL

Art director and graphic designer Carla Gal finds the balance between working and following her passion by complementing her work at an advertising agency – which she’s been at for five years – with freelance projects. She’s got a fair few Everpress campaigns under her belt already: her Bazar and Sweet Cherry tees have proved firm favourites.

Are you from Barcelona? If not, where did you live before and what brought you to the city? 

Yes, I am from Barcelona!

How would you describe the creative scene in the city – what makes it unique? 

There is a huge scene in Barcelona, but I do find that it can be quite closed and it can be difficult to enter it if you are not already part of a group or collective – I’d love to see it move towards being a scene that unites everyone and is less divided. There are many people creating in Barcelona but sometimes it feels like it’s always the same people at the same events; as a woman, I’d love to see more women on the scene in particular.

How do you think Barcelona has shaped your work? 

There is a lot going on. It’s a city full of people, colours and noises – it’s very stimulating! Even just walking around the city you get inspired. 

What’s the local creative community like? 

I think the best answer is: eclectic. 

It’s a city full of people, colours and noises – it’s very stimulating!

What are the challenges you face as a creative living and working in Barcelona?

Finding a healthy balance between your work and having a social life, and making fair money for the work we do (which today is still not valued enough!).

What’s missing from Barcelona? 

I’d say we think of ourselves as very open, but we need to do more than just words. As creative people we need to be part of enacting social change and educating people to understand our work. 

What would your biggest piece of advice be for young creatives either currently based in, or thinking of moving to, Barcelona? 

It definitely pays to network and stay connected with important people, because sometimes in Barcelona this can be as important (or more!) than talent.

 

Ezequiel Pini, photo courtesy of the artist

Ezequiel Pini, SIX N. FIVE

Founded in 2014 by Ezequiel Pini, contemporary design studio Six N. Five specialises in still life visuals and videos. Known for their sleek, futuristic aesthetic, they work on advertising, editorial, and video commissions, while also finding the time to create experimental CGI work. 

Are you from Barcelona? If not, where did you live before and what brought you to the city?

I was born in Buenos Aires and studied Graphic Design there too. When I started to have the idea to create a studio, I felt that we needed to keep growing in the same place, close to family, friends, contacts, and colleagues. Some years ago, I had the experience of living and working in Madrid for six months, and that beautiful experience of living abroad has always been in my mind. Then, two years after that, Six N. Five was born, and as we had most of our clients in Europe we thought it was a good moment to move and have new experiences outside Buenos Aires.

Knowing we wanted to establish a studio in Europe, I had a lot of possibilities to choose from, but Barcelona has been my favourite since I visited it as a tourist. I really value living in a place where people speak my first language, being closer to the beach and mountains, and having different cultures in the same place.

How do you think Barcelona has shaped your work?

I find it very inspiring; every week there are interesting music, art, and design events happening. I grew up in Argentina, where we are used to having to travel long distances to get to another town, city or even province. Now it’s like heaven living in a European hub and knowing that I have so many places to visit and be inspired by only a one or two-hour flight away. 

What’s the local creative community like?

In our particular case, our studio is based in Poblenou, where most of the other design studios located too. We keep a close relationship with other studios and often have lunch and Friday drinks together.

What would your biggest piece of advice be for young creatives either currently based in, or thinking of moving to, Barcelona

Try to implement these words every day: Passion, Dedication, Commitment, Confidence, Consistency, Persistency. Passion is doing what you deeply love. Dedicate as much time as possible to it with commitment, and be prepared to sacrifice things that other people prefer not to. Sometimes you’ll fail. You’ll feel bad. You’ll feel you won’t be able to accomplish what you’re hoping to and, just at that moment, remember this killer combo: Consistency, Confidence & Persistence. It will take time, but there’ll come a point where you’ll realise you’re where you wanted to be.

Kim Van Vuuren, photo courtesy of the artist

KIM VAN VUUREN

Kim Van Vuuren started out as primarily a graphic and web designer, but going freelance in 2016 proved to be the motivation she needed to move into painting too. Consumed by client work, she started a series of personal side projects which led to her first painting commission for a friend – “Girl with the Face.” Now, she focuses on merging her practice as a visual artist with her design projects, including the Aperol Club T-shirt she launched with us back in summer. 

Are you from Barcelona? If not, where did you live before and what brought you to the city?

I’m not from Barcelona, I’m actually from South Africa. I was born in Johannesburg and grew in the Cape (Cape Town). My story is SO complicated but super romantic! I’ll just say that Frank Ocean, Tinder and Deep Love brought me to Barcelona.

How would you describe the creative scene in the city – what makes it unique?

The creative scene is very multicultural, supportive and energetic but also relaxed at the same time. Work is important, but living and enjoying life is even more important.

What’s the local creative community like?

Massive. Diverse. Supportive. Humble. Stupidly Talented, and underpaid (in my opinion). 

The creative scene is very multicultural, supportive and energetic

What are the challenges you face as a creative living and working in Barcelona?

There are many challenges for me personally as I don’t speak the language yet, and I’m surrounded by some of the most talented designers and artists in the world. But, I enjoy a challenge and being pushed out of my comfort zone has helped me grow as an artist and individual.

What’s missing from Barcelona? 

South Africans 🙂 I haven’t heard or seen a South African since I left SA.

What would your biggest piece of advice be for young creatives either currently based in, or thinking of moving to, Barcelona? 

Come prepared. Thankfully I already had a network of creative people whom I had met on previous visits, so I had established myself within a community before moving here permanently. Seek out the people in your industry and get in touch with them – Barcelona is a very friendly place. Then, there’s the language thing. As I’m from South Africa, I speak English and Afrikaans, so I’d definitely say educate yourself with the basics, and take a few classes. Of course, you can get by with English but people appreciate the effort and it sucks to not understand anything.

Jor Ros, photo courtesy of the artist

JOR ROS

Illustrator Jor Ros works across pop culture, music, and streetwear, building entire fictional universes through his intricate drawings. He works with a roster of international clients and brands, developing concepts and projects via the medium of illustration (and he’s also shared his insights with us on more than one occasion, giving tips on handling creative compromise and promoting your designs on social media).

Are you from Barcelona? If not, where did you live before and what brought you to the city? 

I was actually born in Mexico City in the late ’80s. My childhood elapsed between Mexico and the US until my family finally moved to Barcelona when I was a teenager. I wasn’t too keen on moving at first, but it didn’t take long for the city to win me over.

How would you describe the creative scene in the city – what makes it unique? 

It’s quite mixed, which I think makes it appealing to artists, creators, and audiences alike because there’s something for everyone. I definitely believe this diversity of voices is part of Barcelona’s uniqueness. The city is also quite hectic, meaning there is always something happening and something to see, do or participate in.

How do you think Barcelona has shaped your work?

I think Barcelona’s constant activity makes for a really unique environment where it’s easy to get inspired by other creators. It also builds a certain sense of camaraderie within the creative community, where you slowly start building your own circle. I find I’m constantly exposed to different points of view or diverse ways of doing and understanding creativity, and ultimately it’s very enriching to filter and process this so you can apply the resulting knowledge to your own practice.

Keeping a positive attitude and having patience is key if you want to make it here

What are the challenges you face as a creative living and working in Barcelona?

The biggest challenge I think is financial. I love this city but it’s not without its shortcomings. If you’re a young creative the biggest challenge is affording Barcelona’s ever-increasing cost of living, since creative jobs are not usually well paid. If you’re a freelancer like me, all the costs associated with running your practice and the way the Spanish system is run are also a big challenge to tackle. 

Not to go too deep into it, but I think it’s worth mentioning that in recent years the political climate in Spain has also shifted quite a lot, especially in Catalonia, the region where Barcelona is located. There’s a very tense relationship between Catalonia and Spain’s central government because of the Catalan government’s pursuit of independence from Spain. On top of that, there’s been cases of censorship from the central state and even criminal persecution of rappers denouncing Spain’s government or the monarchy.

All in all, if you move within creative circles it’s definitely a challenge when you see how their art or creative practice becomes a tool for social movement and outcry, and they get persecuted or their work gets censored. So, separately from the independence issue and whether you support it or not, it’s a question of basic rights of expression, and how the Spanish government’s recent actions show a shift in favor of authoritarianism. I strongly believe this will become a bigger challenge in the coming years.

What would your biggest piece of advice be for young creatives either currently based in, or thinking of moving to, Barcelona?

It’s a lovely city with lovely people yet it’s not without its issues and I believe keeping a positive attitude and having patience is key if you want to make it here. Bottom line, it’s a place where you have to take the good with the bad. I think there’s definitely an added value and a weight to being based in Barcelona. Most of my clients or companies who I have contact with regard it as one of the key global capitals of design and creativity, and that’s definitely a plus to consider.

For me personally, it’s been an 8 year battle of trying to find and establish your own voice amongst all the background noise not just locally, but globally. I truly believe the only advice I feel comfortable giving would be that perseverance and resilience will propel you down the road and to never take anything for granted – you can’t live on promises.

Read More: Working With Friends With No Bad Days.

Michael Wilkin
Posted by
Michael Wilkin
Tags
Share