Interview: Ilka & Franz

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Who are Ilka and Franz? Can you tell us what you’re creating together?
Franz: We are a German/ Austrian photography and art direction duo based in London, UK. We like colour, clean lines and compositions, simplicity and funny weirdness and that’s what we try to create whenever possible and in both our portraiture and still life work.

One of you is from Austria and the other from Germany. How did you come together in London?
Ilka: We met rather unexcitingly at a friend’s party in London’s East End. Franz had just arrived in London to work as a photographers’ assistant. Pretty soon after that he helped me with a little project I had planned and it turned out we quite liked working together so a few more collaborations followed until we made “Ilka & Franz – the duo” official in 2014.

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How do you describe your “quirky” and “humorous” style?
Ilka: We try not to pigeonhole ourselves too much. There are certain things that we like and those aspects keep reappearing and playing a role in our work but what we do also always evolves. The humor and slight weirdness is just us. We like to giggle when we come up with concepts and shot lists.

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When we look at what you do, it’s not just about the knowledge of technics of photography rather you probably must know all about the world trends, culture, art so on. Do you agree with this thought?
Ilka: I agree that our work is a lot more than photography alone. We like to come up with image concepts and ideas and do a lot of art direction. It’s much more about our creative vision than about technicalities. Those are important too of course but they are just the means to creating what we had in mind. About trends I’m not sure… There are so many trends that we don’t know much about or even follow. And we are both self-taught so we didn’t do art degrees or anything like that. We like to think that you should create trends rather than follow them. Or even just do your thing, trend or not.

Can you tell how is the idea of being artist “duo” during works… Is there any way to share your responsibilities?
Franz: Actually, on set everything we do is shared. We both shoot, we both direct, we both build stuff and do all the things that need doing and also in the prep phase we work together to develop shoot ideas and shot lists and get organised. Our photography is very precise so each picture gets a lot of attention and we direct and push each other to make it better. Very important for us is retouching. This is where our work really comes to life and also this happens collaboratively.

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What kind of feelings that you want to create on audience?
Franz: I think we would like people to be surprised and maybe a little bewildered even. We like to think that our work is funny but also sensitive at the same time, especially our portraiture. There is so much of the same out there and we hope we are a little different. We also like creating objects that make no sense. So let’s say it is bewilderment and happy smirks we are going for.

How is your relationship with your clients? Do you think that they always figure out your style?
Franz: I have the feeling this has gotten easier with time. As we have gotten more confident in our creative vision, it seems also our clients are more inclined to trusting our judgment.

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Are there any upcoming photography projects that we’ll see soon?
Ilka: Yes, there is a lot! We have had a couple of pretty busy weeks. We just did a magazine cover shoot, just finished a really cool still life commission for a shoe and clothing brand and also just shot a portrait campaign for a gigs and festival company –  this one will be fun and colourful and it will be possible to spot it on the streets of East London in autumn this year. Last but not least, we have made some time for a personal project, which we will shoot later in August. It will be still life based and hopefully people will find it as funny as we imagine it to turn out. Stay tuned! :)

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