In the Studio With — “We don’t believe someone can do their best work without feeling at home in the studio” We meet east London based animation production company Golden Wolf…
This article was published as part of our soft launch in 2016.
Animation production company Golden Wolf work across a variety of different types of projects, ranging from traditional TV ads to animation for events, social media, TV shows, music videos and more. The work is largely focused on youth and sports-related marketing and th biggest clients are Disney, Nike and Cartoon Network/Adult Swim. We meet founder and creative director Ingi Erlingsson and the team in their east London studio…
Address: Unit 3, Green Mews, 13-19 Bevenden Street
Staff: 18 full time and up to 6 interns and 15 freelancers
Hours: 9am – 6pm
How long have you been in this studio for?
We’ve been here for 5 years. Initially as the motion department of a studio called ilovedust, but later as our own thing.
What is important about the working environment?
When we built the space we wanted to create an environment that inspired our team and somewhere they’d be proud to say they worked. The space we were in before was super dull, so we wanted something that made more of a statement. A nice side effect of this is that clients love spending time in the space.
What was it about this space that made it the right place to come and work?
We’d been looking for places in the Shoreditch triangle and hadn’t really considered anything further afield. But when we found the studio it just felt right. It’s a new build, with a bunch of eco-friendly features, meaning that we haven’t had to use the heating at all in the five years we’ve been here. It’s also a super cool looking building to look at.
What’s the best thing about the studio?
Probably the location. It’s only 5 minutes out of central Shoreditch, but it has a really relaxed vibe to it.
How would you talk about the studio culture?
Having a close-knit family environment has always been really important to us. We don’t believe someone can do their best work without feeling at home in the studio. So we try to socialise together often, but outside of that we do an annual studio trip (last year was Miami and Las Vegas the year before that), throw a couple of big parties a year and we have a thing called “organised fun” where we do something out of the studio one night a month, usually something like a BBQ or go-karting.
What do you look for when recruiting and having people come into the studio?
Aside from the obvious, talent, we look for people that know to leave their ego at home and want to throw themselves head-first into being a part of the studio culture. It’s also really important for us to hire people that we can get on with (and can get on with us), as we have to spend so much time together.
Are there any studio projects or self initiated things?
We usually have a couple of projects on the back burner that we focus on between paid jobs and sometimes we make stuff specifically for our social media. These are a great chance to try out new styles and ideas without the pressure of a looming deadline. We also use these as opportunities to integrate new technologies into our work, most recently working on VR content and 360 degree videos.
Photography by Jake Green
Ingi Erlingsson, Co-Founder and Creative director
I usually drive to work, which can take anything from 20-45 minutes depending on traffic, which is pretty unforgiving in central London! I usually pick up breakfast and a coffee on my way in, getting into the office around 8.45, which a little before everyone else gets here and gives me a chance to catch up on overnight emails and briefs. The day can vary a lot, but it’s usually a combination of meetings to catch up on the progress of our projects, replying to emails and working on creative for pitches. I also run the social media accounts for the studio, which can take a bit of time to do, but it’s a really satisfying aspect of the work as I’m obsessed with statistics and I like finding patterns and correlations in the things that people are reacting to online. I usually leave the studio around 7 or 8, depending on how much we have on, with the exception of Fridays when we all head down the pub.
Stefan Falconer, Motion Graphics Designer
The journey into the studio takes me just over an hour – a bit of a slog during rush hours, but a good opportunity to grab a coffee, thumb through a book, and generally wake myself up. Once I get to the studio, first thing first is music. The studio really thrives on some background noise, and we all get to take turns at putting on our favourite playlists - so if the speakers are free I make sure to fill the studio with some music. Once I’m settled I generally get stuck into whatever it is I’m working on (interrupted by the occasional tea round and infinite selection of biscuits…). My role as motion graphics designer requires a good mix of hands on work, and also overseeing other projects that I’m not directly involved with, so quick, sporadic catchups are not uncommon amongst the team (and not always quick), to check in on current projects, deadlines, or client calls.
I try to keep lunch-time flexible and fit it around what I’m working on, this way I won’t disrupt the flow of work. If I haven’t prepared anything for lunch, I’ll check in on the others to see what they’re doing. There’s almost always a lunch time excursion and a good opportunity stretch the legs - If not, I’ll make a conscious effort to go out and get a coffee. The afternoons can fly by pretty quickly - but it’s not uncommon to hang back to tie up a few loose ends or get carried away with a project. We work in an environment where this is easy to do, so staying for an extra hour or so is part of the camaraderie. If it’s Friday we’ll swap this for heading to the pub and catching up with familiar faces. Part of the charm of working where we do means we occasionally bump into neighbouring animation studios and catchup with them.
Dotti Sinnot, Producer
I try not to look at my email before I’ve had my first cup of coffee, but depending on our current projects I might need to be available as soon as I wake up. Since we work with a lot of international clients, our hours need to be flexible. After I cycle into work & change into something more professional than padded shorts, I quickly catch up on any client emails or messages from the team. Then I make sure all my artists are set up with work for the rest of the day and that they know about any upcoming deadlines.
On Mondays we have a production meeting with the other producers and Ingi to go over work in progress and anything new coming in. I’ll review each of my projects and make sure my budgets and staffing are all up to date. I usually meet my husband for lunch since he works in the neighbourhood. After a coffee top up, I’ll check in with the team to see how progress is developing. Sometimes this will mean a mad rush to bring in more freelancers, dealing with technical issues or otherwise putting out fires. I’ll follow up with clients with updates or to see about new projects. The end of the day sees me putting together decks, uploading files for delivery and making sure we’re all set up for tomorrow. When it’s busy, I’ll usually leave work around 19:30/20:00 and keep an eye on things from home. On quiet days I can leave closer to 18:00 and have some time to get to the gym.
Mattias Breitholtz, Animator
I exercise before arriving to work in the morning so before getting my hands dirty I take a few minutes to go through animation blogs, feeds, slack groups and mails for feedback or updates on current projects. All while trying to wolf down a way too ambitious portion of oatmeal. Once everyone is settled in we would either discuss the layout for the day on slack or face to face in a quick check-in. Im a 2d animation generalist so I rotate between animation, design and storyboarding until lunch. Either while listening to the banging tunes played in the studio or by listening to ambient music in my own headphones. The latter mostly when writing scripts or pitches, shutting out any other stimulants to really submerge myself. We have a park not too far away from the studio so when the weather allows everyone brings their food and we’ll eat there. If it’s not that nice weather we might go to the pub that has great pizza that’s just a stone’s throw away. The typical afternoon would be working away with sporadic check-ins and WIPs. It’s a great vibe in the studio where casual conversation, figuring things out and 'individual desk-bound work' flows seamlessly. I usually leave the studio between 6.30pm and 7pm, but if there’s tons of stuff to be done as a deadline creeps nearer we might burn the midnight candle and order in some food (might light actual candles).