When Projection Mapping And Sign Writing Collide

Studio Collaboration /// Projection Mapping With MOLU Designs

Observatory teamed up again for a cool, creative collaboration with MOLU Designs -typography, murals and sign painting. We interviewed Soumya, owner and artist, to get a backstory on her work and married our  Projection Map skills with one of her paintings.

OBSERVATORY-  Soumya, tell me about your background, how did you get into this career?  

MOLU- I started as a trained architect but made a major career change in 2014. I realised it’s not what I really wanted to do. I’ve also been fascinated with typography and wanted to get into it. I just kept feeling, I’m not really where my heart is. You always condition yourself to think it’s what you’re going to do, but it doesn’t really feel right. I felt guilty about starting all over again.

OBSERVATORY- I’m sure it was worth it when you made the transition- how did that go for you?

MOLU – I felt so much more relieved when I decided to move away from it and to follow my heart. I started out freelancing with a few different outfits in sign writing, with collectives, where they married typography with designs.

A lot of the learning was taking on what they do. I didn’t want to be a traditional sign writer. I had different tools and techniques from my  architectural background. I always wanted to get into the mural side of things. A lot of my work is currently on a smaller scale, with signage. My clients tend to be- pop up events, market store holders, small businesses, doing bespoke signages.

PROJECTION MAPPING COLLABORATION IN A PANDEMIC WORLD

OBSERVATORY:  How has lockdown affected things?

MOLU-  I’ve been playing around a lot. I’m using lockdown to do mini murals. I’ve worked on big scale murals with other people, just not on my own. This is when Ben inquired about doing a collaboration and it sounded really exciting.

OBSERVATORY- Tell me more about Murals and where you plan to go with that.

MOLU- Murals is really where the business has been looking to go! It’s been on the to-do list for ages, but the right moment was never there. I was always on the scout for walls to paint, and trying to get connections.

The Mural created for the collaboration with Ben at Observatory came from social media purposes and a project for a charity organisation called ‘Choose Love’ through The Secret Seven. In my head, I was thinking about bringing the walls to me, as an opportunity to use this. So I used a mobile wall, which Craft Central was really good for this. The Mobile wall was constructed for client work, and then the current wall for Ben’s collaboration, I reused the board as a mobile canvas. The current piece is my self initiated work.

A SIGNWRITING DESIGN FOR A GOOD CAUSE

OBSERVATORY- I love that you did work for a charity organisation. What exactly is The Secret Seven”?  And what was the “Choose Love” campaign about?

MOLU – ‘The Secret Seven’ is where designers and associations submit designs for a record cover, they choose a cover and then it gets auctioned off.

They have an annual event where they invite designers/illustrators/artists to create artwork for their chosen 7 tracks. Their last event where 700 unique records were exhibited in London before being auctioned for the CHOOSE LOVE Humanitarian Charity. The catch behind this is that buyers don’t know who created the artwork or even which song it’s for, until they have parted with their cash. They sold all 700 raising £134,000!

“Choose Love” was part of it and they needed some content. They reached out afterwards to use the slogan, “love without borders” and wanted me to create this and put my take on it, to promote their online shop. I made Social Media content for them in the form of a mural. This is what kickstarted the whole mural canvas now, which we now used for the collaboration.

PROJECTION MAPPING DESIGN INSPIRATION

OBSERVATORY – I asked Ben his story behind wanting to projection map onto one of your pieces…

BEN (at Observatory) – She painted a lovely piece, I saw it in the office building and asked Margot @Craft Central about it. I was inspired to project on that, so was introduced to Soumya by email.

I’ve always had a personal art crush on Typography and she comes from an architectural background, so her approach is measuring angles, structures, etc. We chatted about Typography books, and so I was attracted to her work.

The piece she created on the mobile wall seemed really suitable for projection mapping and at Craft Central as it is a big open space that is easy to work with.

I started animating the type in the morning and then in the evening, I set the projector up to play around with mapping designs onto it.

Soumya has done things like Mock-up buildings for typography. So I feel like we can do projection mapping with things like that at night time for future projects with clients.

OBSERVATORY-  Where did you grow up and did this have any influence on your work?

MOLU – I’m quite nomadic. I grew up in India, then lived in the Middle East and then came to the UK. I was in Scotland for awhile and then moved to London. I’m British now, but all a bit of a jump. All this time, I hadn’t necessarily given up on architecture, and my husband is an architect, so it’s still very present in the background of everything. Although, I didn’t want to be a graphic designer…Murals and sign writing were always subconsciously in my head.

In India there is lots of sign writing and back then, growing up, it was massive! There are 2 places that sign writing had massive influences- India and America because advertising back in the day, was all beautifully hand painted and then everything moved into digital, which killed off the sign writing industry. What’s beautiful now is that there’s a massive revival with sign writing! It’s really nice and I’m part of that revival!  It’s coming back and people are appreciating it more and more.

OBSERVATORY- Who is your Mural dream client? 

MOLU- Anything large scale murals – I want to be able to walk in a city like London, and see street artists, they are quite big now.  Just to be able to walk past something, and say “ok there’s my piece!” Usually my projects have been shop front and more permanent, more service based.

I’m trying to move into the artistic side of things though.

In November we launched a townwide projection mapping project across 5 historic buildings to raise awareness on the subject of global warming.

“Drawdown” highlights ways to reverse the effects of climate change, and is based on the scientific research from Project Drawdown, a comprehensive plan to reverse global warming, developed by an international coalition of leading researchers, scientists and policymakers. Their report ranks the top 100 ways to reverse climate change, with #1 being the most effective in sequestering carbon from the environment.

The work screened from Oct 25th to Nov 04th and will screen again from 01 – 12 Nov 2021 as part of COP26 in Glasgow. 

COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE – A TEAM EFFORT

This project was developed in Partnership with Collusion and supported by the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, Arts Council England, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Discover King’s Lynn BID, Norfolk County Council and the Audrey Muriel Stratford Trust.

Filmed by Gavin Toomey /// Photos by Matthew Usher.

More about this project can be found on our partner’s website here 

More about Project Drawdown, the scientific research group, can be found here

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Observatory Creative Ltd.
Studio 225, Craft Central
The Forge, 397 Westferry Road, E14 3AE