Swedish Creative Agency Snask: You Have To Make Uncomfortable Decisions To Achieve Good Design

Winston Churchill once said, ‘You have enemies? Good. That means you stood for something some time in your life.

Stockholm-based creative agency Snask considers it their duty to break with tradition and allow their unconventional, playfully philosophical approach to influence the cultural landscape.

Creative director and founder Fredrik Öst explains the agency’s “Make Enemies to Gain Fans” branding philosophy:

“Winston Churchill once said, ‘You have enemies? Good. That means you stood for something some time in your life.’ We believe that if you stand up for your own beliefs you will get enemies but you will also get millions of fans, real fans that care about your brand and want to be involved. We want the people we work with to be real; we want them to be honest; we want them to make a stand and be assertive.”

Branding for Kaibosh Eyewear Store. Photo: Snask.

Creating Respect and Understanding, One Project at a Time

Snask lives what it preaches, taking on projects that challenge the limits of traditional design and address deep-seated cultural issues such as sexism and gender inequality. To them, pushing boundaries and taking chances—and making uncomfortable decisions—is about a willingness to change, to “create a better world by creating respect and understanding.” This approach has proven effective, and Snask has not only become well respected in the design world, with invitations to speak at conferences around the globe (with its house band, Väg, coming along to add a party-like atmosphere), as well as at companies and universities such as Google, Dropbox and Stanford. but has attracted attention from other areas as well.

“People who necessarily don’t work in our industry have been attracted to our boldness and our approach by not being afraid of saying what we think and getting involved in projects that we think are important.”

Snask’s core production team is small, but personnel is project dependent, with anywhere from three to 40 people coming in to work on a project. True to its core philosophy, emphasizing strength and individuality, the Snask work environment encourages employees to live full lives:

“We don’t want people to work overtime because we think it’s important that you have a life outside of this work. If you don’t have a life outside your job, it’s hard to keep developing as a human being. We also want the company to be a vehicle to enjoy life, so we strive to use our time here to have fun. It’s like a double tenure.”

Branding campaign for North Korea. Photo: Snask and Asta Ostrovskaja. More on www.love-is-korea.com

Stretching Software Boundaries with Larger-than-Life Designs

Öst sees strong links between sketching out ideas and how Snask uses software, where experimentation allows them to get the most out of a concept. He describes the synergy between their physical, hands-on work and their use of software to achieve a design goal:

“We don’t really have a specific routine, but we use Adobe Creative Cloud in every part of the creative process somehow. We also use our hands or other ‘tools,’ like pens and paper. For example, in 2014 we designed the poster for the Malmö Festival. Instead of using 3D software, we built it for real, 16 meters by 12 meters—a huge installation! We laid it out and photographed it from a crane 30 meters up. Then we imported it into Photoshop, added after effects, and printed the photo to advertise the festival. Three months later at the event, the whole poster was an area where people could climb and walk around.”

A beer for the shower. Photo: Snask.

Building the World (and Career) You Want

What with revolutionary ideas like their Shower Beer causing a media storm (even Tom Hanks is a fan, which has helped this quirky product to be developed on a larger scale), Öst encourages younger designers to think and work independently:

“The design world was built by conservative old men, where they want you to start very low and move upward. A group of people like us would never be able to become successful this way. When we decided to start our company, people told us you need 10 years of experience to do this, but we said, ‘Ten years of whose experience? Based on old men’s experience!?’ Today, you can create your own future. Behance is turning everything upside down, and some of the biggest stars in graphic design are becoming big online instead of by following that tired old path.”

You can follow Snask on Facebook, Vimeo, Instagram, and of course check out their work on Behance, not only to keep up with their new projects but to find inspiration for your own creative identity. As Fredrik advises:

“The important thing is to brand yourself and make sure you’re present online in different forums. That’s where things are happening. You can go online and upload a portfolio on a forum, meaning people will judge you from your work not from your gender, ethnicity, geography, age, or anything else. It’s much more fulfilling than the old way and you have more chances for success.”

Creative Director Fredrik Öst from Snask.