Based in Jakarta, Indonesia, the taable, a multidisciplinary creative hub run by Axel Oswith and Amanda Kusai has been delivering, since 2014, some of the freshest and most creative still life visuals on Instagram.
Transforming small moments of everyday life into something extraordinary, their humorous, colorful and absurd images have quickly brought the duo into spotlight, landing them an impressive client roster as well as press in publications such as Elle Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, VSCO and Buzzfeed.
Over a very shaky long-distance Skype call between Berlin and Jakarta, the duo shared their passion for photography and the hard work that goes behind each one of their images.
What did you do before launching the taable, and when did you launch?
Before launching the taable, we were keeping ourselves busy with university and doing a bit of freelance project here and there during our free-time. Towards the end of our tertiary studies we collaborated on a project together and saw the potential to take further this collaborative commitment and launched the taable as soon as we graduated on October 2014.
What does the taable stand for?
A table is where people come together and discuss ideas and that’s where inspiration begins, hence the name the taable. The double AA stands for art and aesthetic and as well as the initials of our name Axel and Amanda.
You have an impressive list of clients, do you remember how you got the first one? And how do you keep finding new ones?
The very first work we did was for one of our friends who was starting a Japanese restaurant, he asked us to shoot their menu and it all started from there. Luckily enough, our second client was actually Martha Stewart. They discovered us through one of our friends that worked with them and they asked us to shoot for one of their magazine color pages. That brought some exposure and these days we get also more exposure thanks to Instagram and different features on online magazines and blogs. So right now, luckily, we have a steady stream of clients and don’t have to do much marking to find new ones.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your business?
At the beginning it was hard to prove to clients that we were competent. We were not really comfortable selling ourselves and our services. Because we felt our age and level of experience at the time was perceived too early and made it difficult for us to be perceived as professionals in the industry. When you start out you don’t have much work to show so it’s really hard to prove clients that they can trust you. Another difficulty was setting the right prices. We didn’t know how much we should charge and it took us a while to set the right prices.
What are the three things you learned while starting/running your business?
We learnt the importance of having a balance between the creative and financial aspects of running a business, being flexible and believing in yourself and what you’re capable of.
What was the best business advice you were given and why did it stuck with you?
Sometimes when your resources are limited, your only choice is to work harder, or better you can choose to work smarter.
“Sometimes when your resources are limited, your only choice is to work harder, or better you can choose to work smarter.”
You have a very distinct style of photography and art direction, where do you take your inspiration from?
Our style developed over time, especially through personal projects. We love art, especially the work of Wayne Tebow and Rene Magritte. But inspiration come from everyday life.
Can you walk us through the creative process behind your latest shoot? What was the client brief and how did you come up with the final work?
Our latest shoot was for a local cosmetic brand that is just entering the market. Our creative process begins with a client’s brief where we then elaborated on the idea and share our thoughts together as a team, after the art direction is agreed upon we continue to develop a moodboard. We make sure that our clients can contribute to the moodboard as well. Production comes into play a few weeks before the shoot where we hunt down materials and properties as well as building the set designs needed for the project. For this particular shoot it took us 3 consecutive days and nights to complete the sets. The actual shoot took 2 sessions to complete.
A shoot session for a single project normally takes about a day, but everything from pre-production to post-production that are as equally as important can take up to a month.
What’s on your desk right now?
Laptop, The Alchemist book, a blue notebook, tea and freshly baked banana bread.
Who would you like to work/collaborate with?
We love the work of Sagmeister and Walsh and we also would love to get into the film industry and have the opportunity to art direct a moving picture.
What are your advices for somebody wanting to get into art direction?
Take inspiration and learn from everything there is to learn in this world because art isn’t just about paintings and design or music, it is about history, science, nature, life and everything else in between. Being aware of one’s surroundings helps to have a wider scope of life and .
What are your plans for the future?
We are now working on a book. It will be self-published and we are really excited about it. It’s taking a little longer than what we planned for but it’s just because we are really picky about the quality of the paper and it’s also not easy to find a really good printer around here. But now we are set on one printer and we look forward to publishing our first book.
All images courtesy of the taable