Responses by Ilenia Notarangelo, partner/creative director, illo
Background: With the help of Yes&, this project was created for the Akima Companies’s annual conference, and aims to showcase the enduring culture, values and world of the Iñupiat people, the native inhabitants of northwest Alaska who are reunited as shareholders of these companies. Carrying their ancestral heritage into modern day times, Akima takes the set of values that have guided the Iñupiat people throughout history and applies it to a contemporary, earnest approach to business. The target audience is represented by the Iñupiat people themselves, and the shareholders who can see their history coming alive in motion design.
Reasoning: The creative focus was on conveying the feeling of a story being told, so we approached this in a different style from our usual bold, minimalistic aesthetic. We mixed warm, neutral shades with an Illo-style touch of pink and yellow for highlighting details, and we counterbalanced realistic elements with geometric shapes. We dove deep into character design, focusing on the characters’ individual traits and simplified the movement and the clothes, paying special attention to the landscapes as well.
Challenges: Time. We only had three weeks to work on this project, so we had to choose our creative priorities wisely. Stepping out of our comfort zone in terms of style was also a challenge, as we had to go into a lot more detail with the character design and also work with a neutral color palette. We had to come up with design solutions that befitted both the story and our signature style, without compromising either of them.
Favorite details: We enjoyed exploring the many characters we had to design for this project. We normally have a more minimalistic approach, but for this particular video, we felt that we had to focus on the individuality of each character, creating strong features to bring each character to life. This essential, distinctive style emerged after careful research, merging powerful facial expressions with the Iñupiat compelling narrative.
Visual influences: The harsh environment is a defining part of the Iñupiat people’s lifestyle, so we took our cues from nature and came up with a muted, earthy palette with icy hints and handmade textures to recreate the landscapes that hold an important role in the lives and the culture of the Northwestern Alaska natives. We played with distance and scale to emulate the rough surroundings and emphasize the solitude and force behind the Iñupiat. For example, the animals and characters look small compared to the vastness of the northern scenery.
Specific demands: We needed to create the video starting from a voice, and not from a structured script. We had an audio interview of an old Iñupiat member telling the story of his people, reminiscing of old times and echoing the core values of the NANA natives. So, it was his flow, rhythm and storytelling that guided us throughout the creative process, setting the tone for a three minute-long video.