We had scheduled an interview for 9 am and 9am turned to 12 pm, which then became a super casual convo delving well into the night. From uni gossip, boy banter, to hashtag merky, what’s sure, is that Eseosa Ohen and Joe Shaw radiate positive vibes.
Whilst in their second year of study at Central Saint Martins, the pair were introduced to the soul singer, Collard. With a voice like butter and and inconspicuous charm, the three of them bonded over everything music and girls. Shortly after they went from designing album covers to skipping class to shoot music videos. As Collard’s music career soared he made an effort to trust all of his creative and artistic control in the hands of two unassuming uni mates- propelling SOB to new, unimaginable heights. This is a tale of how drinks between friends turned out to be the most rewarding of holy trinities.
Tell me a bit about how you came to be SOB. I know that you guys met at uni but when did you start collaborating?
Eseosa: We started collaborating in our first year of our graphics course. There was a brief that encouraged working with someone else and we chose to do it together. It wasn’t the type of work that we were really interested in but it went really well and we kept working together whenever we got the opportunity.
Joe: Yeah the project was so drastically different from our personal interests that I think we both learnt a lot more about ourselves and each other from doing something out of our comfort zone. If uni taught us anything it showed us a lot of avenues that we knew we didn’t want to pursue, it constantly fuelled a deeper conversation between us about our interests and made us appreciate working together more.
Eseosa: We started working on projects outside of uni as well as friends from other courses. When it was coming up to graduating we knew what we wanted to do. We were lucky enough to be able to go and work together and learn from one of the best creative directors at Modern Matter straight after graduating.
Joe: It was definitely working for Olu [Odukoya] at modern matter that taught us its important to be yourself and make work that you love as opposed to worrying about grading criteria or what people would think.
Eseosa: Things started to pick up for us, and our friend Collard that same summer so decided to make things a little more formal
How would you describe your individual artistic styles? Of course it’s difficult conveying two opposing techniques and interests creatively, so I wonder how you began figuring out that the two of you could bring a lot to a singular project?
Joe: I wouldn’t say we really have opposing interests. We definitely share a lot of interests and also have our own separate ones. It definitely helps having two perspectives when developing an idea, what tends to happen is, if one of us has a weak idea, it’s easy spot and leave it early on. whereas a good idea, can be built upon quickly- suddenly that small idea is taken to a whole different level. We’re both aware of our differences culturally. It helps when developing mood boards because we suddenly have a lot of references that don’t always seem to be directly related, but can be imagined as extensions of the same world.
Eseosa: We over analyse everything! our own work and the work done by others then just talk about improving and building on ideas, what could be done differently, how to draw attention to things without losing our authenticity.
Where do you draw Inspiration?
Joe: Inspiration for us comes from a lot of films and sometimes just strange books we find in charity shops
Eseosa: Lucky for us when we started working at Modern Matter our boss [Olu Odukoya] was doing a video campaign for Balenciaga. It was inspiring to see someone considered to be a great graphic designer and art director making moving image pieces similar to the things that inspired us growing up. He was making the work we wanted to make and gave us the confidence to pursue it ourselves. For a long time we were just wondering “how do we get into this world?” and he pushed us. His advice and the way he made us work was so different to what what we were being told at art school. He changed our approach to things and made us feel like artists again instead of designers or art directors. Realising that there isn’t a medium that is more important than another really helped us doing graphics and directing.
What’s next for the two of you? Is it just music or will you branch out?
Eseosa: We’ve been quite fortunate to be selective of the projects we work on, but we’re really open to working on all sorts of things. We started making a book as soon as we graduated. It features some of London’s most promising painters, stylists, architects, writers and designers. We’ve been so busy with the music stuff, I think its time we get back to that. In terms of directing I think we’ll continue to do music videos and in time go back to more fashion related projects.
What’s one word you would use to describe one another?
Eseosa: Oh wow [laughs]
Joe: Go on, after you. One word.
Eseosa: humorous… no, merky. Can you go with merky please? In all seriousness, he’s diligent.
Joe: one word to describe Sosa would be, CSM…
[ All laugh]
Back and forth they went on throwing shade and a few low blows, but, what’s important is that Joe Shaw and Eseosa Ohen, two boys with very different upbringings, brought together through a love of design are set to be one of the biggest names in the creative industry. Just watch.