Interviewed in April of 2014
Hometown: (J) Beverly, MA
& (Kellie) Dunedin, FL
Current town: Beverly, MA
Website: Click Here
Email: Click Here
1.) First off, why don't you guys tell our readers a little about who actually is ‘North of Boston Studios’ and a quick rundown of the type of work you do.
North of Boston Studios is a full service design/production studio that caters to the film and television industry. We create themed immersive environments, fabricate and install trade show booths and produce marketing props worldwide. We are a licensed construction company with unrestricted residential and commercial capabilities. No BS is my wife Kell and I and we’ve been making stuff and making out for like 16 years now.
2.) While most of our featured artists consist of painters, illustrators, designers, photographers and sculptors... How would you categorize what the two of you do when at times it can encapsulate all of the above and more?
(i.e; Fabricators? Installers? Magicians?)
I think simply put NoBS is a business that we started that has never seen any one medium as being what we would specialize in so we embrace them all, thru communication and design we ultimately are able to fabricate our clients ideas which is an awesome privilege.
3.) So give us a run down of a typical day at the shop. What actually passes for "work" around here?
For me walking into our shop is like walking into a television set were the most creative people I could ever hope to work with are constantly flipping the channels on me. We never know what to expect and thats fun for us. One Day we are building a huge sculpture for the Vice President and the next day we are building skateboard ramps for Vans. Some days we might be installing a dog door on a really great families house so there new puppy doesn’t pee on the rug and the next day we are delivering props to a Denzel Washington movie. I never know what the next week will hold and I doubt NoBS will ever have a typical day but we do have a ton of fun, The phone rings off the hook, tunes are cranked and coffee is consumed. I think thats the only constant.
4.) Basic materials like brushes, cans of paint, masking tape and a good X-acto knife are probably found in your studio/shop just like most traditional artists....But for prop building, set design and custom in-store displays....An entirely different set of materials are required and need to be tracked down.
What type of avenues or resources do the two of you use to get started material-wise on such unique projects?? (i.e: Flea markets? Craigslist? Ebay?)
We have an awesome local vendor list that we have built relationships with over the years of mostly family owned supply houses that can get us anything we need from a giant block of carving foam to a 24 foot steel beam usually next day.
5.) From custom skate ramps, store front signage, to the creative vision, installation & execution of upscale restaurant design …. It would be an understatement to say the two of you are always challenging yourself creatively. With such varied problem solving from client to client, are there ever projects too big or perhaps maybe even too small to take on?
Hmmmm the easy answer is probably yes we usually don’t do that from time to time.
6.) You've even found yourself collaborating within a gallery space on some killer projects. Can you tell us a little about your "artist series?"
We’re really digging on those glowing skulls.
Yeah I mean Kell and I have been fabricating our own ideas since we met so its definitely in our blood to create our own personal work and I think the natural progression of making weird stuff and putting it out in the world is eventually someone is going to want you to make weird stuff for them, especially if those people see that you love what you're doing and it comes from a good place. Those Skulls were a project artist Jacob Bannon was kind enough to include us in and we are super proud of them. We have fabricated work in Matthew Barney’s studio, produced work for Art Basel, collaborated with painter Kehinde Wiley, and helped fabricate and send a massive 2 ton sculpture to Sweden for artist Keith Edmier. It's all fun and any time an artist trusts us to help them fabricate their vision it's a complete honor.
7.) You guys have recently made a serious upgrade in moving into a new production space in downtown Beverly, MA. Word is you can fit a minor league baseball park inside of the new digs. Fact, fiction or pretty much accurate?
The volume of our new space is literally 60 times larger than our old space that we worked out of for 5 years so yeah it feels huge to us but the long and short of it is our old spot was so freaking small that we feel lucky we were even able to produce large scale projects out of it. We maxed out every square inch of it and became as efficient as possible within the space we had. I remember one time we were building a bunch of trade show conference style pieces for Converse and everything was like 12’ tall and massive. The old shop had 7’ ceilings, it was in the middle of the woods, it was dumping down rain and we had this insane deadline so we bought like six massive tarps climbed all the trees around our shop tied the tarps to the trees with ropes and created this huge weird tent city that we worked under for two rainy ass days. When the big wigs and creative heads at converse came to do a shop visit and progress review at our make shift shanty town DIY Ewok village looking work space they had this look on their faces like they had just hacked thru the amazon with machetes for ten days only to discover a new unknown tribe of primitive humans. When they looked into our eyes we knew they feared for there lives but we decided not to boil them alive in gigantic cauldrons and we just reviewed the work with them and sent them on there way. We are treating the new space the same way.
8.) Any medium or product that is your secret weapon when you’re working? Even down to the brand name. Anything unexpected you use or tend to rely on that the common viewer would never guess? We’re looking for some serious industry secrets here. Give us the goods.
Smooth On is a brand that every creative person should spend some time investigating. Also when it comes to click out razor knives the cheaper the better. Theres nothing like carving with a blade that is so cheap and rubbery that you could almost tie it in a knot. NoBS industry standard is never pay more than 99 cents for a razor knife and also invest in a brush spinner for cleaning paint brushes. Good Brushes cost way to much money so take care of those suckers!
9.) Any music while you’re working in the shop? - Anything you’re listening to now for motivation?
Kell and I write and perform all of the music played at our shop.
10.) The current client list for NoBS studios already has everyones head spinning at Tryptic Press Headquarters with names including Puma, Sony Pictures, Converse, Universal Films, & Vans. Anyone that’s at the top of your list for future collaborations? Total dream client/project stuff here. GO.
We want to collaborate with the next Quentin Tarantino, Karen O, Pee Wee Herman or Lemmy Kilmister, There is some young person out there who is dreaming up something that is going to blow all of our minds. I hope NoBS finds ourselves in their path and can help them fabricate the things they are sketching up in they’re heads right now. Also as a side project I'd like to open up a donut shop with Quentin Tarantino, Karen O, Pee Wee, Herman, and Lemmy Kilmister.
11.) Any artist past or present that has had an undeniable influence on the type of work you find yourselves producing??
Was there one person(or group?) that you both found helped to inspire what your doing today?
Kell had an uncle who gave her a Joy Division tape when she was 10 and I had a cousin who gave me a Ramones tape when I was 8. Those guys and those artists changed our lives forever. Thats when I realized you could make stuff, weird stuff, and it was ok infact it was like a secret society of weirdos that made you feel a part of something and almost normal. Skateboarding helped too
12.) Give us an artist killing it out there right now that you think our readers should know more about & why?
Anything goes. Who should we shine a bright spotlight on in volume 3 of Chroma?
I think of any one expressing themselves in there life path as an artist so in no particular order I'll just say that Joe Griffith of Experimental Skeleton in Tampa has and always will better his community thru his love and promotion of local and globally recognized artists, George and Katherine of Mingo Gallery are beating that same drum up here in Bevtown by bringing incredible artists to our community, Janelle Bannon of Diamonds & Rust and Paul Niski of Good are the two greatest retail shop owners of our time, Telly Konstantanitas of Tampa and Josh McAlear of Boston are my two favorite tattoo artists right now, Erick Thomas of erickthomasworks.com and Chris Coulon Of Night Watch Zine are the two raddest illustrators I've ever met, Big J The Barber of Mowers is a local legend that has taken wig trimming in Massachusetts to the next level, Matt Nutter, is always pushing the envelope and he inspired the NoBS name with his old scooter gang North of Boston Scooters.
Steve Mull and Matt Hensley are with out a doubt the best skateboarders I have ever met, Gwar was the best live show on earth but now Bob Log III is and Mathew Barney, MF Doom, Wes Anderson, Haig Demarjian, Neckface, Kym O'Donnell, and Aiweiwei are doing a great job getting their creative careers going.
13.) Taking a step back, you guys have a killer 'hot-rod' work truck, a shop with a gigantic faux-anchor overlooking a skate ramp and you've recently made custom props for movies starring Jeff Bridges & Ryan Reynolds.....(let me know if I got any of that wrong.) It seems pretty unfair how cool you guys are. Do the two of you have access to some kind of cheat code? It would be hard to imagine another level of cool being unlocked… but go ahead… tell us what’s next for North of Boston Studios.
Ha ha you guys are too sweet. Thanks for all of your kind words. The Jeff Bridges Ryan Reynolds Film I did wasn't actually a NoBS job, infact NoBS was inspired by that job. We actually put our feelers out in an effort to land movie work when Wes Anderson was in Rhode Island Filming "Moon Rise Kingdom" we didn't get a piece of that film but our friend Ashley Brummet passed our name along to scenic charge Doug Cluff, he hired me for the Jeff Bridges movie as an over hire and helped me join the scenic artist union...The rest was history. So we don't have some "up down up down left right left right B A start" Contra style cheat code but... I will tell you that our business has grown because we look at every day as an opportunity to be inspired and have fun. To us money is just the bi-product of a great creative career so we follow our hearts, trust our guts, surround ourselves with incredible people, and choose our projects based on how proud of them we will be when they are finished so we'd like to send a huge thanks to all of our friends who have helped us on our path and also to all of our incredible clients who have trusted us with their wild projects over the years.
14.) Extra credit double bonus question:
With only two people running the show at NoBStudios… that leaves all company decisions at a 1/1 vote if you have two different opinions on a job. How’s this work? Flip a coin? Foot race? Arm wrestle? Drinking contest like in Raiders of the Lost Ark?
We just trust each other and still enjoy seeing what each other have to bring to the table.