(TATIANA STOUTE & ATLYNN VROLIJK)
“Always stay positive. In moments of crisis there will always be solutions to become a better version of yourself.”
VILAIN & GAI is a creative platform consisting of the duo: Tatiana Stoute & Atlynn Vrolijk offering outstanding and creative services in photography, film, styling and art-directions based in the Netherlands. The emphasis in their work is raising awareness on sex differences within the current visual culture, but always with a wink.
VILAIN & GAI started with two projects: FEMINAZI FRIDAY & MEATBALL MONDAY, in which a wide range of work has been made. With this, VILAIN & GAI wants to make a social and social statement in a subversive way about the equal treatment between men and women.
Thank you for joining us for this interview.
You’re welcome. Thank you for having us.
Please introduce yourselves to our readers.
We are Vilain & Gai, Tatiana Stoute (32) and Atlynn Vrolijk (35) a creative duo, we create images using photography, art-direction and styling. We love quirky, colourful images that make you think “where on earth am I looking at?!” We also like having a message or deeper layer in our work.
Tell us about your education.
We both went to the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. It’s an art school. We were in school together.
What got you interested in photography and art direction?
We both had a fascination for images. Tatiana knew from young age she wanted to do something with fashion and was always obsessed with standing out, thinking out of the box and I guess you can still see that in our photography being “edgy”. Atlynn was always inspired by taking pictures and creating visuals influenced by fashion and styling. Creating something beyond photography that related in making videos and got her interested in art directing and thinking out of the box.
How and where did both of your meet?
We met in art-school. We both started in fashion design, but both switched within a month to “lifestyle & design”, which was more about image making: styling and photography. We became real friends only after 3 years or so. Now , we know each other for 14 years!
Are you a self-taught or did you take any formal training?
We definitely had lessons in photography, concepting and were stimulated creating any form of creative art. But we believe to continue making it creative, you have to keep being inspired and having your own identity as an artist is very important. This is something you have to do yourself and teach yourself.
Who does what? How do you decide the roles amongst you on a project?
Everyone always asks this haha. We pretty much do the same. The one leads maybe more to one part, but we both can do everything. Atlynn is very good at organizing everything, planning, keeping everything sane. She has an extra great eye for perspective, always on the look for inspiration and is good in making decisions on that final picture.
Tatiana is very conceptual and makes moodboards the most. She’s good at editing. finetuning lightning on set and creating a visual story.
What are you favourite gadgets to use?
We work a lot with improvising. So it changes every time. But things we can’t go withour: We probably use the beautydish the most. We can’t go without a tripod and using a colour filter on the lamp is a nice option now and then. We always have some fabrics that we can use as backdrop. Big wooden squares are super handy for whatever.
I see most of your work is artistic and studio based. Do you also do outdoors?
Yes we also shoot outdoors. Guess it’s easy to shoot in the studio, cause all your equipment is there. But for sure we definitely also shoot outside. We also produce videoclips for artists this is mostly on locations. But yeah now the weather is good, we’re probably going to shoot outside more and more!
Is most of your work for clients or do you also do some experimental work?
We also make non-commissioned work. We actually started that way. We felt it was very important to make work about sexualizing men. Because in the western image culture mainly women get sexualized. So when all of a sudden men are being sexualized by women with a funny touch to it, it was very different and made people curious. We love making experimental work.
Thank you for your interest in our work! We are honored to show our work in this magazine and hope that we can inspire readers of CP magazine.
Where do you take the inspiration for your work?
From everywhere. From pinterest, instagram, but it can also be something you see outside, a conservation you have or some clothing combination. Inspiration is amazing.
What is your process of completing a piece from start to finish?
We think of a concept. We make a moodboard. We shop for props. We ask the team we need. (Make up artist / model / videographer / assistant. We setup the set (lamps / background / set dressing), we shoot it; taking pictures or video. Then we make a selection. After that is where the editing comes in. And then it’s ready for the World Wide Web or other places.
How has your professional lives been affected by the pandemic, the ongoing issues with coronavirus?
We actually had to cancel our studio. Due to Covid-19 there are almost no new assignments. Probably because the first thing people or companies cut is in their markeing budgets. So the studio was too expensive, seeing that this is taking more than just a few months now. But it also brings creative new ideas; we started selling prints of unpublished work and that’s going quite well actually. Every set back is also a new oppurtunity!
Which of your work are you most proud of and why?
Our meatballs. The sexualizing men series. Axel on the toilet is a personal favourite. Ferry in front of the pink limousine also. Loran with Barbie and barbells is also fun! They capture being sexualized by women and have some humor.
What’s it like where you are?
We live in the Netherlands and at the moment we are not in lockdown modus, we have a policy of 1.5 meter distance and in public transport you have to wear a face mask. We were never in a complete lockdown. Our government called it an “intelligent lockdown” where the citizens had their own responsibility of taking precautions. There were definitely also a lot of restrictions though and still are. No more than 30 people in restaurants. They even want to push a law now about these restrictions but we hope it will get refused because it’s against our fundamental rights. Strange time we live in isn’t it?
What does an average day look like for you under lockdown?
We meet at our photo-studio, not in public. Or we work at home. When we make concepts or retouch our photos we do that at our own place at home. In the beginning we didn’t have any work. So we started to create artistic free work for ourselves, not for clients. It was a good thing that we had the opportunity to finally make work. Before Covid-19, we didn’t get to do that as we wanted as we had been too occupied with commercial projects.
How are you dealing with this sudden change in lifestyle?
It was a slap in the face. All of a sudden there was no work in our sector. A lot of shoots were cancelled or postponed. It’s still unsure how long this situation in our work field will continue to stay like this.
What are the important lessons you have learned during this time?
Always stay positive. In moments of crisis there will always be solutions to become a better version of yourself. We make the best of it and started selling online our unpublished work for afordable prices, so that we still have some income out of our business and had still something on our hands. Try to make the best out of every bad situation and try to see it as an oppurtunity instead of just a setback.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your life and/or career?
We set new goals for the future on how to sell more photographic prints, discussing on starting an online shop for it. But also building on a bigger platform with new project that are our own concept. [CutKlub] This wil connect new clients to our bisnes and will see our vision. We have topics like; female empowerment, gender equality, social topics and more.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing?
That there is a lot of time for yourself and room and space to make art as an artist and not per se just for a client. Also that there are no restrictions or limitations and that we can produce whatever we want for whoever we want.
Did you develop any new interest or hobby or learned a new skill during this time?
No not really. Maybe, how to do a zoom call? Hahha. Also tried knitting for just 5 minutes.
What income-producing work have you lost due to the pandemic?
All big productions we had the first 3 months were either cancelled or postponed.
What’s your favourite music/songs for the moment?
Masego – Tadow
Young T feat. Headie One – Don’t rush
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation?
Things will be better, stay close to people you love. Even if you cannot have physical contact think about them and help each other if you can in any way.
What 3 things could you not live without under lockdown?
Family and loved ones, phone, making art.
What are you missing most about the outside world?
Outside dinners, picnics and bbqs with family and friends. Social events at work. Also, really want to go clubbing or to a festival, but probably because it’s out of option now.
What are you most looking forward to doing once the lockdown is over?
We are already out of the strict lockdown so basicly we can do most of the things we did before. But more restricted and things are not as before.
How do you think life will be after Covid-19?
More aware of what we take for granted before the pandemic started. It will be more regulated and people will respect their space more. There will probably still be more regards for hygiene and looking after each other. We hope people will nurture our nature and planet more. Maybe we we will also be more aware of how people were living a hasty life and listen more to their needs instead of FOMO (fear of missing out).