In the studio, we’re not only inspired by all the siblings in fashion, film, and the arts who seem to have gotten the creative gene – we’re curious to know if it really is inherent? Is creative talent something you’re born with? In the case of the Askill brothers, all three of them have ended up in creative industries, with wild success to boot!
Was it in the water? Perhaps it was illustrious Australia where they grew up (if we see one more image of Bondi on Instagram, we might have to relocate) that aided in their pursuit of creative careers and a move to the hustle and bustle of New York City.
Together, the three brothers make up Askill Projects, a collaborative design collective that makes use of each of their talents. Daniel a filmmaker and artist, is best known recently for his work with Sia (think music videos like Chandelier, where kid-dancer extraordinaire Maddie Ziegler took center stage as the face of the musician ) works closely with his brother Lorin, a director, editor, photographer and artist. While Jordan, is a jewelry designer and sculptor who recently won a British Fashion Award for Emerging Accessory Design.
With so much accomplishment huddled under one surname, we wanted to talk to them … find out if they too think artistic talent runs in the blood, and how they’ve influenced each other in their creative pursuits working together…
Growing up, did you feel an inherent creativity existed within your family?
Yes, both our parents were in the creative fields, our mother studied and practiced art and worked closely with an Australian classical composer and our dad is a musician and composer. We were always exposed to all kinds of music and art and encouraged to explore our creativity.
There are so many forms of creativity – the chances that all three of you would be visual artists, and by that, in the sense that you are all creating tangible artistry, was there a trigger motivating each of you in that direction?
There probably wasn’t one trigger but a mix of things. We all played musical instruments and went to a performing arts high school for music but ended up more more attracted to visual arts. At the time we were in high school visual mediums were feeling more exciting and relevant with the digital world taking off. Jord was always into costumes and fashion and we grew up playing with different kinds of cameras; I think the timing was right to pursue these things seriously.
Who inspired you growing up? Any specific mentors or idols that helped guide you to the aesthetic you’ve created?
It’s always felt like we were inspiring to each other in different ways while growing up. Our parents and the people they worked with closely in the arts and in music had a big effect on us.
Do you have creative differences with each other? How do you handle that?
We all have different creative ideas and that’s a good thing. I think we respect each other creatively and try to bring our strengths together in a complimentary way. Usually projects present a natural hierarchy or there is just a feeling for what is right.
Do you give each other advice and criticism? Is it something that you value more than advice or criticism from others, or less?
We all look to each other for advice and feedback. We get feedback from other people too, but we do wait to see what we are going to get from each other. We have an unspoken set of filters to how we see things so when we ask each other we know that the right things are being considered.
How do you feel about creativity in general, is it something that you’re born with, or is it something that anyone, with practice and dedication can acquire?
Our skills in these creative fields definitely get honed and improved upon with practice, but there is something deeper that everyone might have. You have to work to unlock and understand and harness that.
How have you influenced each others work?
As we have all been involved in visual mediums we have been able to understand each others work. There is an over all aesthetic connection that our work seems to have.
We have been able to use digital and moving imagery in a more sculptural sense and sculptural pieces in a more digital sense. We have been able to blend our practices so the work we work on together can become a unique entity.
You often work together, it seems like its intentional and yet organic, whose idea was it to do the first project together? And, if you have the option, do you prefer working together as a team?
Growing up together and, as a result, being exposed to and influenced by similar things, it just always made sense to work together because there is an innate level of understanding and communication between us that’s not easy to find. Given the chance we always love working with each other and feel really lucky that we can.
There is an innate level of understanding and communication between us that’s not easy to find. Given the chance we always love working with each other and feel really lucky that we can.
Did you try out any other creative outlets like acting, or singing, or writing before focusing on the areas where you are now?
DANIEL : Yes, we all played a lot of music growing up, I released an album when I was 19 but then moved into filmmaking and art…. although I still play piano and bass for my own relaxation.
JORDAN : Yes, I did acting and singing when I was young. Up until I was 14 I was in the Australian Opera’s children chorus, and was in operas directed by Baz Lurhman at the Sydney Opera House. For high school I went to a performing arts school and did a lot of signing and acting, and a lot of floral and ikebana arrangement as well. One of my clearest memories as a child is the three of us being in films that my dad would direct.
LORIN : Never professionally… I grew up playing instruments and still would love to find a way to create music but I’ve been working in moving image and photography since I studied fine arts straight out of high school.
Do you feel creatively more connected to one of your siblings over the other?
JORDAN : I couldn’t say yes. I feel really connected to them both. It feels complete when the three of us are together.
LORIN : I guess Dan and I are literally more connected because we tend to work directly with each other all the time. But Jord influences me in different ways, he has such a unique thought process and whimsical imagination. I feel so lucky that they’ve both forged such different yet equally inspiring paths.
I feel very close to Jordy and Lorin…they almost feel like the yin / yang halves of my own brain.
Is there a project or piece you are most proud of?
DANIEL : The first short film I made WE HAVE DECIDED NOT TO DIE…which Jordy is actually in and designed the costumes for. More recently the music videos I have directed with Sia and the my Great Performers project with the New York Times…both of which Lorin edited.
JORDAN : At the moment I am very much proud of my most recent collection, which came out in November, and is called Interlude: Remember Me. I tried to make pieces that stayed true to my work of seeming sculpture and fine jewelry at the same time, but were also very personal and delicate, which was a bit of a departure. To go along with it we shot an editorial with photographer Michael Hauptman, who I share a studio space with. The same week we released the collection and the images I won my first British Fashion Award, which obviously goes without saying is both validating and humbling at the same time, to receive that vote of confidence from that group of people.
… looking across to Manhattan financial district as the sun was coming up and I realized that we had gotten some pretty amazing stuff… I was proud of what we made.
LORIN : I remember half way through shooting Drop the Game, we were having a bunch of difficulties getting what I wanted, it was 3am, we were in the middle of an industrial area in Red Hook with a small crew and a lot of things seemed to be going wrong. I remember almost being ready to give up. Fast forward we were wrapped and I was being driven home, looking across to Manhattan financial district as the sun was coming up and I realized that we had gotten some pretty amazing stuff. It was the first real thing I had shot since moving to New York and the shoot felt like a baptism by fire. I was proud of what we made.
At the moment I find my creativity as being more morphed with more environmental issues than it used to be, and I really like that. Maybe that is just me growing up.
Do you see your body of work assembling itself when you look back at what you have created?
DANIEL : Yes, I think I can definitely see a kind of language I have been developing when I look at it as whole. There are particular things I am always drawn to…symmetry, minimalism, a certain kind of casting, a relationship to ritualised action and physical movement etc…
JORDAN : Yes, I am sure it all has helped develop my work into what it is today. I see my jewelry and sculpture as a medium for that I am using at the moment. At the moment I find my creativity as being more morphed with more environmental issues than it used to be, and I really like that. Maybe that is just me growing up.
LORIN : I think so a little bit but I also feel like I’m still learning what my work is about as I go and it still seems to be changing which is part of the fun. I think I’m interested in and influenced by too many things for it to ever settle into something thats clearly defined.
We have an unspoken set of filters to how we see things so when we ask each other we know that the right things are being considered.