When LA-based artist Brian Roettinger was tasked to create a billboard design at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, the result sent a bold message. His “NEVER ODD NOR EVEN” design, with a white angled font on a bright red background, hung powerful and high over the street, off of one side of the hotel for the entire month of July. This collaboration between file-sharing company WeTransfer, Ace, and the participating designers aims to bring the art of the internet out onto the streets—and the billboard will be showcasing the work of a different artist each month through February 2016.
[LA is] a huge flat city surrounded by mountains, with wonderful weather. Everyone is happy and comfortable walking on the crowded streets.
Now, Portuguese artist Mariana Fernandes, who lives and works in Italy, shares her impressions of Los Angeles on the billboard. Fernandes, who is part of the Italian design school Fabrica, has never been to the City of Angels herself, yet her piece explores the ideas of the city she has experienced though the media. She imagines Los Angeles as, “a huge flat city surrounded by mountains, with wonderful weather. Everyone is happy and comfortable walking on the crowded streets.”
“I see some wild animals in the middle of the city, possibly that had escaped from the zoo, huge telescopes pointing at the sky, and a lot of music concerts,” she continues. Her design “Lost Angeles” explores the city’s name. “I decided to play with it in a subtle way. It can seem like a spelling mistake, but it has a double meaning.” This piece further depicts her idea of life in Los Angeles with the sun, palm trees, the stars, and glamorous ways to get lost.
“Fabrica is about storytelling, we design stories that can be told in a lot of different forms and shapes usually also with a light-hearted spirit,” Fernandes says. She has worked at the Fabrica Design Studio since 2011. “The consequences of our designs are always significant if we make people reflect about something. In the case of this billboard, I hope I can get people’s heads turned up to the sky and using their imagination.” It is evident by this piece that Fernandes’ work explores global themes. This is a product of her education and work. The Fabrica in Treviso occupies original Italian buildings in a campus that has been augmented by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. “Working in a team of people from all around the world changed already the way I see design,” says Fernandes. “Our references are not the same and the meaning of the same image can be completely different for each of us. Our work is based on translating ideas through visual content, so we can communicate a story. This starts to get interesting when you feel open to understanding free interpretations of it because it is when you start learning more about the world. It is a thoughtful dialogue.”
We don’t often have the chance to ‘occupy’ five meters of a public space.
When asked about the act of creating public art Fernandes shares, “This is a peculiar project. We don’t often have the chance to ‘occupy’ five meters of a public space. This image is going to be part of the landscape for a period of time and being able to play with this context is unique. We live and work far away from LA, so working on this project is a way of traveling and dreaming as well.”
Ace Hotel is known for fostering innovative collaborations. Their downtown location features a 1,600-seat theatre that hosts performance, films, and events. Public art outside and works by local artists can be found throughout the interiors and rooftop of the hotel. Now, the billboard has become part of the cultural conversation as well. Ace Chief Brand Officer Kelly Sawdon expresses her excitement for the project:
“Since moving into DTLA, we’ve always envisioned the billboard next to the hotel as an opportunity to say something real and true to our community. The insight and experimentation that these artists have contributed to the LA skyline is exciting, and an earnest attempt to move culture forward. They’re true visionaries.” Sawdon says that the decision to join forces with WeTransfer was a no brainer, “We partnered with WeTransfer for this project because their mission is—literally and figuratively—about sharing.”
The current billboard design reveals an impression of Los Angeles created across the globe. “We appreciate Fabrica’s creative take on LA as a classic American city, and we’re proud to share Mariana’s vision with such a broad audience,” says Sawdon. “Working with such innovative thought leaders in design, alongside WeTransfer, to bring this billboard to life has been such a humbling experience.”
WeTransfer created the collaboration to extend their commitment to supporting artists and designers with a growing body of work that can be seen on their site every day. Fatma Genç of WeTransfer says, “Dealing with both art and advertising on a day to day basis, our aim is to converge both disciplines in their on and offline worlds and show they can go hand in hand.” And with this billboard series, they succeed.
In addition to the billboard being on show for visitors to DTLA, WeTransfer will share the art with their 25 million monthly regular users. You can follow along at DearDTLA.com
Process skethces courtesy of Mariana Fernandes, images by Liz Kuball