[Originally posted on October 2008]
Hvass&Hannibal is a young Danish design duo comprising of the two friends Nan Na Hvass and Sofie Hannibal. They just got a BA in visual communication and in 2006 started working together crafting record sleeves, T-shirts, posters, flyers, a psychedelic art-installation, photographs and a huge mural at the club VEGA. Recently they were involved in a project with Efterklang and the national Chamber Orchestra, having to design sets and costumes. Nan Na and Sofie are looking forward to focus they energy on work, since they have been full time students so far!
What is like working in the media/music/art industry? Was it always your dream to pursue a career as an illustrator and artist?
Sofie: It’s great working in this business, because people always have great ideas that they want you to be part of. The downside is that everyone is your best friend so it can be a little difficult when it comes to the financial part.It has always been a dream of mine to work with what I do now, ever since I was a little girl going to art school once a week.
Nan Na: When I was a kid I wanted to be an archaeologist and later an astronomer. But since high school I felt like my way to self-realization would be through visual arts in one way or another, and so in that way my working situation now is a dream come true! I feel a great sense of opportunity in working with this field, as if anything is possible if we work hard enough.
Could you please tell us more about your background and career?
Sofie: We both have a BA in Visual Communication from the Danish Design School. I used to work at a big newspaper as an assistant graphic designer, doing ads and web banners. It kind of killed my creativity, so when I was accepted at the design school I was extremely happy.
Nan Na: Up until now I’ve more or less constantly been at different kind of art schools and then finally the Danish Design School. I used to study art photography and for a short period I freelanced as a photographer but got tired of it quickly. I’ve also worked at an advertising agency and done an internship with animation studio Panda panther in New York.
You’ve done such a cool work (video, cd design, stage design…) for the band Efterklang: could you please let us know more this experience?
Sofie: Nan Na did the Mirador video and art work for 3 efterklang albums, but I haven’t been involved until we recently did their stage design for a huge concert with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra in the new concert halls of Danish Television. This was a really extraordinary experience, where we worked with a lot of talented people who were really good at their fields, the musicians, the light designers, and the producer and so on. It was a lot of hard work but it was all worth it, seeing it come together at the stage in the end. We are both really satisfied with the outcome of this project. It’s great working with Efterklang; they trust us and know that we know what we’re doing. Their music creates a lot of images when you listen to it, (especially with references to nature) and is very eclectic with classic, folk and electronic references.
Nan Na: I think working with Efterklang is always a very fulfilling experience, but generally also very hard work! This is because knowing them personally gives an insight into how they work, and their complete devotion and perfectionism demands equal amounts of perfectionism and hard work from our side – there is no other choice since there is so much to live up to in their music.
How did you get involved with all the magazines you collaborate for?
Sofie & Nan Na: So far they have all contacted us. We are very fortunate that people have been interested in our work and want to feature us in their magazines. We aren’t really that aware of promoting our selves, but so far it hasn’t really been necessary, and we haven’t felt a need to do so – in other ways than to do interviews and accept commissions.
How do you find working in Copenhagen? Can you tell us a bit about what’s life there like? Why did you choose to live there in the first place?
Sofie: I have lived here all my life. I love travelling and would like to try living somewhere else, but I would always want to come back here. I really love Copenhagen and I think Copenhagen loves me too.
Nan Na: I think we have a perfect base in Copenhagen, but I am really a travelling soul and no matter what I always find myself travelling far away. Last year I spent most of my time living abroad, in New York, Providence and Paris. And as I write this I am in Hong Kong! I really hope we can get to travel a lot with our work – maybe like musicians on tour… that would be great.
What are the best exhibitions experiences you had? Why?
Sofie: The Paul McCarthy exhibition at the museum of modern art in Stockholm. He’s really interesting, I think, working with all the things that we normally try to ignore, especially a lot of body fluids. It really gets on your nerves but in a good way! I think it’s the only time I’ve had a physical response to art. Normally Louisiana museum of modern art, just outside of Copenhagen, is a nice place to visit. There was an exhibition, “Sip My Ocean”, with modern video art a few years ago, that I liked a lot. The museum has a great garden with a fantastic view over the sea.
Nan Na: I think some of the most memorable exhibition experiences I’ve had were as a kid travelling around the world with my parents, going to museums in faraway places – for instance a museum about cannibalism on the Fiji islands, that kind of thing. The best art piece I ever saw was at the Venice Biennale in 2005. It was a big room with a very typical contemporary installation in the middle, probably some recycled trash painted neon colours… All the custodians in the room were African, and suddenly with certain intervals they would break into wonderful dances around the installation while clapping their hands and singing: “this is so contemporary, contemporary, and contemporary!” A total spurt of energy that brought them all around the room cutting through the stuffiness while totally surprising the onlookers who were probably in the middle of analyzing the fine art. It was so hilarious and intelligent and seemed to just pull the carpet out from under everything.
What are your favourite websites?
Sofie: www.ffffound.com / www.tanz.dk / www.politiken.dk / www.google.com (especially the language tools)
Nan Na: www.dmi.dk / www.ubuweb.com / www.vvork.com / www.youtube.com
Who is the woman you’d like to see featured/interviewed here?
Sofie: Marilyn Monroe or my mother.
Nan Na: My friend and very talented fashion designer Cecilie Rosted Bahnsen.