Superdeux: Flash Kingdom
- Words: Josiah Hughes
The world of Superdeux resembles an adult version of Saturday morning cartoons, combining vaguely ominous characters with elements of hip-hop culture and playful surrealism. The international company, brainchild of 32-year-old French computer geek/ex-graffiti artist Sebastian Roux, had a humble start. While he was a programmer for Team cHmAn in the mid-'90s, Roux spent his evenings tinkering around with early versions of Flash. He originally created the Superdeux website in 1999 to showcase his experiments but, thanks to mentions in journals like Pictoplasma, the site blew up.
Partnering with Flash programmer Stéphane "Tepat" Huleux, who Roux refers to as "the little genius," Superdeux has grown into a multifaceted design boutique, with offices in New York and Lille, France. The company has helped revolutionize modern advertising, web design, animation, and toys. Dedicated to combining effective communication with an adventurous sense of humor, they have developed a client list as diverse as MTV, Comedy Central, Hugo Boss, Johnson & Johnson, Sony Music, and Kid Robot. Similarly, their toys have included high-profile collaborations with the varied likes of Red Magic, Stereotype, and Kid Robot.
It's inevitable that Superdeux will keep growing. Their upcoming projects include more toy collaborations with Stereotype, STRANGEco, Sixpack, and Bshit, Superdeux wall stickers through the Domestic series, the further development of the artist collaboration network Unchi Leisure Centre, and a solo show at New York's Showroom Gallery in 2008. On top of that, Roux continues to run his Unchi record label and perform club bangers with Lowclub. Somehow, Seb found time to discuss Superdeux, cartoons, and the value of good advertising.
XLR8R:What, in your mind, is Superdeux?
Sebastian Roux: Superdeux is a mix between something artistic and a marketing thing. It's a creative solution to communication.
Where did the name Superdeux come from?
When I was doing graffiti, my name was seb2seb, and when I started working with a computer I decided to do something bigger. "Deux," in French, means "two." Voilá, Superdeux!
Did you attend art school?
I did some interior-design school and graphic-design school, but I've learned a lot by myself.
How do you approach each piece from start to finish?
When I do a piece, I start with a sentence. It could be some rap lyrics, or a word. I try to play around that with a character, or a handmade font, on paper first. When I find something interesting, I start to draw it with Illustrator. When I reach the color process, I only use a few colors. My design is not complicated or technical. It's more of a combination of an idea and a design.
All of your work seems to be computer-based, besides the toys. Do you have a background in drawing, painting, or sculpting?
Not really. I was doing graffiti back in the day, and I still have to sketch my ideas on paper first, but the computer is my main tool.
What has been the craziest thing that's happened to you as you built the company up?
I think it's when I decided to move to Vancouver, then to New York in 2004. I was there to start a company with Tristan Eaton (Thunderdogs Studio). We still work together, but on our own respective companies. He's a fantastic designer and businessman.
What piece are you most proud of?
The Stereotype toys line. I've been doing this project for five years now, and it's amazing. I've had the opportunity to work and meet very talented people like Phunk Studio, Genevieve Gauckler, Bill McMullen, Staple, 123klan, Demo, and Acquired.
What does a day in your life look like?
Just fun: wake up early, turn music on, check emails, do some work, go out for dinner, meet some friends, party, sleep.
What do you listen to while you work?
I listen to things from my label Unchi: Auto, Lowclub (my music project with Junior Market and Spencer), Stereopleasure. Also, some stuff from Ed Banger Records, Spank Rock, and some hip-hop from the '90s and before. Music is one of the most important things in my life.
Who are some of your influences?
Andy Warhol, Adrian Frutiger, Takashi Murakami, James Brown.
Who are some of your favorite modern artists?
Parra, Kaws, So-Me, David Flores. Everyone should know about them. They are the perfect mix between art and marketing. Genius!
When and how did you get into toys?
I've been designing toys for six years now. My first contact with the toy industry was through Red Magic, then Kid Robot. Now, I'm developing a toy project for STRANGEco.
What is your favorite cartoon of all time?
You've worked for some big companies. Has there ever been a company you've turned down?
A few years ago, I was commissioned by a giant tobacco firm. I tried to work on the project, but then decided to stop. I just wasn't feeling okay with it, and no good ideas were coming out of my head.
Does advertising ever irritate you?
Yes, but I always try to imagine what I would think if I was the target. It's fun, and it's a good way to decide if it's good advertising or not.
How do you find the perfect balance of advertising and art?
I don't try to find it, and there is no need to find it, I think. I want to touch everybody when I do something. I try to use clear messages, so that you can like it or hate it but, in the end, you'll understand it.
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