Spark turns Emptiness into Substance. The Material I call Dark.
Artist and designer Jan Pautsch is based in Berlin and has lived and studied in London and New York in the late 90s. He currently works as Creative Director Art at argonauten G2, one of Germany's finest Web Design studios, that is responsible for a wide range of outstanding campaigns and projects, such as THE COKE SIDE OF LIFE, AUDI R8 and COKE AND FAITHLESS. In 2007, Jan's personal portfolio MRTLMGYC [ThisMortalMagic™] was featured on spyline, and a selection of his terrific compositions is available at the FWA wallpaper section.
Jan Pautsch

Jan Pautsch


Hello Jan, and thank you for your time in advance. You may introduce yourself and tell us a bit what's up with you and your work?
Hi namesake! First of all, many thanks for the feature on spyline, I greatly appreciate your idea of broadcasting designers and their work on your outstanding platform.

About myself: In the nineties, I created different interventions & spatial works, which were solely based on context-related, graphical structures. I call these activities 'offSpace' occupations, because they took place in these very special, temporary spaces that suddenly emerged in the former East Berlin after the wall came down, and which very soon became occupied by artist co-labs. Around the year 2000 I delved into Flash and got addicted to its tremendous sphere of motion and visual effects. It surely proved to be my steppingstone into some exciting interactive projects based on a high aesthetical and artistic level, and - not least - into the world of agencies.

In some way, my artistic approach ran into commercial transmissions and vice versa. Until now, this overlapping effect is what I am most interested in, and what I am trying to explore and experiment with in my work as an artist as well as in my job. Thus, over the last eight years, I have been working as a designer and art-director for various Berlin-based interactive and traditional advertising agencies and was involved in the production process of a wide range of ambitious projects for big brand clients.
How is Berlin the ever-changing, history-driven german capital? And how about living in Germany in general and don't mention the weather.
I was born in former East Berlin. The drastic changes in my neighbourhood in Berlin-Mitte are a sensible and visual expression of the overall socio-cultural changes in Germany after the reunification. My background lies in the East Berlin Punk and New Wave movement of the early eighties and the free-spirited attitudes to squatting in the mid-nineties.
So, I can only go along with a statement of German fashion designer Dirk Schönberger, that I've recently read in the magazine 'Liebling': "Berlin is like a Punk in a Suit."
Is there any story behind your quite cool portfolio name MRTLMGYC {ThisMortalMagic™}?
This Mortal Magic is the name of an essay by the American author and art critic Dave Hickey that became quite essential for my work as an artist.
Speaking of names: argonauten G2 - greek mythology meets GREY WORLDWIDE? What's the story behind that name?
argonauten G2 is a German network agency and part of the G2 network that belongs to the Grey Global Group. The Greek metaphor is an expression for the great team-spirit, drive and passion that serve as the backbone of our business philosophy, as our aim is it to deliver excellent work in class brand communication in the digital age.

Possibly the most important question: What do you like to do in your precious tiny, tiny spare time?
To a large extend, my interests in my job and my spare time intermingle. That said, most of my time outside of the office is dedicated to my wife and my two boys (3 years and 4 weeks old). My wife is an artist, too, and we try to support each other and to exchange ideas in art and in life. I also read a lot - at the moment, I am very much into the work of Jürgen Ploog, the German master of cut-up-method. I read his books somewhat 'synchronic', which enables me to splinter the already fragmented text into tiny micro stories. What remains is something entire new and inspiring for my artistic work. Despite my Job at argonauten G2, I am also a lecturer in Media Design at a University in Berlin.
Let's talk about your work: How is your daily / weekly routine?
Every day is different - there is no routine at all, but this is what thrills me most. My day-to-day work ranges from initial layouts for pitch projects to client presentations and workshops. Most of my time though, I spend with navigating our creative processes; interacting with the design teams is one of my prior responsibilities.
Name some ideal websites / projects of all time that stand out for you personally!
Some sites that I recognised last time are the ones that proof an excellence in storytelling such as: beonlineb - which is, I think, a prototype for interactive music video; Coke Zero Game and Happiness Factory which stand out as groundbreaking examples for online games; Whale Hunting is also a great example of interactive storytelling, intuitive interface and structuring of information, such is HBO Voyeur for astonishing interconnected storylines and Leica Stories for its fabulous look and change in perspective; last but not leat, XBOX 360, Halo 3 Believe for its entertaining sensory input and amazing lush visuals.
Jan Pautsch Jan Pautsch
Considering your art background and art school education - name some of your favorites and influences in Art!
I am rapt with the imagination and the precision of Stefan Sagmeister's works, and I am equally enthusiastic about Fons Hickmanns or Michel Gondry. But there are also the works of the fine arts classics, in particular Richard Prince and Matthew Barney, which I am favourably impressed by.
Considering your job in a big agency could you name some other agencies and studios you would pay the so-called 'industrial respect'?
Thinking about studios and hotshops, I'd say: Fallon, Modernista!, glue, HiReS!, North Kingdom, farfar, Group94, Poke. Motion studios: 1stAveMachine, Paranoid, PSYOP/STINK, Pleix and, of course, the big advertising and creative agencies such as: Mother, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, W+K, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, AKQA.
With no doubt the U.K. / Sweden and France are a big european step ahead in Interactive Design. What do you think might be factors and problems for Germany to catch up with that level of creativity?
First of all, Germans have definitely less sense of deadpan, subtle humour and that sort of twinkle-in-the-eye-storytelling. German design culture is very much based on the heritage of Bauhaus/Ulm - antiseptic, rational, dry - which is not necessarily a bad thing, and partly acts as a good virtue, too. But it's becoming more and more obvious that the web is driving right into broadband entertainment. On the other hand, most clients are too scared to break the mould and take new challenges when it comes to new campaigns and marketing strategies. And, frankly speaking, the French and the Scandinavians are generally ahead with new technologies and digital self-image.
You are in a quite responsible position at argonauten G2. Could you tell us something about the company's recruitment status? Are you swamped with applications? Do you also acquire talents in Europe on your own?
Given the strong global orientation that we aim for, we are always looking for highly equipped and competent people from around the world. We are currently recruiting for suitable motiondesigners to join our Berlin-based office.
Which design portals and communities do you use to keep up to date with the trends and the 'global workflow'?
I am very much interested in the holistic approach of global campaigns, and I am therefore mostly scanning creativity and contagious online and as print magazines. Design Mags and Communities I have bookmarked are: Reform & Revolution, NewWebPick and computerlove.
Well, Jan thanks and 'Danke schön' for your time. Keep up with the great work.
My pleasure, Jan. Keep the great spirit going and the flag of good taste up and high!

This interview was conducted October 8th 2008