Culture Close-Up: Zander Grinfeld


We talk pixelation, inspiration, smoking vs surfing and how you find yourself standing in the sea at the wrong end of a 40ft extension, in the rain to get the perfect effect with our favourite designer and Venn Creative Director Zander Grinfeld the brains behind the look of the LS/FF.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Zander, the director and all round dogsbody at Venn Creative.

We’ve been working with LS/FF since day one designing everything and anything we can get our hands on.  Website, posters, promotional bits, we even put that little slash in the name. There are a load of very talented people who make the festival what it is – so we can’t take all the credit for the look at feel of the festival – but… ah fuck it – it’s down all to us.

Where did this year’s design concept from?

Demi always comes to us with a jumping off point for the festival. The theme was meant to be a sort of inclusive feel, what will all the terrible shit happening in the world – with some element of the four corners of the globe coming together.  Somehow in the process it turned into this quite dark and menacing thing instead. There’s a spinning arrow which is meant to be a bit of a compass, but in general we wanted to get the feeling of something coming towards you, it could be kind of intimidating, or you could just ride with it, take it all in and enjoy it.

We wanted to do something more analogue this year, but shooting film is expensive and takes time – so we had this idea of filming projections; filming something analogue. The LS/FF team have always been really keen to push the boundaries of what surf culture is, so they’re happy – encouraging even – of us making the surf references subtle… really reflecting the breadth of it all –  not just wave porn. That’s what the festival is all about. Anyway, getting these kind of obscure references to surf charts, pressure waves and travelling, then projecting them into a space, rather than just moving pixels around the screen seemed to make sense with this theme of place being part of the festival. Plus, by filming projections we got loads of cool artefacts like pixellation, deinterlacing, flickers, colour bleed – unexpected things which really added to it all.

How did you do it?

We it always starts with a lot of experimentation, both graphically and practically. Walls of ideas and inspiration – we probably thought of 50 different things to film, 49 of them pretty much impractical or impossible. We did a lot of knocking around in a dark, backroom in the office. We had three projectors which we layered up, mucking around, trying not to break the things as we waved them around. It might not be hugely obvious in the final cut but it was important to us to get some filming outside – so there’s some projection onto sand, harbour walls and even some projections onto the surf as it comes up the beach.

Projectors are delicate things and we couldn’t afford a regulated generator, so we had to find somewhere near the sea to film – big thanks to Steve and everyone at WESUP in Falmouth for providing us access to a plug socket near the sea.

The beach filming was kind of ridiculous…We were hanging around the water with a 40m extension cable running to the waters’ edge where we were waving around projectors and lighting in the rain. It was a health and safety apocalypse.

After that it was cutting it together to the music, wading through loads of dodgy footage to find some gems. It sounds very ramshackle – and I guess in some ways it is, but in others it’s very planned out. You have to be planned or nothing gets done, but if it’s all too controlled its all very sterile at the end, which wasn’t right for this particular project.

So, where does your inspiration come from?

Everywhere and nowhere really. I’m actually a bit of a closed book when it comes to design – I’m not one of these people who can name 500 designers doing amazing things around the world. I’m more influenced by the things around me, film, music, art that sort of thing. Ideas rarely come sitting in front of a computer, even though that’s probably where I spend 90% of my working time. Which is why having surfing in my life is great. Smoking was good for that too. I really miss walking around smoking and thinking. I guess surfing is better for you.

That’s just me though, there are 7 off us in the studio right now and everyone gets involved – I can’t take any solo credit of the anything, its all a massive team effort.

Why is design important? 

Pretty much everything around us is designed. Except for the big stuff like mountains, sea, deserts, pretty much everything around us designed in some way – even the countryside – in the UK most of that is designed in some way. So if design is all around us surely it should be as good as it can be.  There are people out there who won’t buy into the kind of design we do – stuff for businesses or festivals, y’know – material things. There are people out there who don’t care what the glass or cup they drink out of looks like (for the record  – I really do). But there will be something in their life that is designed and important to them. Someone, somewhere put love and care into making that thing better. It affects everyone.

Anything else you’d like to get off your chest?   

About a stone? Does that count?

The team at Venn are awesome and they do it all – from developing brands or building websites, to designing for print, they connect the dots for some pretty epic endeavours including the likes of rain forest charity Cool Earth.

Check out the design journey we’ve been on together (ahhhhh) HERE