SOME/TALK : ASH THORP
Graphic designer, illustrator, artist and creative director for a multitude of media, Ash Thorp.
With an exceptional style of his own, Thorp quickly gained recognition for his astounding UI (user interface) graphics in Ender's Game and Total Recall. Thorp has also contributed to the design direction and concepts for Spectre (James Bond), Ridley Scott's Prometheus, Call of Duty and many more. We had a conversation with the multidisciplinary concept designer and talked about his design process and the future.
What are your first memories? The ones that shaped you and your work.
I suppose my first memories would be all the times that my mom would sit with me as a child and show me how to draw. The love for art runs in my family, and she helped to encourage my growth as an artist.
You have mastered the creation of SCI-FI interfaces. Can you tell me more about your fascination with these?
That's kind for you to say, but I don’t know if I have really mastered anything, to be honest. I consider myself to be a bit of a jack of all trades, but a master of none. I am continually pushing myself, growing, and humbled by the fact that there is still so much more to learn. I am always reaching for a better version of my past self. My fascination with interfaces came about from job opportunities early on in my career, and I was able to emerge myself in that world and create something unlike anything I did before.
Some of your concept designs are incredibly detailed. Somehow, it is like designing the future. How does your design process look like?
My design process truly changes based on the task or goal at hand. For the most part, I like to first take time to just think about ideas and create concepts in my mind before then getting them out on paper or in the computer. From there, I will take those initial rough sketches and then refine them through various programs. Ultimately, the goal is to continue to adjust the images until I can get the concept to precisely emulate the first vision I had in my mind.
I would like to know more about the projects you did with Ridley Scott. Prometheus & The Martian.
I absolutely love Ridley Scott's work, so the opportunity to work on any of his films is amazing and memorable for me. For "Prometheus," I was working at Prologue at the time when Ridley and his team needed some concepts and designs for an interface being used by one of the lead characters in the film (David). I was only on that project for a few weeks, but it was great to see some of my concepts make it into the final film. As for "The Martian," Chris Eyerman from 3AM, who works closely with Ridley, reached out to me about co-directing a promotional trailer for the film. We based the trailer on creating a future episode of the "Cosmos," which is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Working with a talented team and getting to meet Neil was beyond rewarding. And to top it all off, to hear that Ridley really enjoyed the completed trailer was even further astounding.
What is your vision of the future?
I think VR and AR are going to be changing the game for people like myself. Ideas and concepts controlled and built upon data will be a new form of media that we have really yet to see and were only seen as fiction a few decades ago. The future is bright and VERY, VERY interesting.
Has your vision of the future changed and evolved over time?
Yes of course. Every day I learn something new or find something interesting that I didn’t the day before, which then adjusts my perspective and trajectory of where I think things are going.
When you are designing. Do you feel like designing a fantasy or a very real product? Depending on your project of course.
I have to first address what the client is asking for, but often times I blend the two worlds of fantasy and reality to find an anomaly.
Do you work purely aesthetic or is it equally important to think about the function?
These questions are difficult to answer in general as it again depends on the project, and I can work on either, both, or a mix of the two.
It is easy to say you can work outside your comfort zone. Are there fields left you still want to explore?
I continually try to push myself and work outside of my comfort zone. I believe there is a great level of growth that occurs in a creative's mind when we take risks. I would love to explore the automotive or transit world, along with possibly building unique and interesting processes or applications for how we consume or enjoy the things around us. I have a few really interesting and big ideas for some things down the road.
If you had to choose, gaming environments or film?
I really love both and couldn't give one up for the other. I think that “gaming” or interactive experience are truly a media for the future so I feel I have slightly invested more time and energy into that realm.
There are always future projects, but only so many I can speak of at the moment. I have a short film called "Lost Boy" that I am currently creating and directing with my talented friend, Anthony Scott Burns. and producing with PostPanic Pictures. I would equate this film process to feeling like we are trying to create our own Star Wars. It's a lot of work and a challenge to create your own vision, characters, and story, but it's been very rewarding on all levels. I really can't wait to share the finished film with everyone. Second, I am also building a really fun game with my good friend, Ryan Cashman. Third, my team and I recently launched Learn Squared which is an online education platform and we have VERY big things in mind for our school and students. Outside of those projects, I have a few other ideas deep in my mind that is more on the Elon Musk level, but I need to build a few more empires to support that kind of weight. :) The future is VERY exciting!
Special thanks to Monica Thorp
Interview by Pouria Khojastehpay | S/TUDIO