Nina Doll and Steffen Bewer talk us through the process of creating the otherworldly cover story with Dorian Electra for Bricks Magazine

The two designers and artists Nina Doll and Steffen Bewer have recently worked on the cover story of the eighth issue of Bricks Magazine, featuring artist and musician Dorian Electra. Under the motto “Lets evolve”, the newest issue of the independent queer led publication was published a couple of weeks ago, including interviews with artists like Caroline Polachek, Mowalola and Odunsi (The Engine). The progressive magazine aims at rerouting the intersections between fashion, art and our social systems, lending a voice to the individual that are often ignored by mainstream and mass media. In keeping with the motto “Lets evolve”, Nina and Steffen turned Dorian Electra into an otherworldly being that evolves “into an higher form of the human kind through abstract 3D elements”, by combining photography with CGI.

As the editor of Bricks, Tori West, was currently looking for collaborators on the eighth issue, the duo did not hesitate to contact her through Instagram and started to work on the cover story with Dorian Electra soon after. “The biggest challenge, but also the most fun part, was to combine our creative visions and match it with Dorian’s artistic self and the overall typical aesthetic”, the duo tells Collide24. Being based in different countries with Nina and Steffen in Berlin and Dorian in the U.S., the duo had to find different ways of working together and decided to direct the cover shooting with photographer Weston Allen remotely over Zoom. “He photographed Dorian Electra in L.A. in front of a blue screen, while we directed the shooting through Zoom to make sure we got the right images for implementing the 3D assets. After we received the cut out and retouched images, we could start with creating the backgrounds and the 3D elements”, Nina and Steffen explain. Based on Dorians futuristic styling and makeup, the duo came up with abstract objects and shapes surrounding him, including a sculpted face mask.

After this fruitful collaboration, Dorian decided to use one of the images to represent their new single “My Agenda” and integrated it in the associated music video, which was “a really big honor” for the two designers.

After dating each other for some time, Nina and Steffen realized that there are some overlaps between their two different disciplines, fashion and graphic design. Coming from the analogue side of fashion, Nina began to work more and more on the digital projects during her studies. “For me, it was just crazy how many options and possibilities I got with opening up my work to the digital world. Creating garments in 3D saves a huge amount of resources”, she concludes, “Furthermore I am now able to create looks that don’t necessarily have to work like that in real life. My dress can now be made of glass or gold. I can place my avatar or model in whatever environment I can imagine without getting a whole crew into the dessert or even portraying my looks in random abstract 3D worlds.” Apart from finishing her master thesis in fashion design on the topic of emotion in digital space, she now works as a freelancer in the fields of digital fashion and CGI.

Steffen first got in touch with 3d art during his studies in communication design, when working on poster designs. “I was wondering how it’s possible to create such stunning and realistic visuals. At first it was super hard and frustrating to understand all this software crossover workflows between different formats I never heard before”, he tells us, “After getting out my first visual output I slowly started understanding how a computer is able to simulate reality trough certain values like geometry, material characteristics an light. This showed me that there are almost endless possibilities in digital visualization. It gave me a better understanding of the concept of reality in general.” He now working as an independent designer since almost a year now, having a strong focus in CGI, motion design and art direction.

While teaching each other their skills, Nina and Steffen started to collaborate on different projects together. “For us, it is really important to have collaborations with other designers from different fields”, the duo concludes, “It opens up new perspectives on how to handle projects and enables new ways of working through combined skill sets. Also we as creators should all be less competitors and rather support each other in the design industry in order to grow.” Just like the cover story with Dorian Electra, their work is often a mixture between CGI and photography, constantly pushing the boundaries between both disciplines. “CGI and photography are both trying to depict reality or alternate realities. Both media are creating imagery through pixels wich makes it a good paring. With mixing those techniques it opens up endless possibilities of image manipulation and creation”, the couple explains.

In the upcoming months, the duo has a bundle of exciting projects in the pipeline. “I did a project for Lobby skateshop from Hamburg at the beginning of the year to promote one of their own products. Here I am, still waiting for the release”, Steffen jokes, before emphasizing his growing interest for digital fashion at the moment, “I am currently practicing more and more within personal projects and looking forward to work on something bigger in this field.” At the same time, Nina is currently working on some upcoming projects with Studio Infinity Fashion for Arthur Avellano and Autrement PR and on a collaboration with an uprising Digital Fashion platform.

Looking into the future, the duo expects that progressive disciplines, like digital make-up and fashion will become more and more a part of our daily lives, referring to evolving techniques like body tracking, face tracking and AR. “We will be able to easily try on digital garments through our smartphone, just like we are already doing it with face filters”, the duo explains, “Speaking of face filters, this is already a super good example of how digital make up could easily work. Digital fashion also offers a way more sustainable way of dressing your picture (or your digital self) with the newest outfits and styles.”

Nina Doll

Steffen Bewer

Alexander Dueckminor and Xinwei Xu

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