Multi-media creative Xander Opiyo explains how a move toward motion design has transformed his bold, energetic practice
Hyperpop, underground club culture and eccentric outfits: the creative also shares how his vibrant New York City home inspires his work.
- Olivia Hingley
- 11 May 2022
If there’s one thing we love to see here at It’s Nice That, it's one of the creatives featured in our Next Generation series flourishing. And this is certainly the case for New York based creative Xander Opiyo, who we featured in 2020. The creative has been landing some pretty big gigs, notably completing a vast multi-media collage project for Vogue. The extended series, whilst showing a clear upward trajectory for the creative, also demonstrates that some facets of Xander’s work remain steadfast, namely his desire to create bold and vibrant work. This, Xander explains, is because boldness and vibrancy are core to his very existence. Being a “very expressive person,” he wants to “make use of an entire array of colours and light to express myself in the most powerful way”. And, what’s more, he applies a pretty foolproof outlook to life. “Life is mad bleak sometimes, but my art doesn’t have to be because it’s made up”, Xander shares matter of factly, “so why not make it beautiful and sparkly and filled with saccharine hues and clouds and flowers and everything that’s nice!”
Since we last caught up there have been a few major changes in Xander’s practice. Firstly, a big move to the New York City. The move, unsurprisingly, has provided a lot of inspiration for the creative. Being surrounded by creatives of a similar age and including a healthy dose of underground club nights, glitchy hyperpop music and colourful flashing lights, Xander tells us that “the texture and energy of this world often translate to the energy of my work”. But, perhaps most visually apparent is Xander’s welcome move toward motion design. The move is born out of Xander focussing on spending more time on projects “rather than just pumping them out” and “actively forcing myself out of my comfort zone”, as well as wanting to visually enhance his work. “The earlier pieces I made were dope, but they felt a little dead because they lacked that motion element,” Xander explains. “For example if a piece had a visual of a river why not make that river flow? I wanted to find a way to make the pieces feel more real and alive, and the best way to do that is to make things move.”
This brilliant use of motion design is expertly demonstrated in Xander’s previously mentioned project with Vogue. An essay series entitled Body Language, Xander explains that throughout the project, writers from across the globe were invited to share their experiences with body image and beauty standards. Xander was tasked with reading each essay, and “visually interpreting” the content. “Vogue wanted the work to feel global, so for each collage I included imagery representing the writer’s culture and landscape while also telling their story in a visually compelling way,” the creative expands. Using vintage and modern imagery Xander started each collage by cutting the images and physically arranging them – “my brain works differently when I can actually touch what I am working with” – after which the motion would follow, he explains. Xander’s favourite piece from the series ended up being the collage for Iman Harirkia’s piece In the Artwork of My Ancestral Homeland, I Finally Saw Myself. Featuring intricate tapestry, warm colours and grainy vintage Iranian footage, the various aspects combine to create a layered, compelling piece that perfectly complements Iman’s words.
Xander’s other motion projects are heavily rooted in the musical sphere. Having a lot of friends who make music or are DJs, Xander “naturally” finds himself volunteering to help them with visualisers, lyric videos and animated cover art. Xander’s grainy videos and music motion work scream noughties and nineties, all achieved with his using an old digital camera. Further explaining his layered process, Xander tells us that he uses “a cyclical process of scanning, printing and re-recording to emphasise the presence of noise and grain of the camera. The goal of all this is to create a vibe,” he concludes. “The vibe can range from warm and nostalgic to gritty and raw.”
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.