Vagus Magazine Spring 2021 Feature Story
MARIA BODIL is an Amsterdam-based creative duo focusing on creative direction, film, and photography. The name is derived from their founders, Lieve Maria Eek and Marthe Bodil Vos. Their strong conceptual abilities have enabled them to produce exceptionally outstanding work that can be appreciated across many artistic disciplines.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The duo consists of Lieve Maria Eek (@lieve.eek) and Marthe Bodil Vos (@marthebodil), who officially founded their creative agency ‘Maria Bodil’ 3 months ago after working together to produce creative projects for a number of years!
How long have you two been working together? When did you start your creative journey?
We’ve known each other since we were super young and kind of evolved our interests simultaneously. We started assisting each other on different creative projects. After a while, we realized we could do better teamed up, and we decided to launch Maria Bodil. This officially started about three months ago, but it all felt like a really natural decision.
What attracted you to this field of work?
Lieve: I really like to create things. Start from scratch and end up with something beautiful.
Marthe: I’m a really visual person. I realized that being able to tell a beautiful story in a visually pleasing way just gave me so much energy.
You have successfully grown your creative ideas into a business. What was that process like?
Lieve: Most ideas or plans for the future start with ‘hope and belief’. We had dreams about the future of Maria Bodil, but all those ideas and creative projects are still in our heads and the work has yet to be done. The next steps are a matter of taking yourself seriously, not being held back by uncertainty, and giving yourself the space to grow.
Have you ever had a different career in-mind than what you are pursuing now?
Lieve: Yes, before this I studied psychology. I have thought about many different things to do but things grew in this direction and I really love it.
Marthe: I studied economics and business at the university level, but I realized I needed to do something more hands-on and creative. After that, I went to fashion school, with the idea to start my own brand/business. The courses were really focused on visual communication, so photography and film were a logical step afterward. Within this context, I still feel the need to approach [film and photography] from a business point of view. I can also see us running a creative agency to apply our overall creative vision in multiple ways.
How do you use photography to express yourself?
Lieve: When I started photography I mainly made portraits of people with a certain kind of vulnerability. In this way, I got to know my camera and I could also express my own vulnerability. As I get older and learn more from life, I notice that my work tends to be more and more surreal. Vulnerability will always remain an important theme, but I may now be in a phase where I want to create my own world, which I am now also trying to do in my work.
Marthe: For me, photography is about creating your own reality. It is my way of looking at the world. I tend to show “the every day” abstractly and place things out of context. In this way, you could change people's perceptions.
You explore technology in a creative way, as seen in your projects “Road Tales”, “We Screen” and “Martian”.
For “Road Tales”, what steps did you take to pitch the concept to Volkwagen? Walk us through the storyboarding, and explain why you believe it’s important for children to stimulate their imaginations.
Lieve: Volkswagen wanted to contribute to society with a campaign. Nowadays advertising can be anything, so you are capable of thinking in literally every medium. To come up with an idea, I first looked for a clear problem around the theme of cars. I've always been interested in the effects of the smartphone on this generation and I think it has a huge effect on the development of children/teenagers. I remembered when I was young, I always looked out of the window and imagined whole story’s. The tunnels for me were comparable with a journey to the moon. Nowadays, children are glued to their phone and they don’t look outside anymore. That’s why we’ve created roadtales, location-based audio stories where kids are forced to use their imagination again.
Series: WE SCREEN
Series: WE SCREEN
In “We Screen”, you’ve pitched the concept of “collective screening” by way of an app in order to target the problem of individualism when consuming media. What are your thoughts on the impact of personal screens psychologically & emotionally?
Lieve: It’s funny how everyone is connected all the time by their phones, while loneliness in the real world becomes one of the biggest problems. We screen aims to bring all people together for a ‘louder en richer’ experience and tries to change the individualistic digital experience into a collective one.
What motivated your decision to use a mirror and reflective imagery in the series “Highest Potential”?
Highest Potential aims to translate the vision of founder Ode to A, to offer new perspectives. With the use of a mirror and reflective materials, we challenged the human body and created surprising compositions.
Series: HIGHEST POTENTIAL
Series: HIGHEST POTENTIAL
Series: HIGHEST POTENTIAL
When I look at the images, the cloud-filled blue skies paired with the project name “Highest Potential” prompt me to think about my personal potential as an artist, and how I should continue to aim high. What did you feel and think about when creating those images?
This series has been unconsciously a reminder for us as well. The philosophy behind this series motivates us to be bold and try to look with different eyes.
With “Talisman”, there is a stark contrast between colours, with bright fuchsia, pink, and red standing out against dark blue, black, or grey backgrounds. What is the significance behind your choice of red and pink for the highlight colours in this project?
Marthe: For me, red is a really spiritual colour. In this series, I wanted to portray a modern crusade, so in this context, the red works well in dramatic setting. The series was inspired by one of the styles Craig Green designed for his SS20 collection.
Why is this career important to you? What about it resonates with you?
First of all this career is important for us because we both want to work with our creativity. Expressing ourselves by photography, film, and ideas is something we really like to do. Besides this, we also love the fact that we built something for ourselves, that it’s our own path we walk in life. It gives a lot of energy when we notice growth in all steps we take.
Have you faced any creative challenges? If so, how did you resolve them?
I think our biggest challenge is finding a balance between our wildest ideas and reality. We often have big ideas but to execute them is often a different story.
In the process of creating work, what have you learned about yourself?
Lieve: In every creative project I have at least one moment when I dislike the work I’m making or I feel really insecure. I learned that those moments belong to my creative process.
Marthe: I am really critical of my own work and have a hard time sharing it with others, especially during the process when work is not completely finished yet. By doing [creative work], I’ve learned how important it is to share your work with others. What Lieve also mentioned, is part of the process and it will eventually only improve your work. Working with others also taught me how important good communication is.
What did you overcome to be where you are in your career now?
Sharing work in an early stage of your career feels vulnerable. But I think we both shared it which gave us new work and experiences and made us grow and improve our creative skillset. You only achieve something by doing it and building enough experiences; you need to share work to attract new work.
Is there anything you've learned about business/creativity that you’d like to share with others? Do you have any advice for up-and-coming photographers and creative directors?
Dare to go for something and give yourself the time to grow. You are not born as a photographer or as a creative director, you become one by putting energy into this. I think many people are held back by the level of others, but all these people have often been doing that for years.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an artist?
Our career has been so short, but I think our last shoot and our first MARIA BODIL production for Claes Iversen [titled ‘BECOME’] has been received really well and many things happened since. Every step we take we grow and everything feels like a new accomplishment.