CN: Please introduce yourself who are you and what do you do?
Christopher Lutterodt-Quarcoo: My name is Christopher Lutterodt-Quarcoo (CL-Q), it's simpler and easier to say I'm a creative entrepreneur. The longer version is that I'm a Designer, Director, Writer, Lecturer, Founder of Unmaterialised™ and Director of The Adv_™ Forum.
CN: Take us through your creative journey so far to date.
CL-Q: For me, creativity started the moment I realized I needed to be independent. Some people would say that's a natural contradiction. My first milestone, also the first thing I did was sell salt in school when the government banned it, tasteless food is a sin. From then I started designing custom t-shirts, hoodies to cutting hair. Fast forward a few years, I wrote and directed my first film and won BFI Future Film Festival Best Documentary Award, launched my first company an Creative agency paid all my loans back in 3 months then did a Masters with an even bigger loan. 2 years later I closed my first company and started Unmaterialised™ and The Adv_™ Forum, two new companies. Since then I've exhibited/screened work internationally, discovered admiration in places I could only dream of and i.e Jo'burg and put together my first Board of Advisors while lecturing. That's Chapter 1...
I'm betting on better things happening in the years to come that will have the opportunity to really change things...I'll leave it there for now. Just know I'm always working just like yourself.
CN: Interesting journey, what were some of the lessons u learned in your journey so far?
CL-Q: Being a creative entrepreneur, like most creative practitioners are often isolated in the early stages. You are your first apostle without a doubt, friends and family typically come when there's the first sign of success. which can be disheartening, but ultimately necessary to see how much you really believe in what you're doing. You're going to learn more than you hoped and you are going to need to learn how to delegate, this will save your life, literally, possible on equal pegging as learning to delegate, I learnt to seek wisdom rather than knowledge, insight is so much more valuable than theoretical knowledge. Let's just say I learnt these things at great cost.
CN: How have you found balance being so multidisciplined?
CL-Q: Without a doubt, there are always casualties in new endeavors. Balance is a constant consideration, I'll put my hands up and say that I'm terrible at it when it comes to my work-life balance.BUT when it comes to the creative work having multiple disciplines, is just like having an armory. We choose the best weapon for the right mission and outcome. this is where the audience comes into play, with my Director how do I want them to feel? when? where? how and why? It's surgical.
CN: I think it's quite cool to see the creative practice in a surgical manner. I need to learn that.
CL-Q: It's not easy, but the reality creator circles are always a few steps ahead of the audience so we can plan as much as possible for a variety of outcomes; if we do our research right.
CN: Talk to us about your Unmaterialised™ & The Adv_™ Forum businesses?
CL-Q: Unmaterialised™ is a research archive, Agency & platform that creates elaborate scenes and installations to explore why politics may have influenced particular narratives beliefs and system in human existence.
The Adv_™ Forum is an immersive Forum, it help participants understand how systems briefs and narratives are developed by empathizing with their creators. Controversially, imagine trying to understand how Jan Smut thought and why? That insight is supposed to help you better understand how to dismantle any leftover ideologies in the most effective way possible. we use the terms 'Strategic Empathy' 'and the idea of 'Irresponsible Knowledge'. It's not an easy experience but it's enlightening. As a people, we have to learn to look beyond the accusations for understanding.
CN: Interesting businesses, How did they come about?
CL-Q: Unmaterialised™ is a result of my own research into key events. I was discovering a lot of resources that were public knowledge and quite frankly, disproved a lot for public knowledge. My first question was why?, then it was what difference does it make. Evidently quite a lot.
The Adv_™Forum came about me trying to understand a friend of mine which I butted heads with a lot. Initially, it was a case of right and wrong, but when you move past the element of ego, it's about understand how they came to that conclusion. Then I knew how to talk to them. It's not easy and my god do you need patience, but even if they don't change their stance, I now know more and better.
CN: How has business been?
CL-Q: Business has been good. We ended Phase 1 proving concepts and generating a healthy amount of respect and interest and we are prepping for Phase 2 maximizing the experience for our participants. we're in our R&D stage now.
CN: We met in Johannesburg, through your trip for ColabNowNow with British Council, has that trip impacted on the work?
CL-Q: More than I expected. I restructured The Adv_™ because of my experience in Johannesburg and the consideration of expanding my working within Africa as a whole. That was not the last time Jo'burg has seen me or all the people I met for a matter of fact.
CN: What were some of your interesting experiences In SA?
CL-Q: I had a dinner meeting with some great people, Mpho Matsipa, Mili Bongela, Molemo Moiloa, and that was just only the first trip! The first trip I saw the city of Jo'burg the second time I met the people. What an experience. The conversations and insight into the cultural and social elements were so enlightening.
CN: How important is travel in your work?
CL-Q: I'm realizing travel is increasingly important, especially the way my friends & I do it. We learn so much and find so many similarities that help us understand how the world works, and of course, this trickles down into the scenarios of The Adv_™. Priceless! without such diversity imagine how ignorant and limited we would be.
CN: How has technology impacted your work?
CL-Q: Technology plays a major role in both companies. Most notably in the ability to immerse participants in a scenario that they are able and willing to put their morals aside for the benefit of their objective. Some scenarios have bordered on arguments which are a sign of the participants' commitment to their role. In regards to Unmaterialised™ ,technology is used as a stop telling device, opening up the audience to the possibility of counterfactual evidence. When done right it encourages the audience to question what they really believe and why.
CN: In what ways did your upbringing influence your ideas about creativity, and also tech?
CL-Q: I grew up traveling around the continent, with parents that have a diverse background. One working in international politics and the other a chef / Fashion designer. I guess you can now see how my practice is a fusion of Design and politics now.
In regards to technology, there was no special relationship but there has always been a fascination in the classifications of technology, for example, to me religion is a form of tech and probably the most dangerous.
CN: What did having creative parents teach you?
CL-Q: 1. Having undeniable talent does not guarantee success. 2. What you deserve is not what you receive. 3. Despite the catharsis of creativity; give your audience something to own, beyond the experience. 3a.If they can't own something, give them one hell of an experience. 4. Creativity costs you more than you make at all times.
CN: What advice do you have for young creatives?
CL-Q: Ironically, I've been put off asking for advice from a stranger. On that note, my advice would be to get advice from people who are invested in what you are trying to build with a specific insight. If they are invested they are motivated.
CN: Why is that?
CL-Q: Everyone has an opinion and what you need are perspectives and that require time and effort and evidence to establish. There is a difference and one is objective when offered the other is fraught with emotion and a hunger to be validated by recruiting supports.
CN: I'm asking because we just did a book full of advice from diverse creatives.
CL-Q: Don't get me wrong there are fundamental examples of good practice that can be shared. Eventually, people will get that if they are serious but when the stakes are high, its time to level up your resources.
CN: What's the creative community like in your city?
CL-Q: London has a lot going on. A LOT!. Its also an immigrant city so you can almost find anything and everything here (if you know where to look). Of course, we have some authenticity issues and a heavy trend lead behavior but that's possible to avoid if you know the right people and places. When it becomes a real 24hr city I'm hoping that works to creatives benefits.
CN: What are your thoughts on the state of creative hubs for Africa/Black creatives (digital or physical)?
CL-Q: Creative hubs or spaces for African / African diaspora are like UFO sightings, rare, spectacular when they are seen but usually temporary. Unfortunately, they are underutilized or over-utilized and under-supported. There is a reliance on charity donation rather, our community is great at developing ideas and solutions but lacks the experience to sustain them. Now partly this is systemic, but also a lack of foresight, patience, and expertise and the ideology to be profitable.
I say this as previously being guilt of all three elements...the dream that everything should be free and that your impacting peoples live only lasts as long as your stomach is full.
CN: Who are some of the creatives you are loving right now in your city?
CL-Q: Good question. It's funny when you're that specific, I have no idea who's native to London or even passing through the city! It is so mixed. In terms of the what I've seen recently and following, Forensic Architecture, Ted Hunt's - Else & 'BenandSebastian' just to name a few . If I'm honest, I've been listening to more music than anything else, people like Blue Lab Skies, Tom Misch, Hello Skinny, James Vickery, Yasmin Lacey, Richard Spaven, Ashley Henry, Mammal Hands, Ezra Collective... the list goes on.
CN: What impact has Brexit been to you as a creative?
CL-Q: Right now there is a lot of fear and strategizing going on. For the artists, there is a restriction of funding, for those in education, there has been an increase in fees and the limitation of staying in the UK. I've seen an increase in British creatives creatively plead and mourning being European.
I can feel the appropriation and the exoticism growing
CN: What does that creativity mean to you?
CL-Q: Unconventional thinking for action.