Backs Against The Wall
Credited with reviving the art of the hand-painted ad, Good Looking Studio have transformed Poland’s cities with their supersized murals. Co-founder Karol Szufladowicz discusses the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the firm, as well as the firm’s non-commercial work during these challenging times.
How has the pandemic effected your operations?
KS: Let’s face it, almost the whole world has come to a stop so it’s not looking too colorful. From the ten projects we had planned for April, we executed two. On the plus side, we were always careful to build a financial pillow in case of bad times, and we’re glad to have done so because those bad times have now arrived. It’s hard to see light at the end of tunnel right now, but we can at least wait a little longer and observe the market before making any drastic decisions.
What’s been your strategy so far?
We don’t want to lose our team and melt the work we’ve accomplished over the last eleven years so although we’re trying to minimize our costs we haven’t lost anyone so far. We also need to be ready to go back to work at full power and get back to normal as soon as we are allowed. That said, we realize that ‘the new normal’ will be different, so we’re looking into making changes to our structure and diversifying into other areas and offering additional things. For sure the industry will change so we need to plan for different scenarios – if you don’t plan for those scenarios, you’ll be left behind.
How has the team responded?
We’ve got a great team who understand the situation – we’ve taken some hard decisions and introduced some tough measures but not one person has complained. It’s our goal to go through this with the entire team and to resume work without anyone losing their job. We don’t know if we can achieve that, but we want to at least try. They’re great people, and it’s brilliant to see that they’re not looking out for themselves; we’re in this together.
How has the scope of your day-to-day work changed?
On the management side we’re working harder because everything is changing so fast: restrictions, client demand, government guidelines – these are changing daily. It’s not unlike looking after a family. Right now we are focusing on minimizing our losses.
You’ve embarked on numerous social, non-commercial projects…
We can’t sit around doing nothing or else our blood would freeze! As such, we’ve painted the walls of a hospital treating coronavirus patients as well as a mural on Tamka voicing support for healthcare workers. Most recently, we’ve also painted four walls that belong to us with messages of hope.
Can you expand on that?
They’re very simple murals that come with one fundamental message: that things will get better. The background colors we’ve used are expressive and vivid and the messages themselves are devoid of any political or religious leanings – these murals are for everyone. We also added in a smiley icon as a symbol of the online communication that many have had to switch to. It’s a reminder that a smile, even a virtual one, is still a smile.
The works have quickly gone viral – are you surprised?
The news is being dominated by the negative right now, so whilst we know that our murals won’t change the world or bring this all to an end, we just wanted to lend a little positivity to the world. Some firms have used their extra time to make masks or supply food – painting walls is our way of giving back to the public during these times.
What have you learned from all of this?
We don’t need to be in the office all of the time. Of course, when it comes to painting walls then our painters need to be at a wall at a precise moment in time, but the backroom staff – those in sales, design, etc. – can just as easily do their jobs online as in the office. With the right energy, working remotely can be effective. It’s been an interesting crash course in home working, one that under normal conditions would have taken ages.
For more on Good Looking Studio, see: goodlooking.pl
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