Wednesday, May 30, 2007

From Crew 1 to Great Works

Hyper Island has been around for almost 11 years now. Mattias Nyström from Crew 1, co-founder of Great Works is an example of an old school Hyper Island student still going strong:

As yours was the first ever Hyper Island Crew, how did you find out about school?
I was studying at the University at the time when a friend of mine saw an article in 'Ölands bladet'. Since I didn't really like studying at a University I jumped at the opportunity of trying out a new experimental education. 

What have you been doing since your graduation?
After Hyperisland I moved to London. I was there for 6 years working with a couple of agencies but unfortunately only one still exist - the OTHER media. The others either crashed during the .com years or have merged into larger networks.
Once back in Stockholm I met the guys I founded Great Works with. At the time I joined their production company - Speedway Digital Army. 

How many people co-founded Great Works?
We were 5 people that started Great Works in its current form. A sixth person joined as a partner and recently we joined a japanese network called TYO Group.

How many people currently work at Great Works - including your offices in Stockholm, Barcelona and NYC?
Around 50 people are employed. We are also always having a bunch of freelancers involved in every office. 

What knowledge from Hyper Island have you brought with you in your work life?
There is always a solution to a problem - Hyper Island fueled my curiosity to find that solution. 

In the "Why Hyper Island" film, your Barcelona based co-worker Kristian Lundquist says the following about Hyper Island students:
"I think they have a very interesting background in the network they come from. ... It seems all the crews still are in contact somehow" - what value is that to the students and you as an employer?

Hyper Island students seem to help each other when they have a problem to solve - be it finding a production team, solving a technical problem or recruiting someone for a job. It's a huge value.

Why does Great Works hire graduated Hyper Island students?
We try to hire the best talents wherever they are from and believe in a mix of backgrounds. However, some really good people are coming out of Hyper Island so having studied there is an excellent first filter in a hiring process. 

Any final words of advice to up and coming digital media industry talents?
Keep experimenting. Do what you can to push the world forward!

Thank you Mattias!

Hyper Island: Thoughts from an International perspective

Photo source:

While searching the web for outside thoughts on Hyper Island, we stumbled over Netherlands based Lee Feldman, CCO of Blast Radius. Lee related his experience at the Vancouver Film School to Hyper Island and we were curious as to why:

When you list Hyper Island as similar to your education at Vancouver Film School, in what ways are you thinking they are?
- Experimental
- Collaborative
- Open-minded
- Empathetic
- Global
- Selective

If you would choose a couple of words to represent what you think Hyper Island is, what words would those be?
- Experimental
- Open-Minded

Based on your experience working in Japan, with Swedish IKEA and now in Netherlands, what learning experiences from different cultures do you value the most?
My personal and professional interests are around what common, shared values exist between cultures and conversely, the excitement of what makes us different. The theory is of the insider-outsider- that everyone today lives a contradiction of belonging but never fully belonging, as Groucho and Woody (famous insider-outsiders) once said, "I'll never belong to a club that would have me as a member."
I believe that most young (post-baby boomer) people are living this contradiction expressing their individuality AND being constantly connected- a beautiful contradiction! This also plays itself out on the global-local scales.
I was in the jungle in Cambodia and I see kids watching 50 Cent shtupping 5 women in a McMansion on MTV- hello Contradiction? What kinds of values does this create for the future? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the world we are creating? What are the opportunities and challenges?

Where do you find inspiration?
From science and science fiction, from urban planning and architecture, from the social sciences, processing art, machinima, and from the emerging areas of green-tech, sustainability, the slow movement, and nature. Bicycle design and culture and other human-powered systems are my real passions. Places like provide a lot of the content and ideas that get me excited about life in the 21st century.

(5) If you were to tell the future - what new ways of marketing do you think will be big?
The mashup of social networks, analytics, location awareness, user generated services and data visualizations delivered on mobile devices = future

Any piece of advise for up and coming digital media designers/programmers/managers?
Figure out how to do number 5

Finally, we of course want to know more about Blast Radius. What can you tell us?
We are trying to do number 5 and we are only part way there. I believe we have all the ingredients, but need new examples, ways of thinking and doing, and people who represent a new mindset- the balance between logic and emotion- to help us change the world. Interested?

Thank you Lee!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

An internship story

Crew 11's Johan Gustafsson tells us about his August 2006 - March 2007 internship placement experience:

I just got back from my 7 month internship at Big Spaceship LLC. in New York City. At Big Spaceship I worked mostly with animations for broadcast/web, and realized that motion graphics was the thing that really got to me. The biggest project I've ever worked on, was creating an animated theme for New Years Eve at Times Square. I was also involved in several major projects such as: Ghost Rider,, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts TV-spots and Grindhouse.

Case Studies, as seen in reel below:
Target - New Years Eve theme
Creating the main animations for the celebration of New Years Eve at Times Square, NYC. This project had a timespan of 3 weeks.
The six different themes Target wanted us to create were: Cheer, Dance, Peace, Play, Hope and Celebrate.
We animated every theme separate for three different billboards. Reuters, Nasdaq and Discover.

This was one of Big Spaceship's broadcast divsions first jobs. For me, as an intern, it felt great to be a part of something huge like this.
See a video of the result here! - Royal Caribbean is a site made for the travel agency Royal Caribbean. Everything is based on a talking suitcase named Sammy. He's in lead of the entire show, telling you where you should travel, by letting you pack your own suitcase full of interesting stuff. Thereby, generating wether you should go to Alaska, The Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii or Europe. This was a huge project that took 4 months, and almost everybody at Big Spaceship pitched in.

At Big Spaceship I was treated like an employee and was handed real client work from day one. When you're given that kind of responsibility, it feels like you landed in the right place, you hit the spot, you're home.
I'm really happy with my internship, I came to a great place, and I've learnt a lot.
The Big Spaceship crew did a really good job making me feel like a part of the team, a valuable member. Big up to the crew!

The next step for me is to keep evolving within the fields of Motion Graphics. This is the fastest growing extension of computer graphics, and it gets bigger by the hour.

Best of luck to you Johan!

Roger is back in business!

Hyper Island staff legend (yes, he is) Roger Sjögren is back after having been elsewhere since 2004. We wanted to catch up and introduce him to those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting him yet.

Roger, after having been away for 3 years you're back. Where have you been?
After I finished working at Hyper Island early 2004 I moved directly to the Middle East to project manage a United Nation conference about Palestinian refugee children. Since I really found it interesting and great living in the Middle East region I decided to stay there for a while working with different cooperation development projects and international aid projects!

What experiences from your time away do you bring with you back to Hyper Island?
I have been working in multicultural environments which I think has taught me a lot more about how to gain constructive dynamics bringing people together from different parts of the world. I have also gained much more knowledge and experiences of working with large scale projects. Since Hyper Island is in its really first kind of phase of expanding outside Karlskrona and to open up one of the programs for english speaking people I know my knowledge and experiences from the last three years will be useful! :)

How long have you been involved with Hyper Island?
I was kind of volunteering in the planning phase of Hyper Island during 1995 even before it became a limited company. So I would say from the very very beginning!

Do you have a favorite success story from Hyper Island?
Wow, this one is really difficult to answer I think, since there are so many stories I found being great successes! Of course a favorite is that more than the majority of graduated students have got work postions they are really satisfied and happy with and that more than 80% of the students already have jobs when they graduate! I would also put forward the unique pedagogical model, that has several times been internationally recognized, as probably the greatest success of Hyper Island!

What do you think Hyper Island students bring to the industry that it otherwise would be lacking?
I think Hyper Island students in general hold a broad understanding of the industry that they are suppose to work in and having this holistic view is quite a unique and valuable quality when it comes to visionary and strategical work. I would also put forward that the industry needs to get a greater understanding of group dynamics and working with the self insight of staff and its relation to creating a more effective, healthy and more profitable working environment! All students at Hyper Island are well trained and experienced in such issues!

If you were a student at Hyper Island, what part of the education would you look forward to most?
I would look forward to all the problem solving moments and to use my creativity and practise in being creative in all moments of the education! I also would love the different challenges there are to try out myself and my capacity and experiences by taking on different roles and tasks, especially the ones I am less skillful in, in order to get a strong learning experience!

If you could say one thing to potential applicants out there, what would it be?
Believe in your own ability and capacity!

Any life lessons you want to share?
Once upon a time I was quite a shy person and I am introvert by nature, but even so I did put myself in many different situations that were quite frustrating for me and also very challenging. But I decided that in order for me to learn I had do things, try out things and allow myself to potentially fail. This has created a learning part of me that I am so happy and satisfied with, and it is difficult to see myself today not acting according to it!

Thank you Roger!

Monday, May 28, 2007

We're cooking...

Hyper Island and representatives from the digital media industry are currently planning the modules in preparation for fall 2007.

We want to tell you all about it... but you'll have to wait and see!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Grüße von Berlin

Since graduating from Hyper Island, Linda Gavin (Leow during the time at Hyper Island) has made choices that might be unconventional for a successful designer. Linda tells us more about what her life is like, running her own company, cunsulting and living in Berlin.

- Since my style is so particular, I have chosen to broaden the area I work in so that I can do fun things all the time. If I had chosen to do what most Hyper Island students do and worked my way up in a company, then jump from company to company doing the same thing, I would have never have ended up doing what I really want to do. This way I've been able to make packaging design, magazine covers, the Twitter logo, game covers for EA games, a Nike campaign and a promotion game pushing for cellphone Flash games for Adobe. Mostly I work with web projects, but I see design as design independent of which media it's for.

- I want to live a fun life and be able to spend a lot of time with my hobbies and want to work with fun projects. Therefore I've chosen to work by myself. It's important for me to work in a creative environment where I have full control of my life. When I step into an office the feeling of control and creativity disappears. The sterile environment and hierarchies makes me very unhappy. I want to live in my own bubble and have fun. If I didn't, my life would be meaningless.

- Eventually I'd like to move in to a studio where friends could gather and work on projects. I'm not interested in starting partnerships with anybody but would like to have friends around for more stimulation. Being able grab lunch, play console games together, grab a beer after work and dream about bigger, more fun projects with othes. Kind of like we did during my time at Hyper Island. I really miss that sometimes.

- Berlin is the perfect city for me. Time passes slower here and I feel that this is the only city where I can be myself. Everything is non-pretentious and there are an endless number of chill-out places to hang out at. The low pulse and the filthy charm makes the city inspiring for me. Things that's so important in Sweden like careers, an awesome flat and being fit, healthy and beautiful are of no importance in my Berlin. The life here is more about living the life to the fullest and be happy.

- I love my life, my job and my city and I know it's going to get even better with time. This is how it feels to be happy and I'm grateful that I get to experience it.
- One hobby, a side project of mine is running an online-shop and I make doll clothtes for Asian doll collectors. It's very new so all I have so far are clothes for Blythe and tiny Bjd's, but I'll extend the line to MSD-sized dolls in a near future.
- I was asked to think of something to say to future students. I think you should embrace the feeling of your first weeks of the education and preserv that positive energy. That will take you far! Work hard and have fun while doing it!

Thank you Linda!

From Hyper Island to NY state

Erik Engström from Hyper Island's Crew 2 has lived and worked in the US since graduation. We wanted to know more:

- Immediately after graduation, I returned to San Francisco where I had spent 6 months as an intern at MetaDesign. After a brief periond at Icon Medialab SF I was contacted by a few former colleagues who had left MetaDesign to start their own company that was to be called Method. 

This was in the end of 98 and it was a very exiting time in San Francisco, the “internet bubble” was inflating rapidly and business was booming. It was the perfect moment to start a company and I had the opportunity to be apart of it from the beginning. 

My first day at work we were assembling office furniture and unpacking our fancy, shiny, blue and white G3s. We were subletting a corner of an office space and it started out with just the founders and myself. Within a few months there was close to 30 of us. I stayed at Method for six years and I'm very grateful for everything I got to experience and learn during my time there.

In 2005, I decided it was time to move on when I was offered a job at Apple Computers. This was a very interesting time as I had the chance to work in a few different groups with everything from Retail graphics and window displays to user interfaces design.

After many years of rather intense work as an employee I wanted to try working on my own on a freelance basis and have been doing for the last year and a half.

What made you choose New York?
Moving to New York was anything but a career move considering I was moving away from all my contacts and moving to a relatively small city in upstate New York where no one knew me and nothing much seems to be going on work wise. It was a gamble but it worked out and I have been fortunate enough to maintain a lot of contacts in SF and create new ones in NYC.

What did you learn during your time at Apple?
I'm not going to deny that giving up my long employment at Method put me out of my comfort zone to say the least, and one of the most valuable lessons I learned is that you are usually capable of more than you realize and big scary changes can turn out to be a lot more manageable then you had anticipated.
More specific to Apple, I learned some things about the effects of hierarchy structures and company culture.

In what way have you utilized what you learned at Hyper Island in your work life?
When I think back on my time at Hyper Island I don't think about learning specific skills or obtaining specific knowledge but rather learning what the occupation requires and how to function as a member of a team. So in that sense, what I learned has been very fundamental and I utilize it all the time.

Have you felt that being Swedish has helped your reputation as a designer?
In some small ways, yes. I sometimes feel like it gives you this credibility that you have done nothing personally to deserve.

What recommendations on how to keep up to date would you give to someone who wants to work with graphic design?
I'm really the wrong person to ask. I don't make any conscious efforts to keep up. You get influenced by everything you see and experience, design related or not.

What would you tell a potential student who's not sure if she/he want to apply to Hyper Island?
In my opinion, if you spend your time wisely at Hyper Island you will be well prepared to tackle what work life throws at you. So I would say – Do it.

Thank you Erik!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

See you in Stockholm, Maria!

We got in touch with Maria Lübeck from Hyper Island's Crew 2, back in Sweden after a few years of working in the UK.

What have you been doing since graduating from Hyper Island?
Well, quite a few things… I have been working as an interactive designer, a web designer, designer for mobile phones, with online advertising, as a design manager and as a creative ops manager. Now I’m working as a brand consultant.
Being back in Stockholm after 9 years in the UK, what learning experiences from London are most important to you?
Probably that you shouldn’t be afraid to tell people what you’re good at, as well as telling them in which areas you can improve (ideally also tell them how you plan to do it). Also that getting yourself a mentor in whatever area you’re interested in can be a great help.

In what way have you utilized what you learned at Hyper Island in your work life?
Practice makes perfect... Seriously though, I think one of the main things learnt was not to be afraid to try something out, even if it might fail. All you have to do is try again or try something else.

When you think back on your time at Hyper Island, what do you remember most?
The way you learnt by actually doing. It was so much more practical than anything I’d tried before. This made it less of a shock when you started working ‘for real’.

What would you tell a potential student who's not sure if she/he want to apply to Hyper Island?
You’d miss out if you don’t. It was hectic, but oh so much fun! You will also get yourself an amazing new network of people.

What recommendations on how to keep up to date would you give to someone who wants to work with brand consulting/branding?
Look at everything, read everything, listen to everything and question everything. Talk to different people in different businesses. Find your favourite brand(s), look at how they got to where they are and how they work their brand.

What are you looking forward to in the future?
Continuing to have fun with what I do. And learning lots of new things.

Thank you Maria!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hyper Island interview by Shift in 2002

An interview with Crew 6's Fredrik Averpil by Shift in 2002.

Sign up for heysan!

Photo: Robyn Twoney for Newsweek

If you have a mobile with internet access and you live anywhere in the world - this is for you!

heysan! is a new mobile instant messaging service created by Hyper Island Crew 6's Pär and Gustaf together with Business Developer Marie Brattberg and Developer and Information Architect Michael Ossareh. We were curious about how the idea turned into a business and what heysan! see coming in the mobile industry.
We got in touch with Gustaf to find out more;

How did the four of you meet?
Me and Pelle were both in Crew 6 at Hyper Island and that's where we met. After we gradutated Pelle went to Uppsala and I left for London and New York to work. While at another company in New York my new CEO asked me to find a great programmer and the best programmer I could think of was Pelle. Pelle knew Marie who was also in computer science at Uppsala and she also joined same summer. Late last year all three of us left that company for different reasons but after a while got together again and decided to form heysan. We needed another developer and Michael who I'd worked with in London joined too. They are all awesome.

How did you come up with the idea of heysan?
In essence the idea of heysan is to give people mobile instant messaging, like MSN, AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo and ICQ on your mobile phone - for free!

If you send an SMS message today that cost around 5000% more than if you the same message of a mobile data connection, like mobile web. Most forms of messaging, like email or SMS for example are moving towards being more direct and syncronous. The user interfaces are starting to reflect that, for example Gmail was built to be more like IM than e-mail, because that's how you naturally use it. The SMS interface on the new iPhone looks like iChat. That's not a coincidence, but it will be very expensive when people start sending IM over SMS since you send many more IM's.

We saw a company online called doing a really excellent job by providing easy web-access to MSN, AIM, Gtalk etc and we were thinking, "We should do this on mobile phones", and give it out for free.
That's what we're doing and the response have been pretty crazy - we're getting way more sign ups for our beta program than we can handle - and really from all over the world. For the first time in my life I'm interacting with truly passionate users and that's an awesome feeling.

The company was founded in January 2007 and that's when we got our investment from a seed-fund called Y Combinator. Y Combinator is a program for young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. When we got accepted we moved out to San Francisco and have been there since (on and off). Product-wise we started working in December but in the beginning development is much slower since you have to think about everything you are developing before doing it. Adding features to a existing product is much easier.

Y Combinator reminded us a lot about Hyper Island, it's built on the same DIY principles. If you want to build something, don't write a business plan, just go out a build it - and that's what we did. We've met with a lot investors and so far none has asked for a business plan.

We are lucky to share office space with Twitter, another mobile company that literally exploded in the last couple of months. Started by the same person who did Blogger (which this blog is hosted on)..:)

Has the pre-launch attracted the expected target group?
Yes, we've gotten a lot more signups than we can invite today. Y Combinator and heysan! were featured in Newsweek last week which drove a huge amount of signups. We weren't really prepared for that but it feels great having thousands of people being interested in what you're doing.

What trends do you see coming in the mobile industry?
Everything that improves communication between people has the best chance of succeeding. There are more camera-phones than digital phones in the world, but we've only seen a fraction of the applications that can be built on that. Same with location. If done right (like loopt) it will be huge, as well as advertising, but only if it's done right (like admob). The ratio of time vs. money being spent on mobile advertising compared to traditional media is like 1/100. That's called inefficiency.

Everyone in the industry is waiting for a true viral hit, like Hotmail or YouTube being replicated on mobile. If it doesn't happen this year, it will happens next year, I'm almost certain. After that, this industry will fundamentally change.

Do you have any tips for those who want to work with mobile services?
I actually think Hyper Island did a great job to prepare us, not because of the mobile aspect but because it gives you a self-esteem, kind of "I can do this now". I think you should stay away from schools and companies that don't foster people into taking their daily lives in their own hands. Hyper Island sent me to Hong Kong and New York before I turned 22, I was nervous as hell but there were few things in my professional life that seemed much harder after doing that.

Other good advice, never work for a mobile operator. They are part of yesterdays legacy. Innovation will happen elsewhere.

Finally - When does the full version of heysan! launch?
Very soon, we're working day and night now. If you sign up for the beta chances are you don't have to wait for the launch. ;)

Thank you Gustaf and heysan!

Monday, May 21, 2007

New CEO at Hyper Island!

Photo: Martin Bogren

Name: Mattias Hansson

Age: 38

Family: Engaged to Maria (designer at H&M), Erik, 5 years, and another son due to late June.

History: top positions in Swedish TV, radio, magazines, Internet and new media. Now finishing an MBA, global concentration, at Stockholm School of Economics. A school from where I also have a diploma from the Advanced Management Program.

Occupation: Soon (the 1st of June) to be appointed CEO of Hyper Island.

Mission: To upgrade and grow the brand Hyper Island, while revolutionize education.

Promise to: take good care of Hyper Island and don’t hesitate to take tough decisions to let the brand grow in the right direction.

Dream of: A private zendo for daily meditation. Maybe we can have it at school soon!

CD: ”Nail” by Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel. “Hillbilly DeLuxe” by Dwight Yoakam.

Movie: ”Apocalypse Now” by Francis Ford Coppola. “Darling” by Johan Kling is probably the best Swedish film produced post-Bergman. Will Ferrell is always worth watching.

Contemporary artist: Damien Hirst and Dan Wolgers. And of course Charlotte Gyllenhammar. And Carl Johan De Geer has (still) always something interesting to say.

Museums: SFMOMA and Prado Madrid (I can watch the Bosch-paintings for hours and hours, they never stop to fascinate with their timeless mysticism).

Magazines: Economist and Wired. Monocle and Odd At Large.

Writers: PO Bronson and Carl Hiaasen.

Right now reading: “Previous Convictions” by A.A. Gill and “Killing Yourself To Live” by Chuck Klosterman.

Funniest: Sarah Silverman and Larry David.

Also: I have written three books about media. The first one, titled “Welcome to the cyber-world” (-98) was about the exploding Internet culture. The latest book was titled “Media – How it works (really)” (-00) and is a book for young media wannabes. On spare time I’m now working on my first novel, it’s kind of my meditative hobby.

Beside work: I’m co-founder and owner of Swedish regional bi-monthly magazine SKÅNE (Allers förlag) with a target audience amongst 40-60 year old women in the south of Sweden (?!). I am also going to keep my engagement in Media Mötesplats Malmö with whom I try to create a Moving Media Center for advanced research and production of moving media for new media solutions in fast growing Västra Hamnen, Malmö.

Confession: I am a passionate outdoor man, with hunting of deer and wild boars as a special interest. A couple of times a year I go with fellow media-men, designers, art directors, advertising executives and stand up comedians (!?) deep down into the Swedish woods…

Learn more about me: at homemade (sorry, folks!) Swedish resume-page:

Looking forward to: See you soon.

All the best,

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sixten goes Australia

National Gallery of Australia in Canberra has bought three of Sixten's paintings to be included in their permanent collection.
The stencils are sprayed on paper and will be part of the Australian Prints and Works on Paper Collection.

The idea of bringing in street art to the gallery was initiated four years ago and is the first time it's happen at a gallery of NGA's size in Australia - possibly even in the world!


International students of Hyper Island: Ana Labudovic, Crew 10

Zdravo Ana Labudovic from Croatia, Crew 10!

How did you find out about Hyper Island?
I first read about it in Creative Review, that was really a long time ago. The concept of a creative school situated in an old prison kind of got stuck in my head. From then on I just kept on seeing all this great student work from over there.

What did you have to go through to get to Hyper Island?
I had to go through some big changes - I left my job, apartment, not to mention family and friends, and had the pleasure of going through some jolly-good-old bureaucracy. Applying for a visa and getting it all done in time was a bit stressy but the key was keeping in touch with my embassy and making sure they followed up on everything.
I took some classes of Swedish before coming there so I had a solid ground to start learning "for real".

Once in Sweden did you feel limited by your language knowledge or did you feel you had the opportunity to learn as the Swedes?
The language barrier was frustrating at the beginning, especially if it's your first time living in a foreign country, but very soon I realized that it's all about adapting and finding new ways to make things work.
My colleagues were quite supportive, they'd help me fill in the gaps in case I missed out on parts of the lectures, and if it got hard.. well, everyone speaks really good English :)

What did you think was strange or funny about Sweden?
Boys that spend 2 hours in front of the mirror trying to make their hair look like they just woke up. So much good food and candy and äppelpaj med vaniljsås but i never got fat.

What did you think was unexpectedly easy in Sweden?
Well the general standard is quite high, people that live there don't really pay attention to those things until they move out. All this public transport, trains, banks and whichever service that requires queuing is so much better organized. And you don't have the feeling everyone just wants to take your money and leave you with the minimum.

What learning experiences from your Hyper Island education have brought with you to your work life?
I guess the most I learned in the end is related to working in groups and understanding how people function. Mostly I learned how I myself handle situations and which things I need to focus on more. During school you try out things and it's ok because it's like your playground.
Then you get a whooole new dimension of learning during your internship when you're dealing with real clients and real money.

What do you think Croatians, or non-Swedes in general, can learn from studying in Sweden which they might not be exposed to otherwise?
I guess this holistic approach to work and solving problems is something I haven't encountered before, I was impressed by the work ethics itself, the tolerance and non-aggressive ways to sort out conflicts and issues, and above all the amount of time spent in creating concepts that make sense before moving to the design stage of the process.
Ah yes, process, that word is all coloured yellow and blue for me.

Words of wisdom for non-Swedes out there that are unsure of if they should take a chance on Hyper Island?
I'll allow myself with a luxury of being so cliche and say:
If you don't take a chance, you don't have one.

Hvala Ana!

International students of Hyper Island: Amber Sellers, Crew 10

Hello Amber Sellers from the USA, Crew 10!

How did you find out about Hyper Island?
I was tinkering with the idea of going to a design school that specialized in interactive design, but wasn’t sure what schools were really out there. I thought a good way to find a great school was to find out where people whose sites I liked went to school. I started researching hot design portals and reading through the designers “about” sections. I found a lot of quality designers went to Hyper Island. Crew 8’s internship site was popular and posted everywhere as well. I tried to dismiss Hyper Island because it would be a tough move to Sweden (with it being so far away and that I’d have to learn Swedish). However, with more research I found it really was the best school for me out there. I decided to dig a bit deeper and see if they would be interested in accepting me.

What did you have to go through to get to Hyper Island?
I gave up a lot to go to Hyper Island. It was a huge risk for me on many levels, but in the end it was completely worth it.
My Former Life & A Large Loan
I had a fabulous, well-paying job in Los Angeles with a sweet Loft in a funky art district, but I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing for a living. In order for me to go to Hyper Island I needed to borrow some money from my family because no student loan companies in the United States recognized Hyper Island as a legitimate University. I remember sitting my father down and telling him I was giving up a great career and life that I had built to go back to school – art school – in Europe of all places. At first he didn’t take me seriously. He was worried I’d end up exchanging a solid career for a starving artist position, now with a large debt to him. I could see his point of view, which was a lot of pressure. Somehow I managed to convince him this is what I needed to do and that it was entirely worth the gamble.
Learning Swedish
I made the concrete decision to seriously apply to Hyper Island in the first week of April in 2004. The deadline for portfolio submissions was May 15th. I had just over one month to pull a portfolio together, see if I could roughly pick up Swedish, and apply. I searched for a local Swedish tutor and found one that could meet with me 3 to 4 times a week for an hour of Swedish Lessons. I started with her that first weekend in April. I remember flipping through my text book and thinking “Aight Girl, what did you get yourself into now?! This is madness!”. I gave it a proper a month-long shot and it turned out to not be so bad at all. In fact, it was surprisingly simple. I ended up also taking an intensive 3 week language course in Sweden over the summer before the first semester started, which did the trick.
That year it was a requirement to know basic Swedish and pass an SFI test (Swedish language test) because most of the lectures would be given in Swedish. I hear that’s no longer a requirement, but the language is relatively simple to pick up and would be very useful to learn.
Fear of Culture Shock
This education would include new surroundings, a new language, and a different way of thinking.
I had to throw myself into my fear of the unknown and hope that I would find a way to fit in. I didn’t have a chance to “test-drive” Sweden and see if I liked it because it was so far away. It was either I got accepted and went, or didn’t. I studied my Lonely Planet guide on Sweden, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best.
Once in Sweden did you feel limited by your language knowledge or did you feel you had the opportunity to learn as much as the Swedes?
Overall, I do feel I had an opportunity to learn as the Swedes. Most learning is done by doing. That’s an experience anyone from any language background can learn from. However, there were a few times when the lecturer was speaking in Swedish and I wish I could have understood every word because the topic was fascinating. What I couldn’t grasp on my own I could easily ask for a quick translation from my peers (who were happy to help). In the end I was able to grasp the important points during those rare language barrier moments. I found most students wanted to practice their English skills and were happy to converse with me in English where my basic Swedish skills fell short.
What did you think was strange or funny about Sweden?
- The first thing that comes to mind is the ice cream trucks in Sweden. In the US children chase after them in the neighborhood streets, but in Sweden it is the parents. It was such a strange experience to hear the child-like tune playing from the truck’s loud speaker and seeing parents running after it, and even stranger was that the truck came by all year long, even throughout the cold, snowy winters.
- Milk and yogurt both come in the same looking carton. After pouring yogurt into my coffee in front of everyone, I learned those Swedish words on the packaging pretty fast.
- The pizza shop has 30 different types of pizza you can order and some popular items include corn and tuna.
- IKEA has the same products in Sweden as in the US, and many Swedes shop there. It was strangely comforting to see the same glassware, candle stick holders, and bedding in my fellow students rooms as I had back at home in Los Angeles. If you shop at IKEA you may just literally feel at home there.
- Strawberry vendors some out in the summer and sell their strawberries on nearly every street corner. It smells nice throughout the towns and they taste amazing - like no other strawberry.
- Working in an old prison was interesting. It’s pretty easy to focus on what you’re doing in there.
- Every shop in Sweden closes on Saturdays at 4pm and remains closed until Monday. Coming from 24/7 America this was quite an adjustment. I was frustrated at first that I couldn’t go shopping on Sunday afternoons, even at the grocery store, but you learn to plan ahead and roll with the relaxed atmosphere.

What did you think was unexpectedly easy in Sweden?
- That punctuality thing was a blessing and a curse. Swedes are amazingly on time and frown upon tardiness. It was great to know exactly when the bus and train would be arriving and that your study group meant business and would show up on time. However, I had to quickly learn to be on time myself.
- Visas weren’t too bad either. Some paper work, of course, but I didn’t have to interview with anyone and get the third degree.
- The language was pretty easy to figure out. It is surprisingly a bit like English once you pick up the patterns. There isn’t much of a language barrier though because just about everyone speaks English, so it is very easy to get around.

What learning experiences from your Hyper Island education have you brought with you to your work life?
There is so much I have taken with me from Hyper Island on a professional and personal level. Here is just a few off the top of my head:
- This is where the whole “learning by doing” thing comes in to play. I’ve taken what I’ve learned to expect from a project lifecycle by actually working on real projects while at Hyper Island. I was prepared to know what was likely to come about through the project process. There are ups and downs and potential disasters to avoid that I’ve learned to navigate through. I started my list of do’s and don’ts back in school and it was a great foundation which I add to today.
- I’ve learned what to look for in teammates. Who I work well with and what sort of team I need to get the job done right.
- There was a great lecture about clients, what to prepare for with them and how to avoid certain negative situations. This was brilliant and has helped me a lot with avoiding a few black holes.
- I learned how to give and receive feedback. What giving feedback really means – to listen to others needs, to be open to change, and to be able to speak up when you need something. It is amazing what an important thing feedback is to a team and to everyone you have a relationship with in general. It would be very beneficial if it was built into the process of everything we do.
- On a personal note, I’ve learned I like to be a leader and about the different ways people need to be lead. This has changed me as a person and how I handle myself now.
What do you think Americans, or non-Swedes in general, can learn from studying in Sweden which they might not be exposed to otherwise?

From Studying in Sweden in General
- It is an amazing experience to submerse yourself in a different culture. Sweden has a wonderful and unique one with many pleasant surprises.

- Sweden is a very inspiring place for an aspiring designer. Advertising, store displays, products and packaging are so well designed and this great design is found just about everywhere you turn. I remember the first time I flew into Copenhagen on my way to Hyper Island. The airport was breathtaking, like a feature article from the magazine Dwell.

From by Studying at Hyper Island
- One of the reasons I chose Hyper Island was that it wasn’t like any other university I came across in the states. It isn’t based on text books, old marketing theories, or tests. It is based on diving into the work first hand, being allowed to make mistakes and learning from them, learning from lecturers currently and successfully working in the field, and learning how to teach yourself what you need to know (how to pick up a new skill and research something instead of relying on others to teach it to you).

- Hyper Island has a great reputation. Now that I’m working in the industry I see that Hyper Island interns are coveted and valued for the talent and work ethic. If you have the skills and drive many top interactive studios will show interest in you.
- Hyper Island is very selective with who is admitted into their program. This pays off as being a student there because you are surrounded with driven peers who are smart, talented, and passionate about what they are doing and want to learn.

- There are some important skills that Hyper Island offers that aren’t part of an average university’s curriculum, some of which include: team building skills, leadership techniques, and the importance and demonstration of feedback and open communication.

Words of wisdom for non-Swedes out there that are unsure of if they should take a chance on Hyper Island?
- Sweden is a welcoming place. Everyone I met was friendly and helpful, so no need to worry on that front.
- For me, studying at Hyper Island was entirely worth the effort for the quality education and experience. It exceeded my expectations and prepared me for where I am today (a busy, happy, successful designer at a top interactive studio – Luuuvin’ it!).
- It takes an adventures spirit with a goal in mind to take on the Hyper Island experience, but if you really want to learn and you love this industry you’ve got a great opportunity here to seize your dreams. Just try and you may be surprised. You never know, it may be easier then you think!

Thank you Amber!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We look forward to playing Pandaland

Crew 9's Philip Clevberger has together with friends designer Svante Danielsson and sound designer Nils Vaernö created the online game Pandaland.

Taking place on Nytorget, Café String, Carmen and Björns trädgård on Södermalm in Stockholm, your mission as indie pop girl Amanda Panda is to save Söder from the lizard brat boss who has kidnapped all your indie friends and replaces them with tanned upper-class brats from Östermalm.
Collect life-elixirs cigarettes, plastic glasses with beer, iPods and Swedish delicacy semlor to keep you energized along the way.

The game, which will be released in June 2007, is already getting a lot of attention in Swedish media.
Having been seen in Nöjesguiden, Stockholm City, Aftonbladet's Spelbloggen, Bon, Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Nyheter, seen on TV4 and heard on SR Metropol, Pandalands designer Svante will be interviewed and a sneak peak of the game will be seen on Mycket Mer än Müsli on MTV on May 17th. Don't miss it!

Check out the Pandaland music on MySpace.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How three Hyper Island students started Acne Digital

Acne Digital was kicked off officially in January 2007. Since then, the company has grown to nine people with aspirations to expand, both in terms of skilled people and projects.

It was started by three Hyper Island students from Crew 9, Desmond Arsan (Art Director), Markus Forsberg (Interactive Director) and Erik Winn (Art Director) together with project managers Lisa Stavenow and Max Ahlborn.
Desmond approached Acne AB with the idea of starting a web oriented company as he was freelancing at the former motion company, Erik and Markus were working at Fantasy Interactive at that time.

- We all got together and discussed the idea. We had been talking about doing our own thing for some time. As this great opportunity arised it became clear to us that it was the perfect time to grab it, says Markus.

They all worked abroad during their Hyper Island internships, Markus and Erik in London and Desmond in Los Angeles. Erik and Markus then moved back to Sweden to work and help business flower as senior designer and senior interactive at Fantasy Interactive. Desmond moved down to Barcelona to freelance for various companies.

- Acne Digital is a combination of a web production company and a free-standing web company working directly with clients, fulfilling their digital marketing needs with focus on top notch interactivity and design/art, says Erik.

With both excellent design and deep technical know-how they strive to take things a few steps further.
- Fusing graphical and interactive ideas from creative people with such different backgrounds as the people here at Acne Digital really gives us a chance to create unique things, says Markus.

Acne Digital is the youngest of four companies under the Acne collective that consists of Acne Creative, Acne Film, Acne Junior (a soft toy company) and Acne Jeans.
- Working so close to these other companies really expands the possibilities for us. Video is becoming more and more integrated with the web, having a film company sitting right next to us is just awesome, says Desmond.

So far, Acne Digital has worked with clients such as Volvo, McDonald's, SAS, Ving, Telenor, Systembolaget, Viking Line, Silja Line and Spirit Stores. They’ve mostly acted as web production company under agencies such as Forsman & Bodenfors and Garbergs but are no strangers to working directly with the client.

What about the experience they brought from their time at Hyper Island?
- The experience gained from working with real projects with the freedom to really explore and consider what you were doing has really proven to come in handy. Having full responsibility and a chance to own the project gave a lot of insight and in the end; confidence, says Markus.

- Working hard and not being scared of criticism or feedback.
Having a thought behind what you create and remember what you learned from previous projects.
The way you work in the teams at Hyper Island is a great preparation for what's waiting in the industry. Hyper Island also gives insight to the broadness of Digital Media - there are always new things to learn which spurs students to stay curious, says Erik.

- The door is open, just go right through it and if it's locked/closed; kick it in, says Desmond.

Thank you Acne Digital!

For our foreign friends

Policy for foreign students applying to Hyper Island.

Study in - for more information on why Sweden?, scholarships and accommodation.

For those of you who are planning to study Swedish - check out the information on the Learn Swedish page.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Good work Magnus!

Crew 8's Magnus Cederholm has won a diploma from Grafill for his work on Color Line Ferieverden.

webesteem art & design magazine about Hyper Island

Photo: Hanna Lundgren, Crew 11

Marcin Warpechowski from webesteem art & design magazine visited Hyper Island Karlskrona in 2006 and wrote this article. We think it's great!

What an ex-student has to say about Hyper Island

In January 2007 Crew 9's Philip Clevberger's report on his experiences as a student at Hyper Island was featured in SemiotiX.
Read the report!

Antonio Domingo blogs about Hyper Island after having read Philip's report.
Read more! (in Spanish)
Read more! (in English, run through Google's translation system)

Inspire Italy

Hyper Island's Anna-Lena Rikardsson and Åsa Silfverberg were invited to Italy in March 2007 to inspire the Italian government about vocational education.

Read more! (in Italian)
Read more! (in English, run through Google's translation system)

Did you see us in Metro?

Metro May 10th 2007 - Left: Metro Stockholm, Right: Metro Riks

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hyper Island in Dagens Nyheter

Photo: Lars Epsstein, Dagens Nyheter

Young Creatives Sweden 2007 winners Anna Gullstrand (Project Manager at Deasign) and Josefin Jansson (Art Director at Futurniture) as well as Hyper Island's Roger Sjögren were featured in an article in Dagens Nyheter's Jobb section on Sunday May 13th.

Read more! (in Swedish)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Motion reel

A motion reel with pieces from Hyper Island students and ex-students Jakob Nylund, Vinh Kha, Jens Karlsson and Johan Stéen.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Final project with WeSC & VICE

Six of our Crew 11 students have teamed up wtih WeSC for their final project. They have already released two out of three phases in what is to be the stepping stone for WeSC on the web. They are currently working on the last phase, the WeSC site itself, that will be completed in time for their graduation in mid June.

Please go check out what they have accomplished so far: - Maybe you too want to upload a track and get some free WeSC headphones?

Congratulations Kim!

Hyper Island is proud to announce that a member of Crew 12, Kim Niklasson, won a national competition arranged by Grafiskt Forum. The mission was to design a new logotype for the forum and amongst 200 submissions Kim Niklassons' logotype was picked out as the winner. Besides the honor, Kim won a trip to the European Design Awards Conference in Athens.
We are eagerly waiting to read his blog about the conference.

Why Hyper Island?

Hyper Island met with top agencies in London, Barcelona and Stockholm and asked why they appreciate their Hyper Island interns and why they think Hyper Island is an extraordinary school: - Behind the scenes

Winners of Young Creatives Sweden 2007

Two students from Crew 9, Anna Gullstrand & Josefine Jansson, won the competition "Young Creatives Sweden 2007" in the category "Interactive". They will be going to Cannes in June to represent Sweden the "Cyber" category in the Cannes Lions competition.

- We will be one of 35 teams with talents under 28 years old, coming to Cannes from all over the world to compete in the category. We are excited to represent Sweden's young digital communications creatives, says Anna.

Young Creatives Sweden 2007

Hyper Island

Hyper Island started in 1995 when Jonathan Briggs, David Erixon and Lars Lundh met during a project involving a CD-rom production. They soon realized the increasing need of a different kind of education involving industry based learning, for the growing new media industry. The first long term program at Hyper Island started in Karlskrona 1996 with 32 students.

Since the start in 1996, the pedagogic of Hyper Island has been a true success. After ten years in Karlskrona, we are happy to announce that Hyper Island is about to expand and open up a new branch in Stockholm from August 2007.

- Digital Media will be divided between Stockholm and Karlskrona. Stockholm will concentrate on local businesses, both regarding guest lecturers and internships resulting in employment. Karlskrona will focus on international lecturers and internship placements and will for the first time accept non-Swedish speaking students. 85% of our Digital Media students get job offers before graduating!
- Interactive Art Director is a 1-year design specialization for established designers. A 13 week internship placement is part of the education, giving students an invaluable opportunity to evolve and advance in the business in a short period of time!
- Business Management is a two year AVET (Advanced Vocational Eduation & Training) program, graduating students for a future career as managers. The main focus of the program is to educate students to meet the upcoming needs for modern and visionary management in companies, organisations and projects. The program is located in Karlskrona, with students going on a 17 week internship at the business type of their own choice.

In total over 260 students study full time at Hyper Island each year.