We had the good fortune of connecting with Dri Sommer & Nicol Biesek (SVN QNS) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dri Sommer & Nicol Biesek (SVN QNS), why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
We are both in agreement that oftentimes you don’t choose a life dedicated to the arts, rather, there is this grip it has on you. Whatever the medium, it hardly feels like a choice to pursue it. I (Nicol) was drawn to photography very early on in high school and Dri was editing videos ever since she can remember. The visual arts were what intrigued us the most from an early age. My curiosity of making a career out of it didn’t start until 2013, at which point I chose art school in San Francisco. For Dri, she decided to follow her directing path when she moved to the United States from Brazil in middle school.
The wonderful thing about the lines being blurred between how you make a life and how you make a living are the people you meet along the way that can’t seem to shake their excitement about their art either. For Dri and I, this is the most important we could be doing, telling stories and building communities with people we admire. Our goal is to always leave with a new perspective, creating a new and unique challenge for ourselves in the process. Sharing stories leads to healing and connection and ultimately, that is the driving force of what we do.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Our art is about experimentation and creating awe. Nicol and I are both life-long learners with insatiable curiosities and we use every opportunity available to try something new. As of this year, SVN QNS has created commercials and 10+ music videos for incredible LA-based rising and established musicians. Music videos are a wildly underrated art form filled with short bursts of creativity that embolden us to play with different genres, aesthetics and storytelling styles.
What we are most excited about is to move into the narrative filmmaking space and continue sharing our stories. Because there are two of us, our joint creative voice is in constant metamorphosis and with every pitch and project we complete together, we mind-meld, elevate each other’s visions and build an amazing team of key collaborators.
Some lessons we’ve learned: as artists, there’s a TON of pressure around curating your internet presence and comparing yourself to your prolific peers on social media. That kind of fear-based, competitive motivation doesn’t work for us. What does work is consciously nurturing our curiosities and leaning into the fun. When we start paying close attention to what keeps us up at night and what jolts us out of living life on auto-pilot, that’s when the creative magic begins.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Wow, this is a tough question to answer after a year of quarantining and being cooped up in our homes! This totally stopped us in our tracks and allowed us to daydream about all the things in LA we miss and love.
For me (Dri), I’d take my best friend who was visiting to Hollywood Boulders – my favorite climbing gym and second home. It is the BEST place to spend 2-3 hours in the morning, socializing with the super loving community while getting those dopamine levels pumping. In the afternoon, we’d drive east towards Echo Park to grab a 6-pack (or 12-pack, ha) from Sunset Beers plus some vegan burgers at Monty’s – the perfect combo for a picnic at Elysian Park. After savoring the sunset views, we’d head over to Button Mash to play some arcade games then go dancing at the Echoplex all night long. The night would wrap up, not surprisingly, in front of my favorite late-night food truck – Taco Zone on Alvarado street.
For me (Nicol), I discovered a bike path in quarantine called Bollona Creek bike path along the LA River where you can get from Mid City Los Angeles to the beach in 45 minutes / 8 miles. It’s a straight shot and the kinds of characters you see along the way embodies LA for me. Families, young folks, old folks and everything in between. One time, I saw a man practicing the trumpet in the wash and it was echoing so beautifully that I almost crashed. I love finding places in LA that are new to me – I have lived here my whole life and because of the vast city spaces here, the discovery is endless. My other favorite part is the FOOD! I miss Smorgasborg LA – it was a gathering of about 60 food trucks in the downtown LA arts district. I miss that community as well. I’m so excited to get back to those things soon!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Dri and I have both had mentors along the way in our individual careers, almost too many to count. Our network is our lifeline. But I think our shoutout would have to be to the book that changed our perspective of artmaking and a way of life, and that book is Art and Fear – Observations on the Perils and Rewards of Artmaking. The quote that has driven us every day since we read this book is as follows, “In the end it all comes down to this: you have a choice (or more accurately a rolling tangle of choices) between giving your work your best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot — and thereby guaranteeing that it will not make you happy. It becomes a choice between certainty and uncertainty. And curiously, uncertainty is the comforting choice.” Ultimately, the work for us comes down to trusting the creative process. Knowing that we are stepping into uncertainty on each and every project is both terrifying and exhilarating.
Other: DIRECTING REEL: https://vimeo.com/511804868