Profiles: Meike Sier – Special props en kostuums, beyond your imagination
Every few weeks we interview an inspiring entrepreneur or artist chosen from our online network, Profiles. This week: Meike Sier
You might have come across one of Meike Siers (34) props or costumes watching a commercial break during a tv night. From a Transformer costume for Volkswagen to an artistic stop-motion commercial for Radio 2. Her work can’t only be found in commercials, but also in music videos, museums, at railway stations and in theatres. If you can’t find it in a store, Meike probably has a solution for it. “Preferably as crazy as you can imagine.”
Suppose you got the assignment to create a mascot for Kees de Boekhouder. What ideas come to mind?
A lot of questions come to mind, haha. What’s it for? Will you use it in a video? Is it for brand activation? Maybe I’d choose a folder, because I had to hand that in the first four years as a client. But it’s all digital now. Hmm, what characterizes an accountant? Usually I just start googling. What kind of images pop up and what images make me feel something? That’s how I’d go about it. Ideas usually come to me while sparring with my client.
What kind of props and costumes do people come to you for?
I make special props and costumes. Things you can’t find in a store but need to be made specifically on request. The size can vary from a small hand held prop to a complete decor
Your profession is quite special. How did you get started in this field?
I studied interior and fashion at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Pretty fast, me and my brother who works in theatre, realized I could maybe design decor and costumes. It was hard to get jobs in the field and there was hardly ever a budget. Then a photographer friend of mine asked me to help out for a Sony shoot. It was eye opening for me that commercial assignments could be creative as well. That’s when I started to promote myself at advertising agencies and production agencies. And it’s how I came across art direction. As an art director I really liked managing a team and creating visual elements. But there usually isn’t much time left to create the elements myself and I don’t like to outsource it. In the end it’s the creating that satisfies me the most. The fun part of my job is that every design is totally different. Discovering new materials and exploring what works and what doesn’t. It’s how I taught myself to work with different materials and techniques over the years.
How much work goes into a special costume?
Usually I spend a month on it, but I’m not working on it full time. It starts with the design and it goes back and forth to my client for feedback. Then I order the materials, which can take some time. The final creation is done in about one or two weeks. But sometimes I use new materials or the design involves a new technique that I have to figure out. That might take me longer of course.
Do you create everything on your own or do you sometimes hire people?
Normally, I work alone. But I have friends from the academy and people that I know who are creative and skilled. When I’m working on a production that has a tight deadline, I sometimes call for help. Last year we had to make three sets consisting of ice, rocks and tree trunks for a photoshoot. We had to plaster, sculpt, saw and paint for a week with four people. I would never have been able to do that alone.
What was your experience like the last months as an entrepreneur?
It’s more quiet now, haha. And it was also harder to create time for assignments, because there was no daycare for kids. So I took my time to make a replica of the SpaceX space suit that’s ‘suitable’ for Mars. Two people I’ve worked with for Volkswagen are making a movie that takes place on that planet. They hope Elon Musk will like the idea so much that he’ll post an image of the suit on social media. I wonder if it will work, but for me it’s good practice working with new materials.”
What production are you most proud of?
That’s a tough one. For the Volkwagen commercial I made a cardboard car that had to be able to transform with build-in lights. That turned out really well. I think anyone that creates cardboard structures will like it. On the other hand, when you google cardboard art, you find work that is really next level. My strength lies in contributing to the thought process of my client. And because of my broad interest and experience I can assess whether or not a project is feasible. Of course I always prefer a surprising perspective.
Are there any interesting things lying ahead?
Well by the end of July there will be a baby coming out of me, haha. My second child! Of course with all the COVID-19 perils, I hope there will be jobs for me at all when I get back to work in September. The worst case scenario would mean I’ll have to think about what else I could do for a living. Of course I hope that won’t be necessary. I never plan projects far ahead anyway, because I often come in at the end of a production.
What does success mean to you?
The last month I’ve been joining the ‘abundance meditation challenge’, which is about allowing yourself abundance. I thought that was heavy and it felt kind of materialistic. The fact that I can make a living doing something I really love is already a form of abundance to me. But the sessions did make me think about what I would want more for myself or what I would like to be different. Every time it boiled down to being surrounded more by the people I care for. Also being ‘seen’ and by that I don’t mean followers or likes on Instagram, but being appreciated for my work. Knowing for myself what I’m good at and making a living of it. Although participating with props and costumes in a foreign movie would be awesome as well!