Even Suseg
(Also Known As)

Even Suseg is an award-winning graphic designer, art director and co-founder of the Oslo based creative collective Also Known As. With a depth of experience in a diverse range of disciplines and sectors, he creates unique concepts that surprise and challenge, working with major commercial clients and some of Norway’s most prominent artists.

WIP So tell us a little bit about yourself.
ES My name is Even. I’m a graphic designer, living in Oslo. I started in Trondheim, where I attended Norges Kreativ Fagskole until 2012. So I don’t have a bachelor’s degree, but I got a diploma after two years. I’ve been working as a graphic designer for the last ten years now.

WIP So you said that you don’t have bachelor’s degree, but you do have a diploma. So you don’t need a bachelor to become a designer, right?!
ES You don’t need it, that’s right!

WIP So, how did you get into the things that you’ve been doing?
ES After I got my diploma, I started looking for jobs here in Oslo. I’m from a town called Drammen, 30 minutes outside Oslo, and I wanted to work in Oslo because this is where the best jobs are or were. I got a list from my girlfriend of different studios where I should send my portfolio. After I got my diploma, I made my website, at the time, Instagram wasn’t so big. So I used my site and sent it around. At first, nobody responded; I think I sent, like, 30 emails or something.

But eventually, one studio responded to me, Metric Design. That was my first job as an intern.

WIP Nice! How was it there as an intern?
ES They work with many clients in the cultural sector: music, festivals, restaurants, and so on. It was cool to see that you could work as a graphic designer in those fields because that was something that I didn’t know you could do in a design studio. And they are things that I’m also interested in, meeting places for people, and being a part of that. So that was a fantastic place to start my career.

WIP Since then, you have been working quite a lot in the music scene, was working at Metric your introduction that as a possibility?
ES Yeah, at the time, Metric were working with Øya Festival, and Mathallen when I was there. So I was looking over their shoulders and seeing how they worked with poster design brochures for the festivals. I also worked with some artists for them as an intern at the start and after about half a year I got a freelance contract, and started getting paid.

WIP Pay your interns, that’s important!
ES Yeah, haha, it was a bit different then, but yeah!

WIP But after that, is that when you started HES?
ES Eh, no, not exactly. I started at Scandinavian Design Group (SDG). I am trying to remember the year, around 2015/16, which was on a whole different scale. I think they were Norway’s biggest studio at the time. Many, many designers in Oslo have been at SDG. There were about 50 people when I worked there, so there was a whole other dynamic. They had many more corporate clients: Rema 1000, Maxbo, Henning-Olsen, and more of a product focus at the same time. With clients on that scale, it involved working in much bigger teams in-house; dedicated project managers, animators etc., you have to adapt to be in big meetings with international clients. It was definitely a significant learning experience for me at the time. Especially how to psychologically build up presentations for these larger clients, it was a great learning experience, for sure.

WIP As you said, Scandinavian Design Group is quite a big firm, and you started your own studio later, which we’ll get into. But what is your biggest takeaway from working at a big design firm compared to your own studio where you have control over everything?
ES As I said, what I learned from being at SDG; managing big clients and those processes, then translating that professionalism later into more cultural work. That is something really, really valuable that I took from my time at SDG. I mean, when I worked at Metric we also had cultural clients, but on a smaller scale, they were more flexible. While at SDG, I learned how to manage the process more and how to develop concepts in a more – you could say – conservative space. So having that experience from SDG, and taking that into the cultural clients that I work with today has been very useful in presenting my concepts in a way that is more likely to get them through.

When we’re working with a design project, I always ask the others; what do you feel? Because it's cool to get a director’s take on it or a photographer, everyone has a big say when we're working on a project.

WIP How was it making that shift, going from a steady income to having to find your own clients, to hustle?
ES Yeah! I was really afraid at that time because I had always been working with music and cultural clients on the side, so I didn’t exactly need to make too much money from those jobs. It was more for fun. But when I started Also Known As (AKA), I was like; okay, is this going to work? How am I going to making money from doing cultural work? But I was lucky cause back in 2013 when I was at Metric, I met a photographer called Mike, who I work with today at Also Know As, and they had a project with Karpe, a book, called Dødtid (Dead Time/downtime), which was about their two last years touring and Mike followed them as a photographer. So he came in, and the book had a lot of images, so we were working closely with both Karpe and the book.

WIP Let’s talk a little bit about Also Known As. You’re a small team, but it’s a multidisciplinary studio. What is it like? Do you feel like it’s very different from working with only a design team? Is there a difference in the process and how people think and their approach to a project?
ES Yeah, yeah. For me it is a relief, because when I was working at SDG, every time we needed a photographer or someone doing movies we always had to book someone else to do it. I was always keen to be in the process if there were movies or photography and stuff like that. I guess Also Known As is a result of that. We want to do and deliver a lot of things and can say yes to a lot of things, but with a small team. On our take on projects, it's cool to not just have only graphic designers or only film directors. When we’re working with a design project, I always ask the others; what do you feel? Because it's cool to get a director’s take on it or a photographer, everyone has a big say when we're working on a project.

WIP Tell us a little bit about your top three collaborations.
ES We did a project for Red Bull in 2018. They had four new sodas on the market with four different colors, and they asked us if we could do something with it. Maybe they just wanted a movie or a photo session, but we really pushed the idea to make a streetwear capsule. We took all the colours and put it into combination with the clothes—so we made the sodas in four different colors, and we made shoes, t shirts and sweaters with those colours. Then we made a pop-up store and went to Portugal to make all the clothes. We worked in a team with some clothing designers, three brothers from a place called F5. They were so much better than us to make custom clothing. It was really important for us that none of the products had Red Bull on it. We wanted to reach out to the urban culture and young people, so it wasn't like a pushy campaign from Red Bull. We built a basketball court in the store with racks and everything. We were there for two weeks, and I think everything sold out, so that was really fun. 

We collaborated with Posten, the Norwegian mail service, in 2020—during COVID. We did it with Pol, an advertising agency here in Oslo who has Posten as a client. Every year, Posten sponsors different festivals, but because of COVID all the festivals were shut down and they wanted to do something with their sponsoring budget. So, Pol got the idea to collaborate with the artist Masarati, who paints paintings. The idea was that he was going to make unique merch for five different artists here in Oslo. We filmed the whole process with the different artists meeting Masarati, figuring out what they want on their t shirt and stuff like that. Each artist had their own drop date for the clothing, and we developed the idea for the drop and tags on the clothes with Pol. When each artist dropped their clothes, they immediately sold out, and all the profits from the clothing went back to the artist. 

WIP What was Also Known As’ role in that project?
ES We did art direction, all the photography, all the movies and the identity for the whole thing; like the tags and clothing, design of the package that was sent out, the website. You could recognise it all over that we did it.

WIP That’s fun, to have a big project where you do everything—all the parts.
ES Yeah, definitely. And I remember meeting them as well. They were so hyped about the project when we showed dummy sketches and stuff like that. So yeah, that was really, really fun.

WIP Any other projects?
ES Well, we’ve been working with Karpe for the past ten years, and I would say that every time they have a new project, it’s the most fun working on. They’re so conceptual and each time there’s a new story that will be built, and they have a huge team with stage management, music producers and stylists. Mike and I have been working from the start on the conceptual stuff every time they drop a new project—from Heisann Montebello to SAS PLUS / SAS PUSSY, and now Omar Sharif, the last project—and that has been amazing. Every time it ends with a huge concert, a movie, a book or something like that. When I’m standing there and listening to them, it’s so worth it. And it’s for so many people having a good time, buying the merch and all of this.

WIP People are crazy for the merch!
ES Yeah, haha!

WIP You said that you've been working for them for the last ten years, which means that you probably know them quite well.
ES Yeah, I would say so.

WIP I feel like that maybe that's stuff that you wouldn't do with someone that you just like.
ES Yeah, definitely. We have to trust the process and I guess I wasn’t used to the design process taking so much time, and we have so many rounds when working with those guys. It's been really fun. When I started working I was up at night fixing stuff for last minute deadlines, but it's worth it, all of it. And, like you said, it opened so many doors for us.

I’m always more interested in the process and how people make things than the finished results. How you work on a project also says a lot about talent, not just the final product.

WIP When you're looking for people to work with, do you feel like it's really important for the projects that are out there to be really finished and refined?
ES Oh, I'm always interested in the process, every time. With a lot of our projects as well, we’ve filmed the whole process, like with Posten and Red Bull. That's a part of the campaign. I’m always more interested in the process and how people make things than the finished results. How you work on a project also says a lot about talent, not just the final product. All the studios and people working with graphic design make things look beautiful, and they always show the top best things. I’m definitely more interested in the process.

WIP I want to ask you about Also Known As—the name, first of all—and a little bit about the idea behind it.
ES Yeah, sure. I’m a fan of music and clothing, and I wanted to have different kinds of ways into the brand. And we can always put something behind the name: Also Known As Studio, Also Known As Clothing. I started something called Also Known As Radio, which is a mix series on SoundCloud for Norwegian producers and DJs that can make their own mix. It’s not like I want to be everything, but I want to put a lot of things after it. So if we have a collaboration, we can put the clients or the people working with us on the last name, like Also Known As Red Bull and stuff like that. So I think that’s a bit of the idea behind it.

WIP How did you land on the name?
ES Maybe it was when I met Mike. He had this name called akam1k3 (AKA Mike). Maybe it was something that evolved from that, but now we are four people working under that name. We wanted to have an English name. When we started we thought there’s not going to be any barriers for world domination. No, but yeah. So we’ve always been writing in English. Maybe it was a fake it till you make it kind of thing.

Created and produced as part of Bielke&Yang’s internship programme by students to provide valuable insights into the design industry. Featuring in-depth interviews with established professionals sharing their personal journeys into the field. Aiming to provide a holistic understanding of the design industry and empower aspiring designers to make informed decisions about their own professional paths.

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