2 Minutes With … Carsten Glock, CCO of GLOCK

On art's subjectivity and how effort is not a measure of quality

Carsten is the founder and chief creative officer of interdisciplinary agency GLOCK. Since launching the biz in 2006, Carsten has worked with brands including Bombay Sapphire, Revlon and Burt's Bees. He began his career in his native Germany, working across a range of disciplines from animation to photography.

We spent two minutes with Carsten to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Carsten, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now. 

I grew up between Germany and the U.S. My dad worked for a large computer company, which meant we had to move around a lot. We ended up in a different place every few years. I went to university in Berlin, and then planned to travel to London and NYC before returning to Germany. But I never made it past London, which is where I still live today.

How you first realized you were creative. 

When I was about six or seven, I would draw layouts of buildings: houses, swimming pools, even gyms. My mum saved them all these years and recently gave them back to me. It turns out I didn't understand levels, so they all ended up being huge one-story floor plans.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

I've always been a lover of architecture and, when I was about 14, I fell in love with Peter Zumthor's beautiful work. Tempo and Jetzt magazines were huge influences on me as a teenager. The new generation of photographers and creatives they featured were a huge inspiration. 

A moment from high school or college that changed your life. 

I once had my grade lowered in an art class because another student complained that I didn't put enough effort into my project. To this day I maintain that it was a good concept, and I was proud of the result. But it taught me an important lesson: Effort is not a measure of quality. Art is subjective, and sometimes the best art comes the easiest. I will never judge my team on the perception of effort.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

Gerhard Richter is my all-time favorite artist. I have a very young memory of one of his Seestück (See-See) paintings which hung in Neue Nationalgallerie, designed by the amazing Ludwig Mies van de Rohe. If I had a bad day and was in need of inspiration, I would visit, so it holds a very special place in my heart.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring. 

My favorite director is Ruben Östlund, and his films Force Majeure and Triangle of Sadness are two are my all-time favorites. 

Your favorite fictional character. 

The Six Million Dollar Man. Being in the U.S. in the 1970s, he was always present and at the time the dichotomy between man and machine fascinated me. I thought a man being surgically enhanced with machinery was a glimpse into the future. It's interesting that half a century later those discussions are still happening, alongside the rise of AI.

Someone or something worth following in social media. 

Your friends. Use social media for what it was meant for! I get more joy from seeing what my friends are up to than from scrolling through the lives of strangers.

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on. 

We partnered with Oxley to relaunch their gin and help build them a global presence. We partnered with the amazing scientific artist, Karl Gaff, who captured incredible imagery of Oxley's gin and botanicals under the microscope. It was a beautiful way of reflecting the quality of the product while celebrating the forward-thinking nature of the brand. This was translated into multiple touch points, off-trade assets, an on-trade platform and a digital engagement that harnesses a dynamic, interactive and easy-to-navigate UX design.

A recent project you're proud of. 

We worked with New Zealand-based vodka 42BELOW last year, 12 years after our first project (one of our first big projects at GLOCK). It was a joy to revisit and revitalize the brand for a global market. We maintained the brand's Kiwi roots, bringing in local writers to ensure the tone felt as authentically 42BELOW as possible. I am so proud of my team's ability to take the essence of a brand, so close to my personal and professional heart, and infuse it with a new life.

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

One of my great early inspirations was the German photographer Juergen Teller. I first encountered him when he shot for newspaper Süddeutsche's Jetzt magazine, where he was among a group of photographers who would publish regular features. His work always stood out because it looked strikingly unpolished, and I loved the tension between his artistic calculations and the rawness of the final product. 

Someone else's work you admired lately. 

I loved Ikea's collaboration with Shelter, with their "Real Life Roomsets" that showcase the reality of homelessness. Not only does it feel like an organic partnership, it approaches the issue in a way that is equal parts sensitive, shocking and educational. Definitely one to take note of.

Your main strength as a creative person.

I've always been able to look at the alternate perspective. It allows me to see things more sensitively and appreciate the multitude of ways in which any one thing can be viewed. Not only is it a great way to approach your creative work, but I have found it to also be incredibly rewarding throughout all aspects of my life—especially as an agency leader.

Your biggest weakness. 

Not appreciating the victories for long enough. I look too quickly into the future, but need to be better at appreciating the now and all it has to offer.

One thing that always makes you happy. 

My children. Every day.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Not having enough time for all the things I want to do. And meanness. It's not necessary. I find it so disappointing. 

What you'd be doing if you weren't in brand design. 

I hope I would either be an architect or photographer. Photography was one of my first jobs and I still spend a lot of my time shooting landscapes. But the idea of designing residential properties is also very exciting.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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