3 Questions with Marcus Swanson

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Acclaimed photographer Marcus Swanson will present UNSTUCK – An Experiment in Creative Play at Designspeaks on June 8. Tickets and info available here. We caught up with Marcus for three questions about 20/2, the project that jumpstarted a renaissance at Swanson Studio.


Where did the idea for 20/2 come from? What was the initial reception?

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 11.03.28 AMAt its core, the idea of 20/2 was inspired by my uncle — an art director and illustrator in New York who regularly held exhibitions to showcase his work.

As my own studio’s work generally went directly to print or advertising, the opportunity to discuss, share, and witness the human emotion and reactions surrounding the images was an impossibility. However, by translating the idea behind my uncle’s galleries into a concept that fit the studio’s ethos, we effectively bridged the gap—opening the door to dimensions of dialog and storytelling that never previously existed.

Furthermore, having to stand in front of our images was undeniably part of the “heat” that motivated us to take the test shoots seriously, but also gave us the chance to celebrate what we created together.

What was the very first test shoot?

The springboard for 20/2 was, coincidentally enough, a simple series of photos focused on an athlete in mid-air, propelled by a trampoline we dragged out into our parking lot. The overpasses and Fremont Bridge right outside of our studio provided the backdrop.

Now that you’ve hit your goal, what’s next?

Inspired by Red Bull’s mindset that no event should ever be repeated more than three times, we know it’s time to rethink how we fuel our inspiration. This year, we’re focusing on fewer concepts while exploring more depth. As we look toward the future, tackling a feature film, music video, or documentary is a task we’d love the opportunity to pursue.



Want to learn more from Marcus? Come to Designspeaks on June 8. Ticket includes food, drink, presentation, and a limited edition numbered photo print by Swanson Studio!