Boutique VFX studio Artjail today announces the launch of its LA office. Situated in Santa Monica, the new space will mark Artjail’s third studio, alongside those already established in New York and Toronto.
The development represents the next step in Artjail’s plan to set up a collection of VFX boutiques in major markets, looking to maintain its company culture alongside a selective approach to projects. A long anticipated move, the new office will be supported by the close relationships the team has already built up with directors, production companies, and west coast agencies.
Bolstering Artjail’s current offering, the LA studio will broaden the company’s bandwidth whilst maintaining a smaller, more manageable culture for its artists, as well as granting it access to a whole new talent pool. For its clients, the development will also bring the possibility of working more in sync with different time zones and collaborating on more ambitious projects with a new array of talent, all while upholding the care and culture they are accustomed to.
Above: Artjail's 2022 reel
To lead its LA team, Artjail has selected MD / EP and partner John Skeffington, Elizabeth Thuvanuti Keating, promoted to head of production of both the New York and LA offices, and JD Yepes, a new hire joining as partner and head of 2D.
With over two decades of experience in the industry, JD has worked at major post houses including MPC and The Mill, having most recently spent nine years at Framestore as compositing supervisor. These roles have seen him lend his talents to a multitude of award-winning commercial campaigns for directors Joseph Kosinski, Spike Jonze, Oscar Hudson, Tarsem Singh, Marc Forster, among others.
Wasting no time in getting to work, Artjail LA has already completed projects for the likes of ESPN and Smartwater, as well as two out of Deutsch LA for Lowe’s with Arno Salters/Caviar and NerdWallet with Benji Weinstein/Smuggler.
In the year ahead, the team will be looking to set the tone for Artjail LA, priding themselves on their culture and the relationships they have with their directors and agency partners. They will also be continuing to build the team, having already made some key hires in the 2D and 3D department, and currently appointing multiple additional roles. Outreach will be an additional priority, catering to their existing west coast clients while at the same time growing new relationships that weren’t as easy to forge from the east coast.
Above (left to right): JD Yepes (head of 2D and LA partner), John Skeffington (MD / EP, NY and LA partner), Steve Mottershead (creative director and founder), and Elizabeth Thuvanuti Keating (head of production)
Steve Mottershead, creative director and founder at Artjail, comments: “An amazing artist both creatively and technically, JD’s passion for VFX and entrepreneurial spirit stood out the moment I met him. Wise beyond his years when it comes to owning a business, he has that something special we were looking for in a leader and partner on the ground in LA, leaving us consistently impressed. Pairing him with John, who has really stepped up and taken his partnership role to the next level, was a move that just made sense.”
John Skeffington, MD / EP, and NY and LA partner at Artjail, adds: “I’ve known JD for over a decade, and he’s not only one of the most talented compositors I’ve worked with, but also a true leader and a good human. JD leads by example, and never shies away from a challenge. He cares about his colleagues and they respect him because of what he gives back to them. He’s the kind of person you want on your team because you know he has your back, and that makes you want to have his back that much more. Elizabeth also is such an asset to the company. She has a great handle on the culture we want to curate, bringing such a positive and passionate attitude to the team, and is an absolute pleasure to work with.”
JD Yepes, head of 2D and LA partner at Artjail, comments: “After over 20 years in the industry, Steve’s vision for Artjail felt liberating. We all want to build the best version of what a VFX studio could look like, and we saw that it could only be achieved with the right intentions and at a boutique level, fostering genuine relationships with clients and artists. This doesn’t just raise spirits by amplifying every win and making everyone feel like part of a core team - this also allows for true collaboration and exploration without politics or red tape, resulting in the purest form of creativity and efficiency in advertising.”
He adds: “On a personal level, I always wanted to start a company with John: sharing the same values, we complement each other well, and we believe in similar things, but we see them from different angles and take different approaches. When I met Steve, with his warm personality and his vision for Artjail and the industry in general, I knew right away that we would make a great team.”
Elizabeth Thuvanuti Keating, head of production at Artjail, comments: “JD is an exceptional leader who does so by example, with an admirable passion and commitment to his craft. He’s the perfect choice to help lead the LA studio because he inspires others to think and work at the same level that he does. His creative talent, technical expertise, and dedication to constantly improving and learning motivates everyone around him.”
She adds: “This first year is about organic growth in building both the team and our relationships with west coast clients. We’re doing both slowly and steadily, only taking on the right projects, and hiring proactively based on long-term goals and thinking. Culture is such an integral part of Artjail’s ethos, and we make every decision with this in mind. We’ve invested time in creating and executing a strategy for seamless, strong, and supportive collaboration between offices as the LA team grows, and this is a huge asset to our clients to whom we can now offer a unique talent roster, a larger bandwidth for bigger projects, and efficiencies and solutions that just wouldn’t be possible as a single office studio.”