Ben Radatz is a designer with MK12. His business card calls him an Art Wrangler.
"We're a collective here and aren't into titles," he says, "though we lie about it." He says the firm's graphics for such clients as MTV, Levi's and Sears (including the department store's current holiday commercials) offer challenges that are pleasantly balanced by creatively gratifying projects like Ultralove Ninja and a seven-minute short from the company's infancy, President Steve Elvis America and the Terrible Cosmic Death.
The retro-chic Ninja is a mix of animation and live film in which a human actor plays a ninja cavorting around computer-designed backgrounds and scenes. Radatz says the short was initially part of a reel that MK12 made for self-promotion. "Every half-year or so we try to redefine ourselves and update our style," he says. "It's our way of keeping ourselves interested in what we do. We try to experiment with new styles. At the same time, we have our aesthetic we go back to all the time."
An example is 4D Softcore Sweater Porn, which uses images apparently from a crocheting or handicraft magazine circa 1976, aggressively splintering and tweaking them. "I think the one thing that sets us apart is our interest in looking for inspiration where it's not common to look for it," Radatz says.
At the Sundance site, Web-based entries are divided into three categories: Shorts, Animation and New Forms. Among MK12's competitors are a Beavis and Butthead-inspired short called Mutafuckaz and a collage of images scored to Eminem's "White America."