Today it’s my pleasure to interview Robert Frolich of Filtre Studio, a digital imaging company based in Chicago. Filtre’s client list reads like a Who’s Who of some of the world’s best known brands including AC Delco, Bayer, ExxonMobile, Kimberly-Clark, Sony, TAG Heuer and more. Frolich is the inspired force behind Filtre and also a dear friend of us here at Hile Design. We have admired his work for nearly two decades. Let’s meet the man behind the creative curtain to see what goes into running a cutting-edge photo imaging and retouching studio.
Hile Design: Hi, Robert. Can you tell us what Filtre Studio does for its clients?
Robert Frolich: Filtre Studio’s primary focus is high-end creative image retouching. We work with advertising agencies, design firms and photographers to artistically enhance images, or in some cases create them from scratch. Projects we work on range from simple color correction to complex multi-image composites, combining 10 or more images to create one extraordinary image.
Often, we work with a client to create a composition that would be impossible, or at least cost prohibitive, to create in camera. Or the task can be taking an ordinary photograph and increasing the drama through a carefully crafted color palette, creating an entirely new look and feel.
Sometimes, it’s about making an already beautiful photograph even more beautiful. We have had the pleasure of working with some very talented photographers. Recently, some of our retouched images for TYR Sport, shot by award-winning photographer Steve Bonini, have been featured in Lürzer’s Archive 200 Best Ad Photographers worldwide. Also, German Vanity Fair has featured some of our International Truck images, shot by Andy Goodwin.
HD: You came out of an ad agency background, before founding Filtre. Can you share a bit about your past positions and tell us how you ended up specializing in digital imaging?
RF: I come from a design and art direction background. I started out with a small agency in Ann Arbor, Michigan, working on General Motors assignments. I then moved on to a Raleigh, North Carolina, agency for 6 years before returning north to Chicago as a creative director for Bagby and Company. There I worked on Sony, International Truck and Miller Lite. I’ve always been with small to mid-size agencies, which gave me the opportunity to wear several hats. With the larger shops, everyone is more specialized—the creative director is often more of a manager, overseeing art director/writer teams who come up with the concepts that then get handed off to production. Being at smaller agencies gave me the opportunity to see a project through from start to finish. Especially in the early years, if I wanted to see one of my ideas produced, I would have to do the retouching myself. Often, the budget just wasn’t there to send it out to a studio. Creating an image from scratch, or making a photograph more beautiful than it was to begin with, is something I’ve always enjoyed doing. The post-production has always been the icing on the cake for me.
HD: If there is such a thing, what is a typical day like at Filtre Studio?
RF: Every day is different, but at Filtre the one common denominator is the morning routine. Coffee. Lots of coffee. Then, on to the day’s business. I know many creatives like to use that early morning time to generate ideas. We generally prefer to use that time to answer emails, make phone calls, do invoicing, estimates, scheduling and any other administrative tasks that need to be done. Then we can focus on digging into an image. With the larger composite images, it’s good to block out several hours of uninterrupted time. Late morning through mid-afternoon is usually a good time to focus on that.