Welcome to Espace Gris, the place determined to give Montreal’s creatives a platform irl.
“Influencers” is the word most marketing agencies would use to describe Marcus Troy and Naskademini (Naska for short). They boast a large following, they make a living off of sharing their creative insights and they disseminate those insights through social media: Naska captures portraits, Marcus curates content, they both share a podcast.
But as it goes with many famous digital creatives, “influencers” is a disliked term and certainly a misnomer when describing this duo. The polymaths have more to show for than just their considerable following and they’ve been able to translate that through their Montreal-based HQ: Espace Gris.
Decoding gray areas
Naska explains the concept of the space whose moniker literally means gray area: “It’s about establishing real connections. Most brands will want to quantify results through our posts’ engagement but we’ve been so successful at influencing people’s decisions offline, it really became clear that those connections mattered as well – if not more. That gray area between what happens online and in real life is what we are committed to revealing here.”
There’s no doubt relationships are critical to their mission. “I am so successful at what I do because of the organic relationships I’ve built and maintained”, Marcus adds. “People are so eager to brag about the number of followers they have on platforms they don’t own. You really start to think about what you’re selling and how important those numbers are if you can’t convert them.”
A day in the life
It’s Sunday and it is my second day at the office. The open space is flooded with natural light, the decor is minimalist and modern yet cozy and inviting.
Incense is burning and Kendrick Lamar’s PRIDE is now playing. Ultimately the vibe is conducive to nurturing creative output.
Marcus and Naska are working together to help set up a client who’s renting the space for a video shoot. During their exchange, I see that they are as much brothers as they are partners sharing and delegating tasks to each other.
Naska then gives a visitor a tour of the office. I’ve watched him do this a number of times already but his passion is never a miss, he is never drained by the process even though the format stays relatively the same:
- A look at their conference room which hosts a handsome collection of spirits as well as Naska’s handy craftsmanship (he built the doors).
- A walk through of the gallery which features both Naska and other photographer’s work.
- A peak into their personal office – both share the same penchant for organized chaos, KAWS, BE@RBRICK, and of course Naska’s photography.
- Their podcast area and an arcade (the latter also built by Naska).
- And finally Espace Gris.
“There is so much talent in Montreal,” explains Marcus as the tour comes to a close, “our goal is to discover that talent and provide them with a space they can work out of.”
Later on in the day, two team-members show up. I ask them why – it’s the weekend after all. They reply they didn’t want to miss out an opportunity to do work. What a great testament to the importance of Espace Gris’s mission and their collective allegiance to it.
Photos by Maude Delice