• 8.22.14   Will You Be Able to Take Progressive's Flo Home?

    We all know Flo, Progressive Insurance’s spunky saleswoman who just really wants to help out. Her excited sincerity is infectious and charming, inspiring legions of fans and a lot of attention for Progressive. The insurance company was looking for a new way to present their beloved mascot to those fans, so they contracted Bigshot Toyworks to create a series of Flo action figures. “What we were trying to do is play up some of her key features which are her signature hairdo, big smile, and highly expressive eyes,” explains Klim Kozinevich of Bigshot Toyworks. They wanted to, “Use the essence of her character.” Fitting her into an expanding roster of careers, the folks at Bigshot and Progressive ventured to show off her range of potential abilities, from Trucker, to Plumber, to Baker. She comes outfitted in her signature Progressive apron, and a ton of accessories for each job. The series is ongoing, so who knows how many jobs Flo has left to do? Either way, she’s getting down and dirty. “We were just having fun generating these concepts, and visualizing them,” says Klim about the collaborative relationship with Arnold Worldwide, who manages Progressive’s advertising. “It’s just been a joy working on this project with them.” A lot of times when creative companies work with large brands like Progressive, the amount of clearances and rules can hinder the creative process. Not so with this project. Bigshot and Arnold stayed in constant communication to flow as creatively as possible. The results show what happens when you stay dynamic and flexible in a creative relationship. If you can believe it, what you see aren’t actual toys. They’re CGI composites. “The original intent of this wasn’t to make a toy, it was just to make a series of print ads,” says Klim. “But because of how our process works, action figures are possible.” Does that mean this is going to turn into an action figure? Plenty of people are asking for them, but we can’t know for sure. For now, we have to satisfy ourselves admiring the detail and variation that Bigshot Toyworks and Progressive brought to the range.
  • 8.27.14   Mike Piscitelli Visualizes Personal Flavor

    There is a drink for every Starbucks customer. Tea or Coffee? Iced or Hot? Venti or Tall? The combinations are almost infinite. Every drink reflects the person ordering, their tastes and personalities distilled into a drink. But the customization doesn’t only come from in front of the counter. Behind the counter, each Starbucks employee engages with the orders they fulfill in their own personal way. For the launch of Starbucks’ newest drinks, Teavana Shaken Iced Teas, photographer Mike Piscitelli shot real life Starbucks baristas who make these drinks every day. He got them in the process of shaking the same tea that they serve to their customers. The clearly visible excitement wasn’t hammed up for the photographs, though. Working with actual employees is a little different from using actors and models. Usually, “real life” people need to be coaxed out a little bit through performance. Not so with the Starbucks baristas. “They were really into being Starbucks employees,” Mike explains. It didn’t hurt that Mike had built a fun and retro playlist for everyone to listen and jam out to. (He called it “90s Summertime School Girls” and it featured singers like Jewel and Natalie Imbruglia.)  Not only did he get them in action, but he also got their signature shakes. In the ads, behind each of these drink makers is a light drawing of the way they handle their own shakers, bringing the same customization to the images as customers add to their drinks. “That’s them building it,” Mike explains the real time light paintings. “None of them were posed, that’s all movement.” They achieved the look by attaching LED lights to the shakers and the hands of each barista, and shooting the shaking process in the pitch black. They tried a few different methods, but once they figured out the technical aspect, it was all about getting the authentic movements on camera.  It was a lot of fun, but there was also a lot of anticipation. “It’s a two and a half second exposure and it takes eight seconds for the camera and computer to process it,” Mike explains. “So you shoot it and then wait. In the dark.” Everyone huddled around those screens. Mike, his crew, 72andSunny (the agency that coordinated the project), and Starbucks, all waiting in that blacked out sound stage. Seconds ticked by in the dark and in the quiet, until the shot appeared on screen. “The patterns turned out insane.”  Mike says the shoot was one of the easiest he’s had to date. Not because the process was simple (it took two sound stages, multiple set ups, and an incredible amount of planning), but because everyone was so genuinely excited and happy to be there. That makes all the difference in the world.
  • 8.21.14   Tristan Eaton's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Dream Comes True with FLüD

    The folks at FLüD Watches have always wanted to work with Tristan Eaton, but they weren’t really sure how they wanted to do it. They didn’t want to go to him with a half-baked idea, instead they wanted to use their network to bring him the perfect project. “We’ve always wanted to work on something with Tristan just because we’re big fans of his work,” says Mel Peralta of FLüD. “We just didn’t know exactly what that was.” Around the same time they were trying to conceive of the perfect project, they were working out the details for a collaboration with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the eve of the film release. It turns out this was exactly the kind of thing that Tristan would want to work on. “From the comics illustrated by Mark Bode to the Saturday Morning Cartoons, TMNT have always had a prominent place in the Pop Culture of my youth,” Tristan says about the animated turtles. “I grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, so I felt a natural kinship for the project.” But it wasn’t just the pizza obsessed, bickering amphibians that Tristan liked about the TMNT universe. He was really drawn to the arch nemesis of the turtles: Shredder. Shredder’s origin story is deeply steeped in samurai and ninja tradition, and his conflict with the turtles is based on the avenging of a blood debt – something that most childhood viewers of TMNT might have missed. But Tristan was aware of this Japanese inheritance and used it as the primary inspiration for the aesthetic of the piece. “I immediately gravitated towards Shredder,” he says. “I played up his Samurai aesthetic and created a piece inspired by ancient Japanese water color paintings.” It wasn't at all what FLüD would have expected. "We never thought of doing that Japanese style," says Mel. "Even though it sounds like such a layup." When Tristan created the original design for FLüD about a year ago, they put the image together into a mural for SXSW in Austin. The design was very similar to the watch, but in blue (check out the video on the right). Shredder stands in front of hand painted clouds, waist deep in patterned waves, reminiscent of some of the most iconic Japanese art in history. FLüD has been working with a group of artists for this project, but it just so happened that it was Tristan's watch that lined up exactly with the release of the movie. And good thing too, his passion for TMNT is one of the strongest. He says, “This project is one of those rare opportunities to interact with and contribute to Pop Culture in a way I dreamed of as a kid.” If you want to grab a watch for yourself, they're available now via FLüD.
  • 8.25.14   The Natural Beauty of Fitness

    For Fitness’ latest piece on how to fit an effortless beauty regimen into a busy lifestyle, Tom Corbett and the magazine chose to shoot a model highlighting her unblemished, unobstructed skin. Lingerie shoots require a little more subtlety from the photographer to keep everyone comfortable. “A key part of shoots like this is creating a fun, informal, and friendly atmosphere,” Tom explains. “I find out the models favorite playlist and blast it from the speakers and we just generally try and have a laugh.” And it works. What we see is a disarmed model permitting a vulnerability that is absent in a lot of fashion photography. Soliciting a model’s performance is only half Tom’s job. He also has to make sure the audience feels what he wants them to feel. For this shoot they wanted something soft, something that was natural. They wanted to show that beauty is natural and easy, it doesn’t require a ton of work. So Tom reached into his photographer’s bag of tricks to achieve that look. “On the technical side we used a technique involving flaring the lens on these shots,” Tom says, explaining the morning light look of the shoot. “I loved the colors and mood that resulted.” That morning mood communicates to the viewer that they can do this too. The comfort that Tom worked so hard to create reaches directly through the images and empowers the reader. Part of keeping everyone comfortable and happy on set was allowing ideas to flow freely. By giving power over to the model to dictate her own movements and poses, not only was she more comfortable, Tom was able to capture images he wouldn’t have found otherwise. “Experimenting with this was probably the most rewarding side of this shoot as it gave the client something unexpected.” Tom’s desire and willingness to collaborate is what brings his shoots over the top, and “Natural Beauty” for Fitness Magazine is no exception.
  • 8.26.14   FunJob Goes Ape

    The term “Guerilla Marketing” has nothing to do with gorillas. But don’t tell Pizza.de, because they’re having too much fun with people in ape costumes. The German website that facilitates ordering food online presents themselves to the same crowd that goes to music festivals. They were looking to bring unique experiences with them out into the wild. Pizza.de wanted to step up their game a little bit. Instead of just getting participants involved by passing out bananas and interacting with costumed actors, they wanted to offer an immersive experience. So they got FunJob to help them create it. The result was Monkey Island, a gigantic, interactive experience that came from a much smaller seed. “Specifically, they wanted a bounce-house,” explains Steve Saiz of FunJob. “But we reached out and gave them a bunch more things.” That’s an understatement. FunJob ended up conceptualizing and creating an entire bounce world. From inflatable banana jousting, to ball pit jacuzzis, to sumo wrestling. “We just tried to keep expanding on what they started with.” That’s how things go over at FunJob. For them, it’s all about creative growth. “We very much like to listen to what their needs are and always expand on it. Make it the most exciting, and keep building and building on it.” The way FunJob stays expansive with their work is by destroying intellectual boundaries and taking nothing for granted. Their brainstorming process is free and easy. “It runs pretty organically. Our ideas can come from anywhere,” Steve says. “We try to put our ideas in the hat and see what comes out. We’re always trying to find the best solution.” That sort of creative dexterity ensures that they always get the best activations possible. That’s how they got Monkey Island to be what it is: an actual bounce island oasis in the insanity of the festival. Participants take off their shoes, step onto the island, and get to run free and wild. There are places to sit down and chat, the bounce-house is located in the mouth of the huge gorilla in the back, and costumed actors interact with the participants to show them how to maximize their experience. Unfortunately for them, no one from FunJob has been able to experience Monkey Island for themselves yet. The bounce-house experience has been too busy moving around Europe, delighting festival goers as it travels. “Maybe one day,” says Steve. “I’m dying to experience it. It’s so fun.”
  • 8.19.14   Found's Immersive Viral Experience for Foot Locker

    When it comes to advertising your brand, what you want to build is affinity. It’s not enough for customers to be interested in what you’re doing, you need them to love what you’re doing. Then they’ll love you. You don’t want to give them something to watch, you need to give them something to care about, to interest them, to activate them. You need to involve them. To highlight Foot Locker’s “Triple Black” Collection, a curated series of black sneakers from multiple brands, the retail chain wanted to bring an extra level of intrigue and excitement to their launch. They wanted to synthesize product and production into one story that could involve their customers. So they tapped Found, the experiential experts, to bring their customers into a three dimensional emotional and immersive experience. To highlight what makes these shoes special, mainly that they’re all black, Found conceived a constructed live experience that would play on darkness. They created a space for participants that could be explored in the pitch black, with nothing but tactile and auditory senses. The participants would find a pair of sneakers in the pitch black, and if they made it through in time they would get a pair to keep. Using the two pathways of auditory and tactile communication, Found designed a sort of maze with the idea of bringing the participant off balance into a challenging space. They played off the fear and anxiety inspired by darkness to lift the participant up into the courageous brave person they could be when presented with the challenge. When describing what the most exciting part of the project was, Sarah O’Connell of Found explains it’s “the opportunity to be able to do something for the fans first and foremost. In terms of their experience and interaction with the brand,” she says. “And then the opportunity to put it out into the world.” The video that’s resulted from their immersive maze has amassed nearly 700k views after finding a click-through residence on FootLocker EU’s website. Their #BacktoBlack campaign is one of those rare occasions where the client asked for a “Viral Campaign,” and the artist was able to deliver. Not only were they able to construct a piece that was predictive of mass appeal, Found ended up going from concept to execution in less than half the time they had originally asked for. “Everyone that was working on it was quite up for it and excited to do something spectacular,” Sarah explains the energy surrounding the project. “The whole crew that worked on it were really brilliant and put so much time and energy and passion into it.” It was all hands on deck to execute the impossible, and Found did it in record time.
  • 8.21.14   Tiffany Patton Gets Wild in the Jewish Museum

    When Tiffany Patton arrived at the Jewish Museum in New York City to shoot an editorial for The Wild Magazine, she knew it was going to be something special. She was working with a brand new Parisian style magazine, a photographer she loves and trust, Drew Malo Johnson, and they were using a bold makeup execution. The whole idea behind their story was inspired by the museum's exhibit Other Primary Structures (no longer in exhibition). Bringing together an international roster of artists, the exhibit consists of bold 1960s minimalist sculptures that challenge space, form, and color. Drew wanted to reflect the sculptures in the apparel, but also create a direct correlation to the makeup, which is a bolder step than normal. “We were so thrilled to be at the Jewish Museum with the sculptures,” Tiffany says about the experience. “It definitely did reflect what we were trying to do.” Taking cues from the bold colors and structural elements, Tiffany painted strong, broad lines in bright colors around the model’s eye for a Mod look. Shooting in a museum presented a challenge. They didn’t want to risk damaging any of the art, so all makeup had to be applied away from the artwork. They used a small bathroom, whose lighting was beautiful for a bathroom but not quite ideal for makeup application. That meant that Tiffany employed her expertise in color matching and painting to get the precise lines that they needed to reflect the work. Other than the colored lines around the eyes, Tiffany avoided using too much makeup on the rest of the model’s face. She wanted to make sure the model’s freckles were visible. “This model loved her spots. I loved her spots. And it felt like summer,” says Tiffany. “In the summer time we wear less. We don’t want to cover up the skin as much.” 
Instagram
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  • #JennyMorgan is one of the artists in our upcoming group show #StrangerThanFiction, and was recently interviewed for the cover story of @juxtapozmag September Issue.⚡️#jonathanlevinegallery
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Events
  • 9.8.14
    Josh Cochran Talk @ Apple Store Soho

    Join Josh Cochran for a talk at the Apple Store Soho Sept 8 at 7pm

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