• 7.14.14   Elevendy Talks Creative Inspiration with Advanced Photoshop

    How do you maintain an open and creative work atmosphere where all players are equal and ideas are king? You name your agency after that idea so that every conversation, every mention, and every printed object sings that story. When the founders of Elevendy were looking for their company name, that’s where they looked. For the latest issue, Advanced Photoshop Magazine caught up with Eleventy to parse through their process, their people, and the work that they do.  Dave Cox, CEO and founder of Elevendy, explains that “Human beings are most creative between the ages 2 and 8,” before we know the rules and pressures of society. “Anything is possible for kids. We want to make that our rally cry.” Elevendy is a word independently created by innumerable children when learning their numbers, exploring language. Untethered from pedestrian, oppressive behavior and arbitrary rules of decorum, children reach into the fog of language and pluck out an impossible word, “Elevendy.” A word that is understandable to whoever hears it, regardless of how much “sense” it makes. That’s what Elevendy, the agency, traffics in. They communicate experiences and ideas before trying to figure out if they’re being “correct.” You can’t innovate without first considering the impossible. This is just common sense to Dave. “Everybody has value throughout the process,” so it's counterproductive to stifle anyone’s voice at any point. When everyone is honestly working towards making every project better, every time, the next best idea can come from anywhere and anyone. “We won’t settle for less than the best,” Dave is clear to state. That’s why every “Eleven Day” (the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 11/11) the agency comes together as a group and destroys all the awards they’ve earned that are less than gold. Sure, it’s always great to be recognized, but Elevendy treats them as encouragement to go further, that they’re on the right track. Dave explains the mindset that they meditate on when firing arrows into those “This was a great honor but we don’t need to keep it and aspire to get second place again.” Dave’s emails all end with a simple and inspiring quote, “Anything less than the best, is a felony.” This little bit of genius isn’t from Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, or the Sufi poet Rumi. This is Vanilla Ice, whose lyrics have been frozen in to Dave’s brain since the sixth grade. During Dave's own formative years he was exposed to the Rapper's lyrics and despite their assumed expiration date, the words live on through Dave. Because if you're going to accept any idea from anyone, even the brightest wisdom can come from Vanilla Ice.  
  • 7.22.14   Si Scott Indulges His Passion and the Work Follows with J&B

    The company that would eventually become J&B started creating and selling liquors in 1749, more than 260 years ago. That company has undergone many changes in the last two and a half centuries, but their logo has remained relatively untouched. “J&B” has sat proudly on the label for countless years, until this year when they used a new product to go in a slightly different direction.  With the insurgence of more complex and subtle mixed drinks, J&B infused their classic scotch whiskey with honey. “Urban Honey,” is now available in a bottle that looks very similar to the iconic J&B with one major difference: the letter “B” has been replaced with a detailed drawing of a bee. Very fitting. Si Scott, the illustrator who created the drawing for J&B, commends the heritage brand for making such a bold move, “A lot of brands are sort of scared of doing anything to their logo at all, I thought it was quite brave of them to do it. I don’t think a lot of people would have.” It wasn’t always supposed to be just the “J” and the bee, it was a part of the artistic process in developing the label. As Si worked and created such an intricate illustration, J&B couldn’t reduce the image to a detail on the new bottle. It had to take center stage. Si works by hand. The original drawing was created in two sections, the body and the wings, each drawing was independently nearly 60cm x 42cm, but brought together digitally as seen in the video they created about the process. “If you draw something large and detailed and you decrease it and print it, lines disappear,” Si explains. So, he brought the intricacies down slightly so that they could all fit on the bottle, otherwise the printing would have lost the details in unpredictable and inelegant ways. It’s a credit to J&B that they were able to use as detailed a version as they did for the label. “It all depends on the print quality. Obviously J&B made sure they got things right, got it printed correctly." It was no mistake that J&B found Si for this particular project. He’s been interested in flying insects since he was a kid. “Especially bees and things like that because when you look closely at them they look like they shouldn’t be able to fly. Almost armored little things,” he says. “It’s just always one of those things I’m quite fascinated by.” He’s been drawing them for years. Whenever he’s not working on a professional job, he engages himself in work that he wants to do. “What I’ve found over the years, is in order to generate the kind of work you want to do, you need to do personal work that reflects that. I don’t do work that I think will please people, I do work that I want.” His personal series on insects eventually caught the attention of Diageo who commissioned him for the “Urban Honey” illustration. Si is an example of how the work will come if you follow your passion.
  • 7.21.14   Douglas Friedman Catches a Glimpse of Melanie Griffith's New Pad for People Magazine

    Melanie Griffith has experienced a lot of changes in her life recently. Her recent divorce means that she gets to do things her way now. She gets to create a space that is uniquely hers, designing her nest the way that she wants it, and exactly the way that she wants it. “It’s elegant and wild at the same time,” the actress told People Magazine who featured her new home. “It’s got more pizzazz.” That pizzazz came from Melanie working to have the apartment reflect herself. “The apartment kind of channels this old Hollywood, deco-glamour,” says Douglas Friedman, who shot the interior of her new apartment for People magaizine. “Melanie Griffith is Hollywood royalty. She comes from that incredible lineage. It totally channels her, completely glamorous and royal.” “She’s really proud of her space,” says Douglas. Being invited to a personal space like that can be an exciting thing, and an honor in its own way. But Douglas knows that Melanie wants to show off her new pad, and so he does everything he knows how to make it look as good as possible. Part of Douglas’ craft is to make an image as elegant and beautiful as possible, and that means a lot of tinkering. Sometimes it’s moving huge pieces of furniture tiny distances that might not make sense to an outsider in the moment. But it all pays off in the end. “Homeowners find it so strange that you start to move things around by the inch,” Douglas says. “What looks great in real life doesn’t always translate to the photograph.” And millions of eyes are going to look at the photograph, so it’s important to translate the experience as beautifully as possible. The key, says Douglas, is that he’s not changing anything about what Melanie has put into her space. “You don’t want to change what they’ve done and how they live and what they love,” says Douglas. That would sort of defeat the purpose. “Who she is already in the space. That’s her home.”  Like most things in life, Melanie’s apartment isn’t exactly where she wants it to be. The whole renovation has been happening over 10 months piece by piece. “I don’t think it’s completely finished yet. But it’s a happy place,” she says. After all, when things are finished, it’s time to move on. And she just got here!
  • 7.17.14   Communication Arts Names Craig Ward to Hero Status

    When Communication Arts compared Craig Ward to Herb Lubalin in their latest issue, Craig was taken aback. For Craig, who has admired Lubalin for decades, it’s a shocking compliment. “That’s pretty big, for me anyway,” explains Craig. “[Lubalin is] somebody who’s always been held up as a real pioneer. One of the most important designers of the 20th century as far as I’m concerned.” Whether or not Craig is comfortable saying it, he is a pioneer in his own way. A pioneer is an adventurer, an explorer following a virgin route to something new, unknown, and unexpected. Craig works the same way. At first he was working in advertising and became enamored with letterpress for how physical the process was. It happened in real life, not on a screen. “The one thing I really loved about that was the tactile idea, the hands on feel that letter press has because it’s a really physical process,” Craig explains. “It’s always been really important to keep that hands on feel.“ But Craig expanded that into the real world. Building out typography from objects, like most recently spelling out “DIRT” in actually dirt for Vanity Fair. For years he spent clicking through every design site, considering what was in vogue, following trends, and scoping others’ portfolios. When he opened his new studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, he decided to cut it out. “It took a couple weeks to stop the mouse from clicking to the favorites bar,” he told 99U Podcast. “It was great… It was the year I wrote my book [Popular Lies About Graphic Design], I was more productive that year.” What resulted were projects like the letter A formed entirely from cells in a microscope, a 7 foot tall “1/3” made from $800 worth of produce, 25,000 pennies arranged into a single word. All of these came from exploring beyond what designers are “supposed” to look at, they came from the challenge of looking beyond. “I try to look at work that is outside the normal remit what a designer is supposed to be looking at,” Craig explains. “Outgrow your influences. Expand yourself a little bit.” Later, he adds, “The answers aren’t always found online.” In fact, Craig encourages stepping away from time to time like he did. (He does admit he spends time looking now, but far less than before.) When someone else curates your creative exposure, it can become a trap. Like you’re being guided by an invisible shepherd. “It’s so easy to rely on being spoon fed that you kind of get a little bit lazy when you have to really go looking for inspiration,” he explains. “You have to make a point to absorb different imagery and different styles.” One has to chase the impossible idea for it to ripen authentically. This sort of expansive creativity isn’t just a result of logging off the computer and walking outside. It is also the result of over a decade of work. But typography wasn’t the goal when he jumped into the industry. “Everything that’s happened has sort of happened over the last 10 years,” Craig says. “I never even decided I was going to be a typographer. That’s just sort of happened over time. I only started playing with type as a spare time thing.” That spare time thing has blossomed into Craig being one of the most well known and easily recognized typographers, and the Communication Arts comparison to Herb Lubalin. “It’s such a huge compliment to be tossed in like that.”   To get the full story “The Words Are Pictures Studio,” from Communication Arts, check out their website. The full interview podcast from 99U is available on their site.
  • 7.18.14   Justin Hollar and b.tempt'd Empower Women With Lingerie

    Shooting women in lingerie can be tricky. Lingerie is made to make women feel and look sexy. But, there’s a fine line between being feeling sexy and feeling objectified. One is empowering, the other is defeating. When Justin Hollar shoots for b.tempt’d, he’s only interested in empowering women. It’s easy to shoot a model like an object, an artifice to be moved and shaped into the desired look, but Justin takes a gentler approach. “I have a pretty calm personality naturally, which I think helps on shoots like this,” he says about his own shooting style. “I tell the girls to move in a way that they feel sexy.”  It certainly helps that he works with models who are professionals and know how to take responsibility for their own image. “These girls know their bodies and know how they look good. I don't ask them to put themselves in any positions that don't make them feel beautiful.” For the Fall/ Winter 2014 Collection, b.tempt’d and Justin opted to shoot in a stripped down loft space. The rough and grated surrounding hums a natural elegance that is reflected in the poses and styling that Mayra Suarez, the model, takes. The rough bare beauty of the space contrasts the soft curved lines of her body, making for a confident look that could appeal to just about everyone.  b.tempt’d sells through retailers like Macy’s and Zappos, so they have a huge reach and wide market. Part of the consideration that b.tempt’d must take when shaping a season is to maintain their appeal across those markets. At the same time, Justin and b.tempt’d work closely together to portray what makes their models and subjects uniquely striking. Providing that kind of personal, confident energy on set means their images stand out from less established brands. Justin says, “We just add a bit of edge.”  
  • 7.14.14   Sam Robinson gets personal with Dell

    The race to the top in Silicon Valley is all about innovation. The top of the heap is dictated by what companies and brands are on the cutting edge of technology, creating faster, smaller, and easier to understand products that will make users excited. But none of that has any value unless it fits into the user’s life. It’s worthless if it doesn’t seamlessly integrate and allow them to enjoy that life more. Sam Robinson has been shooting campaigns for Dell for half a decade now, and when they team up together to communicate what Dell is all about, he says, “We’ve always focused on the people.” After all, it doesn’t matter how pretty your product is if it’s not enriching the user’s experience. Sam is all about showing what that experience can do for someone who uses these products and he does that by presenting the moments between engaging with the devices. “Dell has a huge product range, so a lot of the stuff that we shoot has to relate to lots of different products,” Sam explains about the campaign that covers many life moments. “[The products] relate to different parts of life, so I’m trying to capture real moments in life, and real emotions that could be used for different types of products.” Whether you need to quickly find a route to the pottery studio using your tablet, print a photo of your friends from the beach, or celebrate the fruits of studying for years on your trusty laptop: Dell has you covered. Sam and Dell are showing that technology can make these moments possible, so the rest of the time is just for living. Positive technology enriches a life, it doesn’t get in the way. It takes real work and consideration to execute a campaign that feels as effortless as this one. “Light is such a key part of everything I shoot,” says Sam. Sam and Dell have shot all over the world to appeal to all sorts of different markets, but they wanted this one to be uniquely North American. So they shot in Los Angeles and Houston to get the right feeling out of the light. That same rich golden light that inspired an entire film industry. To keep everything fun, Sam likes to foster a relaxed and easy atmosphere on set, so the subjects can be free to live authentically in front of the lens. After all, the goal is to communicate how seamlessly the variety of products fit into any lifestyle. “We have a real freedom to create a nice loose set and play. We’re not dictated by trying to sell one particular thing,” explains Sam. Instead, they’re working together to visually describe the identity of a brand that covers so many aspects of life. “It allows us to have the freedom to be looser.”
  • 7.16.14   Joey L helps Warsteiner tell you to "Do It Right"

    Warsteiner beer has been around since 1753, that’s 211 years of German hops, yeast, and malt. That makes Warsteiner older than The United States of America. If a brand has been around that long, it’s obvious they’re doing something right. They most recently started a new campaign, with photographer Joey L., to spread that message. To implore people that if you’re going to do anything, “Do It Right.” In their own explanation of the campaign, Warsteiner said they looked to present “stories of people who do what [is right] for them. At the same time, the campaign asks everyone to stand up for whatever their individual pursuit might be.“ It’s about considering what actions you’re taking, and to do them full out without apology. When regular folks dive into their unique interests unbound there’s certainly going to be some surprising results. Warsteiner tasked Joey L. with profiling three real-live Germans in and around Frankfurt, highlighting their own personal passions that they do right. Michael Maas rejects the spotlight, instead he fosters his passion for lighting musicians. Gabriele von Lutzau carves incredibly intricate and detailed wood sculptures using only a chainsaw. René Karg put together an office chair-racing league that has had its 3rd Annual Race with corporate sponsors like WD-40. When a company is as established at Warsteiner, they can get caught in public opinion. Product centric campaigns are great for selling beer, but human centric campaigns sell ideas. Human campaigns sell slivers of a lifestyle. “They like to pair interesting, but real people with Warteiner,” Joey L. explains. For every person there’s a special passion, which means countless variation across infinite disciplines. But Joey used his acumen to keep the campaign feeling unified as one solid statement. “For all three of the pictures I tried to bring a sense of cohesion to how they feel.” He and Warsteiner chose a warm light for the whole campaign that groups them in the same world, despite the differences between specialties. Despite all their different interests Warsteiner can cover them all. This campaign was a long time coming. Joey L. met with Amsterdam Worldwide about the possibility of working together 6 or 7 years ago. Not everything gets slapped together, sometimes it’s got to take time. Take time to work it out. Take time to do it right. In fact, when it came time to shooting René Karg between hay bails in a turn on the track, to get the shot just right, “I made them go down, probably a hundred times.” Joey L. had to make sure that they could Do It Right. And they did.
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