• 5.18.16   Todd Selby and eBay Reject Perfection

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    ‘Perfect’ means different things to different people. To be perfect is to be totally free of flaws, but the observer must decide what a flaw is to make the definition work. A flaw to one person might be a marker of brilliance to another, creating as many definitions of ‘perfect’ as there are people in this world. But what if the subjective nature of the word ‘perfect’ is actually devoid of meaning? What if “perfect” doesn’t mean anything? This spring eBay sought to find the answer to that question in their latest campaign and asked Todd Selby to help them in their investigation. It turns out that Todd is exactly the kind of person you want on your team to prove that ‘perfect’ doesn’t really exist: it’s not really a part of his vocabulary. “Personally I’ve never really been concerned with perfect, or interested in perfect,” Todd says. “I think only one time someone accused me of being a perfectionist. It was some random person who obviously didn’t know me very well,” he says with a laugh. The six women featured in the campaign, that includes a video, are a collection of ladies who use eBay to help express themselves through the special finds they discover on the site. Having access to the things that stimulate them through eBay has helped shape their point of views and strengthen the idea of creating their own version of ‘perfection,’ whatever that looks like. And good for them! “None of them said that perfect exists and it’s something that we can try to get to,” Todd says. “Perfection is a painful thing. When I see perfectionists, I don’t envy them. I think it’s better to express yourself and know when it’s right, the right amount of wrong.” At the very least we could all take their example and create a goal for ourselves that is true to who we are and how we see the world, rather than relying on the expectations of an outside construction of ‘perfection.’ The intimate, personal portraits in this campaign are exactly the kinds of photographs that Todd likes to create. Campaigns like this offer him an experience that inspires him, learning about his subjects and how they come into contact with the world. “It was a great group of women and it was great to talk to them and really I think all of them had really interesting things to say,” says Todd. “I always love visiting people and entering their worlds. It was nice.” When we reject the idea of 'perfection' it suddenly means that we have to understand everyone's experience as their own, with their own standards and unique genius. It is inside that diversity that we find what's interesting about meeting other people, and Todd is lucky enough that he gets to do it every day.
  • 5.23.16   Mark Hunter Stays Forever 21

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    Turning 21 is one of the most exciting birthdays. A totally new world opens up filled with new opportunities and stirring adventures. That energy is exactly what Forever 21 captures every day. The fashion brand’s whole look is about holding onto the joy and exploration that comes with turning 21 and letting it live on forever. When it came time to shoot their latest season they turned to Mark Hunter who has made a career out of capturing energy just like that in fashion. For him, it was second nature. “This campaign was all about the fun loving energy: this playful, youthful spirit of being forever 21, which is like the most awesome name for a brand,” says Mark with a laugh. “And I think that at the same time they’re trying to elevate.” Part of taking it to the next level was bringing on Pyper and Daisy America, two sisters whose modeling work is captivating the world. It’s the easy and free energy of the America sisters that’s drawing the world to them and that’s exactly what Mark connected with immediately. “When they told me they had Pyper America and her sister Daisy I was really excited because they are superstar It Girls that I’ve been wanting to shoot with,” says Mark. “They shoot with the top photographers all around the world, so it was nice to be in good company.”  As the shoot progressed, the America sisters and Mark got along famously creating a fantastic collaborative energy in front of the camera, but Mark was also able to create that same collaborative energy behind the camera by taking advantage of creative technology.  Setting up with his digital technician and a tethering rig, Mark and his clients watched every shot as he took it, allowing him to work with the clients in real time. By taking out the guess work and time delay, they were able to amplify their creative exchanges and get exactly what they needed. “The clients loved it because we got to review the images and make sure that everyone was happy as we were shooting,” says Mark. “We were accomplishing and knocking each shots out one by one.” Since everything was happening in the moment, Mark and his clients were able to keep their eye on the ball, creating their vision with every click of the shutter without sacrificing the littlest bit of momentum. When technology and personalities come together it creates the perfect creative maelstrom to capture the energy of being forever 21.
  • 5.19.16   Andrew Rae Circles the Globe with Google

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    The digitizing of our culture has made the world feel a lot smaller than it is. The speed of communication and omnipresence of devices makes everyone accessible to everyone; we’re all just an email, tweet, or Facebook poke away. But sometimes it’s hard to bring that truth to the forefront, presenting it in an artful way. Google is changing that in a new browser game and they asked Illustrator Andrew Rae to help them make it as real and visceral as possible.  In Paper Planes thousands of digital paper airplanes are flying around the globe, and armed with a net you reach out and grab one. Once you catch a plane you get to open it up to see all the stamps from the locations where that plane has been. Each stamp represents a real person on their phone that held that piece of digital information. Then you add your own stamp to it and send it out. Andrew Rae created a great deal of the stamps that Google is using to help tag who is holding each of the planes, using fun animals that represent cultures all over the world. Aach stamp includes a little saying that is fun and exciting, blending seamlessly into the aesthetic of Google’s game. Andrew’s work is literally and figuratively zipping all over the world, and he says “It's really nice to know that people all over the world are looking at my funny little animal drawings.” The light energy presented in these illustrations is native to Andrew’s own humor, making the project pretty painless. “One of the quickest and easiest jobs we've ever done!,” says Creative Director Jerry Hoak at Droga5, the agency tasked with creating the project.  The tens of thousands of paper planes are all being traded all over the world through the digital sphere, creating a community of connecting synapses that exists in the cloud. It’s a seamless combination of old school forms with contemporary devices. In fact, it’s incredible who you’re able to come in contact with after even just a few seconds of using the game. Andrew used it himself and recognized that exact experience. “In the few minutes I was playing with it I saw stamps from Turkey, Dallas, New York, Wichita, Amsterdam, Chicago, Planet Earth and Fort Lauderdale. How crazy is that?”  To play for yourself, go to g.co/ioplanes on your mobile device. For a less interactive experience, check out paperplanes.withgoogle.com on your computer.
  • 5.12.16   We Are The Rhoads Get Expressive for Pandora

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    Photography and music are two very, very different art forms. Photography is entirely visual: even if it evokes sounds and songs it doesn’t deliver them directly. Music is entirely auditory. Again, if there is visual stimulation from music it’s not a part of the music, it’s a part of the experience. So when We Are The Rhoads were asked by Pandora to create their latest campaign it posed a unique challenge of bringing a visual language to music. “Image making is a two-dimensional output,” says Sarah Rhoads. “You really have to portray so much in just a moment in time.” When Chris and Sarah Rhoads shoot they always use music in their process so it was no-brainer for them to lean heavily on music when communicating with their subjects. It helped them create a crucible of sensation. “This campaign was all about the different emotions that music can draw out of us,” says Sarah. “It was really fun to be able to work from that place for this campaign because it really freed us up to explore a range of different emotions that music makes us feel.” The music and styles that they chose really set the temperature in the room to get their models in the exact head spaces they wanted, to communicate exactly what they needed. “It was cool to actually be able to change the soundtrack, like actually put on some ‘chill vibes’ and embrace that different tone,” says Chris. “Something that we do when we direct is really get people into the character and it’s cool to see that translated even in print as well; that the change in tone really helps facilitate an end result.” The relationship that the Rhoads have with music is already critical to their style, so this blending was seamless.  In addition to the still campaign, they created a short film to highlight how this vision came together. But they wanted to offer something unique. “We wanted to bring in this real rawness into the imagery that felt almost cinematic,” says Sarah. “We wanted that through not just the images but also the film, so we decided to shoot it on actual film.” They reached for a 16mm camera and shot actual film. It was going to give them a look that has become popular, but usually something that’s faked. The Rhoads wanted to do it legit. “If we want to recreate this, why don’t we just shoot it this way?” says Chris. “It’s really cool to see the natural character of film. It’s so rarely done anymore, and it’s always imitated but it’s really cool to actually get in there and see how the colors reveal themselves just as they are instead of using post effects to affect and manipulate that.” They took their thousand feet of exposed film (yes, really, one thousand feet) (and used the same processor that Christopher Nolan used for Interstellar), and turned it into a video that gets to the heart of what the campaign is all about: Emotions. Energy. Music. And loving the relationship between expression and art.
  • 5.13.16   Craig Ward and Xie Xie Tea Steep in Design

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    In the United States, we don’t really understand tea. We drink it from time to time and line our pantries with boxes of tea while we sip our coffee, but it’s not an institution like over in the UK. So when Taiwanese tea company Xie Xie Tea was looking to completely reconfigure their brand identity, they knew to go to a Brit, so they linked up with Craig Ward. “I’m British. It’s not something to drink, it’s something to do for us,” says Craig. “It’s a different thing, you know. The British, we have kettles and tea cups in our tanks.” Craig is best known for his typography and projects that combine surprising reality with expression, but with Xie Xie he directed every angle of repackaging, from ideation to font and logo design to photography. It was an entire ground-up operation. As a design conscious tea brand, Xie Xie wanted to make sure that they were moving in the right direction. They came to Craig with an idea that they could make a space for themselves in a higher fashion plane. They had already been tapped by a high-end fashion house and wanted to use it as a jumping off point to help people think about their brand and drinking tea in a new way. “They were going to be giving boxes away in Alexander Wang’s Fashion Week gift bag, which was sort of going to the right people,” says Craig. “They wanted a bit more of a premium, fashion focused identity and pack design.” They have since been picked up by stores all over the world, including Colette in Paris one of the hotbeds of creative, contemporary style. And now Xie Xie fits right into that space. The look that Craig created for Xie Xie is incredibly clean, with elegant lettering and sleek graphic elements with some added chaos. For Craig, it’s all about creating a balance. “The majority of the ingredients, even though they were dry, are very interesting shapes. And because the look we were going for was so clean and grided and designed, I wanted to introduce a little chaos,” says Craig. When water is poured into a pot of tea, everything swirls together in a steeping torrent, and Craig’s design reflects that moment that’s often hidden in the shadows of a mug. “I like the idea that it sort of washes around in there in the teabag, kind of floats around in the water,” he says. “So I wanted to get a little bit of that, the motion to go against a really clean design.” It required someone like Craig thinking about this brand and what they do to interpret it the way it needed to be interpreted. The best stories always come from the root of what a brand does, and Xie Xie tea is all about pouring water into that pot and making a great cup of tea.
  • 5.17.16   HBO's Game of Thrones Gets the B&A Royal Treatment

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    A well-told story outlives the words required to create it. It will ignite the imagination and tease the heart. It inspires and lives on long past its telling. A good story elicits a response. HBO’s Game of Thrones has arrested audiences the world over with its sweeping epic tale and characters that create homes deep in our psyches. To kick of this season, with the help of Bernstein & Andriulli they commissioned five artists to create artwork inspired by the series and tapped Tristan Eaton, Pop Chart Lab, and Jeff Nishinaka, CYRCLE and Marcos Chin for this original work. The collection of work was called "Art the Throne," and for good reason: each artist created a veritable royal masterpiece for all to enjoy. “As I grew up I only wanted to paint characters in the streets,” says Tristan Eaton. “I’ve always had that affinity for nerd fantasy. I’m proud of it.” Tristan created a series of six paintings, each a play on the same image. A greyscale portrait of Daenerys Targaryen, the dragon queen, is replicated in each painting, with additions that reflect relationships and story points that have arisen along the way. Each painting has its own color themes, creating a final series of images that both reveal something about this crucial character and play with the eye. “Game of Thrones has some of the most amazing, strong female leads out of any show I’ve ever seen,” Tristan explains. “That really inspires.” Pop Chart Lab were inspired by one of the series’ most gut wrenching scenes known as ‘The Red Wedding.’ In this horror show, a family of a spurned bride-to-be murders the family who didn’t hold up their end of the marriage bargain. Complicated rules of promise and honor factor into the event, resulting in the almost complete decimation of a bloodline. The families in Game of Thrones each have their own histories and lore, weaving into the rich fabric of the story. “Each family is so unique from the next,” says Becky Joy, a designer for Pop Chart Lab. “There’s a lot of symbolism throughout.” They wanted to remember the Starks with a huge 12-foot tall, engraved glass piece that memorialized the family while offering dread by lighting it up totally red. “I’d like people to walk away from this feeling like something bad happened here,” says Ashley Walker. One of the biggest conflicts in the series is the ever-present danger from the North, the White Walkers (a type of ice zombie) are constantly threatening to invade the Seven Kingdoms, overrunning everyone and everything and covering the land in an icy death. When Jeff Nishinaka was looking for inspiration he turned to a scene where in the midst of battle the White Walkers raise our hero’s fallen allies from the dead turning them into White Walkers themselves. “It really does have a huge emotional impact,” says Jeff. “It’s kind of one of those ‘Oh my God!’ moments.” With the raising of his arms the leader of the White Walkers raises these zombies from the dead, and that’s the exact moment that Jeff wanted to immortalize in paper. Hundreds, if not thousands, pieces of cut paper come together to create the White Walker as he raises his hands above his head, bringing a kind of foul life to those who have fallen around him. 'Art the Throne' was on view in NYC’s Lower East Side at the Angel Orensanz Center for a limited time, but you can see the art of these B&A artists, as well as CYRCLE and Marcos Chin, here and teaser videos that we’ve included below.
  • 5.16.16   He & Me Reflects the Driver's World for Scion

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    Cars are a reflection of their driver. They’re an extension of the life that the driver leads, representing who they are and where they are in their lives. No one knows that better than He & Me. The German photography duo, Tom Mennemann and Yona Heckl, have photographed dozens of cars for a huge array of brands, each with their own unique identities. Most recently He & Me teamed up with Scion to show off how the relationship between driver and car coalesces into a reflection of lifestyle. For the campaign they headed to southern California, taking advantage of the easy and bright energy there to play off what it is Scion is representing in the FR-S, one of their latest additions to the line.  Southern California offered the right kind of energy, but also the perfect visual setting to show off the Scion FR-S’ features. The agile, racing inspired car was created to handle squirrely roads perfectly, just like the roads that any driver would find outside of Los Angeles. “It was in LA, and most of the pictures you see were in the mountains of the Los Angeles area,” says Tom. “It was a nice mountain road, which was great.” They were able to close down the entire road so they could create exactly the right feel and exact total control over the aesthetic execution. The result is a hugely diverse collection of imagery that captures all sorts of driving experiences with a particular eye. But within that diversity is a very specific point of view directed towards a particular energy. The colors that Tom and Yona used for this Scion campaign are almost dream like, with warm light and strong awareness of shadow. They employed these techniques to reflect the energy of Scion and who Scion is talking to when they create their designs.  “Scion is a young spirit, so we decided to have a freshness of color,” says Tom. “At the same time that they’re drivers they’re still people living in the city and show the open spirit of that. So that’s the mixture. We tried to mix that up with the color and the kind of flourish they have.” Yona and Tom remind us that even though they’re creating a car campaign it’s crucial to remember that a driver is only a driver when they’re in the car. Outside of the car they have their own dreams and goals, and bring that lifestyle into the car with them. The car, and therefore the work that Tom and Yona creates, must reflect that reality. So that’s exactly what they do.
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