• 8.25.15   The New York Times Magazine's New World Order with Andrew Rae

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    For some parents, the worst six words they can hear from their children are, “I want to be an artist.” Since the rise of Napster in 2000, creative careers have been judged unfit for long-term commitment. The ubiquitous access of creative work was supposed to spell disaster for creatives who would in turn no longer be able to find regular sources of steady income. With pirated music and movies and tumbling paywalls, the traditional income streams for creative professionals were headed for the ICU. They had, in fact, mostly dried up leaving the old guard with hung heads and a dismal outlook. But it turns out the future did not conform to their bleak prophecies. Last week, New York Times Magazine released their “The New Making It” issue that includes a cover story about the current state of the creative class called, "The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn't." The cover features an illustration by Andrew Rae who imagined this new breed of artists as abandoning the sinking ship of the traditional establishment and flying off to new heights. As Steven Johnson, the journalist who wrote the piece, found that wages are up across all sectors from music, to film, and even independent bookstores whose extinction should have already come and gone. For Andrew, illustrating a story like this is a little funny since he is a professional artist. He, too, has been absorbing the common wisdom that his profession is dying, but found encouragement in the revealed truth that it’s a totally different story. “There’s so much stuff you read about how everything is going to shit for everyone,” says Andrew. “And it’s actually quite nice to read that things are not so bad after all. Because in my experience, and a lot of people I know and work with, things are a lot better now in many ways. So it’s good to hear that confirmed empirically.” In fact, Johnson dives deep into the numbers and proves, once and for all, these breeds of creatives aren’t dying at all. After seeing Andrew’s illustration on the cover, the inspiration is obvious, but a composition like this isn’t ripped from the sky. “I was having trouble thinking of actual images to draw, I was picking things from the text,” says Andrew. “I don’t know where it came from but I just hit on the idea of the sinking ship, and it just seemed to work. The ship represents the industry, the old school, with various people doing creative things launching into the sky.” It is the visual representation of the new creative world order. Only by abandoning traditional structures can these artists make their way. The same arguments of moribund disciplines are made every few decades, but it is never the art that suffers, only expired systems constructed to sell and distribute art. As the old adage goes, “Life finds a way.”
  • 8.27.15   Vault49 and Uniqlo Heat Up

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    Despite the fact that it's August, now is the time to look into the next season and prepare for what we should be expecting. If the trend of "autumn for a week," from the past few years holds up it's going to be cold before we know it. Earlier this year, Vault49 teamed up with Uniqlo to visualize their latest technological fabrics that brought cooling properties into the weave of their textiles, working at an almost molecular level. Through a process of 3D rendering and creative problem solving, Vault49 was able to create a visual language that explained these technologies in visceral ways. But even as we strive to stay cool in the summer, warmth is the treasure of the winter and Vault49 has been hard at work at visualizing Uniqlo’s new technologies. Uniqlo's latest collection features apparel that activates warming and heat trapping techniques, causing the fibers of these pieces to interact with heat in a new way. This kind of fiber level activation ensures the wearer is more comfortable through winter, all without layering to a veritable puffball. "The main challenge is figuring out how these products actually work," explains Luke Choice at Vault49, who took lead on the project. There was an educational process between Vault49 and Uniqlo where Luke and his colleague Nik Ainley had to reach the deepest understanding possible of these technologies in order to most honestly convey their properties. Once they were able to get there, it was about communicating that information to the audience. For Luke, the most exciting of the series was one that drew on the Japanese provenance of the company. Luke and Nik turned to traditional Japanese ink paintings, and the brush strokes that have defined that aesthetic, to explore how the fabric interacts with itself. In a marked break from Japanese calligraphy, they explored using this historic style using new techniques. "It was nice because we tackled doing it in 3D," says Luke. "We were trying to make it look like it was floating in space but still had that traditional Japanese calligraphy style." The 3D space allowed Luke and Nik the flexibility to look at the shapes from every angle to ensure the composition was exactly what they wanted. Once in that 3D space, the trick is to bring a sense of reality to the touchability of the fabrics. “The challenge is making sure that the fabric is realistic and not too plastic and trying to give it that tactile feel without seeming too digital,” says Luke. After all, the imagery is all about Uniqlo’s apparel and helping to bring consumers into contact with them. The information that Vault49 helps Uniqlo communicate with these images is crucial to understanding these technologies and educating the consumer. But none of it matters if the clothes aren’t impeccably put together and a pleasure to touch. And Uniqlo has never had a problem with that.
  • 8.26.15   Adding a Human Touch with Jason Madara and Glidden

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    When Jason Madara got the call from DDB to shoot a campaign for Glidden Paint, the edict was simple: photograph beautiful, lived in rooms painted in Glidden color. Jason’s experience shooting with clients like ABC Carpet & Home has made him a master of setting a scene so that it’s compelling, injecting life into what could otherwise be expanses of emptiness. Whether it’s gigantic carpets, or in this case, large walls, what might look like negative space to another photographer becomes a canvas of potential in Jason’s hands. “The first thing we needed to do was add dimension and shape. It needed to be three dimensional,” explains Jason. His initial step was to do as much research and collect as much reference material as possible so that he and Creative Director Niko Coutroulis were placing the aesthetic dialogue in context and speaking the same language. Then, working closely with set designer Shawn Anderson, they created a series of compositions that celebrated the future life of the spaces these paints would frame. Jason, Niko, and Shawn used their own tastes as the benchmark, creating environments that they wanted to inhabit. They investigated how to add humanity to seemingly blank walls. “Humanity was a huge reference,” Jason explains.  The stark nature of each image meant that every tiny element was painstakingly chosen to ensure it was a perfect fit. From the texture of a couch to the exact placement of a set of keys, each added prop and angle of crown molding was intrinsically valuable to the final composition and deserved unwavering attention and consideration - at least in its placement. But, every element needed to enhance the images and not distract from the emphasis of the advertisement: showing off the paint. “The art really is the paint. We kept pulling back to ensure the paint was the hero while adding humanity and a feeling that someone really lives in these spaces.” The focus was that balance, tested constantly by Jason and his team. “I wanted to walk into any of these rooms and feel like it’s a very peaceful, serene, beautiful environment and I could live there,” he says. By taking interest in each piece of the full collaboration, Jason was able to make sure that every piece sang from inception through the final images, and the intense focus paid off: “Glidden loved everything,” Jason says. Every element's perfect place made for just the right tone in a very human execution.
  • 8.20.15   Vogue Hangs Erwin Olaf's Photography with the Masters

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    The medium an artist chooses is as important to the work as any other element. The message that the artist is conveying will shift from form to form, and cannot fully be translated into any other. The strength from DaVinci’s David comes from inhabiting the same space as the viewer, where Diane Arbus’ work requires the immediacy and clarity of photography to display what she implored the world to see. But sometimes the lines between mediums get blurred and create a visual tension that tells a deeper story. Vogue has put together a photographic exhibition of some of their favorite fashion photographers called “Like a painting” that will remain on display in Spain into October. The images chosen include work from Erwin Olaf as well as Irving Penn, Annie Leibovitz, and Peter Lindbegh, bridging the gap between photography and painting. When photography was created as a method of capturing violently short moments and then soon developed into the art of documenting the ephemeral, it was a step away from the time consuming art of painting that demanded true pause. Suddenly energy could be directly translated in a slice of a moment rather than an impression after hours. The images that are included in Vogue’s exhibition bring the same respect for time as a classic Botticelli with the clarity of the finest photography. As a part of the offering Vogue explains their choices in part by saying, “There are direct references to iconic pieces of art history recalling from the Spanish Golden Age painting to Dutch Portraiture or Impressionism with a common denominator: an atmosphere in which time stops.” Erwin’s photograph, from his series “The Master & the Girl,” reminds us of Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” but Erwin’s work does what a painting cannot. The life that is infused in this frozen moment reaches out from the frame and is so authentic it is almost jarring. Curator Debra Smith explains that each painting shows, “a timelessness in the model’s pose; a kind of gap in the mind, where everything is really, really still.” Vogue's "Like a painting" is on view at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, Spain through October 15.
  • 8.21.15   Building the Brain Out of Paper with Jeff Nishinaka

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    The human brain is the most complex piece of equipment that humans have discovered so far. We know less about how the brain works than we know about the moon, but not for lack of effort. In fact, the brain is an area of intense study by neurologists all over the world and incredibly advances are made every year. One company that is a leader in cognitive technologies is Qualcomm with their brain implants that restore motor functions for those who have lost them. To help spread their message, Qualcomm teamed up with Jeff Nishinaka for the latest issue of Atlantic Monthly. Jeff is best known for his mastery of paper craft; cutting and folding paper stock into intricate imagery that is compelling as it is awe-inspiring. For Jeff, a project can be as simple as replicating an image but he wanted to go deeper with this one, and to do that he had to really understand the technologies Qualcomm was working on. “I can make a sculpture of basically anything. I see an image and I copy it and that’s it, it’s a done deal. But this was a hard one because we were trying to get the concept just right,” says Jeff. “Instead of being as obvious as using a human brain, we used this scanned image of a  brain where you see the paths that the neurons take inside the brain. So it’s like fibers.” By using the neural pathways of the brain for visual inspiration rather than the grey matter, the image becomes more about the action of the brain than the physical reality of it. It reminds us that the brain is an active and living part of us, and when shown in brilliant color is arrestingly beautiful. Projects come in for Jeff from all over the world in a myriad of different industries, but this one was particularly special for Jeff because of what he had the opportunity to learn. The technology is complex, but Qualcomm worked with Jeff to make sure he understood as much as he was curious about. “I’m still a novice at this stuff and it’s still all very new to me and there’s so much about it that I don’t even know what I don’t know, but what I really enjoyed was that I learned something completely new,” says Jeff. Not only did he learn about these new technologies, like the chips that restore motor functions, Qualcomm has created a convert. Jeff explains: “If I were paralyzed from the neck down and this was the only way for me to have a proactive life, more power to it. I think it’s actually very cool.” It is very cool.
  • 8.24.15   We Are The Rhoads Show a New Side of Kendall and Kylie Jenner

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    If you walked onto set when Sarah and Chris Rhoads of We Are The Rhoads were shooting Kylie and Kendall Jenner for their new line Kendall+Kylie, you may have met some friendly dogs running loose on set. On other shoots with other photographers, the dogs are normally taken away and locked up where they won’t get in anyone’s way. But not with the Rhoads. They’re happy to let the dogs roam free in the spirit of having an open and relaxed feeling where it’s less about rules and more about expression. “A lot of times in photo shoots things can be so controlled,” explains Sarah. “And we really like to foster an atmosphere that says the imperfection is okay, the spontaneity is encouraged. That’s what we like to do. If we’re asking them to sit on the floor, we’re sitting on the floor with them and getting at eye level, developing that rapport and that intimacy.” The Jenners are always camera ready. If they’re not on set, they’re being chased by the paparazzi and the Rhoads are sensitive to that. It’s a reality of the situation. Logic would say that getting an authentic and effortless image out of people who are heavily photographed would be a challenge. But that’s only if you’re trying to force it. Chris and Sarah work face to face with their subjects so that artifice can fall away instead of lacquered over. “I think whenever you’re photographed a lot then it’s nice to find a way to introduce something new to the talent,” says Chris. “Obviously there’s the direction that you’re giving and the environment and the energy exchange. But even something as simple as pulling out a camera that they might not be used to tends to elicit a different response and break down walls.” That’s exactly what they did. Over the course of a very busy day Chris and Sarah reached deeply into their camera collection and photographed the Jenner sisters in all sorts of different mediums. From Polaroid to Roloflex to a Land Camera, they were able to explore these different types of photography and bring the Jenner sisters along on the journey that allowed the girls to open up through curiosity. It ended up being the precise tone to build the perfect working relationship. “They were really open to working spontaneously which is always really fun because then we can go with the flow and collaborate.” That collaboration came together to make something that Sarah and Chris are ultimately very proud of. When they are able to dig down deep and work with their collaborators like they did with the Jenners, the results always reach beyond expectations. It’s the work of getting to know one another and foster a healthy, creative atmosphere that offers the best results. It allows their subjects to open up and show a different kind of face, a more honest face, a truer face. A face that, perhaps, we don’t get to see as often. “Anytime we’re able to get truly honest portraits that are representative of who we are and also pulls out something honest and authentic in our subjects: that’s a really satisfying feeling,” says Chris. The result of true collaboration reveals something new in each artist and this is what Chris and Sarah found in Kendall and Kylie that we've never seen before.
  • 8.21.15   Amy Taylor Makes High Fashion Effortless for Elle Bulgaria

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    Fashion is what you make it. Whether you want to wear a pair of red-bottomed Louboutins around the house on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or paint the town wearing nothing but a few hand-me-downs, style is defined by who wears it when. Anyone else’s opinion is just noise. Elle Bulgaria proved this with their cover editorial featuring Tali Lennox who poses effortlessly in sets designed by Amy Taylor. In the shoot, photographed by Enrique Vega, Lennox is decked out in high fashion looks on a refreshingly comfortable set by Amy Taylor. Amy has blended together textured walls with distressed, antiqued furniture pieces to create a graceful and pleasurable aesthetic tension. Looks are literally framed by massive picture frames that hang on the wall or create the perfect three-dimensional interactive piece for Lennox to step through. A highlight is the antique wooden Merry-Go-Round horse that Lennox treats like a throne while wearing Missoni and Versace. The gap that Amy bridges between high-level style and at home environment brings a whole new life to fashion and changes the viewer’s potential perception. By seeing brands like Chanel and Fendi in a setting like Amy’s it makes it easier for us to imagine taking them home. It shows us that we, too, can be like Lennox, living in Givenchy and doing it for no one else than ourselves.
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