• 7.23.14   Mike Piscitelli Keeps Ashley Smith looking Natural for RVCA

    Having Mike Piscitelli shoot Ashley Smith for RVCA was a long time coming. When Ashley started modeling after being discovered at SXSW in Austin, Mike was one of the first photographers to ever shoot her in NYC. On the other side, Mike’s been aware of RVCA for years, “I’ve grown up skateboarding and surfing,” he says.  “And RVCA’s always stood out because they do a lot of stuff with artists.” But it wasn’t just that Mike has history with both Ashley and RVCA (pronounced ROO-ka), it’s a natural aesthetic fit. Having spent his life between the San Fernando Valley, New York, and Venice Beach, the natural, relaxed feeling of RVCA is the same energy that permeates his work. It always has. “I’m not some fashion guy that’s trying to come into the RVCA world,” Mike explains. “I come from that world and I’ve expanded outside of it. But at my core I bring authenticity and a level of work to the table” When Mike says he’s expanded outside of it, he’s not kidding. He’s shot campaigns for KSwiss, Converse, and Expedia.com. His work has broad relatability, but his authentic naturalism is always the touchstone. The images that Mike shot with Ashley speak to her similar style. Observing her over-the-shoulder grin, and the wink of her icy blue eyes while enjoying a popsicle, you’d be forgiven if you pigeonholed her as skating model. But she’s walked runways for Chanel and Balenciaga, and spends her time shuttling between NYC and Paris. She and Mike have worked together a bunch before, and since they both have such a relaxed nature to them, they let that inform their shooting style. “We treated it like a vacation. We just cruised,” Mike says. That’s how Mike kept the shoot so natural, but blurring the lines between what was on the clock and what wasn’t. Living between the shots. “We were shooting outside and went into the supermarket to get something to eat and we ended up shooting in there,” Mike says about the shot of Ashley with the popsicle. “None of the supermarket stuff was planned. We were taking a break and I just had my camera, and so we shot photos when we were getting soda.” That popsicle wasn’t chosen from a hundred popsicles, and the bags of chips weren’t styled just right by a team. That’s how they were placed in the supermarket, so that’s how Mike shot them. The best way to manufacture a natural feel in an image is to let it be natural. So, how did Mike get images of Ashley looking like she had fun? “Me and Ashley just have so much fun shooting together.” It’s that simple.
  • 7.24.14   Studio JeremyVille lends their playful energy to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM

    The words “Fashion Week” inspire thoughts of glamorous influencers fighting through the lightning strikes of paparazzi flashes, overdressed models and fashion editors with pinched faces. Bucking this image, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM Miami went in a very different direction opting for a lighter and more playful energy around their four days of industry insight. To do so they commissioed Studio JeremyVille to help them with an energetic switch up. IMG Fashion approached Studio JeremyVille to create a design that would reflect Miami, the home of the event, that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM could use as a part of their visual identity. JeremyVille and Megan Mair worked together on a piece that was inspired by the aesthetic culture of Miami and would build on what Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM was already doing. Studio JeremyVille says, “The design 'Reflections' is inspired by the vibrant world of Miami Beach, with its classic Art Deco architecture, colorful beach scene and the iconic pool at The Raleigh hotel.  Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM went on to use ‘Reflections’ for a host of visual communication outlets. They used the banner for the fashion tents, as wraps on official Mercedes vehicles, street pole flags, and the banner for their official Twitter account (it’s still up!). Adopting the image as a huge part of their visual identity meant that JeremyVille’s typical playful and carefree style left an indelible imprint on such a high profile, international even. The full banner includes images of surfers on and around their boards, friendly dolphins expelling water through their blowholes, beach lifeguard towers, figures in California Dreamin’ revelry, and graphic patterns recalling the design history of the area. As Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM hit their 10th Anniversary, JeremyVille and Megan Mair reached into the past and looked to the future for a timeless representation to celebrate Miami.  
  • 7.24.14   Kerstin Jaeger Works her Magic on All of U-Das UNGER Magazin

    When magazine editors sit down to plan a new issue, they have to create a wide variation of styles and images to keep their readers interested. Even though every magazine has a point of view, and a stylistic touch, they curate a range of looks to keep it fresh. This can present a challenge, since the magazine has to get whole teams for every editorial to cater precisely to each style. Hair and Make-Up Artist Kerstin Jaeger has enough range that U-Das UNGER Magazin hired her for every editorial article throughout the entire magazine. Every single editorial image features her work. From “Asphalt Cowgirls,” that features women on the streets of LA in nouveau Midwestern garb, to “Desperate Housewives” showing off updates of 1940’s fashion, to four others, Kerstin had to manage each of the seven unique looks in the whirlwind three and a half day shoot. How was she able to work two stories per day for three and a half consecutive days? The German hair and make-up artist’s response may not be surprising: Organization. “Everything had to go so fast. The days were so short,” Kerstin says. “So it was just good planning and then pulling it through.” But this fits perfectly with how Kerstin prefers to work. “I prefer to plan. It’s a very German thing I guess!” she remarks through giggles. “It’s just good if you know exactly what you’re going to do. It’s nice to be spontaneous, but it helps me to be planned.” By working with the stylists, doing research on the locations and apparel, and planning out the looks, more time is spent on getting the right shot than making sure the models look right. That work was already half done because of her preparation. “It’s like a marathon sometimes, but so much fun. So much fun and so creative.” Kerstin’s ability to reach a great range of looks is likely thanks to her international work. Although Kerstin is German herself, she works prolifically for American companies, and she’s noticed that the German idea of beauty is slightly different from the American idea. “American is more bold in color. In Germany it’s way more natural, and clean,” Kerstin explains. “I would say in the US it’s a little more fun with the color and color variety.” The variety is built into her work, so it's no wonder she was able to pull this off.
  • 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.”  
  • 7.22.14   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 whisky 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!
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