• 11.24.15   Being Human with Jamie Chung and Departures Magazine

    Still life photography is about precision. Every millimeter must be carefully considered, the temperature of each color must be expertly balanced, and the camera must be placed for the perfect angle. Still life images are meant to communicate information and emotions to human observers without using the cues that a model can offer. Every choice implies a different collection of experiences that have to be controlled down to the finest details. This is a process that Jamie Chung is acutely aware of. He regularly spends hours upon hours on precise compositions to the finest details. But for his latest shoot with Departures Magazine, they opted to complicate the process a little bit. They decided a human element was necessary. “When we were originally doing the sketches we wanted to include some kind of people or human form but we didn’t want so much skin or for it to be recognizable as people, so that’s where the idea came from,” says Jamie. “We put gloves on the models for the rings and the bracelets so all the people would be kind of abstracted. It was an aesthetic choice just to really make the products the focus but also give it a little bit of life.”  The balance between a human element and the spirit of the still life meant that they had to find a way to show off the models in a way that did both. The final images feature human forms that are entirely black, including one image with a bauble of an earring on a woman whose face and hair are almost entirely flat black. This isn’t some camera trick or digital drawing. They made it happen in the studio. “We painted her hair and her whole body,” explains Jamie. “The idea was to have her look like a shadow, and to really have the earring be the main focus. But we needed some kind of human context for it so we just wanted her to be a shadow form.” Every detail is still visible on her face, each contour catches the light in a supremely natural way, but her shape becomes more important than her experience, allowing us to focus on what Jamie wants us to see. Having the models on set meant that Jamie’s process had to change. With every model comes a whole team to make them look their best, and the new crowd is going to change how the set is going to function, which is something that Jamie is happy to accommodate. “Normally when I do still life it’s usually a smaller team, but when a model is involved, there’s hair, makeup, and a wardrobe stylist,” says Jamie. “It’s a few more people on set so that’s always exciting to kind of work with a bigger team and to have more… There are more ideas back and forth, which is always great. I’m always open to hearing other peoples’ ideas and incorporating it. It’s like more brains.” All those ideas and brains came together to push the expectations of what’s possible in a still life shoot about jewelry, resulting in images that are as equally captivating as they are curious.
  • 11.30.15   Platon Sees Serena Williams' Humanity

    Back in September, Serena Williams took to the court with the expectation of winning the semifinals on her way to another Grand Slam victory. But in an incredible upset, she lost. She was far and away the favorite to win, and had lined up all the endorsement deals and partnerships that come with those kinds of expectations, and they were still on even after Serena lost. One of the most creatively significant partnerships was Serena’s post as guest editor for Wired Magazine. As her career has progressed, she’s become involved in more varied outlets from the athletic sciences, to empowering other women, to charitable outreach, and beyond. Her voice is valuable whether she wins every title or not, so the issue went full steam ahead. But when Platon met up with her to photograph the cover the day after her shocking loss, she still carried that loss with her. “She was physically exhausted and I think spiritually and emotionally exhausted,” says Platon. “So what I ended up getting wasn’t really a broken person, but a gentle person. Because of her loss I was able to cut through that façade of toughness that she always seems to maintain and I actually got the compassion and the tenderness of a human being. That was the real deal that day. She was exhausted in every possible sense. And in rather painful way for her, it allowed me to capture something that no one else has captured.” The gentle energy that came off Serena that day was contrasted by her physical presence, the tangible result of her long career. She seems almost superhuman, but what Platon found is that she’s not superhuman at all. Instead, thousands of hours, focus, and struggle come together to create the human form that she is. Work that might seem impossible for most of us. “When you meet her you’re dumbfounded at her physical power,” Platon explains. “I’ve never met a man or woman that had that kind of incredible, beautiful, muscular physique. But as I discovered time and time again, it’s an illusion of supremacy. At the end of the day she is just a human being. There is no such thing as a super human person. I think what I realized that day is the toll it takes to stay at that level, or reach that level. And I think that makes her achievements all the greater because it’s a reminder to me that she is just a human being. She’s not superhuman, really, nobody is. She’s just super dedicated and super talented, but she’s still a human being and she hurts like the rest of us.” “We often love to fanaticize about other peoples’ successes and it lets us off the hook,” says Platon. “As if they are somehow granted opportunities that we are just not ever able to achieve, so we needn’t bother trying and let them continue this journey of perfection, stardom, glamour, superiority. And it affects us because we always need to be reminded that if someone achieves great things it’s normally in spite of adversity. Adversity and frailty is very much in the formula of this person’s success, they just had the courage and the dedication to work through it. And that’s a hard thing for us to understand because if we really come to terms with that then perhaps we could all do better. And that’s not just in terms of athletic achievement but as global responsible citizens. So I think it’s a picture of someone showing their frailty, their compassion, their tenderness, as well as their strengths and you can’t really measure your strengths until you’ve acknowledged that you’re an ordinary human being and you hurt just like the rest of us. It makes her more courageous, I just captured the toll it takes.” Serena Williams’ message of equality that she offers in her guest-edited issue of Wired reminds us that we have a certain kind of equality to her. That we are not allowed to take it easy because we could or would never achieve what Serena has achieved. Certainly. It’s exceedingly likely that it is too late for us to become her peer on a tennis court, but we each have our courts and it is Serena who reminds us that the path is obstructed only by ourselves.
  • 11.25.15   The Essence of Bernie Sanders by Ryan McAmis

    Bernie Sanders has captivated millions of Americans as he makes his bid for the White House. He’s a unique character, especially his political record, and it’s hard to find someone in recent political history who can be compared to him. But his unique features are intangible, as Ryan McAmis recently learned while working on a cover of The National Review. The constituent parts of Bernie’s face and look are rather familiar and that can get tricky when it comes to illustrating an image of him. “Bernie was really hard to do because he doesn’t have many distinctive characteristics,” says Ryan. “His hair is interesting but his face doesn’t have much going on. It’s all in his personality and that’s what was so hard in bringing out because I needed it to feel like Bernie. He kept looking like Dick Cheney. Or like any other old man. He even looked like John McCain. It was like every white haired, bald guy!” If our political history is full of anything it’s white haired, bald guys so Ryan went through a lot of experimentation to place Bernie apart from his aesthetic familiars. The illustrations that Ryan creates are deceptively simple, but they have built into them an incredible amount of work and experimentation. It’s a dichotomy that gets him the results he wants. “I like to do a quick sketch,” explains Ryan. “I do them over and over again so I get them right, because I like them to be as spontaneous looking as possible even though it takes days to get it. I like things that look like they were done in an instant but behind them is like a week’s worth of work.” He simplifies the images, taking out every unnecessary line he can, and then uses three-dimensional elements to complete the look. For Bernie, it was his hair. Ryan combed out some cotton yarn to get the right fluffy, thin, wily look. But nothing sold Bernie's look quite like the mouth and eyes. “Once I got the mouth and the eyes I knew I got it. Even those eyes were a little too overdrawn,” says Ryan about the eyes which are each only a black dot and a line. “I wanted them to be dots. He needed to have a little bit more into him to make him work.” Ryan’s pursuit of absolute essentials makes for a drawing that is as pared down as possible but filled with the essence of Bernie Sanders. In a flood of images of this new pop icon, carefully composed and manipulated by artists who want to put their own stamp on his story, we have this cover image that in a few lines and puffs of cotton somehow gets closer to Bernie's character than any photograph could.
  • 11.23.15   All Hands on Deck for Jena Malone's As If Cover

    When Jena Malone was cast as Joanna Mason in the Hunger Games franchise it caused a ripple of surprise. Joanna is tough but almost terminally haunted character, a deceptively edgy role that would demand every bit of technique from any actress. To that point, Jena’s resume had included typical teen roles that played off accessible anxieties and understandable challenges. It was an unconventional choice by the directors and producers but audiences were thrilled by her command of the complexities. Since then we’ve come to appreciate the actress for her ability to play in those grey spaces, something that Stacey Jones was more than aware of and took into account for the latest cover of As If magazine. The Fashion Director and stylist worked with Jena at the Bowery Hotel to display what it is that draws us into this artist’s work. Also along for the ride were Liam Dunn and Elisa Flowers to make sure her hair and makeup were on point. Jena has explored the musical world parallel to the dramatic, and that’s the vibe that Stacey took advantage of for this shoot. We see an artist who very much looks like a girl dressed up as a woman, but it's a constructed tension that she plays for us so well. The fashion has a super high end glamour feel juxtaposed against Jena's girlish face. Her bold lip and eye, provided by Liam, gives a red carpet feel while Jena's hair is in a towel, dipping her french fry into a bottle of ketchup. Elisa has brought her hair to epic shape and texture, while Jena lounges barefoot in a window, sipping coffee out of a paper cup. Because of each of these balanced elements we get a complex picture of an actress who has successfully redefined herself, proving that she has the complexity inside her that we've all wanted to see. It was up to us to see it, and luckily we have Stacey, Liam and Elisa here to make it easier for us.
  • 11.19.15   David Welker's “Subconscious Narratives” at The Hoerle-Guggenheim Gallery

    The Hoerle-Guggenheim Gallery includes a name that you’ll recognize, and has been filled with even more. Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, John Lennon, and Mr. Brainwash have all hung in the NYC gallery, and as of today one more name will be added to that list: David Welker. David has been in New York City for 25 years, living and working in a city that has helped him to explore his discipline of surrealist visual art. The gallery came to him to create an entire show on a pretty condensed timeline, and David got right to work, pluming his unconscious for a series he calls “Subconscious Narratives.” David tried to create these pieces through a process that ignored his directorial head. Instead, he puts pen to paper and lets the pieces reveal themselves to him through their creation. “I’m trying to draw something representationally but without looking at any reference and allowing it to be awkward, allowing it to build in terms of symbology, just let it remind me of something and then build the whole piece that way and let it tell me where it wants to go rather than me planning it,” David explains. What results through that process are images that don’t necessarily make sense in the way we expect narrative representation to make sense. That’s the goal. The imagery  built up through David’s exploration speaks to a deeper level of human experience, one that transcends pedestrian classification, moving into a visceral understanding. “It just sort of mirrors life’s uncertainty in general,” says David. “It mirrors my own desire to live in mystery rather than to know things, or have certainty about things because it’s a belief.” By allowing the construction of certainty to fall away, David leaves us with something that our eyes may not understand, but our hearts will recognize. There’s a thrill to bringing what’s deep inside onto a canvas and displaying it to the public, but hanging his pieces in this gallery specifically is a special kind of honor. “It feels sort of like a dream,” says David. “Those are my heroes,” he says about the other artists who have graced the same walls. “It’s a really strange, big chance here and I just handed in all the work so it feels great.” “Subconscious Narratives” opens at The Hoerle-Guggenheim Gallery and runs until January 7.
  • 11.20.15   Mark Hunter Gets Personal for Virgin Mobile

    Virgin Mobile has millions of customers all over the world. They’re a company of inclusion, offering access to their wireless networks in a way that activates as many people as possible. They wanted to highlight that for their latest campaign and asked Mark Hunter to help them out with it. The images needed to be crisp and clean enough for a major campaign, but feel loose and friendly, almost like a club atmosphere. To walk the line between an efficient structured shoot while achieving the feeling Virgin wanted meant that Mark had to strike a very specific tone. Mark’s experience worked for him in hitting that balance. “It was really, really action packed, and they had very specific requirements because they had to showcase certain products in certain shots and reach certain target demographics,” says Mark. “It was about elevating my version of shooting nightlife but in a very structured way, or shooting lifestyle but in a very, very structured way.” The demands were high, but it was Mark’s ability to match those demands that made it successful. They wanted to create a campaign that would appeal to everyone, so consumers would see the advertisements as a reflection of themselves. Rather than going the traditional route with models, they cast people who don’t typically work that way. It meant that they aren’t necessarily used to interacting with a photographer and a camera, but that’s not a problem for Mark at all. “I have a really, really fun time interacting with people that I’ve never met before,” says Mark. “This was shot in Canada, in Toronto where I’d been a handful of times but when we were working on the casting they were strangers to me. Within 15 minutes of shooting we were all best friends. I think that’s one of my greatest assets: that I can relate to my models and my talent.” That relationship totally changes the way things happen on set.  On any photo shoot there are so many moving pieces that can get in the way and be distracting, pulling focus from the most important thing: what’s happening between the camera and the subjects. But Mark makes sure that’s never a liability by connecting directly with his models. “It’s less about me and my equipment and more about my personal interaction with the subject,” explains Mark. “The camera is secondary because I’m so used to the way I shoot. I’m their friend, I’m with them in the moment.” Mark’s presence means that the people featured in the advertisements are present too, bringing us into their world and making us a part of it.
  • 11.23.15   Good Wives and Warriors Illuminates an Entire Library

    Coloring is an incredibly important exercise for child development. The process of filling in line drawings with color from markers, crayons, or colored pencils teaches children how to express themselves, develops motor skills, focus, and how to recognize rules (which makes it easier to decide when and where to break those rules). Most people leave coloring behind in their childhood to their own detriment. These skills, once developed to certain proficiency, can open the door to a meditation, clarity, leaving space for thought and reflection. Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell of Good Wives and Warriors are acutely aware of this, and have allowed it to inspire them in their latest round of publishing projects, including a handful of book covers and two coloring books. “Adult colouring-in is huge now!,” exclaim Louise and Becky. “We had no idea how popular it had become. People seem to really enjoy it and feel the benefits of just zoning out and relaxing while colouring in.” The designs that Becky and Louise created for these coloring books are more complex than the pictures we’ll remember as children, which is a welcome update for the skills adults bring to the game. The ladies play with those complexities to challenge their colorers, making the experience richer. Tying in the themes of Alice in Wonderland for ‘Escape to Wonderland,’ and the holiday season with ‘Escape to Christmas Past,’ both with Penguin / Puffin Classics, makes for an experience that engage both skills and reminiscent memory. In addition to these coloring books come four different fiction projects with clients that range from Penguin, to Random House, to Dressler. One of the things that’s so remarkable about all of these projects that Good Wives and Warriors has embarked upon the last couple months is that you can see an aesthetic through line that permeates all of the projects. A part of that comes from the fact that it’s the same creative team executing them all, and it’s also from collaboration with different clients who are looking for what it is Becky and Louise do the best. But they always start with the story. “For us, it is quite easy to stay true to the vision, the brief and the story because that is what we are researching into and referring from to create the work,” says Becky and Louise. “In a book like Alice in Wonderland, there exists a very well known illustration aesthetic already and we wanted to reference this and incorporate it into our version.” Their interpretation of all these stories is what makes every project unique, and through their experience of executing all these projects you can very soon have an entire bookshelf devoted to the work of Good Wives and Warriors.
B&A Instafeed
  • Mondays are for that Get Up and Go attitude, like this illustration by @jeffsotoart for @oreo.
    likes 27 // comments 1
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  • *gobble* *gobble* by @stan_chow. Happy #Thanksgiving! #🦃
    likes 52 // comments 1
  • If you want to get @berniesanders right, sometimes you
    likes 45 // comments 1
  • Talk about a slice of life. 👀 Image by @kylejbean.
    likes 91 // comments 2
  • 😘😁 @mr_bingstagram
    likes 40 // comments 2
  • It was all hands on deck with @staceyjjones, @liamhairmakeup, and @elisaflowersmakeup to glam up @jenamalone in the latest issue of @asifmagazine.
    likes 66 // comments
  • As of today @welkerstudios
    likes 43 // comments 1
  • @marchomstudio was thrilled to shoot this year
    likes 29 // comments 1
  • @mrcraigward
    likes 80 // comments 2
  • Photo by Tom Nagy.
    likes 66 // comments
  • Look at this guy. You
    likes 35 // comments 2
  • @serenawilliams is basically as close as you can get to a superhero. Photo by @thefacinator for @harpersbazaarus.
    likes 45 // comments
  • A pantsuit for every occasion! Timely GIF by @madebyradio.
    likes 58 // comments 1
  • Congrats to @lanadelrey for being named a "Trailblazer" by @billboard, with these gorgeous pics by @joepug.
    likes 46 // comments 1
  • @stephenwilkes
    likes 54 // comments
  • @vivaluxuryblog makes high fashion accessible for anyone. Welcome to the roster!
    likes 40 // comments
  • @studiodiy combines fashion and an industrious curiosity to make the world a little brighter. Welcome to our team of Influencers!
    likes 49 // comments
  • Good morning from @toastmeetsworld! Toast joins our new roster of Influencers, a group of carefully curated creatives that we
    likes 80 // comments 1
  • Ella Fitzgerald was named a part of the inaugural @carnegiehall 2015 Digital Hall of Fame. Illustrations for the whole Hall of Fame by @stan_chow.
    likes 47 // comments
  • @stephenwilkes
    likes 51 // comments 4
  • The ghouls come out in 3D tomorrow for Halloween! Animation by @polyesterstudio
    likes 72 // comments 2
  • Creep Week continues with a shot from @joeyldotcom
    likes 104 // comments 1
  • Snippet from @polyesterstudio
    likes 48 // comments 1
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