• 4.10.15   Mario Wagner Explores New Worlds for Playboy

    The worlds of Israeli writer Etgar Keret are fantastic and surreal. Constantly edging between genres, he challenges his readers in recontextualizing ideas and situations, reaching beyond the pedestrian experience and forcing confrontation with human issues that may be uncomfortable. Illustrator Mario Wagner recently ventured into Keret’s world and brought back with him an image for an article in Playboy Magazine, directly responding to his own experience. Keret's story tells of a man who is tacitly trapped in his own small existence, interacting mostly with artificial intelligence and rarely with the tangible through a single window. It is a tale of the tear between the complications of the real world and the slick, clean artifice of the created world. Each have their own benefits and short comings, so the question raised is, which offers more to humanity? And ultimately, what is human? Mario’s job becomes complex in the face of these questions, distilling the reading experience into a single image. “The story was so visual already, I thought it would be too obvious to go totally crazy,” he explains. “So I took it pretty literally.” What we see is the protagonist of this tale in a clean world, facing a window to another existence. A woman is at his side who is at once real and created, straddling realities. When artifice meets emotional experience it’s hard to know which is real. The only element that breaks into the clean setting of the image is a splatter of paint at the top of the image, something like a prolonged application of spray paint. “There is a little bit of an outer world going on, he sees people, he has this window,” explains Mario. “I wanted to add a little texture so it’s like it’s something he’s looking for.” That added texture gives a visual representation of the pull between these two worlds the protagonist is facing. As we adopt more and more technology into our daily lives and our interactions between one another become more digital, reality is as easily experienced through the composition of pixels, and through the anonymity of textural creation it's possible to lose grip on what is real and what is created. The emotions are always there, whether or not we're responding to something we can touch. In some ways we are becoming this man, and Mario is illustrating not just an image for a story but our collective futures. To get the full experience of Mario’s piece in context, check out the latest issue of Playboy on newsstands now.
  • 4.17.15   Joey L Employs Creative Solutions for Jose Cuervo

    Almost all liquor is the resulting product of distilling natural sugars. Most rums are the distilled version of sugar cane juice, most vodka comes from distilled potatoes, and to make real tequila you must distill Blue Agave. The plant only grows in certain regions of Mexico, and like Champagne, if it’s not from that region or that plant, it cannot be called Tequila. In the middle of a multiple month whirlwind tour around the world shooting for the US Army, National Geographic Channel, and a stop for a friend's wedding, photographer Joey L spent a few weeks in Mexico for Jose Cuervo’s latest campaign. And he got to know these Blue Agave plants well. Maybe a little too well. Fully grown, Blue Agave is gigantic: almost as tall as a man, and twice as wide. Most of the plant is made up of succulent spears in a three-dimensional fan like a pincushion, or a Koosh ball, and each one of them is sharper than the next. “They’re the most peaceful looking plants until you get near them and they start making you bleed,” says Joey’s assistant Jesse with a laugh. They were in the fields because Joey wanted to get shots of the jimadors, the specialized agave farmers who are experts at identifying the ripe agave, which can happen anywhere between eight and 12 years in the plant’s life cycle. The plants were so big that they were impeding the shots that Joey wanted to get, so he needed a better vantage point: Jesse’s shoulders. “I needed to get a little higher, so I turned to my trusty friend and assistant Jesse and climbed up on his shoulders and was suspended above the death trap agave needles,” says Joey. After they walked down those rows of plants as a single unit, there were able to get the shot. “It was way better,” says Joey. Towards the end of the day, Joey wanted to capture a quiet moment between the jimadors, so they decided to set up a fire that the farmers could chat around and trade stories. They were going to set up the shot in a different location, but the sun was setting so Joey hurried on ahead to get as much time as possible. But his camera was still with his crew. “There’s a very small window of time after the sun sets when it still light out and you get this beautiful bluey twilight feel that will balance perfectly with that orange glow from a fire. But that window only lasts like 20-25 minutes max,” says Joey. “And here I was with this amazing scenery in front of me and these amazing characters to photograph and I didn’t even have my camera.” Eventually there was just enough hustle and Joey got his camera with enough time to get the shot. As soon as he got the image, the clouds opened up and it started to pour rain. Despite the natural challenges, Joey and his crews ability to employ creative solutions meant he got every shot he needed wrapping up the shoot with aplomb.
  • 4.16.15   Toni Morrison's Latest Novel Inspires Olaf Hajek

    Toni Morrison’s latest novel, “Gold Help the Child,” explores levels of child abuse, using familial racism as a backdrop to discuss human mistreatment in ravaging, emotional ways. Kara Walker’s review in The New York Times is paired with an original painting by Olaf Hajek, distilling some of the emotional themes in his signature grace. The novel’s most striking early image is that of the main character, Bride, whose skin is so black she’s nearly blue. “I thought this was a really nice element to take over into this image,” says Olaf. The heart of his painting is a representation of this character whose skin turned even her mother and father away from her, igniting an emotional brutality that would frame the rest of the narrative. Springing forth from Bride is a blue pathway that shifts and changes in its flow, a representation of a theme from the book. “Kara explained this idea of this river, which is floating and coming out this person’s mind and suddenly goes into different directions and finding its own way,” says Olaf. “it goes from this person, it’s a kind of river, which is coming from the dark into the light.” Using a symbol like this allows for Olaf to say more in his paintings than he could do with classic representation. It adds a depth to the image, communicating beyond simple depiction. Even the most cursory look at Olaf’s paintings give a deep impression of rich color and deep texture, utilized with aplomb in the painting for Morrison’s novel. Olaf has been using texture like this since he started his career decades ago, but it came out of necessity. “When I started my career I was working on found materials like cardboard, but after a while I didn’t have to work on found materials anymore,” says Olaf. “I was working on cardboard and now I’m working on wooden plates. For me the texture and the material are very important. It’s not only the painting and the drawing itself, it’s also the material.” The drawing out of these textures means there is a timeless quality to each image compounded by his choice of subject matter. When it comes to composition, Olaf draws from the natural world, as he did with the painting for The New York Times. “I always like to get some kind of symbolism into my work,” he says. “That’s why I work with natural floral botanical elements because they have this natural symbolism, which I can use for a lot of different emotions.” Plant life, rock formations, insects each carry with them inherent connections for every viewer that will reach deeply into each viewing experience, color their view. Regarding a painting is a remarkably solo endeavor, like reading a novel: everyone experiences it on their own.
  • 4.13.15   Platon Brings Vanity Fair "Out To Lunch"

    Vanity Fair’s long-running series, Out To Lunch, provides intimate interviews between Vanity Fair and some of the most recognizable faces in American culture. The interviews serve as a kind of cultural portrait, and Platon teamed up with the magazine to create actual portraits alongside each piece. The first series of four images include Playwright Tom Stoppard, Musician Questlove, Chef Andre Soltner, and Entertainment Lawyer Allen Grubman. Although Platon’s signature has always been intimate portraiture, there’s an element to this Out To Lunch series that has a softer side than what we’ve come to expect from Platon. His work has been a study in power and provocatism for so long that the warmth these images offer is remarkable. And it's built into each composition by hand. “The idea is that you are sitting at lunch with someone and they’re leaning forward towards you on the table, engaged with you,” explains Platon. “I’m trying to create that moment of connection. That moment is everything. So you really get a sense of what it’s like to meet that person.” These figures are each leaning in on a wooden table that Platon built himself and has had for many years. It becomes the basis for these revealing portraits, and a common ground on which to build these interactions. Each photograph shares particular elements: the table, the soft pink background, the full but subtle light. Each of these elements is carefully regulated from one portrait to the next, and this is on purpose. It creates a sort of visual barometer, removing the excess variables so that we can get a better sense of the subject. Platon explains: “When you create a visual language you start to realize the differences between pieces. If the lighting changed, if the background changed everything changed every time, then you’re really not able to focus on the person’s character as much. You’re forced to look at what I really want you to observe.” By offering his viewers a baseline, Platon allows us to edit out the elements that are the same and spot the difference more easily. We see the angularity of Stoppard’s expression, the brightness of Grubman’s eyes, Chef Soltner’s smile, and the inward moment taken by Questlove. Each of these elements has been drawn out specifically by Platon’s calibration; these are the moment’s you’re meant to see. That quiet revelation with Questlove was a particular surprise. “No one would ever think of him as being shy or a gentle person,” says Platon. “He has this big hair, he’s got this big statuesque figure, he’s a drummer, he’s a DJ; you’d think Questlove is a force of nature as a personality, but actually he’s very gentle as a person.” Platon takes what he learns about his subjects in the room and ensures they’re translated directly into the image so that we can learn what he has learned, so we can see what he sees. This series, Out To Lunch, is constructed to transport us into intimate moments with famous faces. Platon’s responsibility then is to achieve that intimacy and translate it through his lens to us. And that’s precisely what he does.
  • 4.14.15   Justin Hollar Gets the Team Back Together

    Justin Hollar and lingerie company b’temp.d by Wacoal have been collaborating for years. Over the course of several campaigns they’ve honed every element of each shoot arriving at an aesthetic that satisfies both the artistic standards of Justin, and the visual needs of b’tempt.d. The shared satisfaction is an achievement that continues to pay off, most recently for b’temp.d’s current season. “We've been fine tuning everything from the environments, hair, makeup, model, lighting, and overall photography, and now the brand direction is working for everyone,” says Justin. A lesson in creative realization, Justin and b’temp.d have assembled a team and a process that continues to pay dividends over each season. As a result of this working relationship and refined product, each shoot has become something of a well-oiled machine. It has engendered efficiency that benefits each shoot ever more than the last. “Everyone knows their roles and what they need to do,” says Justin. “Which in turn allows us to get more shots done than previous shoots. Which the client loves also.” The creative expanse means that Justin and the creatives at b’temp.d are able to explore more and more within the parameters of their collective taste, and create a larger world within the campaign. Each successive campaign is an opportunity to bring the squad back together. The whole group has created a sense on set that they’re all working towards the same goal, made clear by their collective goals. “Everyone’s great to work with and there's no egos on my sets when I'm able to bring my team in,” Says Justin. “The only thing I challenge myself with is to push the photography a little bit each time but not stray from the identity we've created for the brand.” Finding the expanse within the brand identity makes room for spontaneity and authentic moments that are still true to the brand in ever sense. The surprises created in this atmosphere always fit.
  • 4.14.15   Tiffany Patton Rocks Out

    Who said the 90s are dead? With Scream and XFiles about to return to the screen, Madonna taking the stage for MTV, and some familiar names on upcoming Presidential tickets, it looks like we’re taking the best of the 90s and repurposing them for our new age. Refinery29 has noticed the same trends in jewelry and teamed up with Makeup Artist Tiffany Patton to help show off these traditional wares. From Clueless inspired snap bracelets, to luxe mood rings, and even a barrette or two, these neo-retro accessories offer bold colors rooted in punk influence. Tiffany’s make up artistry reflects those same roots. Playing off colorful hairstyles, screamingly bright eyeshades, rich lips, and fair base colors complete the story of a decade that set the tone for the new millennium. This is the punk you remember with the fresh face of a contemporary era. Tiffany's creations bring a unqiue look at recognizable styling that is uniquely crisp and original. This is 2015, but still oh so 90s, and we missed it.
  • 4.15.15   Bigshot Toyworks Opens the World of Sports

    The world of sports is diverse and wide, with a game for every player. Passion drives competition everywhere and each different contest inspires fans from all walks of life. Whether it’s the coasts’ obsession with golf, the south’s love of NASCAR, or basketball arresting the focus of the whole nation, sport engenders a shared zeal, something that both AT&T and Bigshot Toyworks understand. To build excitement around AT&T U-verse, a service that allows viewers access to all sorts of games, Bigshot Toyworks teamed up with AT&T to create a microsite that allows fans to interact with their own passions. The U-verse Bobblehead Shop lets users create and share their own virtual bobbleheads, centered on their favorite sports. “They wanted to have a customizable way for people to pick a sport and customize a player to their liking,” says Klim Kozinevich of Bigshot Toyworks. “We wanted it to be something that was fun, that had some personality, and a unique flavor to it.” By going through the process you can customize gender, sport, skin, hair, and uniform colors, as well as picking one of a handful of inspirational lines for the setting. Then, once all is chosen, the final design can be used across social media; you are your own bobbehead online. Klim and Bigshot Toyworks have made bobbleheads before, sometimes even creating tactile versions of them. But when it comes to designing an illustrated version, Klim approaches it exactly the same way as he does for a physical object. “There really isn’t much of a difference between doing a real toy and doing a digital,” he explains. The challenge came in the customizability of the toys. Each shift of the toy, from skin color to uniform options, is a whole new variable that has to be dealt with. “It’s a simple action for the user but it’s a pretty complicated process on both our end and the programming end where they have to make every single possible combination, isolated and rendered,” says Klim about the customizability. Bigshot has become known for using characters to tell these immersive stories, translating emotional stories using figures (both tactile and CGI). But from one project to the next, Bigshot disappears into the work. Klim is very careful to bring attention to that fact. There is no Bigshot Toyworks “house style,” instead they create what the project needs. “Our whole thing is we don’t do a specific thing that people come to us for,” explains Klim. “We solve creative problems within a character-based project. We let the project define the style.” Check out AT&T U-verse's Bobblehead Shop and make your own!
B&A Instafeed. Images From Our Artists & Community
  • Yesterday morning. Old guy walking. #lowereastside #nyc #photography #empathynyc #webstagram
    likes 17 // comments
  • Yesterday morning #Bowery #ads #snipeposters #builders
    likes 14 // comments
  • View from my new office 5 stories up in the trees of the LES. Beautiful to be back in NYC!!!
    likes 516 // comments 10
  • Gotta convince my client. I want to go super minimal for the coloring direction. I like it, but not sure if they will.., wish me luck.
    likes 321 // comments 3
  • Workout food
    likes 4 // comments
  • More #frankFrazetta original painting details. Creamy creamy. Surprised how he gets all the details on relatively rough canvas surface. Oh that red!! Don
    likes 175 // comments 5
  • Look what was in my mail box! @cndworld pre order lamp notification. Nail Pros its a must have for your salon services!
    likes 2 // comments
  • A bit more of #ROA
    likes 629 // comments 5
  • Some city graffiti adding color to our day #gsinstatakeover #candytakesover  #graffiti #newyork . Check out @candykennedy photo gallery
    likes 16 // comments
  • #satan #billboard #typography #photography #food
    likes 23 // comments 2
  • My best pal in the whole wide world, Blackie the Cat!
Who is your best pal?
#Blackie #blackiethecat #pal #bff #bestfriend #love #kitty #meow #cat #garybaseman #baseman
    likes 683 // comments 23
  • #sneakpeak from our #photoshoot with @rodrigocidstudio and @heyhyes @elitemodels with #hair and #makeup by me using @alternahaircare and @kohgendo #beautyphotography #denim #fashion #fashionphotography #femalemodel #newface #nyc
    likes 25 // comments
  • #fbf missing this!
    likes 77 // comments 1
  • Twinner! Who wants free art? Fashion story on a horse ranch. #artforfree #kodak #fashion #onlocation
    likes 82 // comments 8
  • #pink #90s #mustang
    likes 43 // comments 4
  • #pink #90s #mustang
    likes 36 // comments 1
  • #flash #bearbrick #medicom
    likes 59 // comments
  • Tasting sodas from around the world
    likes 114 // comments
  • Welcome home @newyorkredbulls #NYvSJ #RBNY
    likes 499 // comments 2
  • If you wear an it
    likes 149 // comments 5
  • Empire this evening.
    likes 164 // comments 1
  • After searching for 1 hour candy kennedy and cash kennedy finally found what they wanted! #gsinstatakeover #candytakesover @candykennedy @cashinthecitynyc #newyork #friday #nyc #icecreamtruck
    likes 26 // comments
  • #sunset #nyc
    likes 36 // comments 1
  • #comic #color #colour #cartoon #typography #illustration #glamour
    likes 32 // comments 1
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