Jeff Nishinaka Finds Beauty in Surprise
When any artist is involved in a larger campaign, there’s an inherent collaboration. Of course, each artist receives a brief that explains what the company and campaign needs from the artist, but once the work is submitted, the campaign absorbs and adjusts the work as needed to fit the final objective. When Jeff Nishinaka finished his latest series of paper sculptures for Lao Feng Xiang Jewelry, he sent them off hoping everything would turn out awesome. “I had no idea what to expect when I sent the flowers over to James Benard, of BENARD DESIGN, and I was more than pleasantly surprised,” Jeff explains. “I was shocked by how beautiful they turned out.”
Jeff is a sculptor, who frequently oversees the photography of his work, but for this project he wasn’t photographing the flowers that he created. And James had them shot them in a very unique way, by photographer Horacio Salinas. The paper for these flowers is no different from what Jeff usually uses, but it has a very different look. That comes from how James shot them. “James said they raked them with light,” says Jeff. “Basically, it was extremely side lit. The light skimmed the surface of the paper. It shows the texture of the paper. The texture is always there but normally you don’t see it. They were going for something very dramatic. And it worked.” Every fiber and pore of the paper is thrown into deep relief as a result of lighting the pieces this way, affording a completely different feeling than could be achieved in any other set up.
The shock that Jeff feels is because it could have gone another way. It’s a delicate balance between light, shadow, maintaining textural and structural integrity, all while supporting the original conceit of the creative idea. All the sculptures Jeff creates are the result of an incredible amount of work that could be distorted by particular lighting setups, so it was a thrill that something so unconventional turned out so well. When designing the flowers for this campaign, Jeff says, “I did have artistic license to change things to make them look better, more aesthetically pleasing. Not all flowers are created equal. They have flaws in them. So I try to design something that works compositionally, that works as a single unit.” The compositions were then delivered to BENARD DESIGN, who got to see the actual jewelry within hours of the final shoot, all using lighting that was a surprise to Jeff. Each element was carefully considered, but constructed quickly and the results, as Jeff says, “worked out beautifully.”