• 8.27.15   Vault49 and Uniqlo Heat Up

    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.
  • 8.31.15   Craig Ward Subverts Typography with NASA Technology

    Ferrofluids were invented in 1963 as a new technology for NASA to solve the problem of fuel fluid dynamics in zero gravity. The fluids have magnetic properties that would have allowed them to flow against typical fluid dynamics, but like so many technological advances, it didn’t end up being suited very well for its intended purposes. The properties that make it so unique are also what make it so enticing. The molecules stack into impossible shapes when unleashed against magnets that are as compelling as they are viscerally revolting, and ripe for creative exploration. Illustrator and renowned typographer Craig Ward came together with Linden Gledhill, a biochemist and experimental photographer friend, to play with the behavior of ferrofluid and translate its functions into a series of glyphs. The project, that they’re calling “Fe2O3 Glyphs,” stimulated ferrofluid to eke out its unique properties and then turn the resulting shapes into forms that are treated like letters. There is a collection of them, like a series of letterforms, but these are communicating something else entirely. The typography that we’re used to seeing from Craig has always experimenting with form, but these glyphs that comes from the behavior of Ferrofluid is different for one significant reason: they don’t make sense compared to our traditional 26 character alphabet. This is by design because of their unique meaning that is, as Craig explains it: “Essentially nothing, which is kind of the joy of it. In terms of what it’s actually communicating, really nothing. It’s a very conceptual, abstract piece.” Instead, the audience is invited to react to the resulting collection of shapes and regard them for what they are: abstractions. Reading anything more would sort of miss the point. “The whole project is a complete inversion of typography overall,” says Craig. “We didn’t fuss over it, we didn’t have a grid, we didn’t go through very long protracted design processes for each of the glyphs to try to make this coherent alphabet. It was this kind of chaotic thing that was born out of a process.” Although they didn’t create the typography using the traditional grid of lettering builds, they have ended up with a series of grids: the resulting prints of the project are a generated series of square grids composed of the glyphs. The creation process completes itself when the glyphs are printed onto paper using ferrofluid as the ink.  Ferrofluid was not necessary to ink the resulting pieces, but: “It brought the project full circle and again was a further inversion of the process,” explains Craig. “With traditional letter press printing the shape of the ink is dictated by the form of the letter. In this case the shape of the ink is also dictated by the shape of the ink itself. The medium creates the shape and then becomes the printing medium later on.” Like the ferrofluid, each of these shapes were made and printed in the process of self creation. In many ways, Craig and Linden merely stood back and allowed this NASA creation to dictate its own creation and we're merely watching it paint itself into existence. Prints are being made available through a Kickstarter campaign that has already his 70% of its goal in just a few days. You can get your prints here.
  • 8.28.15   Todd Selby Breaks the Fourth Wall with Donald Robertson for Vanity Fair

    When Todd Selby got the call to photograph famed artist and Instagrammer Donald Robertson for Vanity Fair, he was already super familiar with the man. In fact, they’ve been following each other on social media for a while, engaging the same creative spaces with different flairs. “I follow him on Instagram and he’s got a really nice illustration style,” Todd says. “I always look for them every day and see their adventures pop up in my Instagram feed. So when Vanity Fair called and asked me to do portraits of them in their house in Los Angeles I was psyched.” Todd found his way to the Instagram ready home and found an environment that was exactly how it seemed online. Todd’s ability to meld into the lives of the people he photographs pairs perfectly with how Robertson uses social media to express his point of view. The mixture of art, candid family imagery, and behind the scenes process photography that Robertson brings to his Instagram feeds is similar to the way Todd likes to dig into the work that his subjects do. This presentation gives a rounded out picture of a life and artist that makes them immediately understandable and uniquely accessible. “I like that it’s a mixture of his illustration work and his life and everything kind of runs together,” Todd explains. “And everything’s kind of impromptu and feels improvised and unplanned. In many ways he feels like an Andy Warhol character. He’s just kind of making art with a real lack of pretension to everything, which I think is really refreshing and fun.” The highlight for Todd was hanging out with Robertson’s two young sons, Runty and Henry. The two boys feature prominently on Robertson’s Instagram but it’s a totally different experience interacting with the kids in real life. “They’re just so cute and it was fun because I got to hang out, I did some babysitting duty there,” says Todd. “I was just kind of on my own with them and they were like, ‘Who is this guy?’ But then I think we’re cool now, me and the twins. Which is great.” With Runty and Henry becoming so famous on their father’s Instagram, it’s only a matter of time before they find their own success, something that Todd is acutely aware of. “Maybe they’ll be interns one day,” he muses. “Or maybe I’ll be their intern one day!”
  • 8.25.15   The New York Times Magazine's New World Order with Andrew Rae

    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.”
  • 8.26.15   Adding a Human Touch with Jason Madara and Glidden

    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.
  • 8.24.15   We Are The Rhoads Show a New Side of Kendall and Kylie Jenner

    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

    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.
B&A Instafeed
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