• 10.21.14   Amanda Marsalis Is Surprised in W Magazine

    Sometimes projects get a life of their own. When there’s the perfect pairing of model and photographer, the collaboration can reach beyond the limits or needs of the project. When Amanda Marsalis shot Gigi Hadid for W Magazine, they only needed one good shot. But on that day, they didn’t want to stop. So they just kept going. “Gigi is such a great model, we had such nice clothing, and it was W Magazine so everyone involved was tops,” explains Amanda. “It just seemed like a waste to only take one picture.” With all those resources and willing participants, that joining of passion and work flowers into a bigger experience. It’s a situation that has to be handled delicately. You don’t always get to follow the energy on set. Sometimes you have to cut out early. “Sometimes with a celebrity, if you know you’ve got it, you don’t push it too much,” says Amanda. Shoots are as much about maintaining great relationships as they are about creating great work. When this shoot was gearing up, there was no way to know that it was going to turn into one of those special situations. Everyone had made it to set, each department was setting up their wares, and then they waited for Gigi to finish being styled. “And then she comes out and she’s dressed and as soon as we’re taking photos she was just totally engaged with me,” Amanda says. “I could tell that she would give me anything it was that I needed. And she just was constantly moving, but in a way that she was aware of the camera. She knew what to do, and she just gave it.” It didn’t hurt that both Gigi and Amanda are amazing at what they do. Many models need more direction than what Gigi required, and it made everything work so much better. Many models are just hangers for clothes with beautiful faces. But the models that engage and change the campaigns they’re a part of do so by living in front of the camera. “When you meet someone and they have that sort of special sparkle, she had the special sparkle,” says Amanda. “As soon as I had the camera in my hand, it was like ‘whoa.’ It was really fun. So I got lots of options and then I got more, because she’s a really freaking good model.” Ironically, they weren’t planning on having this be anything more than a typical shoot. They had a finite number of dresses and so they eventually ran out of options, and had to stop. "We were just like ‘Ah, I wish we had more dresses.' We could have shot a feature in the end," says Amanda. “I wouldn’t have known when I got to set how special Gigi is." Talk about a great surprise.
  • 10.23.14   Olaf Hajek Takes Commercial Work Personally

    Olaf Hajek is a painter by trade. He creates work and exhibits his fine art, as well as working on commercial campaigns with a more marketable angle. But for Olaf, there isn’t much distinction. He sees all his work as one body, with no lines drawn between the different spheres. “I don’t make any distinction anymore between personal art and commercial work. I can define them a little bit, but the consequence has to be that this is my style and there are varieties of everything possible,” he explains. “I really do love both worlds. I think both of them influence each other.” For his latest project with J F Schwarzlose, the German perfumery, he approached it as he would any piece of personal work, with the added benefit of having a brief. The perfumes themselves are old scents from a defunct German company that was creating their mixes for Berliners in the 1920s. The company found the old recipes and mixed them back together for this special edition release. They grabbed Olaf to create special art boxes for the packaging, all inspired by the scents’ original provenance. When lined up, the boxes create one image, something that Olaf and J F Schwarzlose were acutely aware of and used to their advantage. “We had the idea to create a little storyline so if you put all these fragrances together you have one image, which somehow leads you through the day,” says Olaf. “And each perfume has the name, which is the inspiration starting point.” The day that Olaf and J F Schwarzlose constructed is as wild as the scents they present. The story starts with a man on the first moves of the day, the scent named “1A33,” off the old license plate code for Berlin. This man meets an ethereal woman at the Brandenburg Gate, before immersing themselves in the experience of hypnosis, a huge fad in Berlin during the 20s. They disappear into the night, intoxicated and in ecstasy, experiencing the evening through the surreal. The man finally emerges from the intense experience like a fresh breath, almost as if he were waking up from a beautiful dream. For J F Schwarzlose, the inspiration was inherent in the project, but for his own work he looks elsewhere. “I love folk art, I love the simplicity,” Olaf explains. “I create a lot of art which has something to do with African themes, so I’m always inspired by the exotic themes of the world, which are put together into my own style. I collage the idea of the world to my own creations.” His work becomes a veritable safari of influence, walking the line between historical styles and dreamlike images, always coming back to the handmade product of his work.
  • 10.21.14   Stacey Jones Presents Daniel Radcliffe the Man

    Because of the eight Harry Potter movies, America, and the world, watched Daniel Radcliffe go through childhood in front of our eyes. But now that the wizarding world of Hogwarts is behind the British actor, he’s entering a stage of his career where he gets to take on more socially challenging roles. And we get to see him develop into a man. As If constructed a feature around Daniel’s upcoming work and as Fashion Director for the magazine Stacey Jones worked to show off the young man that he is becoming. The apparel that they chose for Daniel is at once fresh and sophisticated, while still being signature to Stacey's aesthetic. Significant layers in rich fabrics and welcoming tones play off Daniel’s energy and natural coloring for a combination that speaks to his personality and temperament. They help present an artist who is at once comfortable but has a point of view. He recognizes the position he is in, and chooses projects accordingly. The larger fitted apparel that Stacey directed make Daniel look both relaxed and stylish, showing a self-assured comfort that is often missing in younger talent. When styled well, apparel tells as much of the story as the subject, and Stacey’s work with Daniel Radcliffe for As If is the perfect example.
  • 10.17.14   Kristin Vicari Takes Your Safety Personally

    Kristin Vicari is known for her bright and energetic photographs. She’s a breeze to work with: relaxed and fun on set. She loves to inject that into all her work; she’s less interested in specific set ups and more focused on getting the right feeling in the shoot. That’s why her latest project with Transport for London was such a departure. But it was important to her. For those who don’t know, London has a system of “Mini Cabs” that can be reserved in advance to be used as a car service. Sometimes drivers claim to be associated with these official services but aren’t actually accredited, and it can be dangerous for the riders. Kristin’s campaign with TfL is to call attention to this problem and attempt to curtail it. A dangerous situation could happen to anyone, so Kristin and TfL had to represent the full breadth of possibilities. “They wanted to convey different types of nights out,” Kristin says. “Not everyone goes out and just drinks.” Using a social media inspired aesthetic, Kristin photographed three sets of women in three different circumstances: one group partying, another seeing a band play, and a third out to dinner. She shot the campaign as though the groups were taking selfies and posting them on their Instagram accounts. “I think the most challenging thing was always being aware that it had to be from the POV of the girl. Like her taking a selfie,” Kristin explains. “The model and I were always connected. She was always holding my hand while I was holding the camera. It wasn’t the easiest of shoots.” What resulted was a natural progression of the evening. The first few images sees the group partaking in their night time activities, and then they head home. The second to last image in each spread has the woman posting a final selfie to say “Goodnight!” But there’s a sixth image. That last image is made to look like it’s being taken by mistake. “It captured the moment when she was being attacked,” Kristin explains. “It was really intense because the girls were crying and screaming because they’re all actors. So they really got into the role of it, of being attacked.” The two models and Kristin were in these tiny cars, acting out these horrible potential situations. But it was for all the right reasons. For Kristin, this campaign was particularly significant because she has a personal connection to the issue. “One of my best friends was attacked in London a few years ago,” Kristin explains. “When I was asked to do the campaign, even though I knew it would not really be my normal thing, I did understand the importance of doing it.” Sometimes a campaign is more than a campaign. Sometimes it can keep people safe.
  • 10.17.14   Trevor Bowden Brings Movement to Cadillac

    Stephen Merchant has staked his career on being the awkward tall guy. The comedian’s HBO show, “Hello Ladies,” was built around his extraordinary height and natural eccentricities. So it was a natural step to have him star in Cadillac’s newest advertisement where he misinterprets attention from beautiful women. They’re really gawking at the candy red Cadillac that happens to be driving by, but he is in their eye line and takes the attention personally. The spot was filmed in NYC’s SoHo neighborhood, and the entire cast of 15 was beautified by Trevor Bowden. The commercial is full of movement, and everyone on set was ready to put that energy into every minute of filming. Including the director, Tarsem Signh. “Tarsem had incredible energy. He didn’t stop the whole two days, from running from one place to the other,” Trevor explains. “Everybody was just flying to the seat of their pants and it comes out in the commercial.” Each moment is more energetic than the last, offering as many laughs as looks at Cadillac’s newest ATS Coupe. The movement in the spot is energetic and edited, and Trevor was able to bring that energy into the hair and make up for the actors. The women and men in the commercial are walking that New York walk down NYC streets, and turning heads in swanky restaurants. Trevor’s secret? “Hairspray” he says with a laugh.  
  • 10.20.14   Joe Pugliese Gets Meta with Jimmy Fallon

    Joe Pugliese isn’t known for hilarious photography. It’s not really his thing. So when it came time to shoot Jimmy Fallon for the cover of Men’s Journal, he knew it was going to be something in a different direction. “I don’t really do humorous photography that much, I don’t put a lot of humor into the set ups and concepts that I shoot,” Joe says. But he’s been following Jimmy Fallon for quite a while, so he decided to go for it. “It felt like a nice fit. I feel like Jimmy is a smart comic and he has a pulse on pop culture that’s kind of dead on. We let him really guide the mood. I just let him be himself, which fell into the way I like to shoot anyway.” It ended up working out perfectly, since what Joe likes to do is step back and let his subject be who they are naturally. It didn’t hurt that Joe and Jimmy injected a little something extra into the feeling of the shoot. Since humorous photography isn’t what Joe typically likes to do, he and Jimmy went an additional step to take it beyond typical clownish shoots. When it came to shooting Jimmy at the fake campfire with the burnt marshmallow (in the rain), Joe explains, “It was the joke within the joke. It was almost a riff on that sort of humorous photography. He almost looked chagrined to do it. There was some mystery whether he was chagrined by the photo shoot or chagrined that his marshmallow had burned or chagrined that it wasn’t a real fire. It was nonsensical which was fun, but it wasn’t whimsical.” It was a fine line for them to walk, to get the feeling exactly right. With a less experienced comic, or a comic who has only done scripted work, it could have taken all day to get the perfect shot. But Jimmy has been doing live performance for so long, and it is such a part of his style, that he and Joe didn’t waste any time. “I think he was really natural, I think he was really comfortable, and he was really efficient,” Joe says. “He’s such a pro and such a performer, he hit his mark and used the time well. He thinks on his feet. He can look outside himself to see what’s working and what’s not. Everything kind of just worked.” 
  • 10.21.14   Nathan Fox Finds Stories Everywhere

    Nathan Fox does a lot of work in comics so he was a natural choice for the animated spots for AMC’s “Comic Book Men.” AMC opted to use secret identities and the aesthetics from comic series to advertise the upcoming season of the reality show that follows the daily operations and general hijinx of Kevin Smith’s New Jersey comic book shop. Nathan had never worked on an animation spot like this before which presented challenges and requirements that were beyond what normally is demanded by static 2D compositions. Luckily for him, there was a lot of creative leniency. Each of the five gentlemen followed in the show are represented in the spot, and then are revealed to have their own super powers. A lot of the visual storytelling, and even the specifics of those revealed powers were up to the creative team, including Nathan. “Outside of the general ideas in the brief, the costume, the colors, the detail, were all made on our own, and were on our artistic end to define,” Nathan says. “It was cool having some freedom and collaboration to do visualization.” Nathan worked closely with Nick Flaherty on these ideas and executions to help fulfill the vision as fully and creatively as possible. That transformation of regular, everyday person into superhero is exactly what drew Nathan to this project. In general, superheroes aren’t what he spends his energy on. “Superheroes are not my real forte,” he puts it simply. “But, in terms of this project I think it was really fun to take some real life characters and metamorphose them into crazy superheroes that were going to get animated was a lot of fun.” For a lot of the canonical characters, superpowers are discovered, or gifted, as a metaphor for what that character was lacking, or needed in their life. But Nathan finds there’s already a rich well to draw from in every day experiences. Where the stories of superheroes use those metaphors to make comments on society and the human experience, Nathan looks to that experience directly. “All those people that we pass on an every day basis have stories to tell, they all come from some place. Good, bad, or otherwise. That uniqueness has always perked my curiosity,” he explains. But it goes even a little deeper than that. “A lot of us are odd and unique and twisted and private or weird or shy or whatever. That in and of itself in terms of character and humanity and identity, all of that: that’s always been an interest to me.” Why embellish or inflate when the story is already deep enough? Nathan explains, “It really just comes down to what the story is and how you want to move, engage, or immerse people.”
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