• 12.13.17 Alexa Chung and Ben Rayner Disturb the Peace for Refinery29

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    Libraries are traditionally filled with stressed out grad students, curious kids, and newspaper flipping retirees. But just recently the Brooklyn Historical Society Library also welcomed British actress, host, author, model, and general wunderkind Alexa Chung. She was there with Ben Rayner shooting a feature to go along her Refinery29 interview with Chelsea Handler. The result is an all-star affair. Alexa is known for her grace and propensity for fashion, but that’s something that she doesn’t treat too preciously as she reveals in the interview. Ben wanted to plumb that for the shoot. “It was centered around the theme of behaving badly in the library,” says Ben. “It was a little bit cheeky, a little bit fun. And because she’s such a great personality she lent well to this and I think that really helped a lot. It just made everything easy.” Disruption is impossible to plan for, and a wild day doesn’t follow a schedule. So when Ben met Chung at the library, instead of following a rigid program of events, they kept it loose and allowed it to develop as the day went on. “We started with a theme that was a good starting point and then it was built upon a little bit more on the day,” explains Ben. “The location definitely shifts the mood, makes it feel sort of vintagey which I think fits with her.” Ben didn’t just shoot still images, but also created a short video called “Quiet, Please” that follows Chung’s loud and brash exploits in the library from carving portraits on the desk, to experimenting with a practical orchestra of instruments, to partaking in a Happy Birthday phone call. It’s a lot, and it’s loud, and it’s a lot of fun. Pulling off a story as expressive this can be a challenge, It takes real vulnerability to explore creatively, and the rapport between photographer and subject is crucial for success. Luckily, Chung and Ben go way back. “We’ve worked together a lot over the years, she’s also a good friend of mine,” explains Ben. “She’s great to work with. She’s really great at stuff like this. She’s really naturally funny which brings a lot to the table. Her humor and personality are like perfectly suited to something like this.” The images are great fun, but don’t forget to check out the video at the end!
  • 12.13.17 We Are The Rhoads and TOMS' Celebration is Personal

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    Holiday Campaigns are fraught with glitzy sets, big bows, and sparkly trees. But when TOMS came to We Are The Rhoads to shoot their holiday campaign the photographer duo wanted to go in a totally different direction entirely. They wanted it to feel real. “We recognize holiday so quickly,” says Chris Rhoads. “You don’t have to have someone dressed up in a Santa suit to know that. And we didn’t want it to be on the nose but we still wanted you to get that feeling of what that is.” Instead of ratcheting the holiday feelings up to 11, they went with something natural. They made their sets look like how your friend’s house might look during the holidays – a swag of pine draped over a fireplace, a small mirror ball for New Year’s, well-placed velvet and strings of lights. After all, that's all we need. It wasn’t just about the accessibility of the imagery, but also a special kind of specificity. TOMS is based in Los Angeles and so the Rhoads wanted to include that in the campaign. The holiday experience in LA is unlike any other place because it's informed by the surroundings. They wanted show that off. In fact, while shooting around a swimming pool – definitely a holiday feature unique to Los Angeles – the Rhoads decided to use it in a way we never see in Holiday campaigns. The creative director and the model were happy to explore the idea along with the Rhoads. They had the model take a swim. “She was totally down and jumped in the pool with her clothes and her sweater on and I literally had one chance to get that shot of her,” explains Sarah. “California Holiday was the ethos we kept in mind. Conceptually I think it ended up pretty cool.” The whole story was about inviting us into the party that The Rhoads were throwing. “You want it to feel effortless,” Sarah explains. “And I feel like that’s the spirit of a lot of our imagery. Those unguarded moments that feel effortless. When it comes to set dressing and the props, that same spirit. We try to extend those things so it doesn’t feel like you’re trying to force anything in that just doesn’t feel right.” We may not all get to have our holidays at the pool this year, and our parties may have a little more or a little less decoration than what the Rhoads included on their sets, but even if this isn’t exactly what our personal holidays look like, we still recognize it in every image.
  • 12.8.17 Jeremy Corbyn Rolls Up His Sleeves with Marco Grob and British GQ

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    After Jeremy Corbyn sat for the cover of British GQ with Marco Grob rumors of the event exploded all over the media, with a bevy of stories about the story. Controversies and retractions followed, but what matters at the end of the day is one thing and one thing only: Marco took some fantastic pictures. Corbyn is something of an anomaly, not just in UK politics but in all facets. Marco and Fashion Director Luke Day were able to get the Labour Party leader into a tie – an accessory he regularly avoids – dressing him up further than normal. For most politicians, especially at Corbyn’s level, a detail as simple as a tie in the House of Commons is unquestionable but Corbyn has made his career being accessible to the people, straight off the cuff, and always authentic. That persona is what’s made him so attractive to his fans and made for such a lovely shoot with Marco. Plus it’s also part of what’s so complex about Corbyn: he doesn’t look like any other politician. He doesn’t carry himself the same way, think the same way, or speak the same way. GQ couldn’t have Corbyn on the cover of their Election Special and annual list of the 50 best-dressed men in a relaxed shirt, so they dressed him in Marks and Spencer, an affordable British brand – a responsible choice for the Labour leader. Corbyn is more buttoned up, and potentially more Prime Ministerial, on Marco’s cover than normal, but there’s still a glimpse of the Corbyn we know and recognize on the inside with a black and white image of Corbyn rolling up his sleeves – perhaps ready to get to work?
  • 12.7.17 Sawdust Creates a New Logo and Identity for Converse

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    Converse is as an iconic sneaker brand as any other. The brand was at the forefront of athletic sneakers, and Michael Jordan’s favorite brand to play in before he hesitantly joined Nike. Decades later, Converse is under the Nike umbrella and continues to be at the forefront of lifestyle footwear. They’re on trend but thought they could use one update: their logo. So Conversed asked Sawdust to help them do it.  “Trust is the keyword, the Converse team put their faith in us to explore ideas with them,” explains Rob Gonzalez, who created Sawdust with Jonathan Quainton. “They made us feel like part of the family rather than putting the weight of the world on our shoulders — it was very much a team effort with discussions about what works and what doesn’t.” Converse’s logo has gone through some transformation in the century the brand has been around. They’ve had wordmarks and stars, but Sawdust brought everything together, simplified it, and created the new star and chevron look. It’s no small job to take a logo that’s been at the forefront of cultural conversation for decades and bring new life to it. That logo will be seen on shoes, advertisements, stores, tags, teeshirts, everything. It’s an undertaking the Sawdust understands. “It was a great honour to work on a project of this magnitude with Converse,” Jonathan says. Not only is it a huge job to shuffle the identity of a brand like Converse, but it has personal implications. As kids both Rob and Jonathan either owned or were well aware of converse as products. Long before they were designers or working with the brand, the shoes were a part of their world. “I still remember the day when I was a kid and my sister bought some Converse Chuck Taylor high tops — blew my mind! I always copied her because she was cooler than me,” explains Rob. It reminds us that the icons walking down the street are all created by hardworking creative minds like those at Sawdust.
  • 12.6.17 Future and Young Thug Get Loud with ilovedust

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    A mixtape collaboration between Future and Young Thug has been expected for years. Both artists are from Atlanta but for some reason had never done deep work together. They had features together, a pretty public feud, but once the hatchet was buried “Super Slimey” hit the digital airwaves without announcement. It was total surprise. There were rumors of songs, but not a whole album. The Atlanta artists needed some top-level artwork to pair with the project and asked ilovedust to help them out. The result is an incredibly aggressive image of a fanged green snake wrapped around a petrified black eagle skull.  The album hit with no notice, but the reaction was swift and strong. The sounds are assertive, the lyrics provocative, and the project hard-hitting – just like the image that ilovedust created for the project. And also just like Thugger and Future’s work, ilovedust remixed the image a few time. The beats that both artists are rapping over are taken from other work, blended with new ideas, and packaged into complete pieces of new work. Although the acid green snake and midnight black skull are what Young Thug and Future ultimately picked for the cover of their album, the team at ilovedust created a more psychedelic inspired 70s/80s version, as well as a gold and marble take that includes plenty of feathers. Hip hop, and really every other form of art, is a conversation and that conversation is always changing. This time ilovedust’s work reflected the work they were collaborating with, and the ever changing nature of that discourse.
  • 12.5.17 Stephen Wilkes Celebrates Canada's 150th Anniversary

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    Canada Day marks the foundation of the country as we understand as Canada today. On July 1, 1867 the separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick came together to be recognized as a single entity within the British Empire. It marks how Canada united from disparate communities into a single state. It’s a statewide celebration of oneness, unity, and identity. It’s a huge, country-wide celebration, but from his perch across from Centre Block, the main building of the Canadian parliamentary, Stephen Wilkes caught some of the most exciting bits. Using his signature technique from his “Day to Night” series, Stephen spent the entire day and night watching the festivities below, photographing thousands of images, and blending them together into a single composition. The result is a day of celebration and night of fireworks on the 150th anniversary of Confederation.   The Embassy of the United States in Ottawa invited Stephen to create the image as a symbol of American-Canadian friendship in this magnanimous year, and in partnership with the National Gallery of Canada the photography will be on view at the National Gallery through the entire month of December. “I’m thrilled to partner with the National Gallery of Canada to welcome Stephen Wilkes for the unveiling of this special work for the people of Canada,” said U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft. “It’s incredible to be in Canada during such a momentous year and an honor to present to the Canadian people a work by one of America’s most iconic and accomplished photographers.” “We are pleased to pursue these enriching conversations to bring the perspectives of American artists to Canadian audiences,” said National Gallery of Canada Director and CEO, Marc Mayer. “The partnership between the Gallery and the Embassy of the United States has created an important forum for cross-cultural exchange.”
  • 11.30.17 Nomoco Helps the Transition Travel with Alaska Airlines

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    It’s easy to get caught up in the common wisdom about airports: we imagine them as spaces where travelers rush from one timed event to another, trying to get through security lines fast enough to make their next flight, all on the way out. But there’s a magic to the airport, it’s where we move from one space into another. Airports are resting spots between moments on our individual journeys and the perfect place to reflect on where we’re going and where we’ve been. Recently, Nomoco was commissioned by Alaska Airlines through Hornall Anderson to help bring a new energy to a tunnel through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport with an installation of a massive illustration. The illustration stretches more than 200 feet through SEATAC Airport, acting as a transition through the space, but allowing travelers to visit Nomoco’s take on a variety of destinations. Although Nomoco’s illustration includes recognizable locations like the Yucatan Peninsula, Cuba, and Los Angeles, there are sections that are more interpretive. A forest full of birds, a bubbly body of water, and stretches of clouds are all space we can let our travel dreams take hold. “Inspired by the rich colors of nature and the vibrant air of cities, I aimed to create a rhythmical transition journey space from city to city,” explains Nomoco. “I hope it brings an uplifting atmosphere to the tunnel.”  The next time you’re walking through the airport on your way home, on a trip, or towards another flight, remember to take a breath and remember that there’s something magical about the whole thing. And if you forget to, maybe Nomoco will help remind you.
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