We Are The Rhoads Get Intimate with Salem Mitchell for Fall Cover Story
“Salem Mitchell has been doing some really cool things,” says Sarah Rhoads of We Are The Rhoads (the other Rhoads are her photography and life partner Chris Rhoads, and their new son River). And Sarah is right, Salem Mitchell has been doing some really cool things. At only 19 years old she went right from posting selfies on Instagram to signing with Ford Models, and now pops up all over newsstands including the latest cover of Darling Magazine - shot by the Rhoads. Darling Magazine is unique in that they do no retouching of their models, and Salem’s freckled face is the perfect canvas to be left untouched. “She’s absolutely stunning, she’s absolutely radiant,” says Sarah. “All of her imperfection: that’s what I love most about it. Up close in somebody’s face you’re seeing them for exactly who they are and there’s nothing about it that needs to be retouched. For me that’s what I found really engaging.”
At 19, Salem is still new to the modeling world. There’s a lot to navigate, not only the culture and the politics, but also how to be comfortable in front of cameras day in and day out, and always performing. But for Chris and Sarah Rhoads that counts as an asset instead of a challenge. “She was really great and she didn’t come with many preconceived notions about how to move or how to do things so for us,” Sarah explains. “As the day unfolded she became much more willing to just let her guard down and just be herself.” Over time, the Rhoads and Mitchell created their own little community of three that opened and closed, like a tide, to create a the dynamic images in the cover story.
The two blockbuster images from the shoot are the two images that magazine debated over for the cover: the more graphic photograph of Mitchell in old movie theater seats, and one of Mitchell’s face way up close, a view only witnessed through intimacy. These two images speak to two very different energies that Sarah and Chris saw throughout the day. “The shoot was characterized by these little pockets, vacillating between being vulnerable and letting barriers down, and some moments that were probably more constructed,” Sarah explains. These two spaces show a whole range of who Mitchell is and what it means to interact with her. By exploring in this way the Rhoads revealed a range of Mitchell, not just an idea or caricature of her. There’s a generosity there, both from Mitchell to let in the Rhoads and of the Rhoads to show us what they saw. It is the photographer’s duty to step in and act as a proxy for the audience and reveal to us what they find, but it’s rare the revelation is so complete.
Rod Hunt Builds a City of Tiny Lights
Cities are beacons to the world: they draw in the dreamers and the workers, the grinders and entrepreneurs. Lives are built on a grid, pressed into one another in too few square feet, rubbing up against each other creating heat and passion. As often as not those dreams change, sometimes abandoned for the grit and grime and trouble of just getting through life in the city. But from the outside, the city continues to shine and sing a siren to the dreamers. Rod Hunt, who understands that call of the city’s lights as well as anyone else, brought them to life in his ‘City of Tiny Lights,’ an illustration inspired by Frank Zappa’s song of the same name.
You already know that Rod Hunt’s work from its incredible intricacy and well designed infrastructure as a cistern for chaos, but ‘City of Tiny Lights’ even while most of the image is dominated by architecture it screams humanity. Even with taxies zipping around, helicopters bobbing in and out, and no small collection of pedestrians filling the sidewalks, the buildings of Rod’s city create the typography of the piece. Each of those buildings is covered with windows, twinkling out their lights, reminding us that every window represents a citizen or a family living their lives on the other side of it. It’s easy to look at a forest of steel and concrete and see nothing but hardness and industry, but Rob reminds us that they hold the lives of everyone within them and that every city of lights, tiny or giant, is a collection of dreamers reaching and living every day.
Ben Rayner and Jigsaw Take On The Issues of the Day
Fashion is one big conversation that started as soon as we humans began putting clothes on our backs and it continues to this day. We see styles across the street, across the ocean, across the border and incorporate them into our own language, constantly blending cultures and redefining our own. That’s why British fashion brand Jigsaw decided to make Immigration the center of their latest campaign, shot by Ben Rayner. They recognize that their work as an apparel brand is only possible because of border crossings. “Without immigration, we’d be selling potato sacks,” they say.
“It was a really nice campaign to be a part of,” says Ben. “It morphed a little bit but it was such a nice idea because Britain is a multicultural melting pot. That’s why it’s such a nice idea especially in current times when immigration sometimes is seen as negative.” To bring the message home, Ben, Jigsaw, and creative agency The Corner, cast models from all varieties of cultural backgrounds while shooting the images in a 17th century British Manor. It’s a blending. “We were tying together an English country house; really old things and new things as well,” Ben explains.
But it wasn’t all serious work on set that day. Ben is known for his images that feel intimate and of the moment – and there’s only one way to make that happen. “We knew which models we had to shoot in which outfits, but other than that we got the run of the house,” Ben says. “We really got to experiment a lot and play a lot. So we got the complete run of this awesome old manor house and it was kind of on a lot of beautiful land and it really does look as amazing as it does in the pictures.” The cast and Ben jumped from room to room, photographing set-ups that felt right in the moment, moving as they felt caused to – they were free to move and collaborate, blend ideas and work together, just like a world with no borders.
The campaign has been received beautifully and it’s restarted a conversation about immigration and fashion in the UK. Even AdAge wrote about the campaign that can be seen in and around Oxford Circus, the London equivalent of Times Square. Check it out! You don’t want to be the last one.
Reed + Rader Jump on The Coding Train
If you think the idea of coding a website with letters and dashes and semicolons is boring: boy have we got news for you. Just like everything else in the world, coding is as fun as you make it – and Dan Shiffman makes it fun. His YouTube channel, The Coding Train, is all about learning this incredibly useful skill while having fun with it. He recently renamed the channel, and needed a new intro video for his new identity. He asked his long time friends over at Reed + Rader to help him do just that. The results are explosive and bold, filled with dancing characters, computer generated worlds, and an energetic Shiffman. And that’s exactly what Reed + Rader are all about.
“Boldness, whether it’s an explosion of colors or just kookiness in general, is something that is pretty inherent with our style,” says Matthew Rader, who is the ‘Rader’ to Pamela Reed’s ‘Reed.’ “In the case of this project with The Coding Train, the person that it was for, Dan Shiffman, his personality is bonkers and he’s the wildest, nicest guy in the world. It just kind of fit because he’s crazy and we do crazy stuff and it just went together like two peas in a pod.”
Matthew met Shiffman while studying at NYU – Shiffman was an in-demand teacher while Matthew was hoping to get into his class. But since then they’ve become friends and collaborators.
On The Coding Train, the information is real, but the world that Reed + Rader created for the video is obviously entirely invented. So are the characters, whose movements were all fabricated from the ground up for each unique shape and ‘body.’ “The characters like vaguely humanoid in the sense that some have arms and they have legs, but other than that they’re pretty bonkers, so it wasn’t really that necessary to have super realistic movements,” Matt explains. “They could kind of have a life of their own.”
Marc Hom Gets Classic with Michael Shannon and Esquire
Michael Shannon is one of those actors that disappears into everything. It’s not just the roles he plays that seem to consume him, it’s everything around him. He fits every world he enters, whether it’s 1950s suburbia or the stars around Krypton. “He’s a chameleon in many ways,” says Marc Hom who photographed the actor for the cover of Esquire’s ‘The Big Black Book,’ an issue that goes through all the ins and outs of what’s happening in menswear. It was Shannon’s chameleon abilities that made the shoot run so smoothly and so successfully and allowed Marc to get photographs at the height of his artistic expectation. “I wanted to be able to look at these pictures again and again and again and feel they’re quite timeless. So that’s how we treated it,” explains Marc.
There’s the famous story that Laurence Olivier needed to know the nose of his character before he could act the part. It seems that with Shannon, it’s all about a costume. Every time Shannon was dressed in a new piece of apparel he understood it immediately, making Marc’s job that much more exciting. “He’s amazing because he’s one of those guys, it’s very rare, who understands clothes in a very strange way. He knows what kinds of movements fit what he’s wearing. It’s something rare and very organic,” says Marc. “It was one of those great organic days when everything just fits in terms of character and styling and what I wanted to do, so when you have all those elements together you can just keep shooting.” Every time they did a new set up it was a new story, each gesture and movement tailored for the exact piece, materials, and aesthetic.
Part of Shannon’s power is his energy that is solid and still. Marc recognized that power and made sure to suffuse it through every photo. “There’s a certain silence to it,” Marc says. “I was trying to do was trying to have, have a little bit more movement in the color than the black and the white. I wanted to keep the darkness of the more graphic portraiture with the black and white, and then modernize it a bit with the movement of the color pictures. So you have a little bit of both feelings and exploring his repertoire.” Shannon’s abilities extend through the 75+ roles he’s played in film and television, and beyond a single shoot for the cover of Esquire, but he and Marc got to explore everything they could together and the results are dripping with style.
Stephen Wilkes Folds Time for the Cover of Travel + Leisure
Historically, photography has been a medium for capturing a single moment of time – typically a fraction of a second, as ephemeral as time itself. Any more than that and we look to moving images, film, video, cinemegraphs. Those were the rules until Steven Wilkes took the tradition of time-lapse imagery and compiled that magic into a single composition. His ‘Day to Night’ series, soon to be a monograph with Taschen in 2018, brings hours and hours (up to 30) of time, and thousands of photographs, into single images. From one edge of the frame to the other we see an entire day turn into night (or vice versa), condensing a full day of experiences into a single viewing experience. It’s a remarkable feat, remarkable enough that Travel + Leisure chose Stephen’s work for the cover of their Photography Issue.
The cover features Stephen’s photograph of Campanile of San Marco in Venice, showing how this square changes over the course of the day while crowds ebb and flow, pigeons feed and flee, restaurants fill and empty, pictures are posed and selfies are snuck in.
Inside the magazine they feature Stephen’s photograph of the river Thames that he photographed on top of the Savoy Hotel, finding the London eye at night while a man sleeps riverside in the morning.
It’s a fantastic, if quick glimpse at Stephen’s work and a reminder that his work is on view at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in New York through November 11.
Check out this issue of Travel + Leisure on stands now!
Adam Hayes and The Washington Post Have Some Lessons from 3rd Graders
Kids notice everything. Their brains are little sponges, absorbing the behavior of the adults that surround them, picking up on the cues from witnessing social interactions, and taking on everything else they see. As witnesses who are still digesting “the way things work” without the egos and the socially ascribed intellectual status, sometimes their own interpretations of impossible issues are closer to wisdom than anything the adults in the room have been able to come up with. Recognizing this, The Washington Post Magazine brought together a bunch of 3rd Graders from the Washington DC area and asked them about a host of issues. Their responses were compiled in the latest issue of Washington Post Magazine, and the publication invited Adam Hayes to design their cover and a few alternate compositions.
The illustration with typography featuring the title of the piece, ‘The World According to Washington’s Third-Graders,’ is presented in no fewer than four combinations of colors and layouts. In each other them the effect is the same: this is a conversation with kids. They’re made up to look like the decorations in a classroom, but it raises the question who is teaching who? The way these kids think about the world is unanimously simpler than the way adults think about it, but often that simplicity is the part that we forgot, that’s the aspect that trips us up.
Adam’s illustration plays with that dichotomy, giving us the opportunity to see both sides, while having an element of subversion. Because of the youthful scholastic nature of the illustration we almost expect the conversation to be shallow, but with questions about the 2016 election, racism, climate change, and much more, the topics plumb deeper. It’s almost an implicit bait and switch, but in the best service: education.
Erwin Olaf Lines It Up for Indochine
Erwin Olaf’s expertise is building worlds that look just like ours, but are heightened, dramatic, surreal. But when he does his work, he builds those worlds so completely that they’re as present for us as our own. They’re unsettling, like the uncanny valley, drawing us in while forcing us to ache for our own world that’s already standing up around us. He usually brings this gift to fashion stories, but most recently he collaborated with French rock group Indochine for their album art, that exploded into an exploration of an entire colorguard troupe that implies even more.
The highly stylized images that feature a cadre of children dressed and styled impeccably are reminiscent of brutal regime propaganda while recalling childhood memories and stroking our hunger for visual perfection. The muted palate of the images comforts while the models’ posing and flag waving sends up red flags. It’s that tension that Erwin works so beautifully inside of and makes for such compelling images.
Check out the whole series of art for Indochine’s latest EP, and find the rest of Erwin's work in his portfolio.
Chris Buzelli Keeps The New York Times Ticking
It’s true that time is a human construct, but we make it look awesome. Yes, the sun arcs across the sky and the seasons change, but hours and minutes and seconds only tick by because we will them to. As we’ve shackled ourselves to this master at least we count it with the greatest grace and technology: watches. The New York Times devoted an entire section of their paper to watches and invited Chris Buzelli to create an original illustration to grace the cover of the section.
Unlike clocks, watches are designed to fit on our persons, distilling the engineering to micro measurement, accurately keeping pace of the vibrations of atoms with spokes, wheels, and springs. It’s almost impossible to fathom how it’s done, and even more difficult to truly recognize the beauty of this kind of work. Chris recognized that difficulty and instead of working around decided to blow it up. In his painting (part of the process you can see in a video below), Chris went in the opposite direction: he made the technology massive and invited an audience to experience the gigantic construct like a massive moving sculpture. All the pieces are there from the second hand, to the sun tracker, to the crystal tipped dials, but made so big that the visitors can walk on top of them.
Because the technology is so difficult to truly recognize and understand, perhaps this is the way we should imagine it: spokes blotting out the sun, the shine of perfect polished metal as a fully encompassing environment. That is the beauty of illustration, isn’t it? To help us see new things by recreating them around us – just like we have codified the movement of heavenly bodies and the winds of fall into ticking watches on our wrists.
Serial Cut and Honda Celebrate
Summer is a time for dreams. It’s the season every school kid looks forward to all year, when they can run free and play to their hearts’ content. Parents may feel differently about it, but that tinge of infinite possibility never really goes away no matter how old we get. This year Honda jumped head first into that sentiment for their Summer Sales Event and asked Serial Cut to help them bring it to life. The three images they created through collaboration bring all those dreams to life in their own unique hues.
Serial Cut created three different worlds for the campaign. The orange composition is an ice cream lover’s dream, with a myriad of frozen treat options melting all over the environment and the car. A red carnival finds games and rides and plenty of buoyant balloons to lift the car off the ground through sheer joy. A refreshing waterpark comes wrapped in blue, with the car splashing right out of the ground at the end of what must be a thrilling water slide.
All of these environments were created through Serial Cut’s expert CGI compositing, playing with movement, texture, shape, light, liquid, and every other possible variable. This one campaign represents a mastery over a menagerie of skills and needs that few other creative studios can boast. We’re proud to present this “Summerbration” campaign on behalf of Honda and Serial Cut, brought together with RPA USA, out of Santa Monica.
Platon Dresses Up Power for Garage Magazine
Platon is always creating new work. His studio is a flurry of activity, with every moment scheduled to the minute. This way of working is done to ensure that he spends his time the way he wants to and the way he needs to. Each year he tries to fit in at least one big fashion story – bigger than what we normally see in the industry – because as a photographer who has mastered fashion work he can use the medium to have a significant impact. This year he teamed up with Garage Magazine for their 13th Issue on a story called ‘Power Dressing.’
“It was our tribute to power and authority and we were looking at how we use fashion to express a self-expression, particularly with power,” says Platon. “And I didn’t want to just treat it as a surface based style project, this was very much calling on the younger generation to think again about their own moral compass and their own responsibility.” Unlike a typical fashion story that would usually take just a week, ‘Power Dressing’ commanded Platon’s schedule for months because the message is worth it. All the models are styled by Pheobe Arnold in the most cutting edge, high end fashion, but all of it is inspired by power – cultural, political, historical. But there are hard lines between them, lines Platon wants to disappear.
RuPaul tells us, “You’re born naked, the rest is drag,” underscoring that all fashion is costuming. We dress to identify ourselves, to identify with others, and to place ourselves in the world and in history. It is this exact notion that Platon seeks to disrupt with ‘Power Dressing.’ “We have become more tribal than we ever were in history and ironically social media was supposed to build bridges and help us communicate more and I believe it’s done the reverse,” Platon explains. “Before, tribalism always existed especially with style and self expression that’s how you had subculture and it was always the way youth would express themselves but now this idea of tribalism has gone way beyond that idea of self expression and it’s become it’s choking society at large. And I think it’s important now to start to challenge this idea of tribalism.”
So how do we do that?
Platon says we must enlist cultural leaders into the fight. Most of them have become leaders as a result of the powers that maintain the lines between tribes, but if they’ll take on the fight their voices are ever more powerful.
“These models are leaders in culture, and they have huge followings. With that position of authority comes responsibility. You can’t be a leader even if it’s a cultural leader without carrying a sense of responsibility,” Platon explains. “Winston Churchill always said, ‘True greatness comes with a cost and the cost is responsibility.’ So I then turned to all these fantastic young models as cultural leaders of their time and I told them that we were going to work together to provoke respectful debate and they must to use their authority and their position and their influence in society to help people think again about this tribalism. And they all stepped up to the cause.”
It’s not lost on Platon that by photographing the representations of the tribal groups, in a way he’s perpetuating them. We must diagnose the issue before we can heal it. He has photographed more than 60 world leaders in his time, many sitting on the same apple box that Lineisy Montero sat in for this story, and too few of those leaders were women. There’s a sickness in our culture where democracies do not elect a representative ratio of women – so showing women as leaders in these groups, right before they tear them down, is a part of the disinfection. “This was a photo essay about women’s empowerment first and foremost, but it was also a sign to help everyone recognize that each picture almost represents a tribe and either we choose to stay in that tribe or we choose to destroy intolerance and destroy the barriers that exist between us,” Platon says. “And maybe I would like this to be the last time these tribes were ever seen.”
Take a last look for yourself in the latest issue of Garage Magazine.
Tom Corbett Gets Heroic with Marvel's Elodie Yung
There’s good reason that so many Marvel superheroes work in New York – it’s a city with history that captures the imaginations of fans the world over. Plus there’s been plenty of crime. At least six of Marvel’s best-known superheroes operate out of the Big Apple, and they’ve brought the quartet of Defenders to television with the synonymous Netflix series. But Elektra is not a superhero. The mercenary assassin and exlover of Matt Murdock (Daredevil) played on TV by the undeniable Elodie Yung is enticing, terrifying, and extraordinarily powerful. She’s also stunningly beautiful. When Alexa Magazine, the fashion imprint of The New York Post, featured Yung on the cover of their latest issue they invited Tom Corbett to photograph the story. “We wanted to do these heroic pictures on the streets of New York and she was really warm to it and it was a great day,” says Tom.
Yung, Tom, and his team headed down to The Lower East Side of New York City in order to capture that unique area of the city to give their imagery the perfect atmosphere. “We wanted a grittier side of New York, an older side of New York and that was really an area which we really loved,” says Tom. “The Lower East Side hasn’t changed too much, and we wanted to shoot there and give it some of the local flavor down there.” While other areas of New York are constantly welcoming glassy new buildings, The Lower East Side has maintained an incredible number of original storefronts making some areas feel like they’re in a different time. Tom took advantage of that to create imagery that’s outside of time, untethered to trends and development and focused on style.
As a fashion photographer, Tom mostly works with models but Yung is an accomplished actor, which is a totally different job. On the whole, Tom approaches actors and models in the same way, with one tiny little difference. “She was very in tune, she took direction very well, she understood exactly what we wanted,” Tom says. “You have to direct actors slightly differently so I tend to give my actors that I work with a little bit more of a background, a little bit more of a storyline, to try to make it fit into their world a little bit more. Models don’t necessarily always need that, but I do like working that way.” By giving her a little bit more of a story, Tom is able to work on her level and together they create images that are as beautiful as they are captivating. Plus the fashion looks awesome.
Douglas Friedman and Elle Decor Get Personal with Andy Cohen
You know Andy Cohen. Whether he’s dishing with real housewives, breaking down the latest entertainment news with the newsmakers, or just mixing a drink with your new favorite comedian, Cohen is everywhere. He knows how to get the real story out of his guests, always cutting the tension with a laugh and holding space during somber moments. But what about him? How do we get to know this man who helps us know so many others? Andy welcomed Elle Décor and Douglas Friedman into his home for the cover story of their September issue, but it wasn’t the first time that Douglas had hung out with Cohen. “I’ve known Andy for some time and we actually get along really, really well, so it was it was a really fun shoot to work on,” says Douglas. “He’s a very interesting person, he’s a very interested person. So he doesn’t make himself the center of attention. He’s a gracious host when you’re in his home and even though you’re there working he makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the room. Which is kind of the opposite of what normally happens on a photoshoot.” It made for the perfect energetic exchange to get the shots that they needed.
When Cohen bought the apartment, it was actually the slow acquisition of three apartments in the West Village of New York City that he eventually blended into a single property. That makes it a big home by New York City standards, but also a little bit of a jigsaw puzzle. The layout presented unique challenges for Douglas as he worked out how to capture it in photographs. “It’s a fairly complicated house to photograph, especially that main living space he has. These unexpected volumes set in, and it’s challenging. Definitely, it was a challenge,” says Douglas. “You approach it very methodically. You address one problem at a time and eventually it all solves itself. You just have to be willing to put in the time, whatever the hours, whatever it takes to solve that little bit. It’s like a domino effect.” As each of those pieces come together, the space really starts to sing in a way that we can fully understand it, and regard the genius of its design and beauty.
Every home reflects the person who lives there, either purposefully or not, and in Cohen’s space there’s a lot to look at in every room. But as someone who knows him well, Douglas thinks that it’s Cohen’s office that reflects him the best. “His office is full of such interesting things, and they’re uniquely Andy,” says Douglas. “Whether it’s a keepsake from Madonna or something from Sarah Jessica Parker, or a box of Andy Warhol Polaroids, there’s all these one off things that are so interesting on their own, but as a collection you really see who Andy is.” There’s also a sealed glass case of letters he sent a friend from the summer he came out of the closet. It’s a space that acts as a cistern for a well-lived life, with a lot of space for more to come.
Check out Douglas’ photos of Cohen’s house here, and check out ‘Watch What Happens Live’ tonight: Douglas will be bartending all night!
Pick The Most Delicious for Dunkin Donuts with Vault49
It’s not every day that you can direct the path of an international coffee giant. But right now you can. Dunkin Donuts is testing the thirst for three new flavors by letting customers decide what wins and makes it into the pot. They want to know what’s your “flavorite” flavor from their Bakery series: Blueberry Pancake, Dulce De Leche Cookie, or Coconut Caramel. It’s not enough to get a taste the flavors, you’ve got to experience them too, so Dunkin Donuts asked Vault49 to help them bring each of the flavors to life in a series of three digital illustrations that come together on DunkinFlavorite.com.
In three stand-alone images, Vault49 played on the idea of the game, creating three different versions of the classic Plinko drop game. There is a certain amount of chance when it comes to which flavor is going to win: as the thousands of votes come in, they cannot be swayed by anything but their own experiences. So it’s up to a certain amount of chance to see which flavor wins.
Vault49 spares no desire in each of the images, doing their best to make each flavor look as delicious as the rest. Whether it’s a buffet of donuts, cheesecake and squares of dewey caramel for the Dulce De Leche Cookie, a luge of berries shuttling to a high stack of pancakes for Blueberry Pancake, or coconuts overflowing with caramel next to exploding bags of coffee for Coconut Caramel, each composition has unique elements that are mouthwatering and irresistible.
But you must pick one.
If you’re a coffee drinker and want to get in on the fun, check out Vaul49’s work at DunkinFlavorite.com and make your voice heard.
Wesley Allsbrook Offers the Whole Experience with Porsche and The Atlantic
Every piece of work is an invitation by an artist to enter into their world, to see things from their unique point of view. They create a new reality with each piece and it is up to us to witness and explore it with their guidance. But there are limitations. For one, most work is viewable only from a distance or behind a piece of glass (whether the glass is in a frame or it's the glass of a computer screen). But new forms are developing every day and Wesley Allsbrook is an artist who is forging new ground every day. Her ability to create immersive digital 3D spaces is unparalleled and just recently Porsche and The Atlantic recognized that power, harnessing it for their latest campaign.
In ‘Why We Drive,’ Porsche and The Atlantic invited three drivers to describe why they love their cars and what driving means for them: freedom, exploration, adventure. As the drivers tell their stories we get to see Wesley's creations bloom around the driver. She creates fully immersive environments that illustrate the drivers' experiences, and although we don't see her we see the digital paint bleeding off her digital brush. We see the flourish of her strokes and the skating of her own movement. It reminds us that the way we do even the simplest things, like driving, has exquisite beauty locked deep inside it - even if we don't recognize it in the moment.
Porsche blended Wesley's work with the stories by the drivers into videos that allow her work to grow and develop around the drivers. The experience by the audience is once again through glass, but they've also offered Wesley's environments as a separate, unique experience for those who want to explore them. By clicking and dragging you can take your time, examining each digital stroke as close as you care to. It's a much more intimate and personal way to experience Wesley's art and absorb the stories into the viewers own experience. The opportunity is there, it would be a shame to pass it up...
Craig Cutler’s Creative Process from Beginning to End
Craig Cutler is more than a photographer, he is a creative force and go-to collaborator for the most prestigious publications in the world. He ideates, develops, and executes cover designs about the most important issues of our day. Whether it's the fight over Obamacare, understanding how race factors into contemporary life, or examining how the energy industry moves from the old model to the new, Craig is able to tell these complex stories in a single image. We recently caught up with Craig to talk about a bunch of his covers and his creative process, and we started with his cover for The Atlantic that features a neon sign of the word “BELIEVE” with some words blacked, so it spells “LIE.” “It’s a unique dynamic,” says Craig. “From a photography point of view it’s a nice image, it’s graphic, but when you add the element that the person who shot that actually created the idea it’s a whole different story.” Few artists get the kind of control and process that Craig does, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
He starts with sketches, filling them with splashes of watercolor, narrowing them down until he lands on the best execution that becomes the cover. Sometimes he even expounds that image into companion motion work that goes beyond what one cover can do. “I do that for New York Times, Washington Post, that’s what gets me excited is that I’m brought in to concept and be creative. To me, being creative is the most important thing,” he explains. “My background is design so I like the fact that when they give me a story, I get to come back to them with ideas. It’s not for everybody. But to me, when the biggest magazines like that are coming at me I think that’s very exciting. That’s heaven to me.” It's a holistic creative process and one that requires unique trust given to him that he earns with every successful cover.
Most photographers are approached by magazines with what they want the cover to be and ask the artist to create the image they already have in their heads. But Craig prefers the top down approach. It’s collaborative, creative, and incredibly rewarding. Plus it’s fun. “It’s the most exciting thing to be able to concept and then execute,” he says.