Steven Laxton Brings Voice to LGBT Refugees In New Show
American politics is on fire and moving at a blistering pace, it’s hard to pay attention to anything else. But for Steven Laxton, the moment that precipitated this chaos, the 2016 election, was a wake-up call to see the horrors happening on the other side of our borders. “I was very disgruntled and confused about the election and Trumpism and all the xenophobia and sexism and racism that transpired,” says Steven. “I realized that I rather than just post disgruntled posts on Facebook and go to a few rallies, I have a craft that can tell stories.” He started creating projects around immigration and came across Immigration Equality, the leading LGBTQ immigrant rights organization. Once he started hearing their stories, a whole new perception of what it means to be a refugee opened up for him and inspired his project “Free To Be Me,” on view at The LGBT Center in New York starting today.
“It occurred to me that I didn’t really think about this enough myself,” Steven explains. “When I think about refugees I think of people seeking political asylum or economic asylum or people fleeing from war zones. It’s not often you think about LGBTQ asylum but there’s over 70 countries in the world where it’s illegal to be gay basically. Some of the stories are horrendous so I realized this was something that was worthy of doing.” Steven sat down with a host of LGBTQ refugees to get their stories and act as a conduit for us to meet them, understand them, and recognize the injustice happening all over the world. Things aren’t perfect in the US, but they’re good enough that for many, the US is an escape and a step towards living a freer and fuller life.
It’s not just about facts and figures, as appalling as those are. It’s about the humanity behind those numbers and the absurd laws in other countries governing what is and what is not okay about being an LGBTQ person. “It’s important for people to know the stories and where they come from,” says Steven. “There’s one gentleman from Egypt who’s an architect. He went out on a date when he was younger with a guy, they just kissed, the cops saw him and he was locked in prison for three months only because he was a minor. If he had been older it would have been five years.” He was able to come to the US and build a new life here, a more honest life, and contribute to his new community here.
Check out Steven Laxton’s “Free to Be Me,” presented in cooperation with the LGBT Center and Immigration Equality, is on view starting November 14th and running through the end of the year.
Marvel's 'Black Panther' Times Ten with Marco Grob
Calling Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ the most highly anticipated superhero movie in years is an understatement. Not only is Black Panther set to break records, it’s the first major film of the genre to feature a lead of color, a director of color, and a screenwriter of color. It’s a huge moment for representation in Hollywood, but also it just seems like the movie is going to be amazing. All eyes are on Ryan Coogler leading up to February’s release, and Marvel just released a slew of character posters for the film – a dizzying array of 10 different posters all shot by Marco Grob.
Marco is known for his work in Hollywood, creating brilliant character portraits. Character portraiture is something of a balancing act, because it represents an extension of the film. Marco must get honest and clear moments from these actors through the guise of their characters. Plus it has to look beautiful. At once he plays stylist, cinematographer, and director, juggling each role so that the final image captures a glimpse of a full story in a single composition. That’s tricky enough with one or two posters, but Marco did it ten times for Black Panther: an achievement by any measure.
What a treat to be a part of such a monumental movie, and a beautiful piece of it to boot.
A Wormhole Through Worlds with Jeff Soto and XBOX
Game consoles are windows into a myriad of worlds. Each game has its own story, its own cast of characters, its own aesthetics, and offers its own escape. For a client like XBOX, Jeff Soto had to bring together all of those worlds into one execution. It’s not enough for XBOX to pick one or two: to celebrate their platform they have to represent the entire scope of what’s possible through the console so Jeff Soto did just that. He created a “wormhole.”
In the video, the viewer is brought through what seems like dozens of worlds, each one a representation of a popular XBOX game, and each one created by Jeff. One after another they go, sparking inspiration and curiosity for anyone looking for their latest obsession. XBOX offers those in spades, and Jeff offers a taste of each one.
Jason Schmidt Gets Extreme with Kaws for Architectural Digest
An artists’ studio is a hallowed space: they go there to commune and create, to communicate with the world and express the fruits of that communication, and those thoughts. They build and destroy in those spaces, but once the work is over they head home. The creation continues, it never stops, inside their minds that float inside their heads that lay on their own pillows, or rest against their couches, or bob through the kitchen while grabbing pasta to pour into the boiling water for dinner. The space is always creative, but one is relatively public – or is at least for the creation of the public act – while the other is private. Kaws is arguably one of the most famous and successful living artists, with new work and collaborations dropping all the time and being shared with the world, but his Brooklyn home is shared only with his wife and two children. Until now. Jason Schmidt was let into the home to photograph for the cover of Architectural Digest. And as photographers go, Jason was the perfect choice. “I thought I wanted to be an architect when I was a kid,” says Jason. “I’m super interested in architecture and design and then, I’m also obviously interested in and committed to artists. So, not surprisingly, I’ve been assigned to shoot artists homes because it’s a melding of my two main interests.”
Jason has photographed more than 600 artists over the course of his career so far: mostly photographing studio spaces, creative spaces. But every now and then he gets into a private home space, like he did with Kaws, and it’s a little bit of a different energy. Kaws’ fame and success has afforded him to amass an incredible private collection that spans decades of work from artists of a dizzying amount of disciplines, mediums, and movements. There’s a lot to see at Kaws’ house and sometimes it’s too much. “Some things I wanted to be overwhelming,” Jason explains. “Often if you have a complicated room that’s filled with stuff, it can resolve itself a little bit. Most rooms have something of a sweet spot in terms of the orientation of the room and maybe that’s sort of when you walk into a room – most well-designed rooms – so the room sort of lays out for you just before your eyes when you enter that space.” These spaces are complicated, and Jason shows us the artistry of those complications. But not all of them are, some are simpler and it’s the lack of balance that appeals to Jason.
“I like a room that’s really minimal and I also like a room that’s really maximal,” Jason explains. “And those two extremes, the way all extremes meet in a way, have a lot in common. It’s the stuff in between that I’m less interested in. Kaws’ house is sort of a combination of maximalist and minimalism.” Photographing the hundreds of creative spaces that Jason has, there’s little he hasn’t seen – and that’s kind of the point. As we all search for balance, as much as that balance is alluring for a lifestyle it’s less fun to watch. We want to see it all – or nothing. And Jason’s ready to photograph it for us.
Paola + Murray Make Sure You Don't Miss Out
We all have FOMO - the Fear Of Missing Out. You log on social media and you see that amazing party, or vacation, or dinner party that just seems divine and you wonder “Why don’t I ever get to do amazing things like that?” Social media seems to be the biggest enabler of FOMO, but it can also be a remedy as Paola + Murray recently tested for New York Times Magazine. They attended a dinner party thrown by a food critic and their job was to make NYTimes Magazine’s followers feel like they were there. “Shooting for the NYT Magazine was a dream come true and to know that we were photographing Tejal Rao’s - a food critic for the NYT- dinner party made it even more exciting,” they say. The photographs got posted to @nymag’s Instagram Stories so that all of their followers could attend - in the comfort of their own home.
Being a great critic comes with being a great craftsman, and Rao knows her way around the kitchen. Being in that space, around that energy, is the perfect environment for Paola + Murray to capture what’s actually happening. “Tejal and her partner Hugh were great hosts and the energy during the prep was electric, you could tell they are a well oiled machine and that they have entertained many times before,” explain Paola + Murray. “Timing is crucial when you photograph someone prepping, cooking, serving, eating and so on. For this one we had to move very fast since we did not want to disrupt the “dance” between the hosts and the guests and we also wanted to convey the natural, authentic, warm feel that was being created in the room.” The results are a “fly on the wall” view of what these experiences are really like. But there’s opportunity for more, and that’s exactly what Paola + Murray were going for.
“We wanted the smell of the delicious apple tart being baked to come through the images as well as the juxtaposition of creamy fondue and crunchy baguette,” they say. “We wanted our viewer to eat this one with their eyes and be at the table with Tejal and her friends.”
Take a look! We hope your experience is as delicious as the real thing and you don’t feel like you missed out for a moment.
Sawdust Makes Everything Possible for Wired UK
As a publication, there’s very little that Wired doesn’t cover. Begun as a technology publication, at an age when tech touches every aspect of our lives, covering tech means covering the modern condition. It’s impossible to describe life without tech, and tech without life. So Wired does it all. The UK imprint of the magazine, Wired UK, recently underwent a redesign and with that comes a refresh for their typography. The last time the magazine redesigned they went to Sawdust to create some new typography, so they did the same this time. Sawdust’s response was an emphatic Yes! and a style that’s able to engage will the myriad of topics the magazine engages with.
“We set ourselves the task of creating a typeface that worked efficiently in both flat color and three-dimensional form, however the 3D version needed to work directly over imagery, and without the need for a device within which to hold it. This created a whole new set of challenges,” Sawdust told It’s Nice That.
Since Wired’s focus is so broad and changes every day, Sawdust had to anticipate issues that we can’t even imagine. Technology shift so fast that anything is possible, so Sawdust had to imagine infinite uses for their work and make any of those executions possible.
“We needed a typeface that would work in black and white both flat and three-dimensional. For the flat version, it goes without saying that the color could be adjusted easily (it didn’t need to be set in just black or white) but changing the color for the 3D version, logistically become exponentially more complex and so we agreed a black and a white version was best. Therefore, when working in 3D it became important to keep tonal variants of white and black to facilitate its use across photography.”
Discovering New Dimensions with Joe Pugliese, The Duffer Brothers, and Wired
It’s only been three days since Stranger Things 2 dropped on Netflix and thousands of viewers have already blasted through the whole season of television. And it’s surprising it’s taken even that long. When Stranger Things first debuted on Netflix last summer it was the breakaway hit, and with the second season only a few days old, expectations and anticipation for the third season are already becoming rabid. It’s all thanks to the Duffer Brothers, Matt and Ross, identical twins and creative collaborators. All eyes are on the brothers as they bring us in their world, and Wired Magazine invited Joe Pugliese to photograph them for their latest issue.
The aesthetic of Stranger Things is unique and easily identifiable, but Joe wanted to avoid those tropes. “I didn’t want to freeze them in the show that they’re currently working on because I always feel like portraiture lives on long after the people we photograph are tied to a specific project,” Joe explains. “I wanted to allude to the work that they do which at the core is an exploration of dimension - different dimensions and things living on in other ways and in other places.” To reflect the idea of multiple dimensions, Joe had the brothers play with mirrors and then used those reflections as a kind of visual game with the camera.
Being identical twin brothers, there’s a lot of space to make visual jokes about reflections or similar looks, but Joe wanted to avoid all that. Instead, he found that all stereotypes about identical twins are completely absent from the way the brothers present themselves. As a photographer, it was his responsibility to present that in his work. “They don’t feel like identical twins in person. I actually wouldn’t guess that if I had met them, I would say maybe brothers or fraternal twins,” says Joe. “They don’t come off as really even the same kind of vibe.”
Those differences are crucial when collaborating. The two have known each other since conception and choose to work together every day, and their separateness ensures they better each other. But Joe is quick to point out that they’re perfect equals, and he wanted that to show in the imagery. “I didn’t want them to ever feel like interchangeable in the photo, but I also didn’t want there to be a lead and a non-lead in the image, so I took care to switch them around at will,” says Joe. “They don’t present themselves as interchangeable but they also don’t present themselves as one dominant, or one stronger personality than the other so I wanted to respect the fact that they are definitely on equal footing.” Luckily, Joe and the brothers were able to explore and try new things because Wired offers the creative freedom to get the right images.
“They are one of the few that gives me that much freedom to just guide it,” says Joe about Wired. The magazine, and photo editor Ruby Goldberg, support Joe in every way making it possible to create amazing photographs.
Steven Laxton Tours New York With the People
There are a few truisms about New York: the speed, the lights, the diversity. But beyond that, New York changes every few blocks. Each neighborhood has a unique identity which is amazing if you’re looking for new experiences or can be overwhelming if you’re new to the city. “All the neighborhoods in New York a really unique, I used to feel like I was traveling the world from neighborhood to neighborhood,” says photographer Steven Laxton. “There’s a personality that everyone knows, and some of those people are really inspiring community leaders, and some of them are just on the street and if they weren’t there you wouldn’t feel at home if you lived in that neighborhood because you get used to seeing their face around.” Steven was inspired by this collection of celebrities who are sometimes heroes, sometimes the hearts of their communities, and sometimes unsavory figures that just happen to be who is best known. So he’s been photographic these Neighborhood Celebrities in a series, almost as a collection of figures to understand the unique collection of places that make up New York City.
It began by researching these folks online as much as he could, but pretty quickly he and his team found that the more they were able to find these people through word of mouth, the faster everything came together. After all, these celebrities exist as pillars of their communities, so it would be their communities who would best reveal their own leaders. “It’s actually been a lot of fun, meeting these people, they’re all fascinating people,” says Steven.
Steven is originally from Australia, but he’s made his home in a few NYC neighborhoods over the last few years, and part of the fun of this project has been finding the celebrities of his own communities. One of them was Eshete Woldeyilma, the Cat King of Columbia, originally from Ethiopia whose face is very familiar to Steven. “There’s a homeless gentleman who lives on the Columbia waterfront and he used to go around the corner from my house every day. I used to see him all the time,” says Steven. “He’s a lovely guy, a refugee actually, and I think he’s had a bit of trauma. He fled the war and lost all his family there, but he sees it as his job to take care of the stray cats there and he thinks if he’s not there they won’t be looked after.” Woldeyilma is a reminder that every resident of New York lives a unique life and even if we don’t notice those around us, others are. We are all small pieces fitting together into each other’s lives, creating a diverse and complex puzzle. Steven’s images a glimpse of the boldest colors, but set the foundation of the palette for everyone.
Ornamental Conifer Brings New Life to Rare and Collectable Cars
Nico Sclater, a.k.a. Ornamental Conifer, recently got the opportunity to travel to Texas where he was given total freedom to paint vehicles from an incredible private collection of cars.
His client opened the doors to the garage and standing in front of Nico was a Pinzgauer truck, one of the rarer picks for serious collectors. As he’s wont to do, Nico covered the truck with copy in his signature style that offers a laugh, and a thumb at traditionalists. “The Pinzgauer truck was inspired by my love for the Swiss style movement within typography, also known as the International style,” explains Nico Sclater. “The fact the truck was an ex-Swiss Army vehicle as well as the construction naturally having a grid formation on its panels, lead me to design a layout that felt utilitarian but at the same time reflected the humorous approach of the owner. These trucks are highly sought after and the purists don't feel that any form of customization is acceptable, but my client tends to break rules with his cars and enjoys poking fun at the masses of car nerds, so I came up with a few Coniferisms / idioms that highlight this.”
The Pinzgauer was cool, but the Porsche 911 was personal. Nico’s client bought as an anniversary gift for his wife (who is also a big fan of Nico’s), but the car also hold emotional real estate for Nico who has loved it since he was a kid.
“The Porsche was a very special project for me, not only because it’s been my dream car since I was a child, but also because this specific vehicle had been restored and customized using only period correct parts to resemble a golden era in Porsche motorsport,” explains Nico. “Being confronted with such a beautiful (and, not to mention, extremely expensive) canvas, I took my time to digest the concepts running around in my mind. Once the blank canvas fear had been tucked away in the back of my mind I decided to use the car as a platform to convey a message of love from husband to wife.”
Vehicles like these are rare to interact with, and even rarer to paint – so this was truly a once in a lifetime event and one that Nico grabbed by the wheel.
Brian Doben Changes His Perspective
Initially, Brian Doben wasn’t really interested in getting off the ground and photographing with drones – even though it’s the popular thing to do. He was totally happy with his feet planted firmly and his camera in hand. But over the course of a couple years, the idea took shape in his head and lit up a passion that became his ongoing “From Above” series.
It all started two years ago when Brian photographed former Representative Gabby Giffords, and met her husband, retired astronaut and Navy captain, Mark Kelly. While in conversation with Kelly he mentioned that his twin brother, Commander Scott Kelly, was about to spend a year in space with NASA and share his experience on social media. Brian didn’t think much of it until those posts began appearing in his own research and catalyzed a shift that would send Brian’s eye up into the sky. “He was posting these incredibly magnificent images from space. I’ve always been interested in space but it’s such an overwhelming thought I’ve just let it go,” explains Brian. “But, I just started listening to his words and his images and his videos and I found they were spectacular because of the appreciation for seeing the world from a different perspective. I never really thought of it that way.” It wasn’t until a few months later that Brian got the itch to go up. “The summer came, and it all started to come together,” says Brian. “I was just looking around and I thought ‘I wonder what this looks like from a different perspective.’”
So he went out and got himself a drone.
Not too big, just something he could play with and after four hours of studying up on the technology, he took it out for a spin. He was immediately entranced. “Just being able to walk in the sky, being able to be at a different perspective within a scene, and the exploration of space and composition was amazing. This is what was paramount in the beginning of my career, it was about creating purposeful imagery.”
That small drone didn’t last very long – less than a day. Instead he traded it in for a much bigger piece of equipment and then the real work began. He got to work studying, applied for, and then got his license with the FAA. But it’s about more that bobbing and weaving through tree branches or getting overhead shots of abandoned school buses. It’s about how we see the world. “It’s seeing from another perspective, it’s seeing the environment, the situation, the conversation from the other side. It’s seeing nature from a different perspective, it’s seeing space from a different perspective,” says Brian. “We’re so landlocked, we see everything from the ground, but there’s such a beauty from seeing things From Above.” From where we sit and stand, our points of view are limited. At a time where broadening our world view is more and more valuable, as the world gets smaller and boundaries feel closer, as we get closer to strangers and must share more than ever before – it’s invaluable to see things from a different perspective.
We've provided a selection of work from Brian Doben's "From Above" here, but you can find more in his portfolio. And don't miss the short film at the end!
Marc Hom Gets Friendly with Bryan Cranston for Esquire
Bryan Cranston’s career began in earnest in the 1980s, but America didn’t truly meet Cranston until ‘Malcolm in the Middle,’ where he played the goofy dad on a 2000s sitcom who was more a victim of his chaotic household than anything else - and he certainly wasn’t the star. It wasn’t until Breaking Bad landed on AMC in 2008 that he truly broke out, leading the most popular dramatic series in a decade and forcing everyone to take notice. Since Breaking Bad he’s become one of the most sought after actors in the industry, but many have forgotten he got his start in comedy. When he met up with Marc Hom to photograph the November cover story for Esquire, Marc was quick to learn that part of Cranston’s history. “I knew about him, I knew about his career, but I didn’t know he had this very comic element to him. There’s an undercurrent of something quite funny yet quite austere, and that was so great to discover,” says Marc. “It was a really fun fun day where everything I asked for got delivered. I think that’s the beauty of doing what I’m doing, I’m always working with such talent - if you can transcend your direction and use them as a tool or that kind of thing, it’s just such a great time when that happens.”
The two got to play all day at a gorgeous house in gorgeous clothes creating imagery that was as fun as the energy on set. Cranston’s improvisational chops meant that he and Marc were able to explore all day, and when unique opportunities arose they took full advantage. One such opportunity arose when three furry friends appeared on set, uninvited but totally welcome. “We’re standing there with the Bentley in the garage and we heard this noise, and I say “What is this noise?” and then I looked over at the fence and there were three rabbits there,” Marc tells it. “And we both look at each other and decided we must do something with those rabbits.” They grabbed one of the rabbits and paraded it around the house, capturing the almost dream-like energy that appears on the Esquire subscriber’s cover. The other cover features Cranston sliding in to (or out of) that Bentley.
The ability of a subject to just grab a rabbit and continue the shoot is invaluable for a photographer like Marc who is always trying to capture moments we’ve never seen before. “It was a very organic shoot in a certain way,” says Marc. “It was fun because he had fun.”
ilovedust's Years of Collaboration with Nike in One Place
At this point, calling ilovedust’s relationship with Nike a “collaboration” is an understatement. Ilovedust has been working with Nike for years, helping to create brand identities, campaigns, and everything in between for product launches, partnership announcements, all the way down to creating fonts. It’s a stunning amount of work - enough to fill a book. Literally. So that’s what ilovedust did: they put it in a book.
They’re calling it the “ilovedust x nike portfolio,” but if we may say, it’s a lot more than that. It’s a chronicle of how two creative powerhouses can work together to create visual magic project after project, season after season, year after year. As the back of the book says “No Rules Here. We’re Trying To Accomplish Something.” This is as much a motto for ilovedust’s work flow as it is an echo of Nike’s ethos “Just Do It.” Each project, each piece, is a new invention, a bespoke creative and visual langue for each story. Whether it’s reflecting the many layers of history and design that go into a Jordan sneaker, or the gravity of Kobe Bryant’s influence on basketball, ilovedust has had their fingerprints on everything and the results are stunning.
Between illustration, CGI, and typography, there’s plenty more to see inside the book than what we’re showing you here. If you want to see more, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to show you!
A World Tour in a Glass with Jing Zhang
Did you know that you can tour Europe in a single martini glass? Take some dry gin from London, toss in a bit of vermouth from France, and drop in an Italian olive or two and you have the perfect martini filled with the gifts of three different European countries. But it doesn’t stop there: Sangria made of European wines with fruit from the Americas and Australia gets you to two hemispheres. That Sazerac that drips of New Orleans’ spirit has a twist of Florida orange peel hanging off its side. Every cocktail is a voyage, and no one knows that better than Jing Zhang who has taken these little trips and turned them into illustrated compositions that bring it all to life.
Jing's "Classic Cocktail Recipes" is a series of six different illustrations that illuminate the ingredients and provenance of each element of beloved drinks: the Moscow Mule, the Bellini, the Martini, the Singapore Sling, the Sazerac, and Sangria. It's easy to remember each of these mixtures from a dinner in a friend's backyard or a late night at a steamy bar, but they are messages from other places and times. A cocktail recipe, like any other recipe, is a function of the community that bore it: it's cobbled together from every tasty thing within arm reach – and just as often things that aren't tasty. They're blended together into the perfect balance to make a beverage that tastes as good as it makes you feel.
Jing uses her signature architectural style to create impossible realities in which an olive orchard is perched on top of a martini glass, or 16th century Russian architecture fits inside a copper mug. But by combining each of these impossibilities, Jing opens our eyes and our minds to see what's swirling around in our glasses for the first time. So, cheers! And don't forget: there's more where that came from.
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.