San Francisco Tells Jason Madara and George McCalman "I AM BAYVIEW"
San Francisco has experienced an incredible transition over the last decade. As soon as it was identified as ground zero for tech development, the socioeconomics of the city changed drastically. In that time the social makeup, property value, and identity of the city shifted and the reaction has been rightfully mixed, to put it lightly. As the city grapples with its different identity, it has shifted and expanded in ways that the larger community isn’t happy with, and that is understandable. No one wants their home to change. As a way to celebrate the diversity of San Francisco neighborhoods, the city teamed up with Jason Madara, George McCalman and Bayview Underground on a series of posters that feature more than two dozen Bayview residents for a projected dubbed I AM BAYVIEW. “It was a joy for Jason and me to take part in this community initiative, from conception to execution to installation,” said George McCalman. “We wanted to celebrate the Bayview community — the people who have a desire to be seen and who have a say in how their homes and community are being portrayed.”
“The idea was born from several conversations about gentrification in San Francisco,” McCalman posted on his Instagram, @mccalmanco. “It’s an ongoing (and frustrating) subject amongst those of us who live here. In the course of talking, we came up with the idea of photographing the people representative of the values of a neighborhood that is suddenly desirable. One of the issues, oftentimes, is the people who live there are ignored in favor of expansion and ‘growth.’ We felt differently. We wanted to celebrate the current community; the people who have a desire to be seen, and have a say in how their homes and community are being portrayed. It was our mission to say, visually, that if you’re going to move to a neighborhood, you should get to know the people who live there.” McCalman and Madara leaned hard into representative diversity. They approached subjects from all walks of life, backgrounds, and racial representation, each of whom hold a special place in their communities. Social leaders, business owners, commentators, all vocal residents of the city who are fully engaged. Gentrification is often a destructive force, but confronting the issue head on with the community’s leaders is the only way to counter some of its subtler effects.
Madara and McCalman have worked together extensively in the past, including their ‘Individuals’ series from 2015 that photographed artists and entrepreneurs from all over San Francisco to create intimate portraits. I AM BAYVIEW is an extension of that very same story, delving deeper into the figures that are beloved in this neighborhood. “My intent for this project was to make a beautiful portrait series of a diverse community and show the range of people that in this vibrant area of the city,” Madara says. So that’s what they did.
Since being released to the public, the project has catalyzed a fiery conversation about the impact of gentrification in San Francisco and the responsibility of representation. Some of the dialogue has been constructive and that’s what Madara and McCalman are pouring their energy into, passionate to continue the conversation and engage the community even deeper. The conversation itself is important. The conversation was the intended result. Everything that’s happened since the release of the project was what was supposed to happen, in a way.
“What constitutes a neighborhood in San Francisco? Especially a historically black one? Who decides who is Bayview?,” McCalman mused on his Instagram, questions that were present while they conceived the project, and questions that are still present today. These questions may not have answers, but as the community engages with each other and does the work of finding those answers, they’ll get closer to understanding and finding a common truth that includes all residents of Bayview, and represents the neighborhood they love.
Joey L Gets Intimate with Harmless Harvest in Thailand
For most of us, picking up a snack at the corner store is little more than just that. We don’t put too much thought into how we’re choosing products from the shelves, but the information is out there to make better and informed decisions. Coconut water brand Harmless Harvest is one of the responsible choices, preferring to work directly with coconut farmers in free trade agreements who use analog techniques to create a drink that is free of additives and harmful processes. It means the bottles are more expensive, that’s true, but the brand knows you’ll pay for the superior product. Harmless Harvest isn’t engaged in a race to the bottom of your budget but to the top of your ethics and they invited Joey L to help them spread the message. Joey headed to Thailand’s Ratchaburi province to meet the farmers and get their stories.
“The people we chose to celebrate in the images are hardworking and proud stewards of nature,” Joey says on his blog. “Within the vast irrigation canals of the coconut fields is an ecosystem of mixed agriculture: rare herbs on top to prevent soil erosion, medicinal grasses grown on the sides, and schools of fish within the water itself. Instead of using pesticides, a variety of beneficial insects are released into the fields to battle pests.”
A great many of the farmers in the area have updated their crops to better flow with more industrial techniques, but the farmers Joey photographed in Thailand, and that work with Harmless Harvest, continue the time-tested techniques of the past. These techniques are just as effective today as they’ve ever been and that’s why Joey shot the images in black and white.
“The goal of the black and white treatment was not to appear ‘vintage,’ but rather to emanate a classic, timeless look which reflects the natural ingredients in the product, and the honest and traditional agricultural techniques used by farmers,” Joey says.
Joey was able to engender intimacy with his subjects as they invited him into their lives, their business, and their livelihoods. You can see it in the smiles on their faces, the pride in their work.
“As someone who spends his time shooting 50% commissioned advertising projects and the other 50% traveling and shooting personal work, I always enjoy when a project bridges the gap and involves the merits of both disciplines of photography,” Joey says. “I fell in love with the place, the people, and I shot enough to make an entire series.”
Carles Carabi Photographs Messi the GOAT
Who is the GOAT?
We’re not talking farm animals or the inhabitants of craggy mountains, but instead the “Greatest of All Time,” typically given to an athlete who proves themselves to be the top of their sport. Often used to describe Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, and Serena Williams, Paper Magazine recently dubbed Lionel Messi as the GOAT in football (known as “soccer” to Americans). They did so on the cover of their latest issue with photography by Carles Carabi who went literal with the shoot: he photographed the football player with more than a couple hairy friends.
The goats (not including Messi) that Carles photographed number by the dozen and were all active on set. Carles worked with veterinarians and animal handlers through La Granja Natura, a farm in Barcelona, to ensure that all the goat buddies would remain healthy and suffer no harm. The fact that Carles was able to wrangle that many goats at once is no minor accomplishment: the photographs show a measure of solemnity and grace – with a hint of pleasure as Messi himself was able to have some fun with the animals. The rule in entertainment is: never work with children or animals, because they'll always steal the show. But with Carles' expert composition, he draws the eye exactly where it should be at all times.
Thanks to Carles, whether Messi is dressed for the game or not he fits right into the herd of GOATS which is exactly where he belongs.
Michael Muller Knocks 'Em Dead with 'Deadpool 2'
You’ve already seen the images that Michael Muller shot of Ryan Reynolds dressed up as the fan favorite Marvel superhero Deadpool. With the release of Deadpool 2, the sequel to the massively successful initial offering, the posters are not only in every city on practically every surface, but the marketing extended far beyond traditional advertising. Michael photographed the cast of the film for what has turned into one of the broadest media blitzes in recent memory. Everything from classic blockbuster movie posters, to parody work that plays off classic imagery, all the way to co-branded material with Trolli, all of it has Michael’s touch on it. You cannot escape America’s favorite antihero superhero and with images like this, why would you want to?
The original Deadpool film ended up as the highest grossing rated-R movie in history, with materials shot by Michael as well, so it was a no-brainer that the studio would come back for round two and invite Michael to be a part of it again. One week in and the sequel is on track to take over the popularity and the numbers as the original.
For the Deadpool 2 shoot, Michael met up with the actors Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, and Zazie Beetz in what started as a traditional image capture session but turned into a creative and collaborative session, playing off of Reynolds’ creative riffs. Michael guesses they shot “45-50 completely different shots/concepts in a day.” Reynolds and the Deadpool team were able to take those shots and turn them into a series of inventive images that lampoon other concepts like World War Z, moments from Flashdance, and even the Sistine Chapel. As Deadpool 2 continues to dominate the box office, let us not forget its the franchise's signature humor that keeps fans coming back and Michael created the perfect facsimile of that humor to extend into the promotional work.
Chris Buzelli Gets Real with Fake News
Information warfare has never been as acute as it is today, with every faction creating narratives to best support their goals, spreading stories that are less about fact and more about affect. The efforts are commonly known as “Fake News,” forcing every consumer in this age of information to determine for themselves what is real and what is not. Not only is it a challenging time, it’s an interesting time while we all recalibrate how we take in this information. Simmons College Magazine and Seven Elm asked Chris Buzelli to help them illustrate this topic into a single image and Chris reached back to some of our earliest and most omnipresent moments od fake news to bring it to life.
Chris’ painting for the magazine called “The Fake News Age” features Bigfoot on a Central Park bench reading The World News that features an of Bigfoot, with the headline “Bigfoot Seen in Central Park.” Also in the paper: the Loch Ness Monster, UFOs, and others. Bigfoot sits, half way through reading the paper, with a mouth agape at what he’s reading. And who would blame him? When it doesn’t matter what’s real and what’s not, the stories we read can go beyond the believable into the ridiculous. Never mind the common wisdom that the existence of Bigfoot is not worth entertaining because it’s far too insane, never mind the implication that the park behind him may be a painted set piece, never mind that the rest of the newspaper is filled with ever mounting unbelievable stories: Bigfoot himself finds contemporary news cycles to be unbelievable. It’s not even a comment on the veracity of these stories, but that it’s an uphill battle to distinguish between the real and fake when the goal is no longer truth.
Shelly Vella's 'The Stylish Stuff' Takes on Summer
Do you ever wish you could get a personal session with one of our stylists, to help find the best picks of the season? Seems like a dream come true, doesn’t it? With Shelly Vella’s ‘The Stylish Stuff’ you get the next best thing. Unlike most personal blogs, ‘The Stylish Stuff’ is more than Shelly dressing herself. Instead she uses her expertise and platform to show her readers everything that’s on the market to help them find the best looks for themselves. With summer right around the corner, she teamed up with photographer John Rowley and model Monique Dunn to show off the best of the season.
Shelly doesn’t just give us all the best and show you how to wear them, she also explains in detail on her blog how to make all of the pieces fit together either into your fantastic vacation or your fantastic life – it’s all about context, after all. With images that flatter and styling that just makes sense, Shelly has truly shown us that we can expect at least a little sunshine on any rainy day.
Vault49 Strikes Rich for The Sunday Times
Monetary riches are pretty easy to count – especially if it all fits neatly on a tax return. But not all measures of wealth can be defined by ounces of gold or stacks of cash, instead many have goals that are of a different nature. You may not own an inflated bank account but you can still count yourself among the rich. Every year, The Sunday Times publishes their list of “The Alternative Rich,” a list that aims to challenge the way we value life, one story at a time. The Times and Skoda teamed up to make the list and invited Vault49 to create the visuals that went along with it. It’s about more than just putting together a few heartwarming tales, but instead offers a new lens from which to consider success and achievement.
This year they broke the list up in to groups: “Creative & Fearless,” that includes artists and entrepreneurs; “Free-spirited & Adventurous,” that features and astronaut and an Antarctic expedition leader; “Fulfilled & Content,” that features humanitarians and volunteers; “Altruistic & Compassionate,” with doctors and an MP; and “Enduring & Preserving,” that includes a refugee, a teacher, and General Sir Nick Carter. Once all the names had been compiled and their stories written down it was up to Value49 to illustrate he potential power of the list. They played off the familiar image of a pile of golden coins, even going so far as to place them in a translucent coin purse, but instead of dollars these coins represent emotions. Vault49 used popular positive Emojis, circular in nature, as the basis for their glistening coins, proving that enriching your life through uplifting experiences and service is its own kind of wealth.
Miranda Kerr and The Selby Get Creative with Vogue
Miranda Kerr suddenly has a whole lot more to do – and that’s saying a lot. She just gave birth to her second child, a son named Hart, and that's on top of being a business owner, an international model, and a familiar face on TV. She hasn’t slowed down a step. Right before giving birth to her newborn son, she teamed up with Todd Selby on a fashion film for Vogue that explores Kerr’s pregnant life in ways that might even seem silly. “We had a lot of fun with it and made it her made it a bit of a character,” says Todd. “She is secretly eating hamburgers out of a drawer and has a miniature wooly mammoth that she had genetically engineered to be her pet. And she has insane sailboat races in her pool. So, it’s kind of like trying to make it fun and do something fun with it.”
The film was created alongside still assets, and Todd even turned some of the moments into moving GIFs. Much of Kerr’s life is spent in front of the camera, so she was an engaged collaborator. But she’s also an image maker. So Todd, Vogue, Kerr, and the whole team planned out as much as they could to make sure everything looked perfect. And once all the pieces were in place: they cut loose. “Normally I’m more of like a real-life kind of guy, but this one was a more constructed thing,” Todd says. “But then also see some of it is also impromptu because she’s really fun. She started dropping rhymes on the mic with her Plexiglas piano and doing all the dance moves with her yoga and so, it’s some freestyle.” Since they all knew they’d get exactly what they needed out of the day, they were able to have a lot of fun with the game of it.
Throughout the shoot, you’ll find a backyard grill covered in fruit and the moments that Todd teased like hidden hamburgers and yoga-inspired dance moves - many featuring cameos by Todd's watercolor illustrations. It’s all cheeky and chill. But don’t let it fool you: even as she approached her due date, Kerr is as busy as ever. “She’s running her own company, busting a move, having conference calls, she’s got her own products and she’s still appearing in all these magazines and doing all these editorials,” Todd explains. “We had fun with it, made it the opposite of really what’s kind of going on… It’s really cool that she was down for all this stuff. I’ve got to give her credit, she was down for all my whacky ideas.” On the eve of motherhood, Kerr took the time to create with Todd and Vogue, always making the world just a little more beautiful. Please help us in congratulating Miranda and her family for their new addition.
Rod Hunt Goes Viral
This is a sensitive topic so we’ll try to be ginger about it.
Have you ever caught something? Maybe from someone you met on a night out and left that interaction with more than just a new friend? Have you ever had to go to the doctor after an evening someone new? You’re not alone. It happens every day, and we all come in contact with more than we know. The French AIDS non-profit AIDES and TBWA\Paris launched a viral activation last month about sharing the love but protecting yourself. They commissioned a massive, and risqué, illustration by Rod Hunt that was then shared in pieces on Twitter. As the images were shared, larger pieces of the illustration were released through an account named “Henry Ian Vernon,” but it wasn’t until the whole illustration was made public that it was obvious Vernon’s alias was for the initialism HIV. The activation proved that sometimes we share things without total knowledge and it can be personally damaging.
It’s a powerful message with a fun piece of work by Rod. And Rod had a lot of fun drawing it. “The brief was showing sex without showing sex,” he explains. “It was everything had to be hidden so no junk, no boobs, no nipples, it had to be sent out and shared on Twitter.” Rod’s illustration is a massive playground of sex with hundreds of couple (and more) engaged in #NSFW behavior. But Rod made sure every element was inexplicit while remaining illustrative.
A lot is going on in the illustration, not just in terms of sexual activity, but also all the environments Rod created for his denizens. Everything from a nightclub to a theme park to a rocket launch to a private island. They’re all covered by bodies having a good time. And staying as safe as possible. Except for maybe the couple on the ride-on mower: that may not be totally safe. “The main center of it was this nightclub in the center of it was a real starting point and focal point of the whole thing,” Rod explains. “But then there’s also the little things in there like little jokes like the couple doing it on a ride-on mower mowing the grass, or while jet skiing. There’s a little hip-hop video shoot on the island. A lot of little jokes to look out for.”
The illustration itself gets pretty racy the closer you look, but seems pretty tame from far out. And that’s part of the message too: if we want to stay safe we have to look closer and take the details a little more seriously. Once that’s all wrapped up: have fun with it.
SpikedSeltzer Makes Its Debut with David Doran
This season's outdoor parties are just around the corner and what better way to get them going than with some SpikedSeltzer? The brand of naturally flavored alcoholic beverages was ready to spread their message throughout the world for the first time and David Doran was on hand to help them do it. The campaign, created with Bullish Inc., imagines the brand's original logo in each of the locations that inspired each of the flavors. “The main aim of the brief was to bring the logo to life and add character and add personality to each of the sirens,” explains David. “And I think having them each have an individual element and aspect to their personality came about quite naturally.” David started with the flavors, but let the new characters be inspired by the people who drink the drinks.
“There are these 1920s old cocktail posters which we had as reference and we did a lot of research and referring back to what has come before, and what inspired the drinks and the aesthetic that we were trying to aim for,” David explains. Whether it’s a sandy Cape Cod beach in the shadow of a lighthouse for cranberry, or a feathered headdress topped siren for West Indies lime, the locations and characters draw a direct line between flavor and personality.
Since this was the first campaign from SpikedSeltzer David found a lot of support from everyone involved, and it made for a great creative experience. “Everyone was really invested and we had a lot of time to go back and forth over sketches and really find what angle works best,” David explains. The exploration and experimentation was holistic: consider the varying shapes of the sirens tails, how each of their hair flows, the costume choices, the color palates. Each element was carefully balanced to create the perfect representation to introduce SpikedSeltzer to the world in the best way possible.
Robert De Niro Gives Two Thumbs Up to Michael Muller's Cannes Bound "Into The Now"
You haven’t had a real swimming with sharks VR experience. Not yet at least. Maybe someone created a gorgeous digital approximation or you’ve seen some cool 360 videos from underwater, but there hasn’t been anything on the market that makes it feel like you’re actually there with the sharks. Until now. Michael Muller just debuted his underwater VR experience ‘Into the Now’ at the TriBeCa Film Festival that builds off his expertise of photographing sharks underwater. The experience is on its way to the Cannes Film Festival now, but before they left New York, Robert De Niro took it for a spin and gave a very worthy two thumbs up.
'Into the Now' is traveling all over the world because it offers much more than a traditional VR experience. “The same way Jacques Cousteau inspired me and planted that seed to go out and explore and swim in the oceans, I hope that a little young girl or boy watches ‘Into the Now’ and it plants a seed,” says Michael. “I want to really educate and inspire this next generation to fall in love with our oceans, to learn that we still have such amazing oceans and there are so many amazing things still there.”
The journey to ‘Into the Now’ is decades long and the results are hauntingly inevitable. The first photograph Michael ever took was of a shark. Well, kind of. It was a photograph of a photograph of a shark he found in an issue of National Geographic. He snapped the photo on his first camera, got the film developed, and told everyone he took it, and then he spent the rest of his career turning it into a reality. He began photographing animals underwater after establishing himself as a celebrity shooter, including the posters for the very first Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. After photographing high profile subjects with impeccable lighting and controlled sets for so long, Michael found himself unimpressed by underwater photography equipment. “I wanted to light a Great White like I do Iron Man,” he says. So instead of operating with the status quo, he created a whole new lighting system for underwater photography, working with an engineer from JPL and ending up with four patents.
This set him up perfectly for the VR project years later because he ended up having to create a new image capture system almost entirely from scratch.
Before even experiencing VR for himself, he knew it was the movement of the future and wanted to get in on the ground floor. So before he got on a plane to shoot a campaign in Antigua where he'd be off the grid for a few weeks, he sent out a flurry of emails looking for partners on what would eventually become ‘Into the Now.’ Three weeks later he got back home to an email inbox showing interest from everyone he reached out to. At the same time, some very high-level neurologists showed interest. “Two days later I got a call from Andy Huberman at Stanford University and he said, ‘We’re really interested in your shark work.’” Huberman was studying PTSD responses and was thrilled by Michael’s story of starting deathly afraid of sharks to swimming with Great Whites outside the cage. He saw an opportunity to use Michael’s work as a blueprint to help those affected by the disorder.
One by one the pieces came together for the project to turn into something massive.
Michael quickly secured the funding he needed to create the picture. He developed the technology he needed to capture the picture. And he worked with Huberman to get the data that they needed to extend the picture beyond a one time experience. The results are a fully immersive experience that confronts the viewer with the reality of being with the intimidating creatures, allowing the audience to live through those moments as truly as possible without getting wet. It’s available to anyone who can get to it, and Michael and his team have even created an educational portal so kids can study the ocean biology under the waves, plus it’s being used with military veterans and at Children’s Hospitals to let them explore the ocean. But in the end, it was the experience that was most important to Michael and you’ve got to experience it if you want to understand the full story. “I don’t really want to go into that too much because it will give away the film, and I want the film to be a bit of a surprise for people,” he said on the eve of ‘Into the Now’s premiere.
‘Into the Now’ is set to show at the Cannes Film Festival that opens on May 8.
Amanda Marsalis Gets Real with Rédélé
Amanda Marsalis is busy. Between directing episodes of Queen Sugar and Ozark she was able to squeeze in a shoot for Rédélé, the Italian eyewear brand, that ended up being surprisingly Californian (more on that later). “The designers are my dear friends from Venice that I met through mutual friends years and years ago,” Amanda explains. Those very designers ended up publishing two books of Amanda’s, Reproduction and A Catalogue of Constant Motion, before they even started working together this way. But it was through that relationship that they decided Amanda was the perfect choice for this project.
Over the last few years, working extensively in Film and Television, Amanda has taken her craft to the next level, allowing the time in the director’s chair to inform her still photography work. For this project with Rédélé she knew she wanted to work with models who could offer her a lot more than mere photogenics. Now she swears by live casting where she gets to meet her subjects before taking them on. “You want to know somebody’s vibe because the more that I direct the more that I think of my talent as actors,” Amanda explains. “I have to know that they can be in the space that I need them to be in.” It's not about posing right, or knowing the angles - it's about creating a holistic image and experience.
Behind the camera, Amanda has found the amount of detail that goes into directing to be liberating for her still shoots. The preparation is exhaustive but builds the foundation for beautiful surprises. “You can create situations in photography where you’re so prepared that you leave room for spontaneity,” Amanda says. “The designers gave me really clear mood boards ahead of time for what they were going for so it’s almost like I was given a good script to work with. That’s really helpful.” As the project came together, Amanda decided the best way to make it work would be to make it personal, so it’s shot almost entirely in and around her own home.
As a native Californian, few understand the California lifestyle like Amanda. That affords her a unique perspective to tell the story of California in an honest way. For Rédélé that point of view was exactly what they wanted to show off to their customers. “What we’re doing is really selling California to Italians,” Amanda says with a laugh. “So it’s like a heightened version of what we all think of as stereotypically California, but instead of doing beachy it was about doing it a little more real.” That’s why she brought it to her house, and that’s why she created it with her friends. Because it’s all about being real.
Tom Corbett Warms Up the Icy Queens of Broadway's 'Frozen'
Disney’s ‘Frozen’ is obviously one of the most successful children’s movies of the last few decades, with kids (and parents) all over the world singing their favorite songs from the animated musical. Unsatisfied by merely dominating the animated genre, Disney turned the film into a stage musical that just opened up on Broadway. The New York Post’s fashion imprint ‘Alexa’ got the two leads of the show, Caissie Levy and Patti Murin, for a feature article with Tom Corbett on hand to photograph the actresses on location.
For Tom, photographing the story at the theater is a unique thrill. “I had the opportunity to shoot the main cast from Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ and they wanted to shoot in a theater setting which I always love,” says Tom. “I love the dramatic elements you get with the lighting, playing off the negative space and using light from behind. Theaters have so much negative space you can work with so I just love working there. We had a lot of fun playing around, painting with light, and trying to get some drama.” Tom took full advantage of the space, bringing the actresses from the stage to the house (and backstage, too) filling the negative space with beams of colored light and plumes of smoke. When the house lights are on, a theater can read as a big empty room filled with seats, but when it’s handled by someone like Tom it turns into an epic space for powerful moments.
Frozen is a new icon in the pantheon of fairytales, but Tom and Alexa didn’t want to lock this shoot down to the single production. The story was about more than just the performances and processes that these two professionals went through. So, they went out of their way to make the story timeless and removed from what will ultimately be a fulfilling but temporary part of each of these women’s careers. “We saw some serious actresses and wanted to treat them as such,” Tom explains. Instead, the shoot reveals two women at the top of their game, dominating this particular challenge, who will eventually take on another and another and another like the queens that they are.
You can catch both Levy and Murin in ‘Frozen: The Broadway Musical’ now.
We Are The Rhoads Show You Malibu Through the Eyes of the Locals for Esquire
Everyone’s flocking to Malibu.
The city, just west of Los Angeles, is known for its incredible beaches and hills, and with the new faces comes a growing community of creatives. Photography duo We Are The Rhoads, a.k.a. Chris and Sarah Rhoads, who live in LA, have experienced the growth personally as it represents a part of their own creative community. “It’s the new destination on the West Coast for artists and non-artists,” Sarah says. “There’s so much happening there, creatively and in the food scene; hoteliers are opening up these really cool little spots along the coast. So, Esquire reached out to capture this movement that’s happening.” The story they shot for Esquire's Big Black Book (out now), all about the people in and around Malibu is a beautiful distillation of the life and culture in the area. Plus, they got to do it with some friends.
It’s not just the land and ocean that dominate the images The Rhoads composed, but also their friends and creative compatriots like Elderstatesman owner and Creative Director, Greg Chait, hatmaker Nick Fouquet and Outerknown Creative Director John Moore. “It’s just always cool to work with people that we are friends with but also that we respect creatively,” Chris says. “That’s always a great collaboration when you are not only capturing and documenting and collaborating with people that you find visually interesting, but you also really respect the work that they are doing. That always offers really cool end results.” They’ve known some of the subjects for years, and over that time all of their work and relationships have developed. The Rhoads found it incredibly satisfying to share that with Esquire’s audience.
The energy in an around Malibu is specific to the place and the people, and even as more and more artists are attracted to the area and bringing their own point of view, the pull of the place has its own personality. That cannot be faked. When The Rhoads and Esquire compiled their list of subjects, they stuck with folk who live there and that made all the difference. “It worked really organically because we were putting them in their natural environment, habitat if you will. It wasn’t like we were flying in New Yorkers and putting them in places they don’t hang out in LA,” explains Sarah. “It was very much a California story with California people. We would try to really dig into where do they like to go, where do they like to hang out so it felt very true, honest, because that’s really what we were after at the end of the day. It was telling a story that felt true.” The Rhoads’ responsibility is to the audience, to show off what Malibu is really like, and no one knows that better than the locals.
The New Face of New York Politics: Cynthia Nixon Photographed by Marco Grob for New York Magazine
All eyes are on Cynthia Nixon. The New York native was a professional actress before even leaving school, shooting to fame in the New York-based series Sex and the City, but it’s the search for her next role that has the whole state talking. Just last month she announced her bid for Governor and already she’s changed the entire conversation. As the state turns their eyes towards Nixon’s run, New York Magazine featured her story for the cover and asked Marco Grob to photograph her.
Marco’s image is simple and singular: it’s an extreme close up of her face, filling the entire page offering itself as a proxy to the woman who is making the current governor, Andrew Cuomo, surprisingly fearful. We’re confronted with her human nature, her stillness, her presence. It’s a face we know from the stage and screen, but the state hasn’t known her to play the role of a politician before and she’s surprisingly effective.
In this short campaign, she’s already forced the governor left on issues like Marijuana Legalization, the embattled MTA, and New York’s unique faction of “Independent” Democrats who vote with the Republican caucus. The look on Nixon’s face in Marco’s image is one of confidence and serenity, a look that has put the fear of the future in Cuomo’s political career as his lead narrows despite a massive war chest and political apparatus.
There’s no telling how this election will end up. When Nixon threw her hat in the ring she was written off as a hapless celebrity, but as her poll numbers rise and her impact is already felt in Albany, NYC, and all over the state, this is turning out to be a much different kind of race than most of us expected. But from Marco’s cover of New York Magazine, it looks like Nixon knew this was coming the whole time.
Take a Ride Through History with Emiliano Ponzi's Newest Book
It’s hard to get lost in NYC: the city is set up on a grid. Just follow the numbers! The subway system, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. A jumble of tubes skate all over the five boroughs, changing direction and trajectory as they go along. It takes a real expert to navigate the subway by memory. But if you’re not an expert, you’re in luck: Massimo Vignelli oversaw an amazing map of the subway system between 1970 and 1972. Emiliano Ponzi was so charmed by the artist and the story that he created a book that examines the process of creating the map. The book is called ‘The Great New York Subway Map’ and it’s filled with illustrations by Emiliano that take cues from Vignelli’s work. “He has a very clear idea of what was good and what wasn’t good, aesthetically speaking. And he wrote this book that I really love called ‘The Vignelli Canon,’ where he stated all his guidelines he gave himself regarding his graphic designer aesthetic,” Emiliano explains. “So what I like about working on this project is I was able to apply the same principals as Massimo told in his book.”
Emiliano’s aesthetic is obviously his own, but when telling the story of Vignelli’s work, he went the extra distance to emulate Vignelli’s style. It wasn’t just the work of aesthetics, but ultimately became about process and seeing differently. “What I tried to do was to design every image at least five or six times so every time I redesigned one illustration I was about to rationally think about if I needed the details, maybe I could take a detail out,” Emiliano says. “So that was like the biggest challenge and also a very hard one… This is a little more minimalist than my usual style.” Vignelli’s subway map took an incredible complex transportation apparatus and turned it into an easy to read map that could fit in your pocket. The only way to do that is distill, distill, distill and Emiliano brought that to each page of his book.
MoMA invited Emiliano to help them host an Art Making get together at the Design Store for kids to get creative. For Emiliano, this partnership with MoMA is something of a dream come true. He used to walk the galleries in wonder and now counts the museum as a collaborator. “Looking at the museum three years ago when I used to work on 53rd street, and now I have another feeling because now I have a deeper connection,” he describes. “I’m very excited, I’m also excited because I also feel responsibility to pass a good message to children.”
His best message to pass onto the children? It’s okay to be confused, especially when creating art. “Being confused is normal because we can find order out of chaos. So being in a chaotic situation is also sometimes useful to come up with a good idea or a good project.”
‘The Great New York Subway Map’ is available for purchase now.
Vault49 Creates Pepsi's Entire Identity for the UEFA Champions League Final
“For the fans, football isn’t a matter of life and death; it’s much more than that,” Vault49 explains, showing why they were the perfect creative partner for Pepsi’s UEFA Champions League Final campaign. More than just ads or cans, Vault49 created everything from the ground up and the process was fully comprehensive.
“Vault49 was proud to be invited to develop the sponsorship identity for Pepsi and leverage it across packaging and key visuals to celebrate moments of football passion,” says Vault49. “We sought to turn the focus from the game to the fans themselves and the multitude of moments that stir our passions throughout a game of football. From the tension and banter of the pre-match build-up, through the rollercoaster of the match itself, to the eruption or heartbreak at the final whistle. Our campaign illustrates how these moments of passion are as relevant to a local kick about in a park among friends as they are to the glorious stadiums around the world.”
Vault49 didn’t just write the copy for the campaign, they also created the hand-painted typography that appeared on cans, bottles, and posters, ideated and executed the photoshoot for the advertising, and completed the story with gift sets that included t-shirts, tote bags, and posters.
All told, it was an amazing opportunity for Vault49 to create such a comprehensive identity for Pepsi, and one that they fully enjoyed. “For Vault49 and our team of football fans, projects don’t come much more exciting than this, and the creative synergy between Vault49 and the Pepsi team made this project a pleasure from start to finish.”
Craig Ward's Nike World Cup Kit for England Started with a Surprise
The World Cup, the biggest quad-annual football event (second in all sports only to the Olympics), is right around the corner with all eyes poised to turn towards Russia to watch the games. It’s the pinnacle of play for many of the athletes involved, but even as a few dozen players will be called to play for each team, many fewer designers have ever put their market on the kits. For this World Cup, Nike invited Craig Ward to create a bespoke typeface for the England uniforms, an honor rarely offered. “It’s a pretty wild thing because I’m only like the third designer in history to touch the England kit. It was me, Neville Brody, and before him, it was Peter Saville,” says Craig. “Traditionally whoever is doing the kit just chooses a regular font for it. So, it was no small beans on a personal level.”
The request came from an unexpected place: a message on LinkedIn that Craig caught just an hour before the pitch meeting. But the request also came very early: Craig’s been working on his final design for years. “I started it literally spring 2016, and it was like 19 rounds of work over the next 18 months,” Craig says. “Sometimes it would go weeks and weeks between feedback coming in so it felt a little long just because of the nature of the process but it was pretty wild to see it go out a couple weeks ago in the Friendlies.” Putting a typeface on the backs of England’s players is no small feat. Not only do the designs have to look good, but they also have to meet the legibility standards of a handful of unions, ensuring that the jerseys provide the information needed by coaches, players, referees, and many more.
But Craig is known for his inventive typography, so there was a balance to be struck. “The brief was what you’d expect – Dynamic, Contemporary, Sporty, and British. They really wanted it to feel very English,” explains Craig. “I started by doing a little research on the classic British fonts like Gill Sans, Johnston, Flaxman which is the New Scotland Yard typeface. They’re all geometric and clean.” Not only that, but Nike also asked that Craig somehow incorporate the St. George’s Cross, the contemporary flag of England and the central red cross in the flag of Great Britain.
Craig used the cross as the base for a lot of two-dimensional designs but then started looking at the problem from another angle. He brought the exploration into a new dimension. “We hit on this idea of using the cross as a sweep around a curve and modeling it in 3D,” Craig explains. That’s where the intruding lines come from: they show the movement and shape of that cross moving its way through space.
England has played two games in The International Friendlies with the new kits so far, and you won’t be surprised to hear that they’re playing well. “Undefeated! One win and one draw so far,” says Craig. And obviously, we know what to credit the success of the team to: Craig’s amazing typeface. “It’s all about those dynamic, geometric typefaces, of course it is,” he says with a laugh. “First thing they see when they get into the changing room is their names, their numeral – and that kerning is sick.”
Revealing the Real Jon Hamm with Marc Hom for Esquire
Before Mad Men, Jon Hamm had been kicking around Hollywood for the better part of a decade but it wasn’t until he landed the lead role in the AMC runaway hit that he became a critical darling. Mad Men ran for seven seasons over eight years, launching Hamm into the spotlight. It was amazing for Hamm’s career, but any time an actor becomes well known off one character it can often turn into a liability. Now that the show is over, it’s time to leave that character behind and that’s exactly what Marc Hom was tasked with for the cover of Esquires Big Black Book with Hamm. “My biggest challenge for the cover was to take him out of the Mad Men 50s era,” Marc explains. “And just trying to make him look a little bit more rugged, a little bit more real. We created the whole setting in this garage in Canada and just brought in the different kind of elements to create almost like an artists’ studio with some elements of steel and making him a little bit more hardcore and not so refined.”
Removing that familiar context meant getting closer to who Hamm is which is exciting for Hamm. His upcoming projects are deep and rich: his current film ‘Beirut’ looks at the Lebanese city in the 80s, he’s taking a turn as the Archangel Gabriel in an upcoming TV series, and his voice acting for animated comedies seems to be endless. He’s doing a lot that has nothing to do with his previous characters, and it couldn’t be better. “He seems to be very excited about getting out of this shadow of his past,” says Marc. “I think he just felt good and was a really an organic shoot. He was just into it. The styling isn’t overly fashion oriented, so it’s more as you would think he would be in real life.” Instead of that tired trope of Hamm as Mad Men’s Don Draper, we’re seeing Hamm as Hamm.
To see more of Marc Hom’s work, check out his portfolio.
Marco Grob's 22 Character Posters for Marvel's Latest
You know it’s coming. It’s been teased and previewed for years. The culmination of dozens of Marvel movies finally hits a crescendo this summer with the release of Marvel’s Infinity War. The massive story that began with Iron Man in 2008 will see a kind of climax with Infinity War, the first part of a two-part story that will be an end for many of the beloved characters we’ve met over the last 10 years. To call the movie Highly Anticipated is an understatement as Marvel fans across the world are looking forward to seeing how their favorite characters get past the world’s biggest threat and Marvel invited Marco Grob to help usher in this next biggest chapter. Like he did with Black Panther earlier this year, Marco teamed up with the comics juggernaut to create character posters for all the major players. 22 posters stretch the entire history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far with Iron Man, T’Challa, Captain America, and everyone in between.
When Marco created character posters for Black Panther, now the 10th highest grossing movie of all time, they were designed to give a taste of who each character was. He brought a stillness to those images, a regality. But for Infinity War, the immediacy of the moment is right there in the title and each poster shows the characters engaged in combat. Each image is full of energy and the stakes are high. There’s always an incredible amount of secrecy around every MCU release but this film’s veil has been unprecedented. And fans have never been more ravenous.
Check out some of the 22 different posters Marco photographed for the latest installment in the MCU, and get excited for the next chapter of this incredible series.