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Featured Contributor: Jesse Untracht-Oakner

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Featured Contributor: Jesse Untracht-Oakner

New York based Photographer Jesse Untracht-Oakner boasts a refreshingly unique, delightfully brazen and positively outlandish portfolio; capturing a warmly vague sentiment we’ve all allowed ourselves to feel. 

While his event photography leaves much to the imagination, placing his viewers amongst people and performers both foreign and familiar, covered in confetti, slabs of meat or masquerade masks - of one thing we can all be sure - we want to be there. Jesse describes his work as a collection made to help along the flâneur  – the stroller, in all of us. There is a certain paradox he explores, melding his personal projects and professional work together. An unexplained alienation that presents itself in overtly extraordinary imagery. A universal curiosity that empowers each of his pieces.

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In much of his work, there is a strong enough coalescence of anonymity and familiarity that it presents an innate desire to understand the subject; a fearless captivation of something more than meets the eye. An extended metaphor linking his works together, a self-aware tone that causes no strain as you draw your own connections, your own contemplations. Upon viewing his online portfolio, you find yourself wide open as if by some sudden stirring fascination, to whatever the next photograph may be. Much of his photography jolts the viewers into an almost carnal state, not entirely aware of what it is that draws them in whilst keeping a captivating eye out for the next album. There is something magnetic about his work, something that forbids you to move on to the next photograph without feeling like a voyeur; an inherent seduction. 

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Many of his photographs offer a tremendous sense of humor to those searching for it. His blog features a lengthy photoset of what appears to be bubbles drenched in light refractions, to which the caption reads, “The universe or something.” There is an unmistakable perspective that begs the viewer to think as Jesse does. He is an incredibly humble artist with a great understanding of the local landscape in which he lives. The versatility present in his work from editorial to still life to fashion photography and music videos reveals his true and unmistakable talent. On his blog, Jesse writes, “I don’t want to be famous, just recognized.”

I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Jesse and bringing well-deserved recognition to his work. He shared with us his personal reflections on his work, his use of extended metaphors throughout his photography and what makes a photo truly worth capturing.

Your commercial work differs pretty dramatically from that of your personal projects. I’m curious to know more about your personal vision versus your professional standards. What is your favorite way to photograph?

Great question. My personal work does differ from my commercial work in content and how it’s handled. Commercial work serves a very specific purpose: to satisfy the client’s ideas and desires to help make the product or content or concept look the best way it can. It’s not art. It’s commerce and, knowing that, I work to make it achieve its goal. However, there is a connecting thread that runs throughout my personal and commercial work—it’s how I handle light. I strive to give the light a personality, an essence or a form that gives the eye something to fix on. By being aware of light, and how to create it or modify it, I have the ability to work on many different types of projects.

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Can you describe what it is that intrigues you enough to snap a photo?

My favorite way of photographing is to walk outside and experience the world in the style of a flâneur, a French word that means “stroller” or “saunterer.” I make myself open to coming upon the decisive moments, capturing them when they happen. Sure, I do construct scenarios as well, either when I’m shooting fashion editorials or portraits. But I still like to leave a few things up to chance in those situations as well. The world and life give you wonderful photographs every single day. It’s my job as a photographer to recognize them and when to push the shutter. I can’t really explain why I take the photograph so much as I feel the need to take it at that moment. Sometimes the moment is the right one and I see some of what made me take the photograph when its been printed. But I also notice the other subtleties that made me put the camera to my eye. The closest way I can describe it would be when an athlete is said to be “in the zone.” They aren’t thinking about what to do; they do it on impulse and muscle memory. I have trained my eyes and brain and heart to see in a way that allows me to enter the “zone” and sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t. C'est la vie, right?

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What, to you, makes something worthy of being captured? How much planning goes into your personal work and projects? Typically, who or what are your favorite subjects to shoot?

I have no hierarchy in what I like to shoot; I’m very democratic in that way. I treat all subjects the same, but I focus on the light and how that will affect how the viewer sees the subject. When most people look at a photograph, they aren’t aware of the light. They see a photograph and respond to the recognizable and easily associated information—be it a person, animal, tree, whatever. But they aren’t aware of how the choice of lighting and how it’s handled affects how you respond to those recognizable subjects. A silhouette of a man looming large in the foreground might make you feel apprehensive because you can’t see his face, just this large black shape. Is the viewer consciously aware the lighting is causing this? Probably not. Does the image gain greater depth and meaning because of it? I would say so.  

Much of your personal work seems like a giant, connected metaphor while some of it seems like pure coincidence - capturing the right turn of events or images at the right time.

That’s so nice of you to notice. It’s been a long struggle to get photo editors, art directors and photography agents to take notice that there is a running interconnectivity throughout my work. That running connected metaphor is life, right? I mean it’s not just separate things happening. We all live on this planet together. We are all multi-faceted, multi-dimensional beings. It’s unfortunate that society wants us to specialize and focus, to compartmentalize ourselves into ever smaller and easily digestible brands and commodities.

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When you’re called for a job - given you’re able to express some creative freedom - do you always walk in with a set plan, or wait to meet and understand the subject(s) before calling the shots?

I always like to start any job by asking the client for as much information as I can get. I will do my homework, but if the client has no real direction as to what they want, that can be tricky. Too much freedom can be like giving you enough rope to hang yourself and not deliver to their expectations, since they don’t even know their expectations. I found that when I include the client in the process of storyboarding or ideation, I am less likely to surprise them with something they are unhappy with, and more likely to surprise them with something they never expected. For instance, if I get hired to take a portrait of some personality, the magazine’s art director may say they want a certain light and have an idea for the portrait. I’ll then give them three variations on that, plus a wild card shot. Always make sure your wild card shot is something you would want them to print, because sometimes it will make the edit. Better to surprise your clients with happy accidents than disappoint them with sub-par work or an unrealized concept. I am the farthest thing from the auteur photographer. I generally appreciate input from art directors and creative directors when it helps to further the shot.

What has been your favorite body/bodies of work you’ve completed to date?

One of my favorites was the event photography for an art happening staged by the New Museum and the artist Ed Forniele. It was a semi-structured happening and I was just there to capture what took place as a record of the artwork. It was a wild party and made me remember when I was sneaking into clubs like the Limelight and Tunnel as a teenager, as well as some of the parties I threw when I was actively DJing in the NYC nightclub scene.

Another body of work that I really liked creating, and is in the permanent collection of Sydney Australia MOCA Museum, is called Tree Times. It encompassed still life, portraiture, street photography, and video as well as sight specific installations. All based around the concept of “Trees,” a slang term for marijuana, as well as the literal Tree, or the absence of trees, in today’s urban environments. It was a sort of free association exercise that turned into a successful project.

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Okay, back to that event photography on your website - what is that you’re trying to evoke out of both the subject and the viewer when taking these photos? Essentially, what do you see that you want others to as well?

I have mixed feelings about events. Most clients hire you to get photos where everyone is happy and smiling. They want you to make sure you get photographs from the step and repeat; but they also want the people there that donated the most money to be smiling for the camera. I will get those shots the client expects. But I also want to get the shots when people are just “doing their thing,” being in the moment, enjoying the party. And I will be right there to capture it. I want the event photography to be less a record of existence and more a record of the event so the viewer will experience the reality of these moments in the frozen time of my photographs. Which is more interesting: seeing a staged shot of a celebrity smiling into the camera or seeing them dancing with abandon out on the dance floor?  

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There seems to be this kind of no-holds-barred motif present in a lot of your work. Do you ever set any rules in your work, personal or commercial? Are you given limitations, and if so, how do you manage to stay true to your style in doing so?

I don’t really believe in setting limitations whether in my personal work or in commercial work. That being said I love to get rules. Rules give you a specific parameter to work with in and sometimes by having those rules to work against you figure out creative ways to go around them. For instance The New Museum wanted me to get overhead shots of a performance happening at Union Square, the event was supposed to spontaneously happen and involve the people walking through or sitting in the park, and I was just supposed to “happen” to be there. With the event only lasting for 2 hours, and it being a “flash mob” type of performance, I had no way of renting a helicopter or getting a cherry picker. So I had the idea to get those overhead shots by utilizing some of the department stores in and around the park. Got the overhead shot they wanted but stayed within budget and time frame of the performance. By creatively problem solving I managed to stay within their rules and exceeded their expectations.

Do you have a motto or mantra you work and live by?

Be a good human. It sounds trite, but so many people these days are of the mindset “what are you going to do for me, before I do for you?” “How will you advance my career and that affects who and how I will work with you.” If you are friends with someone, and you both believe in each other, you help raise each other up. I live my life by being open to the universe and the world, to the people in it. That being said sometimes I have had to stop associating with certain people because they were out for themselves. I call them sharks because if you get in their way, they will eat you, if they stop swimming they will die, constantly on the move to their next prey. I try to be a dolphin. Dolphins swim in pods, care about every member of the pod and try to maintain a playful experience in the world with open hearts and joy.

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I watched some of your videos and found them to be wildly entertaining, super bizarre and awesome to watch. Judging from your photography style, I’m going to say that the music videos featuring Horatio Sanz and You Can Be A Wesley were probably a blast to film. Do these artists approach you with an idea/concept or is this all fresh from your mind? Are you hired for videos like these because of your previous work? What’s your artistic process behind making these videos?

That’s one of the sweetest things to say and exactly what I am trying to achieve with my music videos: to be wildly entertaining and super bizarre. I usually pitch concepts and ideas to bands. Sometimes the bands like them and want to go through with them and sometimes they just pass. My process for going about creating video work is like this: I generally hear a song and get enamored by it. I then try to distill all the different things I have been looking at, reading and experiencing into some sort of narrative or visual representation. Then, after writing a treatment, if it gets approved I work with putting together a storyboard and shot list. Depending on the concept, I might work with set designers and makeup artists to get the best effect for the budget. I found that if you can take an old idea and re-contextualize it for a younger audience, it will be super successful. The older idea is already in the collective unconscious, and if you present it in a new way, there will be that element of familiarity in it but it will still feel fresh and new.  

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 If you could give one piece of advice to artists and aspiring artists everywhere, what would it be?

My one piece of advice would be to keep making work. Sometimes it feels like you make all this stuff in your own little world, with an audience of one. But now with today’s Internet and interconnected social network sites, you can develop an audience quickly. Don’t stop making things! Everyone gets a chance, but if you quit before your chance, you will never know what happens when you get it. Stay the path. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ideas. Find your voice and what you want to say and figure out how to say it 20 different ways. Throw out 10 of them and keep the other 10. Don’t lose focus on why you first became an artist or wanted to create art. And don’t feel ashamed or saddened or upset by the fact that you might have to work a bunch of side jobs to fund your art. Today’s society puts value on the wrong things and until we as artists are valued for our contributions to society, we will always have to hustle.

To view more of Jesse’s work, visit his site

Market Yourself for a Great Cause

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Market Yourself for a Great Cause

We’re ecstatic to announce that we’ve partnered with Photoshelter to bring you #TogsGiveBack - an incredible opportunity created by some of the greatest companies in the photo industry!

By choosing one of the four marketing bundles that best suit your needs, you can benefit your own career while helping others. Absolutely 100% of the proceeds will go towards Urban Arts Partnership - a wonderful non-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing arts education to inner city schools. 

FoundFolios is proud to bring you the Get Hired Bundle:

40% Off a Standard Portfolio

There’s no hiding when you join FoundFolios. This one-of-a-kind portfolio site makes your work the center star - every day, buyers search our site to find talent like you. So put yourself on their radar. And get hired. Purchase the bundle and get a discount code for 40% off. You save $398.

It’s as simple as leaving your base donation and receiving an email with all the information necessary to redeem your bundle! To find out more, check out the #TogsGiveBack page. 

Roster Refresh: Doug Truppe Represents

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Roster Refresh: Doug Truppe Represents

Boutique marketing agency Doug Truppe Represents specializes in the promotion of award-winning photographers. Boasting a tremendous amount of successful talent both domestically and internationally in various categories , Doug Truppe Represents brings a refreshingly versatile and creatively well-rounded roster of artists to the table. 

Artists:

Dennis Welsh

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Dennis Welsh is a lifestyle and portraiture based photographer based in Maine. To see more his work, visit his site, his instagram and his facebook page. 

Notable Clients: Nissan, Thule, Agency RX, New Hampshire Tourism, Exclusive Resorts, Leica Camera, Idexx, Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers, Patagonia, Apple, L.L. Bean and OMNI Resorts.

Current Projects to Watch for: Dennis just wrapped up a Nissan shoot with a Toronto agency - The Marketing Store. A Pharma shoot for Subuxone with the London agency - The Workroom. Another pharma shoot with the New York agency - Agency Rx and continues to do ongoing pro bono work for The Appalachian Mountain Club.

Marc Ohrem-Leclef 

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Marc Ohrem-Leclef is a photographer who specializes in lifestyle and portraiture work. His commercial and fine art projects have allowed him to globalize his career. To check out more of his work, visit his website and instagram

Notable Clients: American Express, Toyota, VitaminWater, Valtrex, Mastercard.

Current Projects to Watch for: Eosea Pharmaceutical Campaign for Fycompa, Olympic Faveala Book, named “best of 2014″ by American Photo Magazine. 

Jim Purdum 

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Los Angeles based Photographer Jim Purdum specializes in lifestyle, portraiture and travel photography. To check out more of his work, visit his website and facebook and instagram profiles. 

Notable Clients: Verizon, Wells Fargo, Merck, Amazon, Coors Light, State Farm, Dell, Procter & Gamble, Epson, Kellogg, Walmart, Kraft, Canon, Nestle and Phillips. 

Current Projects to Watch for: Personal Project - 4 Days in Tokyo, and Verizon.

David Westphal 

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Los Angeles based photographer David Westphal specializes in automotive, landscape and lifestyle work.  To view more of his work, visit his website, instagram and facebook pages. 

Notable Clients: Ford, Subaru (USA and Global), Toyota Europe, Dow Sciences.

Current Projects to Watch for: Several projects are under wraps. Working on a Ford Medium Duty truck post to which images will be released in July. A newly re-designed Ford vehicle that will require a road trip through New England. 

Featured Contributor: Linus Curci Recent Moore College of Art...

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Featured Contributor: Linus Curci 

Recent Moore College of Art and Design alumnus, Linus Curci, boasts a refreshing portfolio of paper cut illustrations. Upon first glance, the viewer is brought to a familiar location – a frequented bus stop, a boarded up moonlit building, a corner bodega. And while there is a looming sense of singularity prevalent in many of his works, there remains a profound sense of introspection, rather than loneliness. 

There is a deep-rooted intention seen throughout his entire portfolio. His take on light and shadow creates a softened perspective of a discordant city many of us have taken in. There is a warmth to many of his illustrations that expand the imagination and encourages reflection. We have walked these dark streets after hours and watched as the landscape shifted over time. We have bowed our heads, counting the cracks on the sidewalk with each new step. We have laid our picnic blanket down and soaked in our surroundings. We’ve allowed our version of our city to intrigue us, spark our curiosity and demand our attention. We have given a part of ourselves to our neighborhood and allowed ourselves to be a living, breathing component of the cities we call home. While no one Curci illustration harbors more than one body, there is no fear of the unknown, no mystery and no skepticism present. Instead, there is a comfort in the solace of solitary strolling.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Linus regarding his daily inspiration, his future in illustrating children’s books, and his words of advice for artists from all paths and walks of life. 

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When I first came across your work, the storyteller Ezra Jack Keats came to mind. Has anyone ever pointed out the resemblance between your works?

Actually, you are the first ever, and I’ll take that as a huge compliment because his work is so alive. When I look at his work it’s like I can taste New York. I admire how confidently he used color and his shapely design. He really captured something truly special.

Many of your illustrations evoke a feeling of familiarity. The urban landscape appears to me as New York - yet you’re a Philly based artist. Was this universal city vibe intentional in your design? Do you want viewers to interpret the images as their city? Short of one image with the Liberty Bell in it, it seems that any defining characteristics that could designate the exact location of your illustrations have been stripped. Is this meant to allow space for the viewer’s interpretation?

It’s important to me that the viewer is able to relate in some way. City landscapes, buildings and infrastructure have always given me a buzz. The traffic, the lights, the tight spaces, construction, neighborhoods and the general mix of old and new… the constant feeling of “I was here and you were too.

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This feeling that Linus explores is one I have contemplated time and time again. I have found this particular notion to be best elucidated by author Colson Whitehead in his novel, The Colossus of New York

There are eight million naked cities in this naked city–they dispute and disagree. The New York City you live in is not my New York City; how could it be? This place multiplies when you’re not looking. We move over here, we move over there. Over a lifetime, that adds up to a lot of neighborhoods, the motley construction material of your jerry-built metropolis. Your favorite newsstands, restaurants, movie theaters, subway stations and barbershops are replaced by your next neighborhood’s favorites. It gets to be quite a sum. Before you know it, you have your own personal skyline.

Go back to your old haunts in your old neighborhoods and what do you find: they remain and have disappeared. The greasy spoon, the deli, the dry cleaner you scouted out when you first arrived and tried to make those new streets yours: they are gone. But look past the windows of the travel agency that replaced your pizza parlor. Beyond the desks and computers and promo posters for tropical adventures, you can still see Neapolitan slices cooling, the pizza cutter lying next to half a pie, the map of Sicily on the wall. It is all still there, I assure you. The man who just paid for a trip to Jamaica sees none of that, sees his romantic getaway, his family vacation, what this little shop on this little street has granted him. The disappeared pizza parlor is still here because you are here, and when the beauty parlor replaces the travel agency, the gentleman will still have his vacation. And that lady will have her manicure.

Our streets are calendars containing who we were and who we will be next. We see ourselves in this city every day when we walk down the sidewalk and catch our reflections in store windows, seek ourselves in this city each time we reminisce about what was there fifteen, ten, forty years ago, because all our old places are proof that we were here. One day the city we built will be gone, and when it goes, we go. When the buildings fall, we topple, too…

You swallow hard when you discover that the old coffee shop is now a chain pharmacy, that the place where you first kissed so-and-so is now a discount electronics retailer, that where you bought this very jacket is now rubble behind a blue plywood fence and a future office building. Damage has been done to your city. You say, “It happened overnight.” But of course it didn’t. Your pizza parlor, his shoeshine stand, her hat store: when they were here, we neglected them. For all you know, the place closed down moments after the last time you walked out the door. (Ten months ago? Six years? Fifteen? You can’t remember, can you?) And there have been five stores in that spot before the travel agency. Five different neighborhoods coming and going between then and now, other people’s other cities. Or 15, 25, 100 neighborhoods. Thousands of people pass that storefront every day, each one haunting the streets of his or her own New York, not one of them seeing the same thing.

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Why illustration over any other artistic medium? What inspires you each day?

I kind of stumbled into illustration in college. I drew all the time as a kid, and when questioned what I wanted to be when I grew up my answer was “Cartoonist”. As I got older I explored creative writing, music, photography and graphic design. I honestly kept taking detours, until finally I had the confidence to switch my major to illustration.This also happened to be the year that I came out as Transgender. Once that happened it was like a switch flipped and things came into focus. Imagine driving a car for 25 years and not being able to clean the windshield. Of course, you’d make a few wrong turns. When you are a creative person for a living you get to be the truest version of yourself, and I finally am.

What is your artistic process going into any given piece?

It usually starts with a moment or a memory that I think could be important to save and share. Then I take reference photos, make some thumbnails and finalize the composition. I work on Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Corel Painter with an Intuos 5. My style combines the use of cut paper shapes I fill in like a puzzle; the textures represent my medium, digital chalk; and the colors are chosen based on the mood of the piece. Each illustration essentially has its own color palette, because there are feelings that I want to evoke in them. I work pretty quickly, because once I start it is hard for me to stop.

Can you tell me a bit about the Little Baby’s Ice Cream photo, the snowman illustration series and the final illustration on your site with the clock counted down? Why these scenarios?

Little Baby’s Ice Cream and the snowman scenario were just for fun. The one with the clock counting down was a response to work. My first job after graduating art school was as a screen printer at a t-shirt company. This is an illustration of my press at the time.The job was rewarding, because I touched ink every day, but manual labor gets tough especially when you are exposed to temperatures that are often too cold or too hot for long periods of time. When I was screen printing at work I was always thinking of illustration, counting down the minutes and the shirts until I could clock out and go home, up the stairs to my little studio. I learned quickly that I would lose my sanity if I didn’t focus on my passion.

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Where do you see your future in illustrating? Has illustrating for children’s books ever crossed your mind?

Illustrating children’s books would be great. I am currently working on a commissioned installation of El 1 at 10’x10’. This is the largest format I have ever worked with, and I am excited to see how it turns out. Right now, I am pretty open-minded about my market. My style is pretty adaptable—I am interested in advertising, editorial, and eventually children’s books. In the near future, I would like to pursue animation as well.

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Could you describe your illustration style and your influences?

My work is a nostalgic response to reality with a conceptual under base. In most of my work the focus is trying to bring the background to the foreground. I put emphasis on milieu because I feel like it is a main ingredient to memory. I grew up watching The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote so Chuck Jones influenced me at a young age. Edward Hopper’s sharp use of light and shadow and his love for city.  When I first created my style I started with cut paper but quickly went digital because time management is a serious thing. In the middle of an illustration the process can sometimes feel like a warped game of Tetris but in the end it all comes together. I have been working on character sketches and plan to start incorporating more people in the future.

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What words of advice do you have for aspiring artists, successful artists and struggling artists?

Work as hard as you can for as long as you can until it doesn’t feel like work anymore, but a way of life. Save your files and have a good relationship with your printers. 24 oz of coffee is a lot. It costs money to ship things. Be supportive of your fellow artists. And most importantly, do whatever you feel is real.

 To view more of Linus Curci’s work, visit his site

Brands on the MoveWe’re so excited to announce our new Brands on...

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Brands on the Move

We’re so excited to announce our new Brands on the Move portion of the FoundFolios blog! Each month, we’ll be featuring a collection of brands on the move and bringing you the latest in ad agency news. 

Here’s what this month in BOTM looks like: 

  • Thomson Reuters Business Information chooses TBWA\Chiat\Day, NYC as lead global agency.
  • MetLife Insurance account is up for review. Metlife Wants a New Lead Creative Agency to Reinvent Its ‘Slow and Steady’ Brand
  • Ameriprise selects new lead agency, McCann Worldgroup, Birmingham MI.
  • Marshalls Stores is launching a review; current agency GSD&M has held duties since 2008. Looking for “fresh perspective” on the brand. 
  • TBWA\Chiat\Day NYC wins fourth account in two months; Hearts on Fire global account.
  • Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, OR named lead agency for General Mills’ Yoplait Yogurt brand. 
  • Carmichael Lynch has been named the new creative agency of record for U.S. Bank following a review.
  • Sprite has selected Wieden + Kennedy NYC for it’s creative account.

Art Director Inspired: Carmelo RodriguezCreative Director...

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Art Director Inspired: Carmelo Rodriguez

Creative Director Carmelo Rodriguez shares with us her daily inspiration.

Creative: Carmelo Rodriguez

Title: Creative Director

Current Agency: BRAVO/ Y&R New York

Current Clients: Coors Light, Campbell’s, Prego, Popclik, WeSaveLives, Techo, American Express, Best Buy, Red’s Apple Ale, and as a side project Estraperlo - an Organic Store/Cooking School I just opened in Sevilla, Spain.

A Little Bit About Carmelo: 

Carmelo assumed the role of Creative Director at Bravo / Y&R New York alongside Willy Lomana, his partner in crime (and ideas) for the past eleven years. After a long experience in the US Hispanic and European Markets he arrived at Bravo from The Vidal Partnership, New York where he produced award winning work for Heineken, JCPenney, Sprint, Kraft, Johnnie Walker, NFL, Partnership For a Drug Free America, Wendy’s, Home Depot and Remy Martin. 

Question:
What keeps you inspired?

There are the classic ones: a good movie, a great painting, a book, an art installation that I barely understand, nature, the latest technological gadget (there’s a little geek in me) and so on…  But the truth is that to create something interesting, to be able to offer unique solutions to a problem or simply an original point of view, the first thing that I always try to do is to forget about advertising and design. 

I take a look at the most easy to find, but complex and rich source of inspiration: People.

Urban legends, a classic family tale that you forgot about, a good joke, an insightful conversation over a good bottle of wine and a delicious plate of food. Estraperlo, an organic store/cooking space that I began as a side project away from advertising in Seville, Spain is a great example of an unexpected source or continuous inspiration through something non-related to advertising. Also my friend’s work, especially those who work in totally different fields. There’s something special about cross-disciplinary projects. Also my father, who is a crazy talented painter besides his work as an architect. Again the cross disciplinary. My coworkers. That guy at Starbucks that every morning spells wrongly the name of a friend. Even an argument you overhead in the subway or the latest meme you saw…. Real life at the end! That’s where the most powerful insight and ideas rely, from the most psychedelic ones to the more grounded and reality based ones.

Inspiration to me is a mix between hard work and knowing when to let it breeze. It usually strikes you after many hours immersed in a project; thinking, trying, experimenting and writing tons of shit. But as important as that hard work is, it is also essential for us to stop and look around for a minute, take a step back, and refresh our ideas with the outside world, instead of keeping on in a circle.

Sometimes schedules, corporate environments, marketing blurbs and way too many meetings make us forget that communication is nothing more than listening, understanding people and then letting yourself be heard. Now, how to achieve it? My suggestion - try taking a walk.

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 A Carmelo Rodríguez Merchán painting. 

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 Estraperlo: The side project in Sevilla Spain, aside from advertising but somehow related. 

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We Save Lives: The latest project we have been working on, a rolling paper against stoned driving.  

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Popclik Escape

Digital Agencies Converting to Social AgenciesIn a complex world...

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Digital Agencies Converting to Social Agencies

In a complex world of advertising, “Digital Agencies” are moving towards focusing and defining themselves as “Social Agencies.” Several clients and brands are demanding these agencies provide a 360 approach with minimal assistance from other agencies, but engage the consumers by staying ahead of the trends as the landscape changes at a very rapid pace.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing one of our Creative Consultants, Angee Murray, who previously worked at Saatchi & Saatchi LA as an Art Producer. I specifically asked her how this had affected her role and experience having worked on an extremely well-received and successful campaign for Toyota.

She had mentioned that in the last few years, advertising agencies have been trying to keep up in the social space by including a social component to their campaigns. It’s not just about broadcast, print and interactive anymore - social media has climbed its way up as one of the main components to any media buy. Some full service agencies are taking note and have started social departments that include account executives, strategists, and production and content managers. Their jobs are to manage and maintain their client’s social media requests and produce fresh content that’s relevant.

The role of a social producer has been difficult to define at agencies where you have a broadcast producer, art producer and interactive (or content) producer.  At larger agencies it seems to be more of a team effort with the senior producers taking the lead in the medium that they are trained in. However, she sees the producer role changing in advertising and those with both motion and still production experience having “the edge”. The days of bringing one’s expertise to the table isn’t enough as everyone needs to be knowledgeable about all mediums.

The campaign for Toyota had all of those components as well as a social media event. They hired a social production company to help the agency coordinate an event around the Worldwide Instameet 9 (#WWIM9). The production company hired two social photographers to promote the event and post images during and after the event using the campaign’s hashtag as well as #WWIM9. The social photographers chosen had a large following who, in turn, invited their followers out to this event that took place at a school playground. The entertainment was focused around playground activities – chalk art, hop scotch, jump rope competitions and photo ops with a large prop from the campaign and the Toyota Rav4. Other brands like TOMS and The L.A. Times participated in a social media event as well and they had a great turnout! Those that showed up to see their favorite social photographer took photos at the event and posted them on their pages using the hashtags they promoted. This is just one example of a creative way to bring an advertising campaign into Instagram and make it relevant, social, and extend the reach of traditional advertising.

Many other brands are fore-thinking in their approach to social advertising, which will in turn create a huge impact on who they use as their agency of record(s). For example, Diageo has just announced a concept that they are trying to implement as a mobile component to their Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottle that is hopeful to be rolled out in the next few years. Not only will this allow the consumers to interact with the bottle, the information and educational elements will include recipes that could lead to Snapchat and Instagram/Facebook promotions.

Consumers will always be the key influencers and target audience in every aspect of ANY successful program as they continue to gravitate towards smart and turn-key programming at the touch of a button. Moving forward, all agencies, clients, and brands will have the bar set high in striving for and achieving the most buzz-worthy and life-changing promotions.

The Evolution of Art ProductionWritten By Nicole BishopIt is...

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The Evolution of Art Production

Written By Nicole Bishop

It is estimated that in 2004 there were 900 art buyers and producers in North America. Today, data shows there are only 400. What does that mean for the industry?

Art buyers and producers have had many struggles within the agency world due to budgetary constraints in an ever-evolving industry. As we all know, art buyers and producers work very closely with art directors and creative teams to secure proper images along with photographers and illustrators based on specialty. They all play an intricate role in securing rights and making sure all images are legally sound, based on the client’s needs.

For an agency perspective, I interviewed Brian Stabile, a Senior Production Specialist from LLNS in Manhattan, to gain some feedback on his experiences with the art buying and production departments. He is not only in charge of working on several campaigns and projects creatively, but he also serves as Quality Control. He noted that when he started his career in 2002 with an agency that employed roughly 200 people, there were five art buyers and producers at the company. To date they have narrowed down the department to one.

Many art producers are spread thin and it’s extremely difficult to include them in every facet of a project’s life. This, in turn, creates a larger issue for all agencies. From a legal standpoint, this puts an agency at risk for legal ramifications. Working in a churn and burn industry, several jobs could potentially be released with flaws. This creates an elevated level of stress and concern for the creative and studio departments as they have to diligently search for the perfect stock image (pending no photo shoot) for their layout, adding unnecessary hours to their day.

Jackie Contee, Art Buyer and Print Producer from The UniWorld Group based out of Brooklyn, New York, is finding that the art buyer and producer role is currently being segued into an art buyer, print-digital producer and content producer role. She’s been able to step into these shoes and facilitate the production of every facet of a shoot including stills, b-rolls, etc.

How does this affect the project life of a job? It touches every aspect of all teams involved on the job. From the project management department in charge of estimates and timing, to the account management departments, including the creative and studio teams who have to deliver on time.  

On the flip side, photographers and illustrators also feel the brunt of many agencies eliminating Art Buyer and Producer roles. For these artists, FoundFolios addressed this concern years ago by creating FoundPicks. FoundPicks is a free service offered to help support all creatives, particularly helping Art Producers with a limited staff of Art Buyers to find appropriate talent for their specific needs.

Who To Follow We’ve got a fantastic list of creatives, artists...

Featured Contributor: Steve WilliamsFor the past 25 years,...

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Featured Contributor: Steve Williams

For the past 25 years, Orlando based commercial photographer Steve Williams has been shooting on location for advertising, editorial, corporate, video magazine, architecture and sports clients. Steve attributes his years of success to two key components: experience and trust.

 “Experience is knowing that good communication and preparation always triumph in the end…Experience breeds the ability to solve and problem and get along with any person, which leads to confidence, which keeps heads cool, and which ultimately creates happy, repeat clients,” Williams writes on his website. Of trust, Williams says, it “…is what comes from the combination of vision and 25 years of experience. It’s when an art director just knows ahead of time that they’re going to get great results when we work together. They know I’m going to give my best every time, that I’m going to have lots of ideas about how to solve their visual problems, that I’ll have the best interest of their client in mind, and that the whole experience will be fun.”  

Steve’s conceptual photography is rendered beautifully through an incredibly vivid color spectrum, while his personal work is elegant – filled with real life mermaids, flowing feminine bodies wrapped in silk and depictions of the poised, naturally sculpted human body. He boasts a tremendous corporate portfolio and a heartwarming selection of inquisitive, imaginative children in the “kids” section of his site.

We’ve featured Steve Williams’ work previously on our blog. Steve was recently approached by a design firm to photograph some brand new, magnificent architecture in Orlando. As a continuation of his success, we’ve caught up with Steve regarding his latest project.

Officially called the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, this new half Billion dollar building is a landmark architectural gem for Orlando. Designed by Barton Myers in L.A., it houses a 2700 seat hall for Broadway theater events and a 300 seat venue for smaller productions.  A 1700 person acoustic hall will be added soon to house ballet and opera.

I was hired by Great Big Circle design firm to photograph the building with people in activity, as they already had some interiors that ended up looking kind of sterile without patrons. Most of the photos you see here are multiple layers of images so that I could show more people in each shot.  If you look closely, you might notice the same people in different areas of the same photo. When I shot the exterior image there were no people outside, so I combined that shot with one I took on a different night with patrons exiting the building.

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For juxtapositional purposes, this is what the PAC looks like during the daytime from an adjacent rooftop

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Featured Contributor: Tim HawleyInternationally acclaimed...

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Featured Contributor: Tim Hawley

Internationally acclaimed award-winning photographer and digital artist, Tim Hawley, utilizes a style that he believes transcends the limitations of categorical definitions.

His extensive and wildly expansive portfolio remains starkly different while maintaining a single common thread. Of this visual thread, Hawley writes, “I create memorable images that have a classic beauty based in crisp reality.”

Hawley’s creative capabilities are rendered magnificently through much of his commercial and advertising imagery. One diving and scuba gear company, TUSA, features his images of the coral reef wrapped perfectly around an elegant female body with the caption, “It becomes you.” Another ad series for Samsonite luggage depicts Cirque du Soleil acrobatic performers contorting their body around lightweight luggage with the headline, “Enter the Fantastical World of Lightness.” It is this wonderfully literal, yet fantastically fictitious aspect in many of his advertising works that translates to an incredibly successful collection of art. Unlike many artists, Hawley’s commercial work is remarkably unique in that it stands out and pushes the boundaries of conventional corporate advertisement. It in no way compromises or stifles the whimsical qualities that work to define much of Tim’s work.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Tim regarding his unique visual signature, his personal projects and the inspirational artistic process that guides his work.

Your advertisement work is nothing like I’ve ever seen. From the Samsonite series to the TUSA diving and snorkeling equipment, the flawless edits and delightfully clever approach really leaves your unique stamp on the works you’ve done. Are you completely responsible for the conception of these ads? Is it a collaborative effort? Is this where you would say your work best takes flight?

I wish I could take the credit for these outstanding concepts but the truth is that ads such as these are developed by a team of creatives at an advertising agency who work closely with their client’s marketing directors to ensure the concepts are both current and on target for the client’s brand. The process involves lots of meetings and back and forth between the agency and client. Once the ad concept is fully realized and approved, the agency looks to hire a photographer whose work supports and hopefully elevates the concept to its maximum potential. My job as an image maker is to execute the creative vision beyond expectations and to provide the highest level of quality possible to all the elements in the production. Complex ads such as these often involve shooting many elements separately and then compositing them in Photoshop. This requires a lot of planning in order for the final image to be flawless. I have the advantage of being both the photographer and digital artist so my workflow is seamless and extremely efficient. I love challenging productions and resolving the issues surrounding sophisticated images.

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The three images for Samsonite were selected for the 2015 Communication Arts Photo Annual to be published in July. The images were used across multiple product lines so the ads had to be shot and montaged in such a way that different pieces of luggage could be inserted into the hands of the circus performers.

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What drew you to photographing not only the works of Ed Stilley, but the portraits of those using them? Did the spiritual aspect of the instruments intrigue you? The series of detailed instrument shots truly seems to capture such a story with each worn string and scratched or carved wooden surface.

Ed Stilley is one of the last homesteaders in Arkansas. He and his wife, Eliza, raised 5 children on the Christian Gospel and what they could grow in their hardscrabble garden or hunt and forage from the Ozark hills and hollows. In 1979, Mr. Stilley was faced with an insurmountable problem and prayed to God for an answer. God promised to take care of the problem and commanded Mr. Stilley to create instruments and give them away for free to the local girls and boys. He did so for 25 years until the strength in his hands gave out, creating approximately 200 instruments. When I heard about Mr. Stilley and his life’s work I knew I had found a personal project that would have a captivating story and allow me to expand my skills shooting both people and objects. With the help of many people we tracked down as many of the instruments as we could find. The result is a book called GIFTED - The instruments and Inspiration of Ed Stilley. The book is due out this fall.

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What do you seek to capture in both your personal and commercial work? When choosing the final images to work with, what to you makes it stand out among the others? 

My images have a clarity and crispness that strives to visually communicate information to excite the other senses. I want the viewer to feel the creamy smoothness of glass, hear the sound of foil crinkling, or to easily imagine the heat of direct sunlight. I try to simplify whatever I can so that the process is invisible and the subject remains the hero.

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What inspires you on a daily basis?

Inspiration can be a fickle thing and certainly comes in varying degrees… For daily inspiration I would say I turn to my commitment as a professional artist to show up and do the work of a professional. I never feel like I “have” to do it, I’m always grateful that I “get” to do it. Practicing my craft and creating a prolific body of work is both a responsibility and a true pleasure.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists, successful artists and struggling artists?

Aspiring artists: By definition, you will only make student work if you remain a student.

Successful Artists: Gratitude and a humble heart bring the greatest joy.

Struggling Artists:  No one ever heard of a starving plumber or a starving veterinarian. For an artist, however, it is a much different story. Develop a hobby to take your mind of the hunger. I suggest golf!

Of Tim’s vision, he writes, “Whether I am telling a story or presenting a piece of merchandise, my work is an organic union of what is dramatic, eloquent and heroic.“

On Get Fueled , Tim elucidates on his creative process:

  • Garbage in, garbage out.  Keep it simple.  
  • Don’t let perfect ruin good.   
  • Good food + good friends = good art.  
  • Trust your first choice.  Go where others aren’t.  
  • Question authority.  Stand for something important.  
  • Create a lot, show a little.  
  • Don’t take or give “no” for an answer.  
  • Show enthusiasm, even when you have none.  
  • Value loyalty and honesty.  Take responsibility.  
  • Have integrity.  Tell a story.  
  • Shatter the stereotype.  Never pretend.

I believe these few phrases are all you need to know to be a successful creative. Whenever I get lost, one of these shows me the way back. They are not clichés, they are simple truths.

To view more of Tim’s work, head over to his site

Emerging Talent: Jiaxi YangWe had the pleasure to speak with...

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Emerging Talent: Jiaxi Yang

We had the pleasure to speak with Jiaxi Yang, a New York City based photographer, about her latest project, The Horizontal Mode of A Waking Life, as well as what inspires her style.

What words would you use to describe your style?

Playful and painterly

How did you start shooting?

I’ve been influences by my boyfriend who is a truly talented and passionate photographer. And he is the one who encouraged me to start taking photographs with a camera. I immediately fell in love with this medium.

Who in your life has inspired you?

Minimalist artists such as Fred Sandback, Agnes Martin, and Carl Andre. To name a few. 

Any recent work we should know about?

My latest project, The Horizontal Mode of A Waking Life, is composed of still-life photographs of arranged food and objects such as quail egg, pig’s blood cake, octopus, coffee sleeve, foil and toilet paper core. I began this project in 2014 as experiences of sleepwalking through the daily life, explorations of the barely recognized traces of desire and absurdity. The work is made in New York where the unfamiliar context made me aware of my cultural relationship to food. Theatrical, and often absurd, my living space is a stage on which I perform my creation. I animate what I have on hand, calling attention to the unremarkable, as well as to the possible ways in which they interact with each other. 

To view more work by Jiaxi, head over to her site or check out her Instagram

Alyssa Pizer Management is a Los Angeles based photographic...

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Alyssa Pizer Management is a Los Angeles based photographic management company, specializing in representing fashion and lifestyle photographers, since 1988. They are always working towards refreshing their roster whether it be new talent or juicing up existing talent.  

Gary Copeland and Martin Rusch have been with the management company but have recently found their niche in the industry. As a company, they felt that the two had just come into their own and are fresh, new artists to look out for. Balsius Erlinger is brand new and was just signed this month. Alyssa Pizer Management is excited to watch these three up and coming artists flourish in the industry. 

Balsius Erlinger

Style: Rustic Charm

Social Media: @blasiuserlinger

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Martin Rusch

Style: Poppy

Social Media: @mrusch

Current Projects to watch for: BCBG, Herve Ledger

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Gary Copeland

Style: Edgy

Social Media: @copelandphoto

Current Projects to watch for: Marlboro

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To view more work from Alyssa Pizer Management, head over to their site

The Art of Self PromotionAs the photo editor at PDN, I get a lot...

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The Art of Self Promotion

As the photo editor at PDN, I get a lot of promos. For me, even a postcard with a single image, name, contact info and legible location proves successful. I look at work digitally all the time. It’s nice to have something to hang on the cubical wall.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of postcard mailers – sometimes in sets of 4 or 6. I’ve also seen zines, newsletters and large-format fold-out promos.

We share a lot of the promos we receive on Instagram (@pdnonline #pdnpromos #pdnpromoswekept).

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Some photographers are known for their large promos. Take James Wojcik, for example. During his 30-plus year career he’s shot for a ton of magazines and brands, but continues to make personal work, sharing his different projects in the form of promo-mailers. He’s still remembered for a set of cards he made of alphabet shapes he had once sculpted out of cardboard and other materials, as well as this Wo-Brands series from a few years ago (he took iconic American brands and remade the logos inserting the first part of his last name).

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Wojcik raises oysters near his vacation home on Shelter Island, New York, and has shot hundreds of images of them. He even created a website for the fictional Dinah Rock Oysters Company. Fifty of the images were turned into a boxed set of postcards.

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Jason Myers, a photographer who had been formerly based in Florida with a recent relocation to Nashville, sent us a huge promo last summer. He created his own logo & design, “Fresh from Florida,” and included a branded jar of honey, a branded plastic tumbler, a few oranges, a juice squeezer, a set of promo cards and a map – which I found to be the best and most effective piece of the promo. Photo editors don’t always have the best sense of geography (myself included) or the time to Google map locations.

Jason included a map showing where he was based and the amount of time it would take him by car (or plane) to get to other places.

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Sidenote: I can’t stress enough how important it is to clearly label your location on a promo card and especially on your website. If you’re traveling, say you’re traveling or that you’ll be in X location from X date to X date, or that you’ll be available as a local in X and Y, please make some sort of mention of where you are in the world. It saves photo editors a lot of time.

One of my favorite promo/success stories has to be Marcus Smith. I met him at NYC Fotoworks a few years ago, and he had just sent out his first promo, “Crew Love,” a booklet on a local Chicago high school basketball team he documented for a year. Marcus wanted to shoot for Nike – and made work that both he loved, and hoped they would too. A carefully crafted promo goes a long way. The work got Marcus a lot of attention on social media, even grabbing the attention of his agent, as well as Nike. Soon after finishing “Crew Love,” Marcus was hired to shoot for Nike’s Jordan Brand Instagram account.

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Here are some additional self-promotion tips I’ve found to be successful in the past:

  • Hard copy mailers and email mailers are great, but it’s really important to network with clients, and even other photographers in person. Personality goes a long way.
  • Portfolio reviews – when you have new work to show, or have an idea of where you want to go with your career – are extremely beneficial. Make sure to arrive to your review fully prepared, however, or it will be a waste of time and money.
  • With any promo, figure out who your audience is. What do you hope to get from the promo? This is a reminder that you’re out there, showing off new work, rebranding and pitching to new clients.
  • Have someone else look at the promo before you send it or print it. This is important both from a photo editing standpoint, and in checking for general typos and possible misinformation.

Brands on the MoveHere’s what this month in BOTM looks...

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Brands on the Move

Here’s what this month in BOTM looks like!

P&G Moves Gillette Venus Razors, Braun Electric Shavers and The Art of Shaving accounts from BBDO to Grey as part of agency consolidation. 

Art Director InspiredCreative: Francois CrabalonaAgency:...

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Art Director Inspired

Creative: Francois Crabalona
Agency: Freelance
Title: Creative Director
Clients working on: Citroen, Canon, Woolite, Airwick Nestle, Kraft, For a Day Foundation.

We caught up with Creative Director Francois Crabalona to find out what inspires him daily. 

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It sounds like the ultimate cliché but my daily inspiration comes from living in New York City.

And New Yorkers in particular.

Needless to say New York city is a buzzing place when it comes to art, fashion, food, etc…

But I find my inspiration in its people. I use subway rides as focus groups. Where else in the world can you find such a concentration of different cultures, backgrounds, ages, races all crammed together into a tiny metal box?

I observe and I listen. A lot.

As a creative in advertising, we ultimately try to reach people. New Yorkers give me the opportunity to know my audience. From the conversation two ladies have on a park bench, to a cab driver conversation - all are gems to spark inspiration and imagination and creativity.

And then when Batman shows up on the train platform and it’s not Halloween but a Tuesday on a warm June day. THAT definitely makes your creativity run.

When I was a student at Miami AD School, a guest speaker told us to try to take a different route to and from work everyday. He said that we’d see something different everyday. It is true. Everyday there’s new graffiti art, new messages posted on walls or sidewalks. When you pay attention to all this stimulation, it’s easy to find inspiration.

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To view more of Francois Crabalona’s work, visit his site and etsy pages here. 

The Archive AwardsWe are thrilled to announce the arrival of our...

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The Archive Awards

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of our newest section on the FoundFolios blog: The Archive Awards. We couldn’t be happier to partner with the most coveted feature in the advertising industry. Lurzer’s Archive places its focus on the principle of “curatorship of inspiration.” With magnificently curated content and over 50,000 print campaigns, Lurzer’s invites us to indulge in all the aesthetic pleasure the ad-world has to offer. 

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“A 1998 ad for Mercedes. In this issue’s Classics spread, we feature four print campaigns that won the Press Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions Festival during the period 1996-2000.” 

Art Director: Mark Tutssel

Photographer: Russell Porcas 

Client: Mercedes-Benz 

Ad Agency: Leo Burnett, London

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“Pores – Keratinocyte exfoliation – Keratinocyte condition – Keratinocyte size – Potential blemishes – Condition of collagen fibers – Glycation level of dermal protein – Capillary vessels – Skin texture – Sebum. Tagline: Science-based skin care. Pola Apex. “Your mirror doesn’t know you” campaign for a skin care product that is customized to each user’s skin condition. The shapes of the faces were based on each model’s real skin condition, as analyzed using cobweb charts.”

Art Director: Nanase Suzuki

Creative Director: Morihiro Harano

Photographer: Koichiro Doi

Client: Pola Apex

Ad Agency: Light Publicity, Tokyo, Mori Inc., Tokyo

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“The beauty of form meets function.”

Art Director: Jake Houvenagle

Creative Director: Jim Harper

Photographer: Brian Cummings

Client: Knife & Flag Survival Union 

Ad Agency: Boxing Clever, Saint Louis, Missouri

Featured Contributor: Chuck EspinozaL.A. based photographer...

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Featured Contributor: Chuck Espinoza

L.A. based photographer Chuck Espinoza is a lover of life, of kinship and of storytelling. His adoration for his family and playful outlook on life is demonstrated throughout his work, both personal and commercial.

His ability to manipulate light to create stories without the use of a single word is truly unparalleled. There is an almost enchanted quality to many of his works, cultivating a magnificence and aesthetic element that exceeds the beauty of his subject alone. In all of his portraiture, the level of comfort, trust and ease his subjects feel while in his presence radiates through their body language, adding a captured spark. Short of assisting one photographer and enrolling in one UCLA extension course, everything Espinoza knows about photography is self-taught. 

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Relying on his own artistic inclinations and instincts, while absorbing the vast world of photography and virtually acting as his own mentor has allowed him to foster a wonderfully unique style incapable of being pre-packaged and mass-produced. Specializing in portraiture, Espinoza holds a wonderfully polished, light-drenched quality in much of his work. And while his Instagram account is chock-full of gorgeous women, there is a certain down-to-earth, pragmatic and fun-loving character trait to Espinoza that makes you feel like you’ve known him your whole life.

I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Espinoza regarding his shift from corporate banking to freelance photography, his daily source of inspiration and his advice for others seeking to make that same leap from corporate to creative. 

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You wrote on your website that you used to be an analyst at an investment bank and now you do what you love. What caused that internal shift within you? What led you to pursuing your passion full-time?

Photography was a passion of mine when I was a kid. I started shooting my friends and our skateboarding antics. That interest faded in high school when I drifted away from skateboarding. While I was working as an analyst I took a black and white photo/printing class at UCLA extension that sparked my interest again (1999). I started shooting for fun and once again it became a great outlet for me. In 2002, while still working at the bank, I wrote a business plan that warranted a 75% increase in my salary. After the novelty of the raise wore off, I realized that there was no amount of money that would make me enjoy the work I was doing. In the summer of 2002, I started to look for a way to leave investment banking. While trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, a trusted mentor asked me what I would be willing to do at 4AM without getting paid. The answer was photography. 

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Before I left the bank I started interviewing photographers to learn more about what they did on a daily basis and to see if I could line up a job assisting. Every photographer I spoke with told me not to quit my job to pursue photography. A few months later I got laid off and left with a severance package that gave me the freedom to explore and learn photography. One of those photographers I interviewed eventually hired me as a PA and then eventually as a photo assistant. The assisting route didn’t prove very fruitful and I found myself getting work as a set dresser/prop stylist on TV commercials and large still shoots. This allowed me to earn a living, buy equipment and learn how to shoot. 

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From where do you source your daily inspiration?

Daily inspiration often comes from Instagram. Sometimes it’s a blessing; sometimes it’s a curse. I love seeing new and creative work and it’s a quick and easy source for that. I love following the trail or breadcrumbs that can lead from one photographer to another to a company creating cool work, to up-and-coming photographers who live in another country. I’ve purchased fine art prints and a photographer’s self-published book through Instagram. I find it a curse because often I see the same photos shot by different people. I see a lot of people shooting with the goal of likes and followers, which often leave me feeling flat and bored. I’m still a subscriber to a lot of magazines that I enjoy and want to shoot for. Interview, Esquire, GQ, Fast Company, Inc, Vanity Fair. I love seeing what editorial photographers are shooting.

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 What advice do you have for others who have put their passions aside to follow steady full time jobs?

My advice to those that have put their passions aside to follow steady jobs is to not let their passion slip away. I learned the lesson that money doesn’t buy me happiness or fulfillment. I think that lesson is something that has to be experienced first hand. Having a passion, whether it generates income or not, keeps me sane. i’ve also learned that there are a lot of jobs in and around the industry that allow people to stay close to their passion while making a living.

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What advice do you have for other creatives that want to make the jump to leave their full-time jobs to pursue their passion?

My advice to any creative with the hopes of making a living is to go out and do it and do a lot of it. I am constantly shooting new ideas, new people, testing equipment or experimenting for the fun of it (hence the double exposure and fire shots). 

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That’s the reason I got back into photography; it was fun. I’ve learned both in my business and photography careers that in order to keep both my skill and interest alive, I have be immersed in the craft. Just like any top-level athlete who practices all the time, I’ve found I need to practice all the time.

What does photography mean to you?

Photography is my outlet. It keeps me grounded, motivated and inspired. Without it I get cranky. 

To see more of Chuck’s work, visit his site and his Instagram

Featured Contributor: Freddy Fabris Chicago based photographer...

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Featured Contributor: Freddy Fabris 

Chicago based photographer Freddy Fabris has been creating highly stylized works of art for the past sixteen years. Shooting cars, people, beauty and conceptual campaigns spanning the continent, Fabris has made quite the name for himself in the industry. 

His work incorporates the fusing together of the contemporary everyman with some of the greatest works of art history has ever seen, dating back to the 1400s. Bringing a wonderfully unique perspective to his craft and composition, Fabris breathes life into every one of his photographs, creating modern day masterpieces. There is a polished elegance and nobility present among so many of his subjects, bringing about the virtue in each individual captured. 

I had the pleasure of speaking with Freddy Fabris regarding his creative freedoms and limitations while working on commercial campaigns, the inspiration behind some of his most defining works and his thoughts on viewing his photography through varied perspectives. 

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Often times, the artist’s personal work is an embodiment of the id unearthed. it seems you’ve found a way to meld both your personal and commercial work together in creating larger than life, borderline fantastical imagery to please both the common consumer and art critic alike. I’m curious about the Axiom USA series, Panasonic and the Adidas World Cup ‘All in or Nothing’ series among many others. Do you ever find that your creative side is stifled by commercial restrictions and pre-conceived visions of the finished product? Or do you feel your imagination running wild when faced with a commercial assignment? 

I guess some projects allow for a lot more creative input on my part, others are more attached to the original layouts approved by the client, so those are more about problem solving and creating the right aesthetic and mood for the project. It’s interesting that you pointed out the Adidas and Axioma projects: those are two perfect examples of those two different scenarios. 

Axioma develops software for investment risk management. The concept was “numbers can betray you.” All the situations were murder scenes involving numbers. When I received the layouts, the images were daylight situations, the numbers were all different colors: orange, yellow and green. I told the creatives immediately, “If I’m shooting this, we go dark, moody, and the numbers are black and latex/vinyl looking. There’s no way we can tell this story in broad daylight.”

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They loved the ideas and gave me and my team total control of the styling. They trusted us with everything. There was no back and forth client approval of pre-production stuff. We only had the art directors from the agency on set with the shooting days (no client). When we showed the clients the final images, they were blown away.

Adidas, on the other hand, was a huge project involving a mix of different challenges with not much wiggle room to move away from the original layouts: shooting sport celebrities in action at their training facilities, dropping that in post-production on stadium backgrounds, and matching with the situations on the other half of the ads featuring the sports fans. I consider this to be a clear example of a “problem solving” assignment. Working hand in hand with your production team and creating the right lighting concept for all this to come together gracefully. 

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On projects like this, pre-production is key. I get deeply involved in all aspects of it, and on set, you need to run a tight ship. Everyone has to be on point as there is no room for mistakes when you have celebrities on set and a very tight schedule to get all your shots done.

Long before this interview, I saw images from The Renaissance Series and hoped to have the chance to speak to the visionary behind the piece. Now here we are. As a huge Sons of Anarchy fan, this series spoke to me in a big way. There is something absolutely remarkable about exalting this group of mechanics to the extent that you did. I read somewhere that you had sought out this concept for some time before coming across the right place to shoot it. What is the inspiration and motivation behind The Renaissance Series? 

Because of my painting background, I always wanted to homage the great Renaissance masters with a series of photos. It’s nothing new, great photographers like Erwin Olaf or David LaChapelle have had their personal approach to it, but I was missing that moment of enlightenment that would make my creative process come full circle. 

One afternoon, I came across this Midwest car shop where a friend of mine was getting his car repaired. The moment I walked in there, it clicked. Imagine your mechanic is borderline hoarder. This place had so much stuff ar

ound, and everything had this patina of grease, dirt, life. I saw his hubcap hanging on the wall, and there it was, the halo behind Jesus’ head!…The Last Supper…mechanics…lunch break…bam! It hit me, that was it.

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I had finally found my way of telling these stories from a perspective that I had never seen done before. A Renaissance Midwest car shop? Insane!!!

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In the next days, I worked on ideas that would work for the other two shots, finally narrowing it down to The Last Supper by Phillippe de Champagne, The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo and The anatomy lesson by Rembrandt. 

I wanted people to recognize at first glance the masterpiece that inspired each image, but then have them realize something was really off. We worked on the wardrobe color palette to respect the originals as much as possible. We played with this idea of “where is this guy really looking at?” Once you start looking at each character in detail, the vagueness of the stare in some of them, all those little details I think are the essence of the originals.

What does it mean to you?

I would say the Renaissance series is my favorite personal work so far. I love the balance between the overall Renaissance painting feeling of it, the acting, the awkwardness of the location, the humorous little details, everything just falls into place so gracefully. With projects like this, you walk a very fine line keeping all the different elements balanced. You don’t want to be too obvious, but you can’t be too shy. 

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It is clear you have a propensity for glorifying the individual – be it a fashionista, hockey player or mechanic. You’ve captured a deepened sense of dignity in these subjects. What is it that you are trying to evoke in the viewer with these photographs?

The portraits from the Renaissance series are based on Rembrandt’s portraiture work, so I got these mechanics to pose as nobleman, and though I think these portraits are pretty humorous, I guess there is something to be read in between the liens. Dignity is not about what you do for a living or how you dress, it comes from the inside - it’s who you are.

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Is it important to you that the viewer sees the images through your perspective? What is it that you see, that you want others to as well?

Not at all. I believe every viewer should have his own experience, that’s what art is all about. What I tried to express with each image, most will get, others will not. It’s part of the process. Sometimes people highlight things about my work I hadn’t even thought about, I love that. 

Who or what is your daily source of inspiration? 

For me, it’s about being open to the idea that inspiration can surprise you at any given moment. It’s all around you, so keep your eyes peeled, your senses sharp and your mind open. 

Was there a turning point for you when you realized photography would be your lifelong career and not simply a hobby? 

Yes, once I started assisting I quickly realized this was what I wanted to do. One year later, I was the second shooter at that studio, and one year after that I started my own studio. I was a quick learner. 

What advice do you have for aspiring photographers, struggling photographers and successful photographers alike?

Stay true to yourself, never give up, and back up your files. 

To see more of Freddy Fabris’ work, visit his site

Featured contributor: Sue Barr Sue Barr’s website is guaranteed...

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Featured contributor: Sue Barr 

Sue Barr’s website is guaranteed to bring out the inner child within us all. Filled with warm saturated hues, laugher and inquisitive smiles; Barr’s subjects are candidly blissful and wholly spirited. Centering around family ties and interpersonal relationships of all ages, Barr introduces the brighter aspects of humanity to her viewers. 

Whether she is focusing on extraordinary achievements, suburban bliss or something deeper – a concept that movie director Richard Linklater illustrated in his feature film “Boyhood,” the moments in between the milestones. The moments in between the moments.

There is something to be said about having the eye to capture these candid expressions. Surrounding herself with uplifting individuals and sets made to look like real life scenarios elevates Barr’s work to an incredibly authentic level. The phrase, “less is more,” comes to mind when viewing the simple allure of Barr’s photosets. She categorizes her work into four sections, “Suburban Bliss, Organized Chaos, ExtraOrdinary moments and Life with Style.” It is through Sue Barr’s lens that we allow ourselves to see subjects shining from the inside out.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Sue Barr regarding her plentiful sources of daily inspiration, the unique perspective she brings behind the lens, and the moment she knew she was destined to be a photographer. 

I think it’s fairly common in photography to capture the picturesque, ideal version of something as potentially tumultuous and vast as the teenage years. What really got me were the completely genuine, palpable signs of adolescence at work that you chose to depict. There’s a girl rocking a skateboard above her head, bearing her brace-bound teeth and looking like she’s ready to raise hell. There are best friends hugging in flower crowns, messy nail polish bottles, sleepy-eyed bed heads and perhaps the most resonant image for me – a long-legged young lady deciding whether or not to go for the striped skirt she’s trying on with a friend looking on in the background. Tell me about your inspiration behind these photos. Who these teenagers are and what brought you to photograph them in such a candid light?

I’m not taking snapshots as they are happening, but they are all real emotions that I coax out of the talent when they are in front of my lens. Great casting (which is often real kids who don’t model professionally) and production before I even pick up my camera make it easy to capture what I call that extra-ordinary moment.

Something that I loved about your photography was that at first, while quickly glancing at the teenage photoset and then shifting to the Adults Only one, for a moment the two didn’t seem so different. In fact, it was tough to tell the two apart.  I saw hot pink hair and spray paint and backyard tents and hang-gliding and felt as if the two weren’t so far off from one another. Was that an intentional parallel you drew? Or did the photos organically come about that way? What components of adulthood were you trying to draw from?

Most lifestyle assignments have both adults and kids in the briefs. I knew I had to start shooting grown-ups to compete, but I wanted to shoot them the same way I shoot kids. Casual, everyday people enjoying simple things they do daily: coffee, laundry, grocery shopping and just being real.

I recently came upon the notion that everyone, everywhere only wants to connect. It’s incredibly clear that the ongoing motif prevalent in just about all of your work is that of human connection and of the human spirit. There is something absolutely heart- warming about your work. Something almost whimsical. Since many if not all of your photographs center around humanity, can you tell me what it is that you see in humanity that you wish to allow others to see as well? What it is that you find worthy of capturing time and time again that you present to your audience?

That’s simple. Life happens and every day has a moment worth smiling about. I want everyone to see that moment of grace. I am also a voracious reader (mostly magazines and newspapers these days) and a news junkie. In fact, my recent award with APA is on an image of a female little league catcher with piercing blue eyes looking through a chain link fence that was inspired by the news. Last summer, Mo’ne Davis was all the rage. She was the first girl little leaguer who pitched a no-hitter and made the cover of Sports Illustrated. I immediately shot a series of personal imagery to show equality and strength with girls as my subject.  

What words of advice do you have for aspiring artists, struggling artists and successful artists alike?

Don’t get lost in the muck…find your voice and stay with it. That doesn’t mean shoot the same thing over and over again because that’s boring.  As you perfect your vision your subject matter will evolve and start to include new things.

From where do you source your daily inspiration?

My daily life! Not to be flippant, but that’s the simple truth. I am a single mom by choice who started shooting kids as my biological clock started ticking. I moved to the “burbs” to raise my son (who is now is a “tween”) in a place I refer to as “Mayberry” with white picket fences and a town that we can walk or bicycle to. He goes to a little charter school and we both have a diverse group of friends living this lifestyle as well. It’s an ideal situation but I also draw inspiration from my years as a fashion stylist, world traveler and downtown diva. My two lives give me a bit of an edge for keeping my imagery universally appealing, real and relatable.

Did you know at an early age that you would choose photography as your career? If not, at what point did your fascination in photography trump all other paths? And of all the mediums, why photography?

OH NO. Photography was never a choice. I was an artist and loved painting. At 16 I graduated from high school and went to an unaccredited art school (Montserrat School of Visual Arts). I drew and painted in a realistic style. The director at the school made a demeaning comment to me about my art. It was a long-winded diatribe on conceptual art, but it’s the gist of what he said that has resonated with me. “Be a photographer if you want to paint like that.” I studied advertising and design at university with a minor in painting (my parents wanted me to be employable and I conceded) but ultimately it was fashion that drew me to NYC. I became a stylist. Being on set and ensconced both professionally and personally in the industry taught me everything about production. I even taught it at Parsons for years. I picked up my first SLR camera in the late 80’s on a whim and took behind the scenes shots of all the productions. I eventually got frustrated with that and started asking the talent if I could shoot them at lunch or another day and also wandered the streets of NY. Shooting kids was magical. Every roll had a moment I wanted to show the world (had to print back then as there was no Instagram). I had no idea it would be a career choice, but the lens became my paintbrush and my life experiences and aspirations were my inspirations.

To view more of Sue Barr’s work, visit her site