Wednesday, October 28, 2009
On this very rainy day in NYC, Photographer Kate Mathis, check out katemathis.com, and I decided to get together and combine our creative spirits on a Photography Test, We had a window of time free from commercial endeavors to jump on it so we decided to use it effectively to create something that would speak to us on a more moodier and darker side, so the weather was quite fitting, using metal elements, We decided on a decorating feature that would have pops of neon pink, I was actually inspired by a beautiful Thai flatware/ cutlery set that Kate brought along to the shoot that she found on e-bay, It was very streamlined and gold and sat in a radiating neon pink velvet lined wooden box, These color combination inspired the rest of the shoot, We used all metals, gold’s, silver’s and bronze’s with flashes of pink in flowers, ribbons and string, I wanted to give it a slightly industrial, lofty feel , so we wove in the studios black floorboards and existing walls, but also painted a wall in this great color called “Evening Dove” by Benjamin Moore, A deep grey with a hint of blue, Thanks to Mike and the guys at Versatile Studios, versatilestudios.com for allowing us to shoot there, Kate and I are both with the same agent patbatesandassociates.com, we hope to have some of the results online soon.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
A big part of my inspiration and love of objects comes from Flea Markets, Most Stylists would agree that they prove to be a valuable resource, I often find that purchases can be a bit random though, Murphy’s law would have it that if you are looking for something for a particular story/ job in mind you often won’t find it that week, but go back the next after you needed it and the market will be teeming with that particular prop you needed, that’s why even if a little hard on the wallet at times, I try to pick up things as I see them, I like to put them in my back pocket for safe keeping, Often as a Stylist you will do “test” images to try and produce a body of work that is personal or speaks to the viewer, something about your particular take or aesthetic, Often these market finds can be the springboard for those tests.
This week I was lucky enough to stumble across a Fornasetti plate, Piero Fornasetti, most would be familiar with as the designer who lived and worked in Milan from 1935-1988, His style was based on illusionism, architectural perspectives and a host of personal motifs.
This plate is from the a plate and tea set that was inspired by his fascination of musical instruments, Musical instruments, a popular motif since the Renaissance in Art is a theme that he too picked up on and applied to many objects in his body of work including chairs, ashtrays, cupboards, glasses, He was an amazingly versatile designer whose body of work is astounding, While I love the theme of musical instruments, His other themes such as sun, hot air balloons, books, umbrellas, pipes, locks & keys, architecture, playing cards all hold a fascination for me, These everyday objects are used with such a sophisticated application, yet they still seem whimsical and slightly surreal.
His most famous work is probably 'Themes and Variations', a series of plates with faces of the beautiful Italian singer, Lina Cavalieri. These strange and fascinating objects include her face interspersed with a sun and a clock face and surrounded by a hot-air balloon. They are highly sought after by collectors.
I feel very lucky to have found this plate and I think it may cement an interest in collecting further vintage Fornasetti, stay posted!
I have owned a book for some time called “Fornasetti, Designer of Dreams” by Patrick Mauries, It is published by Thames and Hudson, 1991, Reprinted 2006
Read more: http://historicalbiographies.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_great_fornasetti#ixzz0UxzibuQM
Tip: Barneys and Moss in NYC have a great collection of newly released Fornasetti
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I am a mad collector of images of street art and graffiti, I feel so inspired by the spontaneity and energy that it produces, I particularly like fact that it feels it has a short shelf life and it’s always changing so it’s fresh and often controversial, In a way it’s a similar energy when producing images for print, unless it’s in a book, with magazines and even the net, images come and go. With street art I also love the layering of peeling paper and the way it fades and ages with the elements.
There is so much great art around the city of NYC, I always make sure I have my camera and a lot of people know I swap out my wallpaper all the time on my I-Phone with art I come across, but I have also collected pictures of great street art from around the world, everywhere from Florence to Sydney, I have so much, I cannot share it all on this blog, but will post time to time.
What does this have to do with Styling I hear you ask, I’m not certain I can explain what!.. Only that like a lot of things, it resonates with the inner artist, maybe I can tap into it on a shoot, stay postered!
A great website to check out is www.streetsy.com
Hint: As many of you locals may know, Keep an eye out on 22nd Street, between 9th and 10th outside the Comme De Garcon store, It’s a constant source for ever changing art and inspiration.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Oh boy, bring out the painkillers, My back is a mess, today myself and Karin Olsen, (check out karinolsen.com), one of my fab assistants and Photographer/ Stylist herself helped me move my prop cupboard from a very small crowded cubbyhole to a much more generous space in NYC where space does not come easy or cheap, One of the perils of being a stylist is that you have to own stuff…like lots of stuff! …. And unless you want to live side by side with a million things, you need somewhere to store them! , “You never know when you may need something” is the general mantra for most Stylists, that space has to be organized, efficient and contain miles and miles of bubble wrap!
Most of the day was spent packing, moving and unpacking, imagine packing and moving your apartment in one day, but then times that by at least twice a week, what most people don’t realize is that when you style a photo shoot, you bring almost (and in some cases) a whole house worth of stuff, while you may not use everything, you have to have options there to make a shot that extra bit special so with the help of an assistant, one must expect to play mover as well as fluffer! ..Who said styling was glamorama, not I, but we still love it!
I have big plans for my new prop cupboard space so stayed tuned for the “after” shots…but don’t expect them too soon! ; )
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Unfortunately Song Dong’s exhibition has closed at Museum of Modern Art in NYC last month, but as I have only just started this “fluff ‘n’ stuff” blog recently, I still wanted to highlight this amazing exhibition, Based in Beijing, artist Song Dong created this exhibition “Waste Not”, For a fellow appreciator of objects, this exhibition highlighted for me the magic of collections and how half a lifetime of collecting objects can say so much about a person’s life and existence, In this case, Song’s mother, the installation consisted of the complete contents of her home, amassed over 50 years during which the Chinese concept of wu jin qi yong, or "waste not," was a prerequisite for survival, while to most it would seem like just objects worthy of being simply thrown out, To me I appreciated it’s attention to composition, color blocking and repetition of objects, It was truly fascinating, For me when styling, I often employ similar techniques, The idea of also working with found or everyday objects has always held its appeal and often that one (..Or as in this case many) unexpected objects in a composition whether for art or styling photographs sake, is what can make a image retain a sense of interest or appeal, Its that twist or that sense of quirk I like, often everyday objects can seem the most interesting, because they can turn up unexpected but also hold a sense of familiarity. Its not a new concept, Look at the work of Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol or Jeff Koons for example, where everyday objects became high art, one would argue these were done with shock value intended where as Song’s work has a wonderful sensitivity and personal energy.
You can read more about Song Dong’s work on www.culturebase.net
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Elephant Props in NYC is one of my favourite places to finds props, founded by Michele Michaels 3 years ago, It's a resource that connects in particular with a contemporary aesthetic, Part of a Stylists job is to find props from the marketplace to use in shoots but also a large bulk of props can be found in a variety of prop houses in Manhattan, Often these prop houses will have one off vintage or unique pieces but will also often stock current pieces sourced directly themselves from the marketplace by relevent designers or artists, Michele who has been a Stylist for many years has an amazing eye for quality props that are going to work and fit the bill for a variety of different shoots, particually tabletop, which means shoots for food or lifestyle shoots.
All pieces are set out in a color coding system that enables the stylist to focus on a particualar color scheme for each shoot, for examples all glasses, plates, bowls are all set up with their color value in mind, there are also themes, including kids, bathroom, picnic ware, artwork etc that enable you to focus rather than be confused by a mass of objects, Most of Elephant's props are also clearly set out on her website, For any lover of objects, It is a great resource for inspiration. Patrick Moore, Michele's partner, a former set designer and builder is responsible for many of the handmade objects such as their great collection of custom made cutting boards and surfaces.
Philip Ficks shot all these great new images for Michele's and Patrick's new updated website, A former Art Director, Philip and I used to work together on Real Simple Magazine, has captured the essence of what Elephant is all about, Enjoy!
How excited was I when I was booked to prop style Delia Smith's new book, To most of my English friends, As they would say, They were "dead impressed", Delia, being what could be best compared to the U.S's Martha or Julia Childs, is an amzing TV presenter and cook that has been impressing folks with her best selling books and shows for many years,
I got to work once again with my very talented friend Creative Director http://www.vanessaholden.com/ Her website is beautiful btw, you should check it out and to shoot with another friend Petrina Tinslay, http://www.petrinatinslayphotography.com.au/folio.htm One of Australia's and the world's best food photographers, They would probably blush with these words, but I always love working with both, they are super talented and we have a lot of fun working together.
With the book we took a very white on white approach with hits of pale blue and red, I had this idea of a collection of decorations on the inside of the flaps of the book which would be in bold contrast with the rest of the book which is quiet, We wove through the book these decorations and striped ribbon to give it it's uniformity, I got the chance to use some beautiful props, many antique pieces concentrating on English ceramics, It was all shot in a 2 week period.
Lastly but not leastly, Alison Attenborough http://www.alisonattenborough.com/ did the Food Styling, She baked (and styled) up a storm and my favorite was the classic christmas cake which I ate with relish everynight with my cup of Earl Gray Tea.
Here is a selection of the pages of the book, Mainly the opening shots to each chapter, you can drool over the actual food shots in person, check out http://www.deliaonline.com/ or http://www.amazon.co.uk/Delias-Happy-Christmas-Delia-Smith/dp/0091933064
What better place to start then at home, we all know that in NYC, your home is your cocoon, your safe haven away from the often hectic and crazy life outside, I recently moved into the neighbourhood of Chelsea, where I have to say after years of avoiding, I actually embraced, Thanks to encouraging fellow peeps in the industry and fellow Chelsea dwellers, I took the plunge and I never looked back! It also meant I had a new project, a blank empty canvas, heaven to a prop stylist because it means we can "fill it up", To me there is nothing more joyous than coming home and re-arranging on any night!, Pop open a bottle of something, play some music while the ipod dock is still in its place and go for it, but when you have a new place, It's even better, needless to say in the last 3 years I have moved 4 places in Manhattan alone, Landlords beware, Stylist's don't stay long, just kidding, but it does mean reinventing ones home is a bit like Madonna reinventing her look, As a Interior/ Prop Stylist It must be done, after all your home is where many ideas springboard from, Without it, how do you test your skills?, Delve into a mad frenzy of creative energy, It gives me a buzz, Some people sit at home and do the crossword, My puzzle is rearranging furniture and coming up with new schemes in my home, Its way more interactive!, kinda crazy, but for me pure pleasure, Hope you like the results (This time! ; )