Art, Commerce and What Comes Next

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When Miami artist John Lacko found himself on the receiving end of a corporate pink slip, he did what most of us do – packed up his post-its and headed for the door. After years toiling in a cubicle, he was ready to face whatever happened next with a sharpened pencil and a pretty unique online portfolio. Setting up a home art studio, he decided to embrace life as a freelance-starving-artist to see where fate (and the internet) might lead. In the months that followed, he was tasked with a number of projects from the music industry, a branding exercise for a notorious horror movie director and quite a few t-shirt designs for surf & skate companies.

He never looked back.

The economic downturn definitely took its toll on his bank account, but his stylized illustrations appeal to enough people to keep the lights on and his spirits high. “If I never see the inside of a conference room again, I’ve already won,” he laughs. “The life of a freelance artist is harrowing on a good day but at least the days are mine and the opportunity to work with a lot of very crazy people is never boring…”

When the local news reported that art supply mecca PEARL PAINT – which is headquartered in South Florida – would be liquidating its inventory in advance of shuttering the last two stores, local artists shared their rememberances on Twitter and Facebook.  The brick and mortar source of esoteric elements treasured by architects (tiny plastic people standing, walking or seated), scrapbookers (colorful scissors that scallop or zigzag edges), and embroiderers (skeins of thread in silk, cotton, wool, rayon) started out at 30%, then 40% and finally 70% off before there was nothing left to sell.

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Like many, Lacko started wandering the dusty aisles trying to figure out what he needed, what he wanted and what he might require some time in the distant future. But what he found at the going out of business sale was a lot of people just like him who were facing an uncertain future when PEARL PAINT handed out their final paychecks. He started chatting with a woman named Rose, a veteran of the Oakland Park location, as she sorted through the boxes to set up the clearance tables with ten cent treasures and dollar deals.

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On the first visit, at 40% off, Lacko tested the waters with a few boxes of his favorite blue pencils and then loaded up on the oddities priced under a dollar. He got tape, metal clips, a mechanical waxing machine once used for pasting up columns of printed type before computer graphics rendered the process obsolete. He had no use for an automatic waxer, but at a dollar it seemed a shame to leave it to the landfill. The store’s vast inventory of things no one seemed to need any more may have led to the closing.  Selling anything online requires little more than a digital image and an e-commerce website. PEARL PAINT still had a vast and expensive portfolio department long after artists started showcasing their work on the web. The industry moved forward, PEARL did not.

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When the sell-off hit 50%, Lacko found Rose stocking the aisles. She smiled less and seemed overwhelmed by the frantic energy of shoppers emptying entire shelves into red carts. Stacks of stretched canvas and boxes of markers, spray adhesive and x-acto knives rattled out the door. Even at half price, many items in the PEARL inventory were barely competitive with Dick Blick and the popular online sites. Still, the ability to touch and test, to shake and rattle made the hands-on shopping experience appealing to many. The people working at the store offered great advice and many had art studios of their own.

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When the staff at PEARL in Oakland Park sent out the late night tweet that Monday August 18 would start the 70% off sale, the atmosphere at the store was bedlam. A uniformed Broward County sherriff stood at the register to help keep calm and the lines to check out ran right to the back. Someone came through and bought every single paintbrush in the paint aisle, another guy gingerly loaded up all the stained glass, a man and woman filled seven carts with such fervor it seemed they were auditioning for “Supermarket Sweepstakes.”

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The air conditioner had long since failed and the remaining PEARL staffers did their best to facilitate every transaction. Lacko finally splurged on a few big ticket items and then wandered around the aisles for the last time. The place felt a lot like his corporate job in the hours before the final closing. People seemed weary, a little frightened, but glad the chaos was finally winding down. As he pushed the wobbly shopping cart out to the car, he waved goodbye to Rose and wished her good luck. The store may be gone, but it seems like a lot of local artists will have all they need to do some amazing new work.

If they do run out of anything, new paint is just a click away.


To view John Lacko’s work, go to his website and Altpick page.

 

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Simon Puschmann’s Open Wounds Series

Boston  ©Simon Puschmann

Boston
©Simon Puschmann

by Simon Puschmann

To me a building that was ripped open like the ones in my images looks wounded, lacerated, hurt, torn apart, suffering. That is what I feel when I see buildings in that very state. I prefer to still see a notion of the former inhabitants. Sinks on walls, windows, I like to be able to feel the former presence of the people that lived or worked there. I also like the graphics of open buildings. I don´t photograph ruins or buildings that have been decaying for years and years. I look for fresh, open wounds, hence the name. These buildings are hard to find because often they are gone by the time I get there with my Alpa Max Camera. And usually within a week after I shot there, they are gone for good which is another aspect I like about these photographs.

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©Simon Puschmann Los Angeles

©Simon Puschmann
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About

Simon Puschmann is an award-winning commercial photographer who defies all photo categories. For more than 20 years, he has been creating his own brand of dramatic, unexpected imagery for a prestigious clientele, including Audi, Citroen, BMW, BMW Sauber F1, Mercedes Benz, Doc Martens, FC St. Pauli, Lufthansa, Hamburg City Film Council, Volkswagen, and Mobil One NASCAR Racing. Among his honors are bronze and silver medals from the International Aperture Awards, 2008; first place, Altpick Award, Photography Series, 2007 and 2008; and Photography Website of the Year for 2008, by altpick.com.

Simon says:
There is no doubt. I found photography and it found me. It’s as solid a marriage as the one I have with my wife, Susanne. I bought my first medium format camera, a Hasselblad, a 503CX, in photography school in 1987, then shot only 4×5“ for years and then turned digital with a Contax 645. Now I use a Phase One DF645+ and an Alpa. I like surprising my clients, the audience, even myself. I resist being put into any photo category. Clients know they can expect the unexpected and that I try harder. I invent, love, laugh, work, live, and breathe photography.

See more of Simon Puschmann’s work go to his website and Altpick page.

 

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Matthew Bowie’s Chicago

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©Matthew Bowie

by Matthew Bowie

Chicago has many opportunities to grow your documentary photography skills and is always a good way to stretch ones self as a photographer. Nothing beats the thrill of walking up to a complete stranger and asking them if you can take their portrait and talk with them about their life. In many cases people politely say no and walk away but occasionally someone will share with you an amazing story that is so interesting.

That’s the adventure of documentary photography. You never know what your going to learn or what type of images your going to get.

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Recently, I have been striving to create more personal work by documenting the people close to me.

Several years ago I moved into a building in Logan Square and become very close friends with my neighbor Betty Cherry, a 70 year old Christian missionary, who has more interesting stories than the library.

Betty has been through enough hardship to fill several life times. She keeps things simple and has a unique and personal way of talking about God. This series reflects the stories, emotions and experiences I’ve had with Betty over the years and how in many ways she is the grandma I never had.

©Matthew Bowie

©Matthew Bowie

I decided to reference a body of work created by fellow photographer, Andy Anderson, when I thought about the look and feel of this series. When I create personal work I try and be particle first and creative second so I don’t get carried away and then abandon an idea.

Betty was having a BBQ for her 70th birthday party and I knew that many of her friends and family would be attending. I thought this would be a great opportunity to create a mini body of portraits that would be interesting and fairly easy to create.

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I showed up early. Set up a black fabric background off to the side and throughout the party grabbed people and spent a few min. with them. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot and got to try some new ideas on getting more emotion out of a subject which was a success. I’m really happy with how the images came out and thankful to all the amazing subjects I got to work with.


 

To see the full collection visit: Betty Cherry’s Birthday Party

Check out more of Matthew Bowie’s photography on his website and Altpick.com page.

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Zave Smith :: I am a Collector of Stories

Portrait of a young women battling cancerby Zave Smith

Be open. You never know what might happen.

An unknown person reaches out, looking for a photographer to document the changes her body is going through. A picture of a bald woman is enclosed.

It does not take a lot of detective work to put a young person with a bald head and cancer together. The emails exchanged were not detailed. I was not sure what she wanted to do. But I was intrigued. What is her story?

At times I feel that I am a collector of stories. I meet people and I then create visual fictions based on their tales. Facts are just facts, but good fiction revels human truth.

We met on the corner of 11th and Callowhill. We talked for a few minutes, tossed her bike into the back of my van and set out to Fairmount Park. I knew I wanted to picture the contrast of her skin, with the green and the rock. I also knew that I wanted to abstract her story to make it more universal.  I knew that I was meeting a young woman who was proud, strong and very brave, yet living a life of complete uncertainty.

I know that this series is just a start. I don’t know yet where these photographs will lead. But I know that I must always be open.

There is an image gallery I posted on Alpick.com last week:  http://altpick.com/zavesmith/transformations

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BC Kagan’s Photos of The Jersey Boy

1227418924hyMuKRby BC Kagan

In the weeks leading up to the 2005 Tony nominations I had an opportunity to talk to John Lloyd Young about doing a shoot together. He had seen the photos I shot with cast mate Christian Hoff (who originated the Tommy DeVito role on Broadway) and was interested in what I could do for him. Mostly I like to approach someone if I think I can provide something different and/or better for them as a photographer. I had heard people repeatedly referring to John Lloyd as ‘that kid’ and realized he wasn’t one. He was an adult actor tasked with being Frankie Valli from age 16 through his adult years. I felt John Lloyd Young might like some photographs that showed him as a grown man.

Our first shoot was fruitful and accomplished my goal to portray him as a viable leading man. Shot inside a dive bar on 9th Ave, the photos were black and white and moody. His manager was so pleased with the results she wrote me a long and flattering thank you email. Those photographs were featured prominently on his website throughout his ‘Tony year”.   John Lloyd and I did two more photo shoots after that. The second one shot around the Westside of Manhattan including a trip to The Central Park Zoo. The third shoot took place as John Lloyd prepared to leave his first run in Jersey Boys at Hotel 17, a picturesque Manhattan hostel for European tourists, as well as, a shoot location for fashion and film.

1227419434Xy0qfhWith an increased budget for his personal wardrobe, John Lloyd developed a taste for John Varvatos (I think Varvatos provided John Lloyd with a tuxedo in which to receive his Tony). The Hotel 17 shoot featured a beautiful grey flannel Varvatos suit he had recently purchased.   Although, he has a beautiful, engaging smile, JLY mostly preferred the shots in which he looked wistful, intense or downright miserable. The shot here is from the room at Hotel 17 – JLY called it the pinwheel shot.

©BC Kagan

©BC Kagan


BC KAGAN is an internationally published photographer best known for her portraits of emerging punk rock, new wave and alternative rock bands.  The long list of eminent bands and musicians she has photographed includes, among others: U2, Aerosmith, Phish, The Police, The Cars, Duran Duran, The Buzzcocks, The Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joe Strummer, Billy Idol and Iggy Pop.

To see more of BC’s work click here.

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Today’s Edition :: Inside Altpick Members’ Studios

Today’s Edition of “Inside Altpick Members’ Studios” features some of our favorite commercial illustrators and their work spaces.  Here’s a glimpse inside where magic happens!

©Nicola Boccaccini

©Nicola Boccaccini

©Nicola Boccaccini

©Nicola Boccaccini

Photographer and Illustrator Nicola Boccaccini is based in Italy and is the founder of Little Busy Bees and father of Little Bunny.  Explore more of Nicola’s work on his website and Altpick page.

 

 

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©Chris Sickels/Red Nose Studio

©Chris Sickels/Red Nose Studio

Chris Sickels of Red Nose Studio creates 2-D and 3-D illustration, character design and development, and lo-fi stop motion animation.

His 3-D illustrations are built from a variety of materials. Sets and puppets are combination of wire, fabric, cardboard, wood, miniatures, found objects and anything within arms reach at the time.  See more of Chris’ work on his website,  Altpick page and Magnet Rep website.

 

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©Tom Cocotos

©Tom Cocotos

At the age of one and a half Tom Cocotos rolled off his diaper table;25 years later a delayed neurological reaction caused him to abandon an electrical engineering degree to pursue one in art.  He’s inspired by rides on the NY subway system, dolphins that resemble Jimmy Durante, and eccentric people. His passions include volleyball, poetry, interesting scraps of paper and studying the lives of famous magicians.  See more of Tom’s work on his website and Altpick page.

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©Eleanor Grosch

©Eleanor Grosch

Eleanor Grosch (now Dalkner) is a contemporary modernist with a big ol’ smile. She’s known for her simplified, playful illustrations and bold, colorful design work.

Eleanor has always loved drawing animals. Her nature inspired artwork for band posters got her clients like Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, Edwin McCain, Elefant, and Dave Matthews Band early on.  See more of Eleanor’s work on her website,  Altpick page and Magnet Rep website.

 

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To see more of the artists’ work go to their website and Altpick page:                 Photographer and Illustrator Nicola Boccaccini                                                                  Illustrator Chris Sickels of Red Nose Studio                                                            Illustrator Tom Cocotos                                                                                            Illustrator Eleanor Grosch

 

 

 

 

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Gina Binkley Brings Her Photography to the Forefront

REV4914 3 Born in the sunny southern U.S., illustrator and designer Gina Binkley is the granddaughter of two tobacco farmers. Her rural upbringing nurtured her interests in folk art, quilting, antiques and animals. She uses these passions from her early years as inspiration for her work today.

-9870lo Gina has created photographic assemblages and still life collage for many publications including the New York Times, Time Out NY, Harvard Business Review, Fast Co and the Chicago Tribune. She has also provided conceptual images for many book covers. Her assignments and commissions for assemblage and still life has inspired her further foray into commercial photography assignments. She retains a keen interest in photographing objects but her love of portraits and place as well as beauty and romanticism has set the course for the next phase of her photographic work.  To see more of Gina’s work go to her website and Altpick page.

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Brian Cummings Rolls Out In Style With BECK’S

static.squarespaceIt’s tailgating season and nobody is gonna do it better than this sexy beast.

Beck’s (AB InBev), has rolled out their Mercedes G-Wagon, mobile marketing juggernaut, just in time for summer in Miami. Designed by ACD and sweet ride enthusiast, Joe Wieneke (Group 360°), it is an exercise in straight up pimping.

Brian Cummings and crew were asked to do some promo shots of said sled and Brian’s reply was, “OK, we’ll shoot it on white, real nice like. Nothing fancy”. Joe’s reaction was “Meh. Go all out with it?”. Well, stellar direction gets stellar results.

Cummings’ studio is rather large with 30′ ceilings and garage entry, so shooting large pieces (motorcylce, compact car, full size game room, etc) are possible. But, he had yet to attempt something of this size before. Their column width throughout the studio is 16′ apart. The G-Wagon dimensions run : 6.74′ wide x 15.5′ long x 6.4′ tall. So, imagine maneuvering this beast into position between each column (think Austin Powers driving a mini-cart).

If you look on the inter-webs, there are several informative videos on how to light automobiles. Most of these use some form of a Chimera F2x strip bank (see photo).

http://www.chimeralighting.com/Products/Overhead-F2-Lightbanks/F2X-Lightbank

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Unfortunately, when you do not own one, nor could rent one locally, what do you do? Improvise.

A 20′ sectional overhead butterfly frame with silk (w/ combo stands) was rented and modified to size to just squeak over head of the wagon. From there, the crew boomed 5 heads (with open reflectors), lining up in a row from hood to spare tire. Utilizing two stripbank soft boxes aligned vertically with the front and back ends of the vehicle, they were able to create a linear light source across the body panels.

For details of the tires and rims, they used a single head w/ open reflector in combination with a large bounce to add just enough kick light. Shoot and repeat.

Beck's G-Wagon - Side

Beck's G Wagon - Rear

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Client: Anheuser Busch InBev

Agency: Group 360°

CD: Mason Magyar

ACD: Joe Wieneke

AE: Michelle Fahy

SrExperiential Producer: Megan Eads

Assistant: Alex Grman

Digital Tech: Meg Hensley

Producer: Amy Kubala

Reposted from Brian Cummings’ blog.

To see more of Brian’s work, go to his website and Altpick page.

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Altpick Connects :: In Review

Missed some Altpick Connects’ blog posts?  Here’s a round-up of some recent stories:

 

To read the blog posts and see more of the artists’ work, Click on the links below:

1399346584Joa7IyBonnie Holland: Blog Post |Website | Altpick

 


 

Richard Borge:  Blog Post |Website | Altpick

John Borge: Blog PostWebsite

 


 

Matthew_Bowie_LA_Project_61-1024x768 Matthew Bowie: Blog PostWebsite | Altpick

 


 

Suite380_Biltmore_0659_r1c2flatweb George Kamper: Blog PostWebsite | Altpick

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Photographer Matthew Bowie’s LA Project

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In Los Angeles many young talented men and woman are working hard to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Photographer Matthew Bowie had an opportunity to reconnect with Elaine Hayhurst, who he had worked with last year for a feature with Eloquent Woman Magazine.

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Lance Reed has been out of work since 2012. Matthew met him when he got on the bus at 3:30 a.m. He was traveling to Labor Ready, a day labor employment service, to try and get some work. When asked about his life he said, “to live and learn to grow into perfection. It’s a journey into perfection”.

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Alice Nahin picks up a photograph from a bag that sits to the right of her television and says, “His name was Mel, he died a year ago”. Alice is referring to her husband of 62 years. The couple met in 1949 at a New Years Eve party hosted by Alice. At the time both were dating other people. In less than 2 years they were married.

Alice thankfully can still remember certain memories of her life but many she cannot since being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 2 years ago.

Alice mothered two sons, Bruce Nahin and Richard, by Mel. When speaking about her children she sat up and said, “I feel happy when Bruce visits me”. Her son, Bruce, visits every Saturday. Alice currently resides in Belmont Village, a nursing home for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, located in West Hollywood.

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Laura Beth Vorgias has been a flight attendant for 3 years. Her father was a commercial airline pilot and one of the reasons she gravitated toward the profession. At the age of 27 she says, “I’m at a place in my life with no drama and things are better than ever”.  She hopes to continue working as a flight attendant for several more years so she can continue to travel the world and pursue her passion for photography, which you can check out online at:http://27thframephotography.com/

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Daisy Hamilton often spends time in a meditation room she set up in one of her closets. She lights candles, burns fresh dried sage, and practices breathing techniques to center her energy, a practice Matthew was not familiar with.

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“She said I was the first photographer allowed in her meditation space, which was also a first for me.” comments Bowie.  Daisy works as an international film distributor. She said, “I get to share stories around the world but also have to cater to tastes that I don’t personally stand behind…and that sucks…but since I also work with a start-up tech company I can also work on something with noble intentions”.

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Darryl D. points to the Milk Weed plant which caterpillars eat before becoming butterflies. Each year butterflies come to mate, lay eggs and when those eggs hatch a Caterpillar is born..

Caterpillars feed on the Milk Weed leaves for about 2 weeks. After that time, the caterpillar will create a chrysalis, commonly known as a cocoon, and emerge as a butterfly in approximately 2 weeks.



Matthew Bowie’s career began as a photojournalist. He desire to spend more time producing images has led him into advertising and editorial work.

“I love working collaboratively to create an image that captures the authenticity of a person or place. The reality of a person, place or idea is what motivates my images.”

To see more of Matthew’s work go to his website and Altpick page.

 

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