Waves + Colette

Waves + Colette

There was something about the pattern flow on this shirt that made the image work best with no clutter behind it. Model Colette Stone, hair by Laura Buenrostro, makeup Brittany Moody, wardrobe Marcel Dejure, shot in LA around Thanksgiving.

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2013 Year In Review

As an obsessive list maker, it’s not easy to go back and actually find what my strategic goals were at the start of the year.  I always have “learn spanish” and “piano lessons” somewhere in there, oh well, better luck next year.  Easier to recite what did get accomplish than beat myself up over what got put off.

I showed my work a lot in galleries which was a primary goal.  I had 3 solo shows in Phoenix, participated in a bunch of group shows (I think 6, I’m not sure) in LA and Phoenix.  There was a lot of nice media coverage to the solo shows and only one group show was a disaster that led me to bouts of vomiting.  I also got published a lot, multiple tearsheets from actual real magazines (always gotta clarify that).

Creativity-wise, I really expanded my music-making and ceramic mask output.  I made around 30 songs, a soundtrack for one of the solo shows, 50 ceramic masks and created a few comics which have yet to see the light of day.

For art teaching I expanded my class offerings at Mesa Arts Center and Tumbleweed Rec Center, and began teaching for City of Tempe for their adult and youth programs.

The biggest changes were

1. the purchase of an IPad, which made professional music creation a trillion times easier.  Apps like Garageband, Kaossilator, Samplr, Propellerhead’s Figure and others mean I have access to thousands of pro sounds and multitrack recorders, and I’m knocking out tracks like crazy while watching my kids rampage around a park.  The icing on the cake is the iRig gear which lets you record a guitar or mic straight into the iPad, and create virtual amplifiers.  As someone who has owned both Android tablets and the iPad, there’s no contest as who what is the better creative tool.  Touch responsiveness of Apple products mean when I play music, or draw, I’m actually doing it.

2. the expansion of ceramics in my creative output.  Ceramics aren’t new, in fact I made my first masks 7 years ago, but I never pursued them because I didn’t have access to a kiln which is a big deal.  Then I started selling some of the oldies, and found out that it was quite cheap to use the studio at Mesa Arts Center where I also happened to work.  Now it’s an obsession.

3. becoming a lot more business conscious.  Which means having products, pricing them correctly, having contracts, cutting overhead, and spending much less time shooting.  Having supply fees for classes, offering more diverse classes, attending art markets, networking correctly.  Creating stuff people actually want to spend money on, and not giving everything away for free on the web.  Getting published in real magazines that actually pay, showing in locations that actually sell art.  Paying taxes.  Amazing what happens when you take this art-business stuff seriously!

If you are creative in any way in your life, how was 2013 for you?

Fuji X-e1 Review

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jpeg straight out of the camera

My new Fuji X-e1 has been put through the paces for the last 3 days and I think I’ve worked the bugs out.  It’s not really a step up from my 4 year old Nikon D700, more of a step sideways, in the same way my Fuji Instax Wide, 4×5 view camera, and lomo cameras were really fun creative tools that I wouldn’t necessarily use for more commercial work.

One thing I was really curious about was how good in-camera processing was.  The truth is as I always suspect- in-camera editing of jpgs sucks, and this isn’t exclusive to this camera, it’s any camera or phone app editing.  If image quality is of any importance, nothing works better than shooting raw format and processing in lightroom/ photoshop.

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same jpeg with a little bit of enhancement in lightroom 5.3.

Specific to this camera, I haven’t quite sorted the autofocus yet.  I’m *almost* to the point of using the manual to see if it has a movable target like my D700 has.

The video it takes is beautiful.  The camera is so comfortable to carry and never feels like a burden.  The overall design and feel of it is marvelous.  The raw files are fine and work for me, as a photographer who normally adds grain and layers to my work I can see using it for a lot of travel, street, art and object photography.

I still have my full frame camera for those “professional” moments (which are fewer and further between anyways), but photographers stay fresh by shooting a lot and enjoying the process.    At this moment I really needed a camera that could get me excited to shoot again, and the X-e1 absolutely it.

Impressionist Pinup and the Happy Accident

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Anastasia Arteyeva in Los Angeles, Feb 2012

In 2012 I painted on a bunch of photos and then kind of forgot about the series.  I was calling it “Impressionist Pinup.”  I recently found these photos, and thinking I should at the very least put them up on Etsy, took to re-photographing them.  The flash went off on this one and led to a happy accident which gave this image a bit of a “cosmic” feel.

Camera Shopping

At this time of year I indulge myself with whatever piece of gear I’ve lusted after for a long while.  Having been a Nikonian for over a decade, but unwilling to drop $3000 on the “step up” camera the D800, I decided it’s time to move on to something more modern and reasonable- a Fuji XE1.  The mirrorless cameras are ideal for the art, street and portrait shooters such as myself, and the likelihood of me shooting a sporting even or wedding or distant wildlife is quite low.    

I don’t think equipment is a huge factor in one’s creative output, but after a length of time we all fall out of love with our cameras.  They feel heavy, maybe obsolete, maybe incapable of doing some new thing that we want to try (like video).  It is very hard for me, after 4 years, to get super excited about using my D700.Image

I did go to Tempe Camera twice today, all geared up to get my new camera.  The wait was over 1/2 hour with customers (the kind who frequent retail stores because they need someone to talk to, or don’t know how to buy things via interwebs) getting free workshops from salespeople who indulged them.  In the end, I’m Amazoning it.  For all romantic notions of small businesses, it’s gotta be able to compete and satisfy customers.      

Inspiration + Influence: Mansun

 

It’s said the music you enjoyed in your late teens and early 20s is the music that resonates most in your life, partly because it’s “coming of age” music, but I also think it has to do with the way our ears physically work, how sensitive those late teenage ears are to sound.  My era was 1989-2000, and even today I seek out artists I’d overlooked from that era.  Bands like Skunk Anansie or Mansun, who I picked up on in the mid-2000s after they had both broken up.  Mansun is particularly special to me- something that goes on when I have a day like today, groggy from allergy pills, editing something not very creative, wondering how I’m gonna make the mortgage in 3 days.

Mansun was the brainchild of Paul Draper, a multi-instrumentalist who formed the band with friends before they actually learned to play their guitars.  His singing is a bit of glam and the sound borrowed from classic British rock traditions, but with prog touches that stretched songs into angular directions and tempo shifts.  Most important was Paul’s natural weirdness.  At the time Oasis would write such deep and unique missives *cough cough* as “D’Ya Know What I Mean”, Mansun was kicking out songs called “Take It Easy Chicken”, “She Makes My Nose Bleed” (referring to the manga habit of male characters nose bleeding when aroused), “Egg Shaped Fred,” and “Being A Girl.”

The first album was built around the concept of a strange village, complete with stripping vicars.  It was Monty Python and The Prisoner through the amp of T.Rex.

The second album “Six” is an insane classic, the Id run wild.  The videos are funny and a perfect fit for the tunes.

The third album was really toned down, and showed influence of Prince in both style and song titles.  It’s not really my thing to be honest.  Then they broke up, and post-breakup saw a neat collection of unreleased work, b-sides and demos.  But I’ve got two great albums plus a ton of neat b-sides.  Jesus, I miss b-sides.  That’s where artists could slip out the experiments, the interesting stuff without the record company wondering if they could make a mint off it.

Sculpting E

A time lapse of me sculpting a ceramic mask inspired by E from the Eels, one of my musical heroes. Final product for sale on Etsy.

I really enjoy these time lapses and am getting some new equipment this week that will boost my video output. Video art, music videos, tutorials, etc.  It really brings photography, music and animation together, and I’m always looking to do things that have a deeper crossover… hence sculpting the faces of musical inspirations.