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Blog » Interviews

The Art of the Faux Pas

Posted by Workbook on 03/18/2015 — Filed under:  IllustrationInterviews

Alexei Vella was hired by HOW magazine Art Director Adam Ladd,  to create an image for "Visual Faux Pas Explored,” an article about the moment we realize we've had a lapse in judgment, and we have somehow offended the norm with our design work.  We spoke with Adam about why he was drawn to Alexei's work and why it was a perfect fit for the project.

"Alexei's work is not only graphic, but his use of  bold and vibrating lines, as well as the added texture within the illustration, helps create a layer of tension within the image. Combined with his expressive character, it all adds up to an image that perfectly conveys the moment a serious faux pas has been discovered," says Ladd. We spoke to Richard Salzman, Alexei’s representative, who tells us that he likes to represent illustrators like Alexei who are thinkers, can tackle complex ideas, and also really draw. See more examples below.

Lisa Adams Interview with APA National: Beauty in the Seemingly Mundane

Posted by Workbook on 02/26/2015 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineInterviewsPhotography
Photographer Lisa Adams was recently interviewed by Nicole Weingartner for APA National and the article makes for excellent reading. We've included a few excerpts from the article and several examples of Lisa's food and drink work. Click HERE for the full article and check out her Workbook Portfolio too.

A Boopie glass of plump, chocolate pudding waits to be eaten on a flowing brown ribbon. A candy cane is made out of a layered cherry parfait. A timeworn shaving kit becomes a story of little trinkets and treasures. Don’t see it yet? You will.

Still life photographer Lisa Adams has a knack for transforming ordinary objects into ethereal pieces with lighting, mood, and composition. When we see mundane objects, she sees a lyrical image, where each item becomes part of a bigger story that incites our emotions—emotions of a lucid childhood memory, distaste, a craving for a food, or colors that stir a particular fascination.

How did you become a photographer? And how did you become interested in still life?

In college, I started taking classes in design and photography, which was a total deviation from my English literature and physics direction. I initially saw the design and photography as electives that might help boost my GPA. I didn’t really think much about it until one of my professors pulled me aside to compliment a recent project. I thanked her and commented, “It was easy.” That was when the light bulb went off...the realization that I might actually be good at this was the catalyst for what has now become a 28-year-long fascinating career.
My first assisting job was with a studio that had a lifestyle and still shooter. I worked with the tyrannical still shooter (he liked to throw things and expletives) but occasionally I assisted the lifestyle shooter and quickly learned that I had incredible patience when dealing with inert objects but not so much when it came to people. I really love that I have such control with stills and food. They stay where I put them, don’t talk back and never say no. Of course food can die or melt, but I can forgive that!

Exactly what do you want to say or portray through your photographs, and how do you actually get your photographs to do that? What’s your technique?

I’m most happy with my work when I feel like I’ve created a lyrical image, one that expresses emotion and evokes emotion. It’s all about revealing the subject matter in a beautiful way, through lighting and composition and creating a mood that’s reflective of the subject itself.
Hopefully, the image is telling a short story and inciting the imagination of the viewer. I’m usually shooting bright, airy, and graphic with a distinctive color palette or dark and moody with pops of color. I like mixing soft light with hard directional light. The hard light intensifies color and pulls out texture, plus it adds crisp bright highlights and deep shadows that create depth and dimension.
I shoot with SinarP2's outfitted with Multi-shot capable Hasselblad CF-39 backs. If necessary, I'll also shoot with a Hasselblad H3D-31. I've always shot large format; it’s definitely my preference. I love all of the control available with a 4x5. Am I starting to sound like a control freak?
Clients love the live video available with the Phocus software, they can see everything as it’s happening, and it’s a great collaborative tool. I still use Speedotron lighting. Those packs are like tanks!

Peter Grundy Interview

Posted by Workbook on 08/08/2014 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineIllustrationInterviews

Peter Grundy is an illustrator and designer who has specialized in information design for over thirty years. His latest book, a collaboration with author Simon Rogers, Infographics: Human Body, simplifies a variety of complex facts about the human body with Grundy's signature entertaining and informative info graphics. The book is available now.

Why did you decide to focus specifically on a career in information design?
I went to the Royal College of Art in London in the late 70s at a time of dynamic, creative energy; most students went into advertising or design groups to pursue brochure, packaging, and corporate identity.
This was a time pre-technology when the tools of an art director were simply good ideas and "balls."
I met Tilly Northedge at the RCA, and we became interested in a tired, overlooked area of design that was more about explaining things than selling things, and when we graduated, we set up a design studio to do this work in a more creative and imaginative way. The studio was Grundy & Northedge. We worked together for twenty-five years. When Tilly retired in 2006, I renamed the studio Grundini.

How would you describe your style?
The main component of my work isn’t style, it's ideas. The methods I use to visualize these ideas have evolved from the need to communicate simply.

Your work involves both simplifying complex subjects and making them visually appealing. Which aspect (simplifying the topic or making the image visually appealing) do you focus on first? Or does it depend on each individual project?
Simplification is complicated, when you take stuff away from an image you need different skills to retain interest and elegance. My skills are more typographic than illustrative.

How has your work evolved over the past several decades?
It's become simpler, which requires more confidence, and that comes with time. It also started without new technology and now uses new technology, but you wouldn’t notice the join.

What would be your ultimate iconography dream project?
I’ve always fancied being the artist in residence at NASA.

Your new book, Information Graphics: Human Body, tackles nearly every imaginable topic related to the human body, from the separate layers to diseases and reproduction. What inspired you take on such a broad and extensive subject?
It wasn’t a new idea; the human body has after-all been "booked" a thousand times. But the project interested me because I wanted a chance to simplify the body to an almost-ridiculous state and make it fun for the age group. In other words, you’ve got the books that look at the body in great detail, my book is a chance to look at it in as little detail as possible.

Do you have a personal favorite topic or page from the book? Which one?
The human heart (p x) was, I felt, a way of making the heart, which isn’t a pretty thing, visually something quite beautiful and descriptive. (See below.)

What was the most difficult topic to make both simple and attractive?
Guess that’s the toilet contents.

Are there any specific changes in your approach when creating infographics designed mainly for children rather than adults?

Finally, what advice would you give for illustrators looking to pursue a career in information design?
When I was a student, a tutor told me that an information designer should never let his or her personality stand in front of the information. I thought, "to hell with that."

Below are a few of Peter's infographics from other recent projects.

Making a Photograph: An Interview with Jeff Kauck

Posted by Workbook on 07/15/2014 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineInterviewsPhotography

On July 16th photographer Jeff Kauck will present a lecture on the subject of inspiration at the Chicago Apple store on Michigan Avenue. It’s hard to believe someone can reinvent the wheel and make artists’ inspiration sound less cliché. But sit and chat with the man whose passion is to solve the equations of his art, and you find inspiration that can assist you far beyond photography.

How did you start your career in photography?

“I started as a watercolor painter. I had ten plus years of watercolor training. At the end of (art) school I knew all the concepts, but my hand couldn’t keep up with what I wanted to accomplish. That’s when I picked up a camera and turned to photography as the solution.”

How has your watercolor background influenced the way you approach photography?

“With me, when you start with explaining my photos, you first need a quick lesson in painting. With most oil painting, you paint from the mid-tones down, meaning highlights are added at the end. With watercolor you must paint from the mid-tones up, guarding the light areas you have because there is no white watercolor paint, that’s it. Most photography approaches light similar to oil painting. For me, light and highlights become priority.”

Jeff, July 16th also marks an announcement for your fine art photography. Where do you draw some of your inspiration from?

“Photography, like most things, presents its own set of unique problems because there are many things I want a photograph to do. I get so many ideas on how to conquer these problems, which rarely get tackled by commercial photography. Most of the time you create a portfolio and clients want exactly what they see, no deviations from the main path. Nothing may ever come from these images or test runs, but sometimes solutions become personal work. It’s like if the Rolling Stones tried to play something new. People don’t want to hear that, they want to hear the old songs they know and remember.”

What sorts of problems are you solving in your latest fine art?

“I’m interested in exploring the atmosphere between myself and the object. People might argue images are out of focus, but to me there is more clarity and emotion evoked in those images. To explore magnificence in light, something not usually appreciated in commercial work…light is everything to a painter: the color of light and the movement of light. I want to tell a story with my photos.”

Tell me about the subject of your latest fine art photography.

“My wife and I went to visit my brother in Atlanta, and he suggested we take a long weekend on Cumberland Island. We stayed at a B&B, and there I fell in love [with the island]. Cumberland is about the size of Manhattan and has three ecosystems interacting with each other. The project is in black and white and so far, it has taken four months (three visits) to shoot. We plan to return in December.”

Why black and white?

“I had just shot in Paris, where that magic light and surrounding love is a real thing.  I aimed to create impressionistic photography, and with that came color. I couldn’t capture it all in black and white.

“When it came to Cumberland Island, black and white made more sense. With B&W images you are immediately shifted to another place. Tonal photography serves as a gateway to take you to different places. It moves your emotions so much more.”

Part of what makes Jeff’s career so rich is the anecdotes he’s obtained from learning under the greats. No stranger to art school, he continues to make the world his university, taking workshops that in turn open doors to seeds of motivation and opportunities of a lifetime.

“Mary Whyte (watercolor painter) has a lot of workshops. What I always remember about her is she says don’t ask about the tool and technique, ask ‘why did you make that hand move that way? Why did you pick that color for that mood?’  For her, the value and the importance are the details in the image composition itself…what choices are made to achieve the highest emotional response.

“I took a workshop with Ansel Adams, a very nice man, who is passionate as the day is long. John Sexton, his last assistant, once came in to the workshop and said no one was working hard enough. Everyone began to complain they were in the darkroom from 9-5 every day. Sexton said, ‘Stay 9 a.m. to 9 a.m. the next morning in the darkroom and you will come in with the best print.’ From him I learned you have to go all the way through. It’s like what Arnold Newman (portrait photographer) once said, ’You’re making, not taking, a photograph.’

“I wanted to pursue a particular look for the Cumberland photos. I attended a workshop by George DeWolfe, an early student of Ansel Adams, and afterwards asked him to mentor my project, which he has ever since. He has a skill to get the edges to lift. Being his pupil is not easy. One time I had worked tirelessly over fifty images I then sent to him, all of which he rejected, saying the highlights were all off by one to two percent.”

How has your artistry matured?

“I believe in moving artistry. If you stick to something long enough you get to a point where you can make, in my case, the images do what you want them to do. You already have mastered the tools you have to achieve the photos you want. You are always striving for the fundamentals, but true skill comes from the content of a picture.

“To me making a powerful picture makes the viewer stop in his or her tracks. You cannot accomplish that with just technique, you have to do that with content. “

Walking away from this interview, can you leave our readers with some snippet of the inspiration to come on July 16th?

“Before you make a picture, sketch it out, even if it is a stick man. Don’t take the shot until sketched and [you have] thought every detail through. It is critical to slow down; the photographic process [is] in slow motion. Photographer Robert Frank took over 20,000 shots in one and a half years and walked away with only eighty-seven images. Really think and make your picture. You’ll know you’ve succeeded if it comes out the way you see it in your head.”

To visit Jeff's portfolio, click here.

Jeff is repped by Emily Inman Aritsts' Rep.

Workbook 36 Cover Interview with David Krovblit

Posted by Workbook on 04/29/2014 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineInterviewsPhotography
Workbook 36 sourcebooks were just released and sent out around the globe. We recently had a chat with the man behind the Photography book cover, David Krovblit.

First off, let’s just get this out of the way, how do you pronounce your last name?

Krov - blit, the O is long. The Kro is pronounced crow. The V and B together, that's what really throws people. I jokingly say that I cannot pronounce my own name before about 10 am. But it’s kinda true. ;)

Your cover photo seems largely inspired by the many fashion shoots of famous pregnant women. When did you first get the idea for your version, and was there a specific shoot or celebrity that particularly inspired this photo?

This photo was inspired by the Annie Lebovitz’s Demi Moore shoot for Vanity Fair. The shoot itself was created for a new beer being launched. The ad line was “Expecting Soon.”

Was this image for a personal project or a client?

The client was Hops City.

Much of your image’s hilarity comes from the model’s,  errr, "curves." How did you find this guy, and is he related to Santa Claus?

Funny you should ask. I had recently shot my Christmas mail campaign, and I found Richard through a friend. He posed as Santa for me. So when the agency came to me with this project, I was like, “I got the perfect guy for this!"

One aspect of the image that stands out along with its poignant satire, is its relative simplicity: a big guy and a gray background. Do you prefer simple shoots that require relatively little setup or more expansive projects involving CGI and/or larger scale production sets?

I really love shooting people. I do a lot of big set production with lots of people and things going on. But, I also love being in the studio with one person and a camera. That said, conceptual, quirky images are what I'm really into.

The humor and satire seen in your cover photo is prevalent in much of your other work as well. Did you make a conscious decision to focus on this type of photography, or did it happen naturally?

I guess that is just me. I love humour. I think it is the quickest way into someone’s heart or mind. I also love that “ah ha” moment: you know, the moment when you see the picture within the picture and you have a new love and interest of the image.

How do you come up with the ideas for these types of series?

The ideas come from all over: movies, a book, walking down the street. But a lot of the time, it's just me and my buddies hanging around and talking smack when the ideas come to me.

Do you prefer personal projects or professional assignments? Over your career, what has been your favorite shoot for each, personal and professional?

I love to shoot professionally and prefer it. Each time I come up to bat, I see the opportunity to not only create great ads, but to make them something special to look at. My favorite pro shoot has to be for Ballistik Hackey - Goalie skin rug. I had the opportunity to build the most amazing set with all the bells and whistles that made it an award-winning piece. The personal project that comes to mind is a medical anatomy book I created that is called Krovblit Living Anatomy. It is a look through the many layers of the human body and soul.

You have a substantial amount of experience in motion as well as still work. How does your mentality and shooting process change when working on a motion project?

Really, it is a natural extension of what I already do. I am used to working on large-scale stills projects, which encompass many of the same characteristics as directing a video. For example, when I shot BudCamp for Budweiser, we had over 100 extras on set and shot over three days on a sound stage. There I was, fifteen feet above the crowd with a megaphone

What is your dream project? (motion or still, working with anybody, anywhere,’s the limit)

Right now my dream project is to direct a film inspired by one of my favorite authors, Roald Dahl.

Lastly, what advice would you give to fellow photographers looking to combine strong imagery with a sense of humour?
10,000 hours. It's just true. Whatever you want to do, and do well, will take at least this amount of time. Don’t be lazy. Chase your ideas and make them happen. It's the only way to get to the really great stuff, professionally and personally.

Virgin Gaming from Dave Krovblit on Vimeo.

T-fal Steam Signals from Dave Krovblit on Vimeo.

Workbook 36 Cover Illustrator Interview with Aad Goudappel

Posted by Workbook on 04/28/2014 — Filed under:  FeaturesInterviews
Workbook 36 sourcebooks were just released and sent out around the globe. We recently had a chat with the man behind the Illustration book cover, Aad Goudappel.

Who is Aad Goudappel as a person and as an illustrator?

I’m a 41-year-old Dutch guy, happily married and father of two daughters. I think I’m quite like the stereotype illustrator who likes to spend his time in his studio all by himself. I’m not a man of many words, which is also visible in my work. Everything is stripped to it’s bare essence, trying to say as much as possible with the least amount of words, hoping to be as clear as possible. The side effect, however, is that behind these bold statements a complete world can be hiding. People sometimes assume that I’m very confident or even arrogant, but it’s actually my insecurity that shaped this way of communicating.

How did you get your start in illustration?

I studied illustration at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. In addition, I did an exchange program following courses at the Camberwell College of Art (London) and after graduation at the Art Institute of Boston. During the fourth year at the Academy, students have to make appointments with people in the field to get feedback on their work. These meetings led to my first assignments, and so I started my business as a freelance illustrator.

How has your style evolved since you began?

Even after my graduation I still wasn’t very satisfied with my work, always thought it could be better. So I kept experimenting a lot with all kind of techniques and styles. I was lucky to have a client who commissioned me to illustrate up to six or seven articles for each issue of their monthly magazine, and I could do pretty much what ever I liked. So I committed myself to approach every illustration differently than the previous. In this process, this style emerged as a style in which most of the ideas I have can be executed, and I reached a point where I could be satisfied with the final images. The way I illustrate came in line with who I am. My work/style is still evolving by the way. I guess I’ll never stop learning, trying to improve what I’m doing: no big changes, but small, some sudden, some only visible in retrospective.

What inspired your cover illustration?

I did this one for City Theatre Utrecht as part of their program in which each art form they stage had to be illustrated. This one was for dance. I love dance, the absence of words, no distractions, just the body that speaks. What I mostly like about dance is the strength and raw power of the dancers, even when movements are graceful, it’s still pure power and control. I wanted to show that and stay away from the obligatory graceful ballerina imagery. I love animals and I love drawing them, using them as metaphors. Sum this up and you have a gorilla on spitzes.

Do you have a name for your Gorilla? If not, would you like to name him/her now?

Hahaha, no and no. ☺

What would say are the biggest influences on your work as a whole (past illustrators, where you live, specific movies or characters, anything else imaginable)?

I think evolving as an artist is all about finding your voice and being able to visualize your thoughts, learning to communicate visually. I think the biggest influences on any artist’s work are his/her parents and childhood. The way you look at the world, at people, and at yourself is determined in your early years. There is no escape from who you are, all else is just circumstance.

What have been your most effective strategies for promoting your style and attracting new clients?

Actually I don’t have a strategy, I’m not much of a self-promoter. I advertise in some of the books, and I enter competitions. I think it helps to have your work in all these different places.

Have you ever experimented with animation? If not, have you considered it?

It has been a while since I have been experimenting with it. When a client wants an animation with my artwork, I collaborate with animators in my or the client’s network.

What do you hope to accomplish as an illustrator in the next five years?

Good question. I don’t really plan things; I live by the day. I have a lot of interesting and challenging projects. At the moment I’m really happy with how things are going. Just being able to continue what I do would be great. That's not to say there aren't many corners of the illustration field I still would like to explore. Of course, I hope I will grow and find time and peace of mind to do some self-initiated projects like picture books and work on great projects with nice people.

Besides anything illustration related, if you could be the best in the world at any profession or talent, what would it be?

If I hadn’t chosen an illustrator career I might have become a vet. But if I can choose anything, I would love to be the best tennis player, the philosopher with the most influence. the funniest comedian, the best cello player. No, no, no, wait…the world's best dad.

Last but not least, describe your perfect day.

On a perfect day I would be able to combine the two things I love but always feel I have not enough time for, family and work. I would be waking up because I have slept enough and not because of the alarm clock or the kids. I would have breakfast with the family in the garden. I would walk the dog in the sunshine listening to the birds sing. I would sneak off and take the bicycle to my studio for a couple of hours preferably working on a book about birds. It would be great if my wife and daughters would pick me up to do some fun stuff downtown, or better yet, go to the beach or forest. Eat out, some decent food with great wine, outside. Go home, put the kids to bed and do some gardening, drink a whiskey. Pretty boring actually, nothing spectacular. Come to think of it, some of my weekends come close to this. There are just not enough hours in one day!

Lisa Adams Interview with FUSEVISUAL

Posted by Workbook on 04/07/2014 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineInterviewsPhotography

Lisa Adams's obsession with detail, passion for lighting, and unique color palette are the defining attributes of her work. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, her clients pursue her talent to create rich and impactful still life, food, and home interior images.

CD: Your work is clean, precise, and graphic (which is fantastic). If you look back to your earliest photographs, was there a hint of the precision to come or was it always there? If it was there, where did it come from? If not, how did it develop?

Lisa Adams: That's such a loaded question! I think my photographic style has developed over a lifetime. As a little kid, I grew up with parents who kept a very orderly and neat clutter and everything was always in its place. They weren't obsessive about it, it's just how they lived, and I was very influenced by that sense of order. As a teenager, I tried to live in chaos, but I just couldn't do it. I realized I liked order and specifically liked creating order. I've always gotten immense pleasure out of creating an arrangement of objects that feels visually "right," whether it's on set or on my coffee table.

CD: What drew you to studio shooting and photographing food?

Lisa Adams: My first job out of college was assisting a product shooter who worked in association with a fashion/lifestyle shooter. After watching them both at work, I knew I was much better suited working with the crazy tyrant product shooter (he liked to throw things). I couldn't really handle all of the waiting around for talent to be done with hair, makeup, and wardrobe and FINALLY come out on set.

I was fascinated with lighting and how the look of a simple object or fruit could be so radically transformed with different lighting setups.

Food photography is edible product photography, plus the added benefit of working with a really talented food stylist.

CD: You live and work outside of the major markets and have an incredible studio. Are you from Charlotte? How do you balance what is important to your career and to your life?

Lisa Adams: I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina and moved to Charlotte right after college. I completed an internship here and then worked as an assistant for several years for a variety of product and still life shooters.

I was so young and naive when I went out on my own, which turned out to be beneficial, as I had few expectations, and the idea of failure never even occurred to me. I'm very fortunate to have had a small measure of success and am grateful to have clients who value my work and are willing to travel to Charlotte. My family and I enjoy Charlotte; its proximity to the coast and the mountains makes it easy to visit both very often.

Regarding balance: I've gotten better at the balancing act as I've gotten older. The worst time was when my daughter was young; I felt sorta schizophrenic. If I was at home with her I fretted that I wasn't at work, and if at work I fretted that I wasn't home with her. I've learned that being happy with myself is what allows me to be the best (insert any role here... photographer, wife, mother, friend) I can be.

CD: Your bio mentions that you love to photograph mushrooms but can't stand to eat them. I am the same way about cucumbers, but can't even stand the sight or smell of them. I would not be able to photograph them. How did you come to terms with photographing foods you dislike?

Lisa Adams: Oh, I absolutely love the way the underside of a mushroom cap looks with all those perfectly aligned gills; just don't make me eat it!

And mushrooms are nothing compared to a slimy, stinky little octopus...thought the permeating smell of them was gonna make me vom…. But just look at this little guy, perfectly round suction cups, the graceful curve to his tentacles, and he has those amazing little freckles all over his body. He's a great example of "Phi/Golden Ratio." My accosted sense of smell pales in comparison to the intrinsic beauty of this little creature.

CD: Tell me about your choice of gear and how that helps you accomplish your vision. I am interested in how you built your team and how you collaborate with clients if they are not on set?

Lisa Adams: I shoot with Sinar P2's outfitted with Multi-shot capable Hasselblad CF-39 backs. If I must, I also shoot with a Hasselblad H3D-31.

I love all the control available with a 4x5. I've always shot large format..., it's my preferred.

Clients love the live video available with the Phocus software. They can see everything as it's happening; it's a great collaborative tool!

Even more important than the equipment, team is crucial and that everyone contributes to the fun and success of the shoot.

Over the years, I've developed an amazing team of creatives I can call on, from food stylists to prop builders, producers, animal wranglers, assistants, digital techs, etc.

You ask about collaborating with clients if they are not on set. We do occasionally work virtually with clients, but of course we prefer their actual presence. It's just more fun to interact personally.

But if being on the shoot isn't possible, technology makes it fairly easy to work virtually as long as the CD/AD is available to respond immediately as soon as we start sending images.

CD: What advice would you give to a young photographer about to embark on a career in photography?

Lisa Adams: Assist with a variety of photographers, concentrate on the type of work that impassions you, then just go for it.  Be fearless: test, test, and test some more. Listen more, talk, less, and learn good business skills before you step out of the nest.

Incredibly talented photographers who don't know how to run a business will become incredibly talented photographers without a business.

Bio: Lisa Adams's obsession with detail, passion for lighting and unique color palette are the defining attributes of her work. Images which visually enhance your brand are her trademark.

Her inspiration unfolds from an ability to see the complex simplicity and intrinsic beauty within everyday objects. Her aesthetic vision has continued to evolve for over twenty years, capturing a broad audience. Clients pursue her talent to create rich and impactful still life, food, and home interior images.

Lisa is known for her ability to collaborate and problem-solve, tenaciously executing consistent imagery that exceeds clients' expectations.

Her studio is located in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and daughter, plus her dog Bailey and cat Leo.

Lisa's Website

Lisa's Portfolio

What's in Lisa Adams' Bag?

Special Thanks to FUSEVISUAL!

Heather Elder Represents and Brite Productions Wrap Up Another Community Table

Posted by Workbook on 04/02/2014 — Filed under:  Community TableEventsFeaturesHeadlineInterviewsMusing Onbehind the scenes
Yesterday marked the end of the latest post from another insightful and inspirational Community Table blog series

Over the course of a meal, Heather Elder and Lauranne Lospalluto of Heather Elder Represents, along with Kate Chase and Matt Nycz of Brite Productions, discussed top-of-mind industry issues with eight Chicago Art Producers.

We got to chat with Heather and Kate about the Community Table and this table's topic:

“The Art Producer, Past, Present, and Future.”

1.  How did the idea for Community Table originate?

The Community Table started when Kate Chase and Matt Nycz of Brite Productions and Lauranne Lospalluto and I wanted to host an event at the first Le Book Los Angeles. They saw the excitement building around the event and thought it would be nice to draft off that and find a reason to get the community together. The more we talked, the less they wanted it to be another cocktail party or purely social event. They settled on a lunch to which they would invite industry leaders as part of a conversation about the industry with the intent of sharing the information with the community.

2.  It seems the meal setting is not only complementary to how you’ve broken up your blog, but is also conducive to all guests answering much more freely. Was talking over a meal planned from the beginning?

Yes, it was integral to the event. The idea of sitting around a table with friends, enjoying a meal and some friendship, was key to making the event a success. It adds to the community spirit of the event. And, a nice meal in a special place is a great way to say thank you for their time and enthusiasm.

3.  What is something you hope readers will glean from these conversation blog posts?

One of the most important things about the blog posts is fostering a sense of community and providing a place to share ideas, start conversations, and educate our colleagues. People gravitate to the blog to not only gain a little more insight, but to confirm things they already know. Sometimes in our industry, we do not all have someone to whom we can ask a question, and if the blog can help answer some of those questions, or even start new conversations, then it is a success.

4. What’s different this year from last year's posts?

Over the years, we evolved the topics to match the conversations that were happening in the industry already. Our first posts focused on broader ideas in marketing and then we evolved into the finer aspects of estimating. Our latest from Chicago touched on how the art buyer role came about and how it is evolving. Our next post will be with a group of agents who gathered before the Le Book in San Francisco.

5.  It seems you can’t walk away from a meal with a group of people such as this and not feel you learned something. What is one thing you took away from this year's dinner that sticks out in your mind?

Something we were experiencing before the event was the growing involvement of the account representative in the estimating process. The round table provided an opportunity to explore that conversation. The group had a sense of relief that they were not alone in what they were experiencing, and they were grateful to have the opportunity to learn new tools and ideas on how to best connect with their teams.

To read the entire series on Heather Elder's blog, please click here.

To read the series on the Brite Productions blog, please click here.

JonPaul Douglass: Instagram Direct

Posted by Workbook on 03/06/2014 — Filed under:  Advertising CampaignsFeaturesHeadlineInterviewsMotionPhotography
For those of you in social media know, Instagram is nothing new. When Facebook added a new feature to the photo sharing app, they called on Workbook contributor JonPaul Douglass, who served as Director and DP on the video (below).  We spoke with JonPaul on his latest motion work for Facebook, unveiling Instagram Direct, and his thoughts on social media and the professional photographer.

Introducing Instagram Direct from Instagram on Vimeo.

How did you get approached for the Instagram Direct Video?

I have been lucky enough to work on a few projects with Facebook prior to this one. They contact me from time to time if they have a project where I might be good fit. They have a tremendously talented team over there, and I’m very happy I can occasionally be a part of what they are building.

This motion project would become the introductory look at a new software feature. How well versed did you become on the Instagram Direct Video feature before you had to capture it on film?

We had quite a few meetings simply talking about how the Instagram community might use the software. It was tricky at times because we didn’t want to show people “Direct Sharing” something that they might normally “Share to all.” So the challenge was trying come up with realistic situations where someone would share to a few or one other person. Personally, I use the feature to share inside jokes with close friends, but we couldn’t exactly show inside jokes to such a broad audience. We filmed many more situations that did not make the cut, but I like where we landed in the end.

One nuance of this film that makes the software seem less menacing is the organic approach to filming. As the Director and DP, what was the quality you wanted to capture most?

One of the things that really makes this video organic is the fact that the three community members we followed are all very close friends. It wasn’t like we were telling actors to pretend to laugh; these were real relationships we were filming, and it really shows. A few days into our journey, we all became very close: it was never us and them, it was always us. We all still keep in touch, and of course, follow each other on Instagram.

This video spans many mini stories in multiple locations. Can you elaborate on the filming timeline and dealing with the multiple locations and story lines?

We started with a very loose timeline and schedule. We made it that way because we knew there would be some surprises along the way, and there were surprises. We did have a list of possible moments that we would reference, but much of the trip was reactive to where we were and what everyone was actually doing. The scenes that are not from the road trip were filmed afterwards, and we chose what to shoot after we picked which situations we wanted to use. The most daunting task was going through and reviewing the massive amount of footage we obtained. In many ways it was like we were shooting a documentary and filling in the blanks later.

What is your take on the advent of social media and the professional photographer? Do you see applications like Instagram as a detriment or help to the working photographer?

I was late in joining Instagram because I didn’t take it seriously at first. I already had a Flickr and a Tumblr for sharing my personal photography. As time went by I noticed that every person I knew was on Instagram and using it heavily. I then realized it was much more than just an app that let you use filters, it was thriving photography-based social network. I knew I had to get involved or continue to feel left behind.

I’ve seen professional photographers curate their Instagram feeds in different ways. Many use them as personal windows into their working world by posting behind-the-scenes photos or snippets of their commercials. I didn’t want to go that route; that stuff isn’t that interesting to me. I decided to use my feed as a separate creative outlet for my personal work. I like that Instagram levels the playing field for everyone by sticking to the unsaid rule of only using your phone. I feel like you can get a great sense of someone’s creativity by looking at an Instagram feed. That said, I think it’s still crucial for a working photographer to have a portfolio site linked from an Instagram account.

A good example of how social media can be used by a professional photographer would be releasing photos from a series as it’s created. It keeps the series in everyone’s minds, instead of posting all at once. A few months ago, I started running around LA and putting pizzas in different locations and photographing them. I created a hashtag for it, and people really seemed to look forward to my #pizzainthewild posts. The creative director for the Instagram Direct promo actually snuck a couple of my pizza photos into the spot. If you look closely at some of the phone screens you will see them. The whole pizza series is so much fun for me, and I was very happy to see them in the final cut.

To find out more about JonPaul, click here.

Workbook Interview with Michael Newhouse

Posted by Workbook on 02/20/2014 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineIllustrationInterviews

From maps and infographics to logos and lettering, Michael Newhouse is truly a jack-of-all-trades among illustrators. Working out of Bozeman, Montana with decades of experience, Michael has quite the resume and plenty of knowledge to share.

What first interested you in creating maps and infographics? I worked at a design firm that specialized in information design. This was one of my favorite jobs – from day to day it was different, and always challenging, one day signage, the next web, then packaging, then corporate ID. It was the most challenging job I'd ever had. After going out on my own, I found an affinity for that kind of work and was lucky enough to find markets for it.

In a few sentences, how would you describe your style as a cartographer? I don't consider myself a cartographer even though I draw a lot of maps. True cartographers are working on a much different level. I'm more of a cartophile. If I would call myself something, it would be a designer who illustrates.

What is the collaboration process like between you and your clients? Is it largely hands-off or is it more consistently back-and-forth throughout the development process? Mostly, I am commissioned to do a map to solve a problem; style and design are worked out after the map goals are defined. Mostly hands-off.

How do you try to balance achieving the desired look of your designs while still maintaining a high level of functionality? Maps must be attractive; they're no good if people don't look at them. Then they have to be functional – educational or entertaining. I have interests in vintage graphic and information design and illustration; I collect science and other schoolbooks, plus a lot of children's books. I also go to a lot of junk/antique/used bookstores. I have quite a large library of reference material. Unfortunately, it's here in Montana with me, so I'm trying to find ways to share it via Tumblr and Flickr.

What's the most fun you've had on a project? I like writing and design together, so I'd have to go with info graphics, really any job where I get paid to learn something. Some of my favorite work allows me to do historical visual research.

Which project was most difficult? Anything with committees or a job that drags on too long. Maps with committees are the worst.

Working out of Montana, I've got a hunch not many of your clients are nearby. Has the ever-increasing prominence of of communicating and conducting business online made things significantly easier? I've never had much face-to-face interaction, even when I was in Texas. I'm hired to do a project, get all the information, and do it. We communicate a lot, but my location isn't a problem. We spent quite a bit of time in Italy the last couple of years, and it didn't affect anything. If I just keep track of time zones, it's not a problem.

Does working in such a rural, open location help your creative process? It's nice to be able to go on hikes whenever we want, but I really like the dusty, cramped feeling of library stacks.

Between Maps, Infographics and Lettering, which do you enjoy working on most? Infographics would win I guess, just because that term is so open-ended.

Any advice for aspiring cartographers? I've taught college design students for several years now and the biggest issue I see is they don't know what choices they have – the old saying is “you don't know that you don't know.” My advice is to really research something so you can make more informed decisions – visual and conceptual. The more information, the better.

What's your dream project? You can illustrate anything, anywhere, and work with anyone you want. What would it be? I'm inspired by research, and I'm a collector. It would be nice to find a way to wrap all that up into a project. I'm working on a book about kitsch American tourism and typography in the 1950s-60s and then some funny “kids' books for adults” about how to use maps.

What If?

If I had to reconsider my career...I'd go for librarian or archivist, for retirement, maybe a used bookstore owner.

If I could do it all again and know what I know now...I'd start scanning/documenting every piece of ephemera and every library book about graphic design, information design, and illustration pre-1970, and posting it online somehow, lots of keyword tags, cross-referencing, super useful to students and researchers. That would be my dream job.

To see more from Michael, take a look at his portfolio and website.

Santa Stats (below)