REQUIRED READING 6.26.2013

Diabolical - Natalie Shau
From Diabolical by photographer and illustrator Natalie Shau

Required Reading is a monthly roundup of things that catch my attention: news, links, videos, blogs, and cool projects by other creatives that I want to share with you – fun, inspiring, and a little addictive. 

The RSRV channel has produced this really outstanding interview between Pharrell Williams and Henry Rollins – two interesting artists with a lot to say. I think Henry Rollins continues to make excellent points about saying yes to new things and throwing yourself fully into what you do.

Coverjunkie continues to be one of my favorite resources to see what is happening in the editorial world, and this cover for Fabulous featuring Debbie Harry os a perfect example why – it doesn’t hurt that I just love Debbie Harry too.

Natalie Shau’s work has popped up more and more on my social media feeds as friends of mine seem to always be talking about her. Her illustration and photography is surreal, beautiful and a little dark. I have become a big fan of her art and advertising work over the past few weeks.

Ikea in Swedish is an audio guide to properly pronounce the names of Ikea products. Is it weird that when I found this site I felt a huge sense of relief wash over me?

Zen Habits has this weird ability to predict whatever it is I happen to be stressed about at the moment, and post a blog about it at just the right time. I got a lot out of this article about the worry that some of us face over whether we are working on the right tasks.

I thought it was a bit silly at first, but the ambient coffee shop soundtrack that Coffitivity provides is actually pretty cool for helping to drown out distractions.

Ever have a day when the words just wont come? The change of pace that comes with these speed writing exercises may be just what you need to make a huge change in how you work.

The awesome VSCO is now featuring a curated stream of some of the best mobile photography featured on their new VSCO Grid publishing platform.

#60Inspirations is a project from Spotify that features sixty sings that influenced ten great creative thinkers.

Can talking about your projects and goals too much make you lose your passion for them?

Over the past few weeks I have become a little obsessed with Hannibal, and it thrilled me to find out that there is an accompanying food blog by the show’s food stylist Janice Poon called Feeding Hannibal. The blog covers both the recipes Hannibal makes on the show as well as how Poon creates and styles the “human” delicacies that the gourmand serial killer prepares in each episode.

James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem talks about failure and the difference between laziness and the fear of making mistakes. 

A roundup of the Tumblrs of this year’s PDN 30. There is a ton of amazing photographic work here.

The Open University has produced a cool series of short animated videos on the history of various design movements. Start with this one on Gothic Revival, and then move on to some of the other videos covering movements like: Arts and Crafts, Modernism, Bauhaus, and more.

ANTHONY MEIER – ART DEALER

Anthony Meier - Art Dealer

A last look back at one of my favorite assignments from last year – creating a series of VIP portraits for the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The list of artists, donors, curators, and politicians present was truly astounding, but rather than flood my blog with so many varied images from the same assignment, I have been featuring just a few of my favorite highlights from the collection. My final selection from this diverse series of portraits features Anthony Meier – an art dealer based in San Francisco. His company, Anthony Meier Fine Arts, represents a broad spectrum of artists including Janine Antoni and Jim Hodges. Both of whom were also photographed as part of this gala event.

You can also view past blog posts about this series – Check out these portraits of Florian Reither and Jim Hodges

THE BEST BIRTHDAY GIFT EVER

A painting by Nick Butlak

This weekend my friend Nicholas Butlak presented my with an amazing gift for my 31st birthday – a large oil painting he entitled Photographic Overdose. For as long as Nick and I have been friends / collaborators I have wanted one of his amazing paintings, and over the last few months he has been working on this piece as a surprise for me.

I love it. Thanks Nick!

 

lo-fi irregulars – Niagara Falls Blvd

After moving from Canada to the states when I was a kid I spent most of my life growing up around the Niagara Falls and Youngstown NY  areas. I have a strange obsession with the remains of the once great tourism industry that once kept the area moving, Some of the last relics of that previous tourist boom are the motels that line the boulevard. I was out there this morning and had a chance to play with Hipstamatic on my iPhone for a bit, taking shots of some of the signs and surrounding areas.

Images of the Niagara Falls Blvd Strip. By Luke Copping

The Bit-O-Paris motel, rooms still rented by high school kids to this day in order to throw parties.

Rapids Bowling centre - Luke Copping Photography

Rapids Bowling, I remember when I lived in the area, that there was always an unusually high concentration of bowling alleys nearby.

Bel-Aire motel - Luke Copping photography

The Bel-Aire motel, my favorite retro sign on the Boulevard.

motel and used cars - Luke Copping Photography

I would venture to say that its a bad idea to buy a used car from the motel you stayed at last night.

The Niagara Falls Motel - Luke Copping Photography

The Niagara Falls Motel

Motel in Niagara Falls NY - Luke Copping Photography

Another roadway motel

Knights Inn - Luke Copping Photography

Knights Inn, one of the more modern additions. Lacking some of the retro charm, but I still love that sign.

Caravan Motel, Niagara Falls - Luke Copping Photography

Another of my favorite sings from the area, the Caravan Motel.

The wagon wheel restaurant - Luke Copping photography

Front of the Wagon Wheel Restaurant

3 star motel - Luke Copping Photography

The 3-Star Motel

Old Bell Facility, Derelict Garage - Luke Copping Photography

A derelict garage at the Old Bell Aerospace Complex, Now a facility housing several manufacturing companies, I worked in the complex for years.

View of airfield and Garage - Bell Facility - Luke Copping Photography

Another view of the Garage and unused lots nearby.

To see more of Luke’s commercial and editorial photography work please visit lukecopping.com

E-readers and Emerging Media.

Rob Haggart of at aphotoeditor.com has posted a listing of his predictions for what is in store for the photography and magazine industries in 2010, his list is based on a piece in Folio Magazine and Rob has included many of the original quotes. A few of the excerpts are quite interesting and serve to illustrate what changes may be in store for those who work in editorial and commercial photography. But there were two in particular from the original piece that got me thinking about how the new forms of media being developed may create radical changes in the magazine and editorial markets.

One hopeful breakthrough: the four color e-reader. It will be really helpful. Some of the big publications will probably get a few hundred thousand digital e-reader subscribers paying anywhere from $10 to $50. This will bring in anywhere from $3 million to $15 million in subscriber revenue. Unfortunately, some of those same magazines have seen their ad revs drop by $100 million. Get the picture.

–Keith Kelly, “Media Ink” columnist, New York Post

From the aesthetics and usability side of things I think that the new four color digital E-readers bound to be on their way in the coming months and years, like the Mag+ tablet, may open up a whole new realm of media for publishers and photographers to work within. Not just as an alternative to the traditional print magazine, but as we move towards a market of specialization it will provide an avenue for small niche and boutique publishers to create rich content that is easier to deliver and manage than the solutions currently available to them. There will naturally be some arguments and stumbling first steps in setting up an effective subscription and content delivery systems for these new media readers, but ultimately they may give rise to a whole new class of aesthetically minded and ultra specialized publications that will finally be able to monetize their content.

Even outside of the realm of the E-readers some  digital publications are starting to get notice. Available on the iPhone for example, is DRAMA magazine, a fashion and style publication that takes the form of a paid application in the iPhone App store. By tapping into the distribution channels made available by Apple and hopefully by the E-readers in the future, publishers will be able to focus on content while still having the opportunity to reach a dense audience provided they market their product correctly. Issues that this form of media will likely encounter include the slow adoption by advertisers of the new format;  the limited customer base for their product until these E-readers become more common; and the problem of a standardized format among competing readers while the technology is in its infancy. The question of a sales model also arises, will a prepaid subscription plan be the dominant model? or will the more open marketplace structure utilized in Apple’s App Store be more appropriate, allowing for easier impulse buys, content browsing, and the inclusion of more casual readers who may be resistant to subscription services. While the format will remain in its infancy for a period I do see it blossoming as it reachers maturity and as the consumer base for reader devices grows. It will be interesting to see where the manufacturers decide to go in terms of pricing the devices, whether a steep up front fee will be involved, or whether they will subsidize sales of the hardware to create a wider market for content driven revenue.

Only one or two magazines for most major vertical markets will survive.

There will be many changes at the top of editorial mastheads with more e-community management skills supplementing traditional journalistic skills for the winners.

Print will become richer, better paper will be used, graphics will improve, quality of content will improve and distribution/circulation numbers will drop.

–Don Pazour, CEO, Access Intelligence

I think this is partially true, while there may indeed be only one or two “big guns” left in any of the above mentioned markets, and they will indeed set the standard in terms of quality, content, and management, I do think that a major factor has been ignored in the above statement. There will be an emerging second class of specialized publications that up until this point have usually been distributed free or with limited success through services like Issuu or through print on demand services.  New distribution channels and media, such as the E-readers mentioned above, creates opportunities for these small publications to monetize and manage their distribution like never before, allowing growth in their market. While these individual titles will hardly cause concern for larger publishers, the sheer variety of titles available will ensure an initially small but growing and stable market of their own. A quality gap will naturally be created between these two realms of publishing though, the smaller digitally based publishers will put out good content as their base readership and advertising allows. And democratic/social feedback will help to drive readership depending on which model these publications are ultimately distributed under. Conversely, the larger magazines will begin to create truly epic publications in terms of production. As Pazour predicts above, there will be an improvement across the board in terms of content, packaging, and production, but these magazines will experience lower and more focused circulation rates. Those magazines that survive will become much more exclusive providers of high-end content in their niches. It will be interesting to see how publishers and advertisers react to this in terms of how advertising rates are affected by these new models in the coming years.

Its OK to Suck

Hammer-1

Hammer-2

Hammer-3

Aside from photography I also do a fair bit of freelance writing. Auxiliary Magazine recently afforded me the opportunity to interview Doc Hammer from Adult Swim’s The Venture Brothers for their october issue (and to collaborate with my good friend, NYC based artist Ron Douglas, who went above and beyond to get an 11th hour photo session in with Hammer). In addition to writing one of the most intelligent and funniest animated shows on television, Hammer is also a musician and accomplished oil painter with an interesting view on how sucking motivates him to excel in his chosen fields.

Too many people fall in love with their own work to the degree that they become overconfident and sloppy. This overconfidence can sometimes lead to stagnation in their evolution as a creative. When you feel there is no need to improve and love every single piece you create as if it were your magnum opus, quality begins to suffer and motivation will disappear. For some people its the adversity of constantly trying to improve that allows them to thrive. I wanted to share a passage from the interview that I feel sums this idea up perfectly, it relates specifically to oil painting, but as Hammer goes on to say later in the article, it can be applied to any endeavor.

…Painting is showing up and dealing with sucking, that’s the big tip, that’s what I want people to walk out knowing.

A lot of artists want people to think that they are magicians, that it’s easy and no one else an do it and that they just shit this stuff out, and it’s untrue. People with skill and passion can do it, that’s the talent. The thing that you are born with isn’t the ability to render figure, you can always learn that. What you are born with is the drive to fucking do it, and to want to do it in the face of constant failure. Painting is entirely failure, and if your painting wasn’t failure then your not moving forward and you are not correcting your own mistakes. What’s the point of making another one if you’re so fucking good that you have painted your masterpiece already. Every painting that a good painter does, they hate it, it sucks, and that’s what gets them going to do the next one so they can learn. That’s a hard thing to do, to have your occupation, hobby, life, be a place where you suck and you know you suck. People will get on me and tell me that I need to relax and take it easy, that I’m not really that bad. What they are missing is the arrogance of what I am saying, the fact that I know I suck proves that I know I am better than this, which is a very arrogant thing to do, so people should not be concerned with my self esteem. When I say I suck, it actually means that this is not a representation of my ability, I know that inside me is better. Dealing with my sucking and proudly saying this sucks is how I get up and do it again. I can’t let that thing get out there, I have to apologize for it with my next piece.

– Doc Hammer

To read read more about Doc Hammer’s thoughts on style, menswear, music, painting, and his show The Venture Brothers; or to view the rest of  October issue of Auxiliary Magazine, go HERE

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