Kathryn Jakubowski's Winning Designs

Images from Kathryn Jakowbowski's winning student collection

Back in April I served as one of the judges for BSC’s Runway 5.0 event, an extravagantly produced demonstration of student designs from the school’s Fashion Technology program. Organized by Erin Habes, the event grows in scope every year and It was fantastic to be involved with it again. One of the highlights of the event is the unveiling of the senior collections that the students spend months developing – and the prizes for the winner this year included scholarships for them to further their education as well as an opportunity to have their winning collection photographed. This is one of my favorite community events that I donate time to every year because of the immense efforts the students from this school put into their creations for the judging panel, which this year included myself as well as industry leaders from companies like New Era, Victoria’s Secret, Aeropostale, and more.

The very deserving winner this year was Kathryn Jakubowski, a senior designer whose  collection was a favorite among the judges, which is impressive given the tough competition she was up against from some of the other students. These are just a few of the images that I am working on for Kathryn, who also received a $2000 scholarship and is now interning with Ali Eagen from Made by Anatomy as she furthers her design education. Congratulations Kathryn!.

Images from Kathryn Jakowbowski's winning student collection

A New Portfolio

I recently returned from an amazing series of portfolio reviews in NYC where I spent the better part of a week sharing the new version of my portfolio with buyers, editors, and reps. Regular readers may have noticed over the past few months that I have made several mentions about the process of putting this new portfolio together alongside designer Nubby Twiglet in preparation for this marketing trip, and now I am ready to share the end results of our most recent collaboration with the above video and some photos of the final book.

Over many weeks of conceptual discussion, Nubby and I started to pull together the images and elements that would go into the book. We decided on an 11 x 14 landscape format, which is similar to previous versions of my book. I feel that it is a perfect size for the types of image layouts we ended up working with and avoids the transport and scale issues of larger books.

We also went with a completely custom solution for the covers rather than something pre-fabricated. It gave us so much more freedom in terms of our design and materials choices than working within the constraints and limited options offered by some off-the-shelf portfolio solutions. Nubby had worked with a bookbinder in Portland called Grossenbacher in the past and suggested them for the fabrication of the covers – they did not disappoint. The company has been around since 1925 and sports quite an impressive client list. They did a wonderful job with this project and the book itself became quite a conversation piece during several of my recent meetings because of its substantial artisanal feel.

Physical construction aside, we explored a few different versions of the body of the book, namely the image order and how it came together as a final whole body of work. Some layouts were built around various projects and assignments that I had shot, while others were built around a color story that progressed throughout the book, ending with a collection of my favorite black and white imagery. One of the most important decisions we made was whether or not to incorporate design elements other than just my photography into the main body of the book. Ultimately, we decided to take several elements from previous collaborations and incorporate them as a means of reinforcing the identity that we have built over the last few years, while giving the book a more finished and editorial feel – simple additions that I feel enhance the experience of the book.

Nubby also has some thoughts to share on the design process of the book.

When beginning work on Luke Copping’s portfolio, I wanted to leverage as many existing design elements from our previous collaborations as possible to keep the recognizability of his branding strong and consistent. After a few years of smaller collaborations, it was time to take on our most ambitious project to date: the print portfolio.

Luke already had a digital portfolio and even a magazine but the print portfolio was meant to be the most premium and tie everything else together. I designed the covers to mimic the look his letterpress business cards and had it produced at a local bookbinder with a silver foil wordmark and white foil cross pattern for a tonal effect. The covers are white linen with white lining and hidden screw posts. I wanted it to be as understated and premium as possible.

A lot of time was spent shuffling images into layouts that either revolved around a particular series or a color story. While the magazine had copy throughout, the portfolio was all about Luke’s photography so we kept the layouts in line with what you’d expect in a photography book. Big, beautiful and with a lot of white space when needed.

Luke’s book was printed at Pushdot here in Portland so I was able to proof it in person. He chose a premium matte paper with a slight texture that added a whole new dimension to his work. The prints and custom cover came together to form a book that we’re really proud of. I admire Luke for constantly pushing forward and investing in the presentation of his photography business — his passion for what he does really shows.

~ Nubby Twiglet

I could not be happier with the end result of this project. This new book is a culmination of a lot of new work and new approaches to how I want to present myself and my work moving forward. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to leave your opinions and comments.

Required Reading

• Check out the new blog and site over at Hero Design and see some of the best hand screen printed music posters around. Created by  the team of Mark and Beth Brickey.

Nubby Twiglet recounts her first year of freelancing, applicable to anyone working in a freelance creative field. Some interesting anecdotes and important lessons.

• Post symposium thoughts from ASMP president Richard Kelly regarding the Copyright Symposium that took place in NYC this past week featuring Chase Jarvis, Jeff Sedlik, Lawrence Lessig, and others

• A collection of vintage photographs of New York from the 1940’s

• An archive of brilliant magazine cover photography and design stretching back decades and covering thousands of images at the NMCA: Magazine Cover Archive

Resolve to Make Mistakes

As I sit here in the post New Years eve chaos that is my apartment (There are house fires that look more orderly) I have been thinking a lot about new years resolutions and how futile they often are. For many people its a matter of giving themselves a task with no real goal. “Im going to lose weight” instead of “I am going to lose x pounds over y time.” For creatives it may be something that sounds like “I am going to leverage social media to make x dollars this year” or “I will book those three large wish list clients in the first business quarter of 2010” As well intentioned and noble all of these self promises may be, I think that sometimes we lose sight of some of the important aspects of what we do. making grandiose promises that should be goals to work towards rather than the deal breaker promises we blindly make to ourselves.

I have made myself two resolutions this year which I have tried to temper with a good dose of reality and good advice from others.  they are:

“I will shoot at least 2 self directed projects a month for myself to bolster my portfolio and attract clients”

I think that many photographers and creatives get caught up in frenzy of social media, marketing, branding, and market placement. While all of the above are important aspects of being a photographer in this new decade ,  they mean very little without the work to back it up. We should always be striving to create better images, to push our limits, and to create pictures that we truly love. Its hard to sell a product that you don’t believe in, by pushing yourself to make images that matter to you, you make it that much easier to make images that matter to your clients. Remember what Steve Martin said “The best way to make it is to be undeniably good”

“I will willingly make mistakes and fail more often”

Its only when we fail that we learn. Not every single shoot we do for ourselves has to result in portfolio images. Its so important to get out and experiment, have fun with your work, push limits, break boundaries, try new techniques, fail, realize your mistakes, correct them, and move on as a better photographer, illustrator, editor, writer… whatever. Its when you get to point that you stop learning and stop teaching yourself that you really start to lose your edge, and there is no excuse for it, not in this age where information is freely available, where peer review is abundant and democratic, and where we have more control over our creative output than ever. This resolution directly effects the first. I will be trying new techniques and workflows, new ways of looking at images, and at how I create these images.

While it has been a tumultuous holiday season, there is a lot to look forward to as well. I am in the process of launching a new brand identity, which may already be apparent to some of the regular visitors to this blog and my website. I’ll be talking about this process in the coming weeks as well as continuing to work with my fantastic new designer Nubby Twiglet on a variety of new brand and marketing elements, I’m ecstatic to be working with a professional designer after years of taking care of my design needs myself. I am also a lot more conscious of presentation and how to get my work in front of the right people, I have met some people lately that have given me some great advice on how to best do that. Moving into 2010 is a time thats filled with excitement. For a lot of people this is a significant era, its filled with possibility, uncertainty and opportunity, I can’t wait to see what the new decade has in store.

A question: what creative resolutions have the rest of you made this year?