The Illustrator – Mickey Thoren Harmon

Illustrator and designer Mickey Thoren Harmon is the co-creator of "The Life and Times of Grovey Cleves. A humorous retelling of the life of "near great" President Grover Cleveland.

Most people know Grover Cleveland as America’s only President to serve two non-consecutive terms. Fewer know him as the former Mayor of my hometown of Buffalo NY, and later as a Governor of New York State who was  praised for his honesty and constant opposition of political corruption.

But now a new story is being told about Grover Cleveland, one that takes a “mostly accurate” look at the life of this “near great’ President and mustache enthusiast who continues to fly under the historical radar. The Life and Times of Grovey Cleves is a collaboration between outspoken illustrator Mickey Thoren Harmon and writer Scott Mancuso that tells the story of Cleveland’s days as a young bachelor and foodie in Buffalo during the city’s rise to prominence; to his rapid and reckless political ascent from Mayor to Governor to 22nd (and later 24th!) President of the United States in just three years.

Originally envisioned as a small exhibition Harmon’s drawings that revolved around his fascination with the political figure, the concept later grew into a more fully fleshed out publishing project with the involvement of Mancuso and the fabulous Western New York Book Arts Center who helped produce the limited edition work.

While you may no longer be able to get your hands on a print copy of this unique examination of the history of one of America’s more interesting but lesser known Presidents, you can still learn a little bit more about the man himself by checking out a digital version of The Life and Times of Grovey Cleves here.

 

The Illustrator – Mickey Thoren Harmon

WHITE ON WHITE

Alison Lavis from The White on White Series

After taking a much-needed break from social media, blogging, and the internet in general for the whole month of December, I’m happy to announce that I’m back, I have a ton of new work to share, and I’ve been spending the past few weeks planning, strategizing, and getting ready to hit the ground running in 2017!

The first batch of new work that I want to share is a personal project that I started back in November of 2016 in order to explore some concepts of simplicity in portraiture. I wanted to create something as simple as possible that puts the focus squarely on the subject. I was highly inspired by this quote:

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity” – Charles Mingus

A white wall, white wardrobe, a subject, and me. It’s about as basic as you can get, and yet working within strict limitations like these can be just what you need to stimulate you creatively.Actor Dudney Joseph Jr, and Former lead singer of It Dies Today Jason Matthew Wood

Artist Brittany Baker and Makeup Artist Mallory Stoos Ashley Schaffert Lederer of the Morning Glory Blog Club DJ Joe Chalifoux and Model Paige CarsonMarina Boswell photographed as part of my White on White series

mv20161116-0064Tom Tubiolo and Lulu Robinson Jessica Schreiber from the White on White Series

WHITE ON WHITE

LEO CHAN

Business editorial portrait on finance exec Leo Chan

It’s not every day that you find that the subject you are creating a business portrait of is also a model, but that was certainly the case when photographing Morgan Stanley compliance and anti-money laundering specialist Leo Chan.

In creating these portraits Leo and I  wanted to create something simple, classic, and a little iconic that took advantage of all the style and confidence Leo brought to the equation. The addition of a well-tailored suit, a quirky splash of color, and the fact that Leo is also an experienced model made this portrait a lot of fun to work on.

I am always excited to shoot a project like this. As much as I have enjoyed shooting fashion and beauty stories over the years I have found myself drifting away from that lately and gravitating towards what really excites me these days, which is photographing real people with interesting lives and their own sense of style and identity – Cool people who do and make cool things. A lot of my recent personal work is around the idea of making images that tell these kinds of stories while still being very stylish and clean – very me.  One of the reasons that this project with Leo is so appealing to me is that it is something of a bridge between these two very different types of projects I work on and very much a hybrid between where I am coming from and where I want to go with my work.

LEO CHAN

LOGAN SCHOTT

Logan Schott

Logan Schott is a model who can’t stay in one place for too long. Since I first worked with him a year ago on a banking campaign Logan has lived on both coasts and made travel between LA, NYC, and Buffalo a near constant in his life, but thankfully I have had occasional  opportunities to work with him since then on personal projects and a recent series of images for Cyberoptix. 

Logan was visiting Western New York for the holidays from Los Angeles to visit with family and friends, and as usual we made immediate plans to work on something together. The only snag was that the studio was pretty much empty for the holidays, crew members were traveling, some equipment was out for annual repair and maintenance, and even the heat had been running at minimum for days. No crew, no styling team, and very little gear is a bit of a break in how I normally work when I am on a commercial or editorial assignment, but these small projects with friends are always fun – just the two of us working together to make something. One thing we didn’t have to worry about though was wardrobe. Logan is essentially a punk rock fashion boy scout – always prepared, he brought a bag full of finds from his ceaseless thrifting and DIY clothing projects.

This simple black and white portrait was one of my favorites from the shoot (Okay… this was a hard shoot to edit as there were a lot of variations and great frames), and very illustrative of the type of portraiture I have found myself drawn to over the last few months.

There are a few other images from this shoot that I will share soon (probably next week). They have  a very different feel from this sombre portrait and I think they warrant their own post.

LOGAN SCHOTT

BRUSH 'EM

Tristan Lambright Brushing his teeth

There has been a bit of radio silence around here the last few weeks, because I have been off running around and working on some really cool projects – But we are kicking off a big week here with a lot of news to share,  and the first thing I want to share with you are some new images from a project I started working on a few weeks back.

We all know that feeling…. the one you get when you are staring at yourself in the mirror, fascinated by the contorted and often alien faces you make when you are getting down to the very serious business of dental hygiene.

Lacy Ellinwood Brushing teethDanielle Sugg Brushing his teethDanyell Sugg Brushing his teethPat McCarthy Brushing his teeth

BRUSH 'EM

Cyberoptix Tie Lab 2012

Detroit based neckwear designer Cyberoptix Tie Lab commissioned me to create this series of images to promote their line of unique hand silkscreened neckties and scarves (my girlfriend is obsessed with their pashmina scarves). These are ties for rock stars and that aesthetic certainly shows up in this series. Cyberoptix is strongly rooted is responsible production ethics, especially in regards to the choices of ink they use to cut environmental and health impacts as well as their use of fair trade material in all of their silk products. I have shot for them in the past and I truly love how this company’s founder, Bethany Shorb, has brought together art and ethics to reinvigorate a classic accessory in a way that people genuinely get excited about – I am so thrilled when we have the chance to work together.

I am working an another campaign of images for Cyberoptix as we speak – a slightly more conceptual series that I’ll be sharing with you in a few weeks.

Here are a few behind the scenes mobile snaps of Logan from the day of the shoot. We felt that these ties lent themselves so well to rock-stardom that we started creating faux artwork for a nonexistent synth-punk project that Logan fronts in an alternate universe.

Cyberoptix Tie Lab 2012

My Mini Vacation

my-mini-vacation-toronto

my-mini-vacation-title

Never underestimate the effect that twenty-four hours can have on your outlook and attitude. After a grueling week a sudden decision was made by me and my girlfriend Erin to jet up to Toronto for an overnight respite from our respective work. Being that we are both freelancers who have schedules that can be difficult to synch these mini vacations and day adventures become more common diversions for us than long overly planned vacations, we are just up for a good spontaneous adventure. Armed only with my iPhone we left on friday afternoon to de-stress, have fun, and go on a short notice adventure before returning to Buffalo and jumping right back into a busy week before opening the new studio. I feel recharged, renewed, and am bursting with new ideas from such a short trip. I sometimes forget how important it can be to just step away for a few minutes, especially during times when I am juggling many projects, both personal and professional.

my-mini-vacation-boat

Driving down the QEW from Buffalo to Toronto and other destinations north, I have always been fascinated by this replica of Jacques Cartier’s Grand Hermie that has been sitting in the water just off the highway for years. It used to be more substantial, but the main hull of the ship has been reduced by rust and fire to little more than a shell, still, the masts rising up over the tree line have long served as a marker for those making frequent trips back and forth from Toronto to Buffalo like we do. I even used to use it a location for some more unorthodox engagement and bridal shoots  back when I regularly shot weddings. It is one of those great roadside quirks can easily spark imagination.

The last leg of the trip, coming into downtown Toronto, is the point where I could feel like our mini-vacation had truly arrived. Some of the quick hit highlights of the trip follow:

• Checking into the hotel and standing in what felt like the longest check in line in history (Note to all – always a good idea to not check in at the same time that two entire conventions worth of people in town that weekend are trying to do the same)

• Walking, and just being out in the open air, wandering the streets, taking pictures, and laughing our asses off at inside jokes just melted away weeks of over-focus and living by a schedule. This is where I re-centered myself the most.

• Taking tons of pictures of me and Erin at her request ( The dreaded mirror shot, everyone loves/hates them, but I will acknowledge how much fun they can be)

• Spending time with my cousin Ryan on our second day there (an older photo above that I took of him a few years back, one of my favorites)

• The food!!! Toronto in always a gastronomic wonderland for us, we have our favorites we always like to drop in on, but are always looking for new spots to get great food and hang out. Toronto has some of the best Indian food I have ever eaten, so friday night we managed to drop by a restaurant close to our hotel for a very late and very relaxing meal. Saturday on the other hand, was all about sitting out in the sun and taking in a long… long lunch. My cousin took us to a Portuguese restaurant with an amazing patio where we spent most of the afternoon drinking beer, eating whole grilled sardines, sausages, great bread, and the most delicious grilled chicken.

Even just one day away from in a different place, a brief change of scenery at best, can be an amazing change for your outlook. Get out there and just go somewhere… anywhere. Even if it is just for a few hours, go have an adventure, eat at the restaurant you always wanted to, get in your car and drive for an hour in any direction, then spend 2 more hours just walking around and exploring where you arrive at, the destination doesn’t really matter, it’s about making the choice to break your routine and just go. Take that same thought process and apply it to the project or image you have been thinking about creating. Just get out there are do it!

Coming Soon

The studio is almost done. We will be holding our opening reception this week, As the image above illustrates – I am sure that Scott will be glad to be finished with the painting.


We have finished the final retouching and post-production on the project for Anatomy, and you can expect to see the finished images in just a week or two.

My Mini Vacation