Ink & Hair with WolffBehr Philip Wolff
The Ghost of Oz Özkan Durakoglu
“Jazz Hands” and Freewheelin’ in the
Busking Biz Captain Cowboy & The Moneymaker
Aleksandar The Great Alex Gligoric Digital Dreamscapes Nikolina Petolas Sweet Sunsets & Sick Shots Erick Ramirez
Trash Talk & Sustainable Creativity The Down & Dirty of Eco-Activist Artwork
NUMERO DUE $6.99 D E CE M BE R
2 0 1 6
The winning image will appear on the cover of INSPADES Magazineâ€™s February Issue Numero TRE
Winner will be interviewed and have their work featured in INSPADES Magazineâ€™s February Issue Numero TRE Winner will receive their own printed custom edition magazine, featuring up to 20 pages of their own work, created by INSPADES and shipped to their door Winner will be featured on both the INSPADES & Pr0ject_Uno websites Winning photo will be featured and supported by the @Pr0ject_Uno Community on Instagram and Facebook Winner will receive a one of a kind vintage tee, courtesy of Photographer Darren Singer www.darrensinger.net / @derwood26
CONTEST [ENTER NOW]
NUMERO DUE 006
Albany McCabe “Saw your smile...”
Jaclyn Truss Letter From The Editor
Carlos Labrador Shades of Grey - A Lightworker’s Tale
Nikolina Petolas A Surreal Expedition Through Digital Dreamscapes
Sergei Riaboff Portraits from St. Petersburg
Philip Wolff Interview with the stylish and entrepreneurial Philip Wolff
Gregory Serpanchy Being Conscious with Tattoo Artistry
Lily Banse Astounding Edits From an iPhone 6
Yakovleva Ira Choreographing breathtaking photography
Erick Ramirez Sweet Sunsets & Sick Shots
John Adams Emnace Mesmerizing Edits from a 14 Year Old’s iPad
Martin Van de Kreeke Rotterdam’s Platon
Özkan Durakoglu Pay Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain
Shani Gabay Wearing your heart on sleeve...literally
Aleksandar Gligoric Some call it work, I call it a lifestyle of passion
Darren Singer Architectural life breather
Howard Sturman Clothing the human form with industrial artistry
Rob Hakemo The Obsoletion of Photoshop and DSLRs
Ylenia Viola Do you believe in fairies?
Elena Leontiou A garden of imaginary flowers
Harnessing the Power of Visual Communication To Slow Climate Change
Fran Garcia Digging deep in a black hole of human emotion
Sally Mills Snowdrop Cottage A story of beautiful decay
MANU PUNX Dumping Darkness
Michelle Bishoff “dream team” of muses
Abraham Yusuf Limitless art from the Paris of East Java
Captain Cowboy and the Money Maker Old-time duo revives vaudeville and ragtime on the road
Cynthia Udeh-Martin Toronto Fashion Academy contest winner!
SERGIO DAVID SPADAVECCHIA Publisher/Creative Director firstname.lastname@example.org creativespades.com - @creativespades JACLYN TRUSS - Editor in Chief email@example.com ANISSA STAMBOULI - Head Writer astamdesigns.org - @astamdesigns REBECCA BOWSLAUGH - Writer ADRIANO MARCHESE - Writer SHAY KEDEM - Fashion Editor Photographer - @kedemstudio REBECCA WEAVER - Fashion Editor - @_legsweaver_ ALBANY MCCABE - Opening Poet DARIO SPADAVECCHIA - Media Research CHRISTINA DEVEAU - PR & Social Media - @christinadeveau
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“Seaworthy Vessel” My entire life has been spent underwater, searching for clarity.
Floundering, drowning, sinking, dying.
Brief moments of respite left me gasping, head above, body below.
Thrashing, struggling, fighting, waiting to sink yet again.
And then you came along —
a beautiful raft, hauling me up like a trap from the watery deep,
rescuing me from the sleeping kraken that lay in wait. And I coughed up salt water,
filling my lungs with fresh ocean air
and I realized, even though the waves were lapping at our feet,
I had found a seaworthy vessel.
- Albany McC abe @ albany.new.york - @ the.aimless.muse
Photo by Abraham Yusuf @abrahamyusuff
Letter From the Editor BY JACLYN TRUSS
Sometimes the Beauty is Simple “Sometimes the beauty is simple, sometimes you don’t have to try at all. Sometimes you can hear the wind blow in a handshake. Sometimes there is poetry written right on the bathroom wall.” —Ani DiFranco It was midnight and our INSPADES team had spent the evening with cameras and cold ones at the “Death by Glitter” fashion show, snapping spandex and rhinestones while sipping bourbons and beer. Seven steps from starving and climbing, we rolled into an allnight sushi joint for some subprofessional sashimi snacking. A few green teas later, nature had her say, allowing for the glorious experience of testing the cleanliness of yet another public restroom. I’ve never known anyone who enjoys having to use a public restroom, but I have known people who were overjoyed at experiencing one that far exceeded their generally minimal expectations. In my opinion, however, there is only one trait of any public restroom that proves superior to our at-home throne rooms, and that is gratifying graffiti of restroom poetry. Imparting unasked wisdom, expelling
intense emotions or offering support and optimism, restroom poetry has the strange power to move us in ways that, had we read it any other setting, the impact would have been far less whelming. Restroom poetry, regardless of its public domain, instills a sense of personalness when the writer strikes a common chord with the reader. Wrapped into a private and vulnerable moment, they are words that may seem randomly produced, yet so on point with your personal journey, that they create a feeling of fortuitous connection. Is this but a mere coincidence, your eyes simply falling upon the meaningless scribbles of another? Or is your encounter with this message somehow, in some way, meant especially for you? Our awesome team at INSPADES have been sailing the waters of our stupendous adventure, walked the plank of purpose and
are now drowning in waves of creativity, kinship and unmatched energy. With a single, breathless plunge, we’ve gone from nothing to something, wading through all of our new ideas and potential opportunities, trying to figure out which ones will, and should, float. This made what I read scrawled on the stall wall that night, surprisingly perfect and, to me, very much meant to be. While generally not one for potty talk, I feel nevertheless compelled to impart you with what I read that day because I found it to be, in its simplicity, wildly energizing and encouraging: “If you have been looking for a sign —this is it. Do it. It will be AMAZING!”
Whether you believe such prose to be the trite blatherings of a random (and potentially inebriated) stranger or divine intervention marked through thoughtful human hands, if what you read stirs something inside you, then the messenger will not matter to you, only that you embraced the message.
Queen of Spades
—P.S.— Enjoy this issue because it is made with love for you, and enjoy your life because it is made the same way.
BY JACLYN TRUSS
Reflections of a
Lightworker CARLOS LABRADOR
ome worlds live in shades of grey, but shine no less bright. The brilliant monochromatic world of Carlos Labrador is such a place. From a young age Labrador was a great admirer of the masters of photography and his passion for their images and artistic composition have followed him since he acquired his first camera. He studied at the prestigious photography academy Roberto Mata Taller de FotografĂa in Caracas, Venezuela, studying portraiture and photojournalism. Today counts more than 25 years of professional experience, with his true passion undeniable: black and white photography. During the last five years, Labrador has focused on portrait photography in his own studio, experimenting with new and creative lighting techniques that have built him his own unique signature look, one he is well known for within Venezuelaâ€™s photographic communities. He works with different light sources and a combination of different lighting equipment and filters for every photo he takes, allowing each images to achieve particular effects and exclusive personality.
â€œPhotography is the engine of my creativityâ€?
“Combinations of light and shadows can transform the subjects and objects in front of the lens and turn the photograph into an artistic element, creating beautiful and dramatic effects on the composition,” explains Labrador. Labrador studies the faces of each of his models before his shoots, in order to take advantage of their features. He likes to know about their diverse personalities to obtain information and reflect their own emotions and feelings in every image. His upcoming project will feature images of elders, capturing their portraits, hands, and above all, their stories. “I believe that the faces of these people are full of information - the joy and sadness reflected in their faces lets us know their incredible stories. Wrinkles on their faces and hands tell us about who they have been. These portraits will be full of emotions and feelings experienced uniquely by each character,” says Labrador of his gracious muses.
Labrador has also traveled the world capturing people and culture in Asia, Africa, Europe and America, and found in every place a source of untapped inspiration within their locals, environment and customs. He has especially fond memories of his trip to the city of Luang Prabang in Laos, where he photographed its ancient temples and monasteries, as well as the daily life of the monks, novices and their religious rituals. Another memorable experience was his trip to the Serengeti in Tanzania, where he was elementally in contact with nature at its purest, allowing him to capture images of the great diversity of wild animals coexisting together in their natural habitat.
Labrador’s images are intuitive, insightful and richly evocative, his use of light baring into the very souls of his subjects. His exquisite work pays great homage to master photographers from which he drew his inspiration. With his every image, Labrador seeks to reflect the light, not only within his subjects, but also within himself. “Be carried away by creativity and passion; seek the inner being that exists inside you and reflect it in each image; become every piece of work so that it is the best representation of your soul,” Labrador imparts.
BY ANISSA STAMBOULI
Petolas Chasing Dormant Visions of the
roatian artist Nikolina Petolas has mastered the ar tistic h a r m o ny o f s e l f- p o r t r a i t p h o to g r a p hy, d i g i t a l a r t a n d surrealism. Beneath the foundation of her conceptual dreamscapes runs the current of societal observation and the rapids of Petolasâ€™ inner complexities. Pulling from influences like Jacek Yerka and Edward Gorey to name a few, Petolasâ€™ work is ripe with psychoanalytical opportunity.
“These strange sceneries are symbolic presentations of how I perceive life, emotions, sexuality and relationships, and human behaviour,” Petolas tells INSPADES. The path to Petolas’ current success began in the digital realm, where she mastered tools and applications as a graphic and web designer. When she took up photography, a “whole new world” of artistic opportunity emerged. “I could take what I saw in front of me through the lens of my camera, and transport it to other spheres which cannot be found in reality.” For ten years Petolas experimented with various branches of photography including portrait, still life, landscapes and macro. Marrying her digital design skills with her photography, Petolas was able to express her ideas through imaginative, dreamlike scenes. Grounding images with the realistic element of her original photography, fantastical scenarios and settings suspend any sense of realism. Petolas’ projects are digitally based by way of Photoshop and her Wacom tablet, yet still, she manages to achieve the remarkable effect of surrealist paintings. Throughout Petolas’ work, common themes and symbols include dinosaur skeletons, women strangely placed in industrial settings, disproportionately large fruit and postapocalyptic backgrounds.
â€œBy using real life photographs and texture, I give my work a feel of realism, although the themes are far from realisticâ€?
“Although these worlds may seem strange and unreachable, for me they are symbolic representations of my hopes and dreams, of people around me—their urges and desires, of new revelations and repeating disappointments, and of life in general.” One of Petolas’ striking images, “10 Years of Solitude”, presents Petolas as the prominent subject, armoured with animal ribs as a chest plate and a dinosaur skull for a helmet, it’s spine trailing from her scalp down her back. The exposed flesh of her nakedness contrasts the empty industrial setting, while her healthy, living form stands ironically protected by the bones of an extinct species. For Petolas, bones and skeletons connote any idea or thing that once held importance in our lives, but have since “died”. “Whether it is some kind of emotion, friendship or relationship that became some distant memory, it still exists somewhere,” she explains. Like the sporadic skeletons haunting her images, the “ghosts” of our past will always maintain influence, whether in our concrete reality or the surreal planes of our subconscious. “It is always interesting for me to see, or search for, what lies dormant under our visibly presented human behaviour,” Petolas discloses. Dedicating herself to tracking the psychological and social aspects that construct the self, Petolas also hopes to record the effect that “endless soul searching” has on the individual.
â€œWhat is seen and how it is interpreted is complemented with a missing link, and that is imaginationâ€?
In her series Impeller, Petolas explores the dynamic between human behaviour and the progression of technology. The collection features identical women in industrial settings, inspired by Petolas’ admiration for heavy machinery, electronic music and the steampunk scene. For Petolas, Impeller reveals our dynamic with, and dependence on, technology. She explores the “correlation and interaction between humans and machines,” and the ways in which we function in “automatic mode” as a result of our dependency on technology. While we rely on technology for most of our contemporary conveniences, Petolas maintains that machines still can’t help us with the complicated factors that make us human: “emotion, thought, and the inability to control feelings.” As science strives to make machines more human through artificial intelligence, Petolas wonders if “humans are becoming more like machines” through our reliance on technology. Yet while many of Petolas’ artistic scenes express specific ideas, the viewers’ interpretation colours the message with subjective projections. “I wouldn’t want to strip viewers of their personal experience with my artwork,” she clarifies. For Petolas, “Art is a form of communication,” where viewers’ perception often differs from the artist. “This is what makes art interesting and beautiful,” she divulges, “What is seen and how it is interpreted is complemented with a missing link, and that is imagination.”
Bringing her work to life is no quick task. As the photographer and digital artist behind her projects, Petolas will spend months at a time labouring over a single piece. “I still occasionally work on some graphic projects, but I try to dedicate myself solely to artwork,” she explains. Shooting the various elements that make up scenes can sometimes involve traversing countries, waiting for specific weather conditions, or attempting to access difficult locations. Once the photograph has been taken, Petolas then has the task of incorporating minute details into her pieces, sometimes using up to 300 layers on Photoshop while editing. “Gathering the materials and combining them is a journey that I really enjoy,” says Petolas, “My work leads me to some really strange places.” Today Petolas remains immersed in the world of dreamscapes, recently exhibiting work for International Surrealism Now. While Petolas hopes to try her hand at traditional painting, she still plans to evolve her skills with software and animation and will continue to create her mind-altering masterpieces.
BY ADRIANO MARCHESE
ART FOR THE SAKE OF ART
Pure aesthetics in portraiture
photography of Russian artist Sergei Riaboff carries the intensity and gravitas of a Renaissance painting. Developing an aesthetic in his photography that is nostalgic for the traditional painted portrait, Riaboff creates images that are honest, mournful and strikingly beautiful. Hailing from St. Petersburg, Riaboff came to photography by chance when he received his first camera as a gift from his parents. Gradually and with great dedication, Riaboff grew into his style as he transitioned from shooting flowers, architecture and scenery, to capturing the compelling human element. â€œOnce I understood that a picture is empty without life, I started shooting people.â€?
â€œOnce I understood that a picture is empty without life, I started shooting people.â€?
Riaboff gives face to the familiar Russian theme of melancholy, personifying it through the bodies and personalities of his models. In the positioning of his models and use of radiant lighting techniques, Riaboff conjures a complimentary luminescence for each image, displaying a unique ability to merge elements from painted portraiture with the silky texture of a photograph. “At first, I started to shoot with hard light in the studio, but I became drawn to work with softer shades,” he told INSPADES. “This greatly helped to understand how light works, which allows me to experiment.” Softened light imparts an ethereal effect, giving Riaboff’s portraiture a sense of timelessness, but the ingenuity of Riaboff’s memorable and stirring portraiture can be found in his subject’s posture. Riaboff’s direction of each subject’s placement, with their deeply penetrative gazes, conveys a sober regality, while their natural colour palettes recall the modest beauties of Renaissance portraitures.
Captured keenly throughout the series is the beauty of sorrow, and Riaboff’s sharp eye for subjects with unique yet natural characteristics give the viewers a sense of human vulnerability and resilience, simultaneously. The subjectivity of art is also central to Riaboff’s work. “I am not trying to convey to my viewers a secret meaning,” he said, “The girl in my picture is just a girl.” Riaboff’s portraiture pursues aesthetics, divorced from any meaning or message imposed upon the viewer by the artist. While Riaboff weaves no intention through his photography, there remains the transfer of something intangible; what we derive from it becomes our own unique experience.
When we are presented with one of Riaboff’s work, there is a small urge to seek meaning behind the image. Curious viewers must impart their own interpretation onto the image, thereby interacting with the work on a personal level. As a photographer, Sergei Riaboff’s strength lies in blurring the line of his photographic style with the painting aesthetic of Renaissance masters, opening our minds to the enduring and reflective quality of portraiture. The viewer’s pleasure in deconstructing his portraiture offers a level of complexity, which titillates the imagination and prompts exploration of the image and its relation to the viewer’s self.
BY JACLYN TRUSS
INK & HAIR WITH WOLFF
Philip Wolff, co-owner of the Beverly Hills salon Shades Natural Colour Studio, is best known for his monumental passion for creating stylish hair behind the chair. With his partner Chief Behr, the pair not only co-founded WolffBehr Hairdressing, but they were also thrilled to mention their new creative director positions at Peter Coppola Beauty. Born in Landstuhl, Germany, Wolff lived throughout Europe in his early childhood, later moving to Washington, D.C. While his hair career began in 1998 in Maryland, by 2004 Wolff had moved to Los Angeles to stretch his creative wings. Throughout his life, Wolff has not only accumulated accolades for his work but has also collected an incredible amount of body tattoos - 21 years worth, to be exact. We caught up with Wolff to get his introspective view on the industries of hair, beauty and tattoo art. What was moving to L.A. from Maryland like? After a very humble awakening to a huge city like L.A., I worked seven days a week in numerous jobs/salons/barber shops to survive, and after some years was able to land a spot in a top-known salon. After a few years there I started to do celebrity hair and fashion runway shows, as well as freelance work including editorial, tv, commercials and movies. I am very grateful to have worked in so many aspects of this industry in my time.
What do you hope to accomplish with WolffBehr Hairdressing? I hope to build a true hairstylist lifestyle brand. What I mean by that is to provide true education that will help stylists all over the world succeed in this industry in the personal way that they choose; to set a strong core foundation for them to carry with them throughout their career; to also provide products, tools, academies, salons, clothing, bags, travel gear--basically anything and everything that fits the lifestyle for us hair people. Ongoing education is absolutely essential for growth and evolution as a hair artist. I educate myself by surrounding myself with like-minded individuals who inspire me and learn from each other. This also allows my brain to constantly be exercised in thinking of new things or ways of going about hairstyling, cutting, coloring and business. I am so excited to now be a creative director for Peter Coppola Beauty, because we share our values and vision, and so it will be an excellent compliment to our brand. Is this the dream? Actually, I always wanted to be a rockstar guitarist, but eventually I realized hair was my path! But having said that, Chief and I are actually living the rockstar life - travelling city to city, on stage doing what we love, so I feel we are living out that dream. A huge part of my success and growth has been from classic hard work, determination, extreme focus and patience. I have my parents and martial arts to
thank for all of those traits. I started martial arts around the age of seven, and I was obsessed with Bruce Lee. His passion for martial arts and wanting to grow its culture all over the world is something I share, but with the hair world. He has evolved it into something of his own, and this is what I want to do with my knowledge and experience. You said that you have been obsessed with full-body tattoos since you were 10 years-old, can you elaborate on that early experience in your life, and what it was about tattoo art that really drew you in? When I first saw body art like the tattoos and piercings in a magazine, I was drawn in by the individuality factor. Then I saw an article about the body art on the Japanese Yakuza, and they all had full-body tattoos, yet everyone had their own version which was unique to themselves. There were different designs, placement styles, colors, etc., and the simple fact that this was on their bodies just blew me away. I knew I had to have it. Being of mixed race and growing up where no one looked like me, I was different inside and out; therefore, instead of trying to blend in, I decided to just explore who I was and live life through expression, and part of that expression for me was through body art.
â€œI HOPE TO BUILD A TRUE HAIRSTYLIST LIFESTYLE BRAND. WHAT I MEAN BY THAT, IS TO PROVIDE TRUE EDUCATION THAT WILL HELP STYLISTS ALL OVER THE WORLD SUCCEED IN THIS INDUSTRY IN THE PERSONAL WAY THAT THEY CHOOSE.â€?
The Japanese Yakuza is a transnational organized crime syndicate, What was it specifically about their style of tattoos that attracted you - was it more the aesthetic or the underlying meaning? For me, it was both. I wasn’t so much interested in the crime syndicate part, but I am one who is fascinated with all lifestyles even if they are far from my own. The aesthetic intrigued me in that it was grand and flowed so greatly with the body and, although I didn’t understand each and every meaning, I was sure it was significant to the culture and to themselves as individuals, so I was on a quest to find mine. What other influences are displayed on your body art? Some of the other influences on my body art have to do with myself and my beliefs, things that would not change throughout life. For example, on my leg I have ‘Never falter, never fail’ in traditional Tibetan script; on my jawline I have in Latin, ‘Vita incerta, mors certissima’ or rather--Life is uncertain, death is most certain’, meaning to me, you never know what life brings, so make the most of it while you are here because, like most things, it will come to an end. Asian art also played an influence on my choice of tattoos as well as the style.
Are all of your tattoos created by the same tattoo artist and how did you choose said artist(s)? Not all my tattoos are done by the same artist; however, for the last 10 years the majority have been done by Aaron Della Vedova; his style just seems to fit me as a person. I am a researcher, so even back when I first started, I chose whom I thought would fit the piece. Do you feel that your tattoos partially externalize your internal identity, using a visual medium? You know, that’s a great question. It’s hard to say because I can’t read people’s minds and I get very different reactions from very different people because I travel quite often. However, for me, I’d say my tattoos say that I am a very dedicated and detail oriented person, who isn’t afraid to express myself outwardly in the way I present myself; however, with the people who aren’t so educated on the body art adorned, I can see how I can come across very differently from who I really am as a person. It just proves the old saying, ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover.’ I find many people are very surprised after having a conversation with me. It seems to open their eyes to new things. If I can have a part in that, then I am proud to do so. Educating people on the new is important beyond words.
As much of your visible skin is covered in tattoos, do you find you end up talking about them a great deal of the time? I actually get asked about them almost every day. Since I travel all around the U.S. and internationally, I get asked constantly or at least get comments or remarks about them, mostly positive. I enjoy conversation about them as long as it’s in the right setting and/or if I feel the questions are genuine. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about full-body tattoos? Be patient, be open and do your research. I think there are many people who look at tattoos solely as ‘cool’ or ‘badass’ which, to their defense, sometimes it is! But I like things to flow and to have significance, so to me, getting a full-body tattoo by 21 yearsold kind of defeats the purpose - but to each their own. I would also have them think about the longevity of the piece and what it might mean to them later in life; however, art is subjective and everyone has their own style. This is the beauty of body art. It doesn’t make a person who they are, but it definitely shows a reflection of what’s inside them or was once a part of them. People change-some are impulsive, some aren’t, so, take your time because whether you think so or not, it tells your story, so make it worth it, and live some life first so that you can really have something to say!
From Paper to Permanent WithGregory
Serpanchy BY ANISSA STAMBOULI
hat artist doesn’t dream of immortalizing their life’s work? Whether it be on canvas or record, through sculpture or cyberspace, or any other means of creative preservation, leaving a legacy is long thought to be proof of a life well lived. While the tattoo work of Gregory Serpanchy will only live and breathe in its original form for a finite time, the ink of his proverbial pen will interact with the world in ways his paintings never could. Worn by his clients until the end of their days, Serpanchy has made his lasting mark on their skin and their souls - telling the story of who they are, where they’ve been and who they hope to become.
Within the realm of temporal and geographical context, human culture has held infinite variations of meaning for the ancient practice and art of tattooing; however, in recent decades the art form has been normalized through widespread social influences from celebrities to media, taking it from subculture to pop culture. With its rise in popularity, artists like Serpanchy have made the leap from drawing on paper, to scratching on skin. INSPADES met with Serpanchy at his current workspace in Toronto’s Golden Iron Tattoo Studio, where he divulged the trials of transitioning into the industry, his background as a painter and musician, and elaborated on his creative journey as a tattoo artist.
IN THE BEGINNING
Briefly attending the Ontario College of Art and Design with a focus on environmental design and sculpture, Serpanchy left the academic scene to tour throughout Ontario with his “mediocre punk rock” band. Tasked with designing the band and venue posters, Serpanchy learned to marry graphic design with illustration, a style he would find himself repurposing later in life. In 2005, Serpanchy left his life of rock and roll to devote himself to painting, founding Walnut Studios in Toronto’s Liberty Village with fellow artists. “The idea was to create an open-concept workspace for artists
to achieve their work, work together and inspire each other.” Within a year, the modest 3,000 square foot space of Walnut Studios grew from housing six artists to 48. “It was basically the brainchild of trying to be as creative as possible with as many people as possible,” Serpanchy explained, “We had no idea that it was going to be as big as it was.”
It wasn’t until he was 30 years-old, that Serpanchy first considered the tattoo industry as a viable means to financially supplement his painting career and Walnut Studios. Initially, Serpanchy began tattooing part-time, working
another full-time desk job. “I was working seven days a week and didn’t have a lot of time to paint—which was funny,” he said ironically. When Serpanchy acquired his first tattoo machines, he celebrated by doing “what most 30 year-old guys would do”—he called up his friends. “Bring beer, we’re doing tattoos,” he laughed at the recollection. “I very quickly learned that this was the wrong way to go about doing this.” During his apprenticeship in Toronto’s west end, Serpanchy realized that canvas and skin absorb ink very differently, and the move from one material to the other proved to be quite an adjustment. “Tattooing is not drawing—it’s an application, and it’s an art
form within itself,” he explained. Gradually Serpanchy gravitated more seriously to the world of tattooing. “It took over all my artistic endeavours,” he recalled, “I don’t think I’ve painted for about six years now. Tattooing has taken over everything; it’s just all I think about.” Due to the illustrative, line-based nature of tattooing, Serpanchy was able to pull from his past artistic experiences to enable a smooth career transition. When asked about how his past has influenced his current design style, Serpanchy answered, “The illustrations that I did in my younger days and my graphic work definitely translated over. My painting endeavors have definitely helped me in terms of colour application and understanding basic colour sense and colour wheels.”
After tattooing part-time for three years, Serpanchy stepped away from Walnut Studios and the community he had been so instrumental in establishing, deciding it would be a “better career move” to invest in his newfound passion. He made the leap to become a full-time tattoo artist and never looked back. “Part of the learning in tattooing is by doing it daily and making it your grind,” he shared.
Coming from the open-concept artistic community of Walnut Studios, it didn’t take long for Serpanchy to settle into the workspace at Golden Iron, which had a similar atmosphere. Serpanchy reflected, “Being able
to work in an environment where we’re all creating together is incredible.” As a tattoo artist, the dynamic of Serpanchy’s creativity was forced to shift in order to accommodate a whole new world of client relations. “I would compare tattooing and the tattoo industry more to being something along the lines of a graphic designer,” he said. Unlike painting, tattoo designs are more likely to be limited to the “confines” of a client’s vision; “Ideally I’m interpreting their idea in the style that I’m comfortable tattooing in.” However, when a client gives him the personal freedom to tattoo something on their body of his choosing, that honour outweighs even the most demanding clients. “Sometimes people will say, ‘I love your work, just do your thing’, and it’s incredible to have that trust,” admits Serpanchy.
Due to the popularization of tattoos in recent years, clients are more likely to research and pursue artists based on their prior work, enabling the client and artist to “build a piece together”, as opposed to the client dictating their desire. Through social media platforms like Instagram, tattoo artists are able to conveniently showcase their work and the styles they’re interested in pursuing, which tends to attract clients of a shared calibre. “I remember when I got my first tattoo, you just showed up at a non-specific tattoo shop and hoped for the best,” Serpanchy recalled. Now, however, social media has enabled users to follow “the players” of the tattoo industry, which enables artists to “focus and specialize” in preferred styles. “Tattoos really tie into logo work, where
you’re summing up a design for a person who’s come in with an idea; I take that idea and visually transform it into a layout that suits a tattoo, the placement of where they want it, and their budget,” Serpanchy explained. Yet, while conceptualizing the idea of a tattoo design with a client involves practical decision making, the art of tattooing moves beyond a business exchange and aesthetic function to include integrity and intimacy. For Serpanchy, tattooing a design onto a person’s skin isn’t the only facet of the art. “You need to care about each client and each client’s piece...this is going to be on this person for the rest of their life.” If he believes a design won’t transfer properly to skin, Serpanchy has
no issue denying implementation. “At the end of the day, regardless of what the design is, my name is attached to it, my livelihood and workmanship are attached to it.” Lately, Serpanchy has been drawn to geometric patterns and styles inspired by Tibetan and eastern Buddhist art. “Being able to make things look like they have depth and density with textures and varying line weights is something that definitely speaks to me and is something I strive for in my work,” Serpanchy said, mentioning blackwork tattoo artist Thomas Hooper as one of his inspirations. “I like stark black with a 50/50 contrast, dots and lines, and minimal shading techniques.”
Serpanchy also expressed a keen passion for floral imagery; “Creating these flows on the human body is quite beautiful and it’s really fun for me to do - I could literally do flowers all day.” Despite the various directions that his life has taken, Serpanchy has finally found his calling within the arts. “When I was dabbling in graphics and music, none of them really grasped me the same way,” he reflected. “Tattooing is a lifestyle choice. They’re long hours, but you’ll get what you put into it.”
THE JOURNEY ONWARD
Moving for ward, Serpanchy hopes to travel more with his work. Having recently
been hosted as a guest artist in Montreal, Serpanchy plans to keep work on the road more often, guest-spotting in places like California or Australia. As for the convention route, Serpanchy intends to follow the circuit across Canada--from the East Coast, all the way to Vancouver. “You get amazing opportunities travelling as a tattoo artist. If you want to travel, you simply connect with another tattoo artist and see if you can do a guest spot in their city and off you go - you get to travel, meet new people, do new art and not lose any money while you’re gone,” says Serpanchy, “I can’t think of a job that’s got more freedom to be creative and to be social than tattooing.”
BY JACLYN TRUSS
LILY BANSE “I started off playing with image blending apps for mobile phones (beginning with iPhone 4s, before moving to an iPhone 6) and used them mainly for double exposure edits. From there, I moved to ‘ free for all’ images, merging them to create imaginary worlds, and hopefully inspire others to explore their creativity just using their mobile phones.”
Lily Banse is a master manipulator, and we mean the good kind. Her distinctive style of image manipulation and unchained imagination has garnered her a feed sporting some of the most breathtaking, digitally enhanced photography on Instagram. Hailing from Singapore, Banse is also a hobby street photographer, but she took up mobile phone editing about three years ago. Practicing every other day when time allows, Banse will search for the perfect shot to start editing, with the entire process taking a few days to a few weeks. She feels “finished” as soon as she gets all the tones and colours together in a piece, stopping before the manipulation becomes “too real or too fake”. Take a trip down the rabbit hole of her invention, as Banse explains the method for achieving her magical wonderland--solely with an iPhone 6.
â€œI try to make sure the shot is subjective so that when one looks at it, he can imagine himself in there. Colours are important to me, so when I do postprocessing, the shot will look presentable in black and white as well.â€?
â€œThis image was shot by Thomas Kelley, the foreground mountain side was shot by Max Lawton and the faint background mountain image was shot by Vincent Burkhead. The moon is an image found in Alien Sky - you can find all sorts of planets, moons, stars using that app. After merging all those images together with Superimpose, I used Mextures to give it a nice tone.â€?
“I wish I had an app or program where I could increase an image’s size so that when it prints out, it could cover half a skyscraper without being pixelated.”
“I hope to tell my audience through my creations that it’s okay to ‘ drift’ away from the pressures of real life once in awhile.”
BY JACLYN TRUSS
The result is born in the
Yakovleva Ira @yakovlevaira
akovleva Ira was born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1986 with a beautiful leg line, natural flexibility and an innate sense of music. Because of this, her parents made a decision that she is most grateful for - they immersed her in the strong and elegant world of ballet. “Beautiful and complicated at the same time, they had shown me my path,” says Ira, “I love the art of ballet dance with all my heart. It gives me the freedom to express all of my emotions and even to tell a whole story using only the plasticity of the body.” After graduating from the Kiev State Choreographic College in 2005, Ira began dancing at the Saint-Petersburg Ballet Theatre, which delivers classical Russian ballet to audiences worldwide. With intense physical exertion, serious competition and little downtime, it takes extraordinary dedication to experience the honour of dancing on such legendary stages. During her eight years of professional ballet training, Ira attributes her success not only to her personal resolve and devotion to the art but also to the astute capabilities of the ballet masters with which she trained.
â€œMost of all, I love to photograph dancers in motion.â€?
“My teachers have instilled a sense of beauty, an awareness of posture and movement, a delicate perception of music, and the psychology of human emotions and feelings within the dance itself. Ballet has taught me the ability to work hard and have endurance and persistence in achieving my goals,” says Ira. Despite her love of ballet, when Ira became pregnant with her first daughter, she was no longer able to dance. Her artistic and creative nature begged for a new outlet, and she found it behind the lens, capturing the physical expression of beauty that she herself knew so well. Trading in her ballet slippers for a Canon 5D Mark 2, Ira embarked on a new journey as a professional ballet photographer. “Now those qualities I learned from dance translate to my work as a photographer, producing exquisite results,” explains Ira, “Step by step I’m progressing on this path. Studying, various forms of shooting with very different people and artists: organizing, planning, postproduction and most importantly - a great result. It all requires a high level of concentration and helps me to grow professionally.”
Ira now travels the world, capturing the astounding talents of renowned dancers on famous stages, studios and landmarks across the globe. As her ballet models are dancers that hail from different theatres around the world, each image is infused with its own unique aura. “As a professional, I can show the beauty of ballet in my work - I feel and see how to create the perfect movement within the image and it allows me to better communicate my ideas to the models,” says Ira. Ira’s favourite model, the one gracing our cover and other images seen here, is her sister, Elizaveta Cheprasova, a soloist for the Hungarian National Ballet Company State Opera. “I have had an exceptional and very strong bond with my sister since we were children. We feel each other perfectly and this contributes to seamless results when she is in front of my lens. I admire her and I am proud of her. We support and inspire each other - she is my miraculous muse,” gushes Ira.
Ira has many plans for the future including new projects, people, ideas, exhibitions and of course, travel. While there are many countries on her docket, the one that excites her the most is Spain, and we can be sure that Ira’s time there will be spent creating her heartstopping photographs with a spectacular Spanish twist. Ira remarks, “The passion and grace of flamenco dancing fascinate me. It is a completely different side of the art of dance compared to classical. I’m sure it would be very refreshing to work with flamenco dancers as it would be uncharted territory for me. I not only wish to test my skills in an unknown arena, but also to feel the full strength of this marvellous and passionate world of dance.” Ira’s innate understanding of her subjects is breathtakingly apparent. Her intuitive knowing of where each movement peaks allows her to capture each motion at its pinnacle moment, forever freezing it in a frame of fluid, unadulterated beauty. Her skill as a photographer is but a reaction to her insight - her subject dances, a crescendo in motion, waiting for Ira’s climatic click of her camera, composing an entire opera within a single image.
â€œFirst and foremost, photography for me is a splendid art.â€?
COVER: Yakovleva Ira INSTAGRAM: @yakovlevaira links to my pages www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000141614915 www.facebook.com/groups/454205281450907/ www.instagram.com/yakovlevaira/ links to the model page www.facebook.com/elizaveta.cheprasova?fref=ts www.instagram.com/lizacheprasova/ muah, style, idea Lola Marzaganova www.facebook.com/lolita.marzaganova www.instagram.com/lo.lalique/ location studio Popcorn popcornstudio.ru
than just the
BY JACLYN TRUSS
Guy Erick Ramirez
Erick Ramirez was known as the â€œSunset Guyâ€?. His love for photography began with viewing the works of others, particularly sunsets and their dazzling array of colours, so it was not unexpected when his initial camera work showed an affinity for disappearing daylight.
â€œPhotography connects me with amazing people who inspire me everyday, and I feel I grow as a person thanks to them. I could not be more grateful for that.â€?
Ramirez paints his sunsets into a gorgeous picture: an idyllic scene splashed in gaudy multicoloured hues from a fading fireball, hotly pouring its intense molten light through the landscape and sky, illuminating every crack of shadow. Living now in West Palm Beach in Florida, the 24-year-old photographer was originally based in Gdańsk, Poland. Ramirez always wanted to travel and live in different countries, experiencing exotic cultures, so after receiving his B.A., he decided to move to the United States as an au pair--a live-in nanny. Today, he considers it to be the best decision he has ever made, as it was also a time when he started taking his photography to the next level, soon trading his Canon 70D for a full-frame Canon 6D. After receiving his well-deserved moniker as a sage of sunsets, Ramirez decided it was time to enrich his photographic variety, slowly progressing into urban scenes and natural landscapes. From there, Ramirez took his time creating his post-production style, knowing that it was all a part of establishing his niche. “Everything I know I have learned myself by reading and watching photography channels. I used to read articles about specific techniques and then would try them out right away. I think practice is the key to everything,” asserts Ramirez, “I really want to take my work further into the minds of my audience, show them what I feel, or make them feel a certain way. A photograph isn’t a photograph unless it gives something back in return.”
â€œNowadays people call themselves photographers just because they have a nice camera, and I think it takes away everything from those who actually are great artists.â€?
His embarkment into landscapes proved to have its own set of obstacles, as it is not always possible to be in a particularly scenic place. Ramirez confesses that most of his work is shot close to home, where there is less opportunity to create the photograph he pictures in his mind. As such, he challenges himself to shoot the available, but with a different look every time. Ramirez often works with double and long exposures, as well as Lightroom and Photoshop to manipulate his photos. Postproduction is a very social process for Ramirez, who will often meet with friends to talk, laugh and have a little “Lightroom session”. “The friends I have met through the Instagram community have given me so much...I will keep on moving further and hopefully keep inspiring others with my work. I am still at this point in my life where calling myself a photographer does not feel right. I still feel like I do not know enough and there is so much to learn.Photography is hard work: sleepless nights, a world in frames, pounds of heavy gear and a constant chase of the light and the moment,” says Ramirez. For Ramirez, his next chase is the American West Coast, a place that has created a tremendous resonance within him. With its incredible and diverse territory - oceans, mountains, forests and people - he plans to move there and photograph it for life. “This has been a time of inspiration, meeting amazing photographers, travelling, exploring and dreaming,and the journey has not ended yet. I am always excited about future and new opportunities!” says Ramirez.
BY ANISSA STAMBOULI
The Mosaic Surfacing & Self-Portraiture of a Promising Youth
The evocative works of John Adams Emnace indulge the viewer with their vibrancy, optimism and textured filters. With imagery provoking deep discourse and impressing the eye, Emnace embraces themes like climate change, duality and body positivity. Oh, and did we mention he’s only fourteen years old? Blending soft colour palettes and floral patterns with a gentle use of shadow, Emnace uses the PicsArt Photo Studio app, or occasionally Photoshop CS6, to edit his digital art. “I take boring portraits and polish them into magnificent, detailed portraits,” Emnace told INSPADES. Equipped with his iPad Mini, Emnace captures his surroundings and recreates the scene with unique composition. Emnace resides in the Philippines, where his interest in photography began at the age of thirteen. It was his sister who initially introduced him to PicsArt and its online community.
“I started by simply experimenting with different colours,” Emnace explained, but playing around with the basics didn’t last long. Young and ambitious, the budding digital artist expanded his practice to include advanced tutorials. Within a year, Emnace’s knack for layering edits brought his self-portraiture to a new level. For supplemental inspiration, Emnace would look to artist Brooke Shaden or sink into the sounds of the musician, Birdy. For convenience’s sake, Emnace prefers selfportraiture to shooting others. His thoughtful postures serve to convey “every body as perfect.” In “Flowery”, Emnace achieves a regal stance, while in “Sleeping” the inward curl of his form reveals vulnerability and solitude. When asked about his partiality for texture, Emnace shared how it can be used to cover flaws, as well as improve the aesthetic of an otherwise mundane image. “Textures are essential to my editing playground,” he confided. An example of Emnace’s signature mosaic surfacing can be seen in his piece, “Nature Lover.” Adorned with subtle hues of rose, gold and green, the skin of the subject is scaled with leaves, merging with the patterned background. “This edit was for
Earth Day,” Emnace remarked, “I dedicated it to us and our dying planet.” Assuming a contemplative position as the subject in “Nature Lover”, Emnace harmonizes our appreciation for the earth with our concern for the planet’s problematic direction. “I’m worried about the future. What will it be like in 2020?” he asks solemnly. “The Real Us” explores the split-self, capturing our duplicitous nature that converges to form the version of self that society recognizes. Using blurring effects, contrasting light and textures reminiscent of a stained canvas, “The Real Us” is at once relatable and foreign, much like our sense of self. “My art symbolizes the challenges I’m facing. Each image reminds me of what I was feeling in the exact moment the image was taken.” For Emnace, each piece is a time stamp, preserving his momentary emotional experience; however, he encourages each of his viewers to claim unique interpretations from his art. In the future, Emnace plans to bring his artistic expression to paper. “Through painting, I may be able to get some inspiration and ideas about textures,” he mused. Regardless of his creative direction, Emnace’s intuition for synthesizing colours and patterns ensures his promising future in any art form.
BY ADRIANO MARCHESE
Through the Lens of
Van de Kreeke @vandekreeke
“My challenge is to capture what I initially see in my subjects; that can be beauty, strength, sadness or any other emotion.”
What is love at first sight, if not a deep and unique connection with the input of very few values? Dutch photographer Martin Van de Kreeke shows us that, though it need not be love, we can certainly know someone with the same brevity and intensity that strikes in the flash of a moment. Not a photographer by profession, Van de Kreeke owns and operates a busy record shop in Rotterdam, Netherlands. “I learned photography, in part, in art school,” Van de Kreeke told INSPADES Magazine, “But mainly I am an autodidact.” Though his shop occupies the majority of his time, Van de Kreeke “rediscovered” his passion for photography in the last five years. Transitioning from outdoor photography including street, landscape and natural, Van de Kreeke has moved toward indoor work, developing a compelling collection of gorgeously gritty portraiture. “I bought myself some simple studio equipment which allows me to shoot whenever I want,” said Van de Kreeke.
The main draw in Van de Kreeke’s portraiture is the immediate sense of individuality and importance in his subjects. We are struck with a sense of familiarity that sparks a curiosity to better know these subjects. Through his photography, Van de Kreeke sheds any hints of the average—the common, the overlooked— bestowing each subject with due presence and significance. Presenting viewers with raw imagery, Van de Kreeke tries increasingly to “stay away from the effects and go back to the real thing.” Subtly highlighting the ordinary with a slight, playful tilt of the head, a hand gently resting on the nape of the neck, or a sea of freckles peering from between two innocent eyes, Van de Kreeke magnifies detail with unfiltered clarity. “My challenge is to capture what I initially see in my subjects; that can be beauty, strength, sadness or any other emotion.” Van de Kreeke’s photography strips the subject not physically, but spiritually, where all that remains is the bareness of being.
Unlike shooting street photography, which can often be chaotic and spontaneous, the composition of Van de Kreeke’s portraiture is noticeably uniform and minimalistic, “I admire photographers like Stephan Vanfleteren and Platon.” It shows. At the forefront of the image, Van de Kreek’s subjects are artfully lit by studio light. Behind them the background is deep black—intense in its simplicity. The subjects’ features, curves and details are enhanced by Van de Kreeke’s use of black and white instead of colour. What remains are the extraordinary portrayals of ordinary people. Van de Kreek’s venture into portraiture has only just begun. When asked about his plans moving forward, he answered, “I think there are lots and lots of people who have very interesting faces. My challenge for the future will be to capture even more ‘ordinary’ people.” Martin Van de Kreeke is a name to look for in the world of portrait photography, and if you happen to be near his record store in Rotterdam, drop in to say “hello” and you just might be featured in his next series.
w w w.ozkandurakoglu.com
L U @ghost_of_oz
BY JACLYN TRUSS
Ă–ZKAN DURAKOGLU has one of the best, creepiest and most imaginatively constructed websites we have ever seen. You feel as though you have accidentally slipped into the realm of the dark web, with no immediate urge to claw your way out. Eerie music plays in the background as you scroll through an array of haunting, mind-altering images-- at times overtly twisted, interlaced with an occasional burst of colourful mind-bending beauty. As you move from image to image, a small starburst of swirling energy marks every transition, as if it were summoning these impossible images from an otherworldly dimension.
Born in 1976 to a Turkish, working class family residing in Germany, Durakoglu had an early penchant and talent for drawing caricatures and 3D designs and had always been interested in movies, books, comics and computer games in the sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres. The game changed for Durakoglu after purchasing an amateur camera in 2005; there his adventure in photography began, and his love of fantasy and horror took on a whole new life.
Durakoglu quickly found the scope of the things to photograph in his urban residence to be quite limiting. Seeking more freedom of expression, he began to pursue a different path and discovered a form of digital freedom in photo-manipulation. With minor corrections, his images morphed from the real to the surreal, and he never looked back. â€œIt provided me with a means to make my dreams real, and let me share the images in my head to a larger audience. Photo manipulation slowly began to be my passion and as I learned new techniques, I began to try different things,â€? says Durakoglu. Now his techniques for corrections are anything but minor. No only does Durakoglu alter what is real, but he also makes things up altogether.
“I regard manipulation as important because, for example, while an ordinary photograph of a person in the street or sunset can be nice, manipulation gives you a chance to ‘photograph’ things that you can never come across while walking in a city, and that makes the technique quite fun,” muses Durakoglu.
Image manipulation is also wildly inventive. While some of us cannot begin to imagine where he comes up with the ideas for his work, Durakoglu himself doesn’t consider conceptualizing an idea to be the difficult part in his creation process. “The hardest part of the work here is, I think, not in the imaginative creation, but the application of the manipulation techniques. Even if you are creating an imaginative world here, that world should be created with its rules of physics; the positioning of light and shadows within the space are very important to make the images striking,” explains Durakoglu. With the exception of a few of his friends, Durakoglu does not believe there to be many people interested in this technique in Turkey, but he does get very positive reactions from people who see his work. “While not regarding myself as a fullaccomplished artist, comments on the difference and exclusivity of my work ensure me that I am on the right path. Still, I can only stay on point by always learning new things, and I am well aware that there is much I can continue to do to improve in my art,” says Durakoglu. To experience Durakoglu’s magical land of Oz, visit http://www.ozkandurakoglu.com/, This editing wizard will trip your mind with his surreal imagery because, let’s face it, there is never a bad time to have your mind blown.
â€œThere is never a bad time to have your mind blown.â€?
BY JACLYN TRUSS
At The Heart of Fashion Shani Gabay “I didn’t choose this career, it chose me... it feels more like following my destiny than a choice.” @shanigabay_
Gabay’s veins have always run deep with fashion, and one day it occurred to her - what if her fashion ran deep with veins? As a result, this inventive 26-year-old from Tel-Aviv has turned models inside out on the runway with her new 2016 collection, “A Fashionable Body”. As a child, Gabay used to make clothes for her dolls; now an honours graduate in fashion design from Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel, Gabay finds herself enthralled by the constant changes in the fashion industry, which she considers to be the driving force of fashion. “It is the demand for new things, which provoke and encourage me to learn and try new things every single day,” explains Gabay. Since finding new inspiration is crucial to everything she does, Gabay insists on constantly acquiring it through travel-experiencing and studying different cultures, visiting exhibitions from diverse artistic (as well as seeming unrelated) fields, and seeking new and old techniques of “making” things. “I’m constantly trying to challenge myself and my work, and with it I wish to move, innovate and make my mark,” says Gabay.
Gabay’s designs emphasize intricate details, which she believes complete an item; this can be seen with her minimalist notes, heavy embroidery, and insertion of wearable technology or traditional crafts. She aspires to give her work a personal touch so that every piece is stitched in her own handwriting. For “A Fashionable Body”, Gabay used the tension between the natural versus synthetic worlds to evoke questions of the evolution of identity creation and whether a biological twist is something we can expect in the future of fashion. “My aim was to examine the aesthetics of new biological technologies in fashion designing - will designers in the future actually be able to really transform the body of the client? Will a fashionable thinking of the body emerge – organs as accessories?” muses Gabay. Gabay translated the conflict between synthetic and natural by binding raw materials such as fur and leather, with highly processed fabrics, also merging traditional embroidery techniques with Swarovski stones; the result is an astonishing display of biological beauty, inclusive of delicate latticework veins and arteries and a sparkling anatomically correct heart, enabling you to literally wear your heart on your sleeve.
As much as her avant-garde work has intrigued the public and garnered much praise, Gabay admits that there are some challenges to getting extensive recognition for her innovative fashion lines. “Compared to other fashion capitals, fashion designing is not yet that developed in Israel, and sometimes you don’t receive appreciation for your hard work,” she explains, “But the many opinions I have received about my work are that people are really excited about my project and love it...I really appreciate that!” Gabay’s next collection will be a series of evening gowns and wedding dresses, all hand-embroidered, and will take on a modern sense by combining new techniques. Make sure you keep an eye on this imaginative designer. While Gabay has already shown strong originative prowess, we do not doubt her best is yet to come!
BY JACLYN TRUSS
This musician turned designer, turned dog breeder, turned photographer, would no doubt have trouble condensing the tale of his remarkable journey, but the greatness of Aleksandar Gligoric can be summed in one word: passion. Born in 1979 in Novi Sad, the capital of culture in former Yugoslavia, a young Gligoric could be found immersing himself in the arts, with a special interest in photography and music. His father was a rock singer, and under that influence Gligoric became fascinated with photography, but also learned to play the guitar and drums, and eventually played in several influential punk bands himself. “Punk is a way of life for me, and it’s influenced my work and life in the best possible way. Music has made me who I am,” says Gligoric. His father also had a collection of analog cameras, and while photography proved to be an immediate calling for Gligoric, at the time it could be no more than a mere hobby. Not immune to the war torn crisis of his country in the 1990’s, Gligoric was forced to set aside his real interests and talents to help support his family.
Canon 5D mark III, with prime lenses (my favourite is 85 1.2 L II), but I plan to move to a medium format digital camera.
“I admire photographers who, when you see their photos, you can look into their souls and get a sense of who they are as a human being and their world perspective; what they love and what they hate.”
“It was a natural move...my priority was, and always is, my family,” says Gligoric. However, setting aside music and photography, did not mean setting aside passion. Gligoric dove head first into creating a designer streetwear clothing company, starting his independent label back in 1999, and later three more, selling his brands in places such as Tokyo, L.A., New York, Paris and Copenhagen. “Specifically, when I started with clothing, it was war time and I was involved in the revolution by printing anti-regime tees...but that’s another long story!” says Gligoric, “But, what I learned from all that conflict is that there are no good or bad people - it’s wrong to think that. Every person has their value, and as photographer I learned to recognize it.” Gligoric, having met success with the fashion industry, took...the next logical step? “I am now a #1 dog breeder of French Bulldogs,” Gligoric laughs. That’s right, Gligoric now owns Punk Rock Stars Kennel, where he and his team lovingly breed dogs such as the Dogue de Bordeaux and Boston Terrier, and have buyers coming from 50 different countries, with many celebrity clients in the mix.
“There’s no formula for success, for me, it’s just a bit of talent, a lot, a lot, a lot of work, and passion. Everything I do, I do with passion, and I give 101% of myself into everything I do. Some call it work, I call it a lifestyle of passion,” says Gligoric. His many successes have now led him back to his heart of heart’s desire: photography. As a professional photographer, Gligoric focuses heavily on his relationships with his clients, team and models. He considers communication with all three to be the main ingredient for success in any shoot. He also hones his craft through his constant childlike curiosity which fuels his learning. Gligoric reads endlessly, watches tutorials and consults fellow photographers; these efforts contribute to the success of other ventures. “I was, and I still am, surprised over the amazing reactions I have received from all over the world. Some serious photographers come to me with flattering words, and on the other side, clients are pleased and happy. Right now I am the most published Serbian photographer...not bad for a dog breeder!” laughs Gligoric.
With the public wanting more, Gligoric is fully booked for the next few months, from personal projects and portraits to various fashion editorials with great models, stylists and fashion designers--and he couldn’t be more thrilled. “Getting paid to do what I want with my photography is a pure luxury many others don’t get to have. If I like a project, I will work within your budget or even do it for free, and if I don’t like your idea...well, I will suggest that you look for another photographer. Again, without passion there are no results. You must enjoy the process,” concludes Gligoric.
BY JACLYN TRUSS
Darren Singer Darren Singer’s model looms in the distance, heavy with limestone, granite and steel, and wearied with the weight of the ages. The Brooklyn Bridge was the world’s first major suspension bridge and a massive feat of civil engineering in the 1800’s. It now carries more than 120,000 vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 cyclists every single day. If these suspensions could talk…
There are over 2,000 bridges that make up the veins and arteries of New York City, feeding people to and from the heart of the city, but few are as formidable as the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. It is in the shadow of this mammoth land-tie that Darren Singer, learned photographer and architectural life breather, settles in to listen for the quiet articulation of these well-worn structures, so that he may capture their whispered stories on camera, and show that these gentle giants are but only appearing to sleep. INSPADES caught up with Singer for an inclusive interview to discuss the importance of artistic education, how he has learned the ability to wake these noble giants from their supposed slumber and why he desires to suffuse them with a spirit that is truly larger than life. Where did your path begin in the world of photography? I started drawing when I was pretty young, and found that I could lose myself in my craft. It was the one space I could find quiet, where time stopped. My drawing and painting background continues to inform and inspire my aesthetic to this day. However, my path to photography really started through my fine arts background in drawing and painting. I attended Tulane University for a Fine Arts and Biology dual major, with the original goal of pursuing medical illustration.
However, in my second year, as part of my studies I took a photography class which, at the time, meant working with film, and a large part of the experience was working in the darkroom. I got "lost" in the darkroom, spending hours on end, not having any idea whether it was day or night, and not caring either way! This was the beginning. My first manual camera was a Nikon FE10 with a stock 35-70mm, and learning on a manual camera with 24-36 exposures really allowed me to gain an appreciation for, and the value of, composing an image. You did not have the luxury of having thousands of throwaway shots like you do with digital cameras nowadays. My photography style is deeply rooted in the classical tradition of drawing. The objective vision of balance and beauty has been consistent throughout history, we just apply our technology of the time. How does your background in art play a significant role in your current style of photography? I am of the strong belief that one must have an intuitive understanding of strong composition, and the elements of the art - including value, form, pattern, rule of thirds and positive/negative space - are the foundation of the artisan for any medium. I internalized the basic mechanics of creating a strong, balanced image that is grounded in a classical, timeless tradition. I like to challenge myself in working with different media,
as well as different subject matter. I took an architectural history course and the instructor always made it a point that if you wanted to understand anything, you should draw it. I took that lesson to heart, and I find that I can understand an image through drawing. I think it is a grave disservice for students of photography today not to avail themselves of this knowledge. I believe it is necessary to have strong foundations in the elements of art to embark upon the creative process. The less "tools" we have in exploring our creativity the more we will be hindered in our personal expression. How do you bring static structures to life with your photography? What appears to be static to our eye is really brimming with activity. The forces that are at play in any given architectural construction are really a dance of a variety of forces that our vision takes for granted. The compositions and imagery that I am drawn to are grounded in a need to balance positive and negative spaces, as well as challenging the picture plane - drawing the viewer to challenge their own boundaries of perception. I like to fill my compositions with engaging patterns, contrast and skewed perceptions, in hopes that they will jar the viewer from their passive engagement to an active relationship with the image. Keeping the viewer "off balance" typically imbues the structures with life.
What special skills and equipment would you consider essential when photographing architecture? In my humble opinion I believe you need to have a variety of lens, with more of a focus on wide angle lenses. I like to have a little flexibility with my focal range so I currently use a 16-35 sony Zeiss lens. What motivates you to continue taking pictures and grow in your creativity? The creative process is inherent to my spiritual, intellectual and emotional well being. The act of creating opens up a "conduit" to my inner self, in addition to creating stability in my emotional atmosphere. I meditate daily, and I find the peace of mind I gather in my mindfulness practice informs my creative process, and the two feed off of one another in a synergistic fashion. My creative process is more intuitive than intellectual at this point. So much of what I intellectually learned years ago has become integrated to a more supraintellectual process. To see more of Darrenâ€™s â€œgentle giantsâ€? or purchase one his fantastic images on a graphic tee, please go to his website at darrensinger.net.
by Howard Sturman @mayhem181
ight versus dark, human versus machine, mono chrome ver sus colour; photographer Howard Sturman breaks opposing elements to create a complimentary world where all aspects of beauty unite. Using shadow, colour, texture and shape, Sturman breathes life into his models, morphing their smooth human qualities into vibrant colours, or something sharp, mechanical and automated.
BY REBECCA BOWSLAUGH
At the age of fifty-eight, Sturman developed an interest in the arts while seated as president for a high-tech medical supplies company in Washington D.C. Over the past eight years, Sturman cultivated his craft, working towards his dream of becoming a full-time photographer. Despite his lack of training in graphic design, Sturman molded his artistic ideals and enhanced his skills as a photographer with finely tuned edits. â€œMy skills seem to have come intuitively,â€? said Sturman.
Armed with his Canon 6D and a myriad of editing software including Photoshop, Lightroom, Topaz Labs, Filter Forge, and Alien Skin, Sturman works hard to achieve the perfect shot. “My creative process may involve thirty or forty steps in assembling the components of an edit,” Sturman shared. “The innumerable variables almost always leave me questioning the final results in some way.” Although much of his art involves manipulation and post-production editing, Sturman’s graphic style evolved from something more organic. Photographing nude models provided building blocks for his art, while Sturman’s interest in the industrial inspired additional creative aspects. “From grudge industrial to nature’s surfaces, the final work is a pastiche; an homage to the world surrounding us via its infusion into the human shape,” Sturman explained.
Outside the studio, Sturman finds beauty in large gears, coarse machinery and ancient railway cranes. Such equipment, left behind by the ever-increasing advancement of technology, is the perfect subject to complete his vision. In fact, Sturman insisted that “the images taken outside of the studio drive my endeavours inside the studio.” Indoors, Sturman captures models in a variety of unconventional poses, their forms often overlapping until the ability to distinguish one from the other becomes increasingly difficult. It’s not the beauty of the model that’s important in his images; it’s the shape created by the body. Each pose invites endless possibilities for layering and graphic manipulation.
Sturman’s goal is to challenge the viewer to understand how the background image combines with the shape of each model to create the perfect result; each needs the other to succeed. “The darker and more industrial the end product—the better.” said Sturman.
“The machine gears are perfectly placed on the body; a working harmony of industry and humanity”
A perfect example of this can be seen in “Duo in Metal.” Although the models are the main focal point in the photograph, shadows and darkness steal the show. The machine gears are perfectly placed on the body, harmonizing industry and humanity. In this way, Sturman combines human with machine as if they had never existed apart. Even when industrial images are not incorporated, the end result still evokes the same dark, emotional quality. “Blown Away in Shadows” blends a stormy day on the Atlantic coast with two intersecting models. The human quality is drawn out by the shadows, leaving an image that not only creates the illusion of ashes in the wind, but also a feeling of despair. Using flashes of colour and light to draw the eye from the darkness, and monochromatic shades to enhance texture and shape, Sturman achieves an ethereal effect— something man-made yet amazingly alive; something involuntary and unconscious, yet full of static movement.
BY ANISSA STAMBOULI
Rob Hakemo’s bizarre and ballistic imagery bypasses the need for Photoshop. Instead, with his keen eye for imaginative layering, Hakemo resourcefully applies creative tools, blending images on mobile applications like Mextures, to achieve majestic digital art with nothing but his iPhone. Since his youth, the worlds of horror, fantasy and science fiction always attracted Hakemo. “I am a brooder and was a bit of a loner when I was little,” he shared with INSPADES. “I grew up with divorced parents, and very strange, difficult and horrid things happened during that period, so music and fantasy became a refuge for me.” Hakemo became enthralled with surreal imagery when he discovered Instagram’s digital editing communities, namely @ mexturescollective and @unsplash. “I began to edit seriously after a brief illness involving a cyst,” said Hakemo, who was unemployed for three years following his diagnosis, “This was a very dark time in my life.” Struggling with depression and unable to work, Hakemo found productivity in his creative energy. “My life has not been a bed of roses,” he admitted, “But shame on giving up.” Following the example of digital artist Abang Oewie (@sioewie) for informal guidance, Hakemo developed his artistic flow and became addicted to “creating something new every day.”
“Without teaching or giving me any tips, [Oewie] had an important part in making me grow as an artist and editor; I took notice of the way he expressed himself.” Hakemo gradually progressed in his editing skills, finding liberation in the worlds of art and music. In addition to being a visual amalgamator, Hakemo released several international albums, playing bass for a death metal band. He attributes his “dark and gloomy” photographic style to his relationship with the death metal scene. In images like “The Man in the Mist”, Hakemo pays unspoken homage to death metal and writer Stephen King by unnerving the viewer with a sense of unease and foreboding energy. Much of Hakemo’s work can be tracked by recurring themes. Astronauts and natural landscapes are often juxtaposed, projecting the strange ways in which we try to marry nature and scientific technology. According to Hakemo, his fascination with such themes stems from “the contrast between soft and hard, hot and cold, and how these factors actually work together.” An example of this can be seen in “Astro Abduction”, where an astronaut eerily levitates from a forest lake. “I think the landscapes stand for safety and warmth, while astronauts and space represent loneliness and cold.” Hakemo explained of his thematic patterns.
Again, in “Convergence”, a lone figure stands on the edge of a vertical whirlpool; this impossible feat of physics towers over naturally occurring rock formations. The figure stands between two realities, solid ground and the mysterious world beyond, reflecting “our daily curiosity about the unknown in our lives.” One of Hakemo’s widely successful pieces, “World on Fire”, re-interprets an original photo by Jason Bates (@jason.bates.photography), transforming Bates’ work from a wildlife photograph into a resplendent piece of fantasy. Hakemo was struck by Bates’ “superb” capture of a Roosevelt elk, using BrainFever apps and fifteen minutes of his time to rework Bates’ image. While most of Hakemo’s inspiration comes from “everyday life”, music, sci-fi and horror films, he often scouts @mexturescollective and @unsplash for images that stand out. “When I see a photo, if I don’t come up with something within a few seconds, I usually skip to the next one—it’s the way I work.” When asked about his editing approach, Hakemo divulged his preference for mobile apps over Photoshop. “With tools like Union and Mextures, it takes a fraction of the time it would take to use Photoshop for producing the pictures I create.”
â€œMy life has not been a bed of roses, but shame on giving up.â€?
Currently Hakemo’s photography is limited to his iPhone, which does not shoot in a high enough resolution to support the quality of his work. Although he would love to produce original content at some point, purchasing a camera is just a dream he “clings to” for the moment. In the meantime, Hakemo takes full advantage of free stock images, which offer high resolution and quality captures. “It’s a dream for an editing geek,” Hakemo gushed, “You can just choose what you like and go with it.” Despite the hardships of his younger years and the health complications that sparked his journey as a digital artist, Hakemo endured and made the most of otherwise negative circumstance. “I have developed a lot since my health problems; it’s shaped me into who I am today.” he said. He currently lives in Gothenburg, Sweden, with his girlfriend and two dogs, working by day as a consultant for Volvo Cars. For now, Hakemo is grateful for the outlet his artwork offers and the attention his edits receive. “I create a lot more nowadays compared to when I got sick, almost like an ever flowing stream. It’s been a really good year.”
BY JACLYN TRUSS
Do you believe in fairies?
â€œHuman nature seems to abhor a blank space on a map. Where there are no human habitations, no towns, where villages dwindle into farms and farms into woods, mapping stops. Then the imagination rushes to fill the woods with something other than blank darkness: nymphs, satyrs, elves, gnomes, pixies, fairies,â€? says Diane Purkiss, author of Troublesome Things: A History of Fairies & Fairy Stories.
Tales of magical creatures have been told since ancient times, and whether they are depicted as benevolent friends or malevo lent fo es , but ter f l y -size d beings or magnificent giants, creatures of incomparable beaut y or fearsome grotesqueness, our fascination with them
has not faltered throughout the ages. Young and old, there are few who have not been told, or have recounted themselves, the folklore of their cultureâ€™s version of some supernatural being, shrouded in myth and preserved for the generations through stories, songs, and artistic rendering.
One such keeper and creator of folklore is Italian photographer and artist, Ylenia Viola. With her extraordinary world filled with enchanted winged creatures, she portrays her supernatural alter egos in a sublimely beautiful parallel universe. Viola implores us to delve more deeply, to rethink physics, time and a need for logic; coaxing us to live recklessly within the undefined and to play more peacefully in paradoxes. Her invitation is clearly written: imagine the unimaginable.
â€œI sometimes use tiny crystals, glitter, feathers or small objects of any kind for my textures or collages.â€?
As no my thical creature is without its lore, each of Viola’s remarkable images has a title, quote, poem or story to accompany them. From her project V.A.R.I.A.T.I.O.N., her image of a delicate swan and ballerina tucked into themselves and entwined with each other reads: “...All around the surroundings were morphing and the Guardian itself was transforming into other entities. Was this internal voice actually from the Guardian or from entities nearby? A swan. Was this the Guardian? Was there any distinct difference between these entities or were they one single thing, a morphing entity?” Calling on our sense of self versus other, of individuation and collection, of real and unreal, Viola’s vivid imagination gives breath to all things possible.
Viola’s images emanate a dreamy tenderness, illuminated softly but deftly by the flowing textures that allure your senses, eagerly urging you to reach out and touch the silky smoothness of a draped cloth or caress a warm plush of downy feathers. Her use of light and shadow to create both revelation and mystery adds impeccable drama, capturing the intrinsic beauty of her subjects and giving voice to her images that is both elegantly sombre and divinely powerful.
“I found myself literally enchanted watching a drapery, a movement, a shadow, with my mind going into another dimension,” illumes Viola, “My passion for photography is linked to this process: taking inspiration from reality and transposing it into my imagination, applying ‘my’ light, thoughts, and world.” To conceive and create within this world of no limitation is no small undertaking, and Viola’s creative process has many facets. “The photo is never the starting point;
“...taking inspiration from reality and transposing it into my imagination, applying ‘my’ light, thoughts, and world.”
the shooting session comes after a long preparation and conceptualization process. Typically I don’t use a single picture for my photos; it is a combination of different pictures merged together,” says Viola. Her project A.D.A.G.I.O. is a musical tale told through a series of digital pictures linked together to represent the cycle of life, our planet, and Mother Nature. Ripe with themes of relationships, suffering, energy and metamorphosis, the pictorial portrays a sense of solitude merging with life, traversing timeless realities. “All events are regulated and driven by the music that is amongst ourselves. Ultimately love, upon us,” imparts Viola. It is obvious Viola has found her style and rhythm within her artwork, with exhibitions organized by Vogue Italia and galleries across Italy; we hope to see much more of her fairy tale works in future. In Viola’s world of make-believe, anything is possible, but one thing is for certain, she will leave you believing in fairies.
BY ANISSA STAMBOULI
e live in the confines of mortality within the sphere of a declining planet. While the earth can no longer support our excessive consumption, skeptics still wonder if climate change is real, and if it is, how can artistic ecoactivism make a difference?
Chris Jordan, CF000313: Unaltered Stomach Contents of Laysan Albatross Fledgling, Midway Island, 2009. From the series Midway: Message from the Gyre. Ultrachrome Inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist
Art and Communication www.ryerson.ca/ric/ According to Ryerson Image Centre director Paul Roth, art opens the most effective channel for change; “It allows the conversation to take place.” With its exhibition, Edge of the Earth: Climate Change in Photography and Video, Toronto’s RIC has set out to prove that art can, in fact, ignite shifts in ideology. Curated by Dr. Bénédicte Ramade, the exhibition gathers visual chapters from different artists who focus on niche effects of climate change, collectively contributing to the “larger story” of the planet’s tumultuous narrative. Rather than portraying the consequences of climate change that we experience today, Edge of the Earth provides context for how our daily habits and industrial practices add to the damage. The exhibition opens with the work of Naoya Hatakeyama, whose photography recorded blast impacts from limestone mining operations. “The pictures are not of climate change or a changing environment,” Roth explained, “They’re pictures of the industrial operations that led to the environmental crisis that we face now.” Roth goes on to present Joel Sternfeld’s jarring photography, which bore witness to the reaction of attendees in the 2005 United Nations Climate Change conference in Montreal. Sternfeld “photographed the reaction of people at the conference listening
Documentation view of Hicham Berrada’s Celeste, 2014. Amandine Bajou. Courtesy of the artist and kamel mennour, Paris
ABOVE: Three part series for ryerson image centre BELOW: Mishka Henner, Wasson Oil Field, Yoakum County, Texas, 2013. From the series The Fields, pigment print. Courtesy of the artist and Bruce Silverstein Gallery
Chris Jordan, CF000313: Unaltered Stomach Contents of Laysan Albatross Fledgling, Midway Island, 2009. From the series Midway: Message from the Gyre. Ultrachrome Inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist
to the increasingly terrible news about the projections of our future,” Roth elaborated, “They were the first to hear the bad news, and the pressure that they’re feeling in these images is the pressure that we increasingly feel as we encounter climate change in our daily lives.” Inadvertently Sternfeld’s portraits are in fact pictures of us, Roth observed. “When we show photographs about social subjects or political topics, we always wonder, will this change anyone’s mind? Will people be driven by what they see to actually go out, protest, contact legislatures, or do any of the other forms of political engagement that actually make change?” Roth voices the great question of how art can make an impact, beyond the momentarily charged response of a viewer. In a world where attention is spread thin by infinite distractions and stimuli, visual art may be a more relevant medium for sparking change than ever. “People are not necessarily reading very difficult news articles about the future,” Roth remarked; however, with an image-based society that appeals to communicative outlets like Instagram and Snapchat, visual arts can impress viewers within seconds. “Art is one of the ways that a subject can be insinuated to the public mind, in a way that’s less threatening and receptive to different
Joel Sternfeld, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: Eleventh Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention and First Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, Palais de Congres, Montreal, Canada, 28 November - 9 December, 2005 Robert Kofi Poamfo, Corporate Manager, Forestry Commission, Ghana. From the series When It Changed. Digital chromogenic print © Joel Sternfeld, courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York
Paola Pivi, Untitled (Zebras), 2003. Pigment print. Photography by Hugo Glendinning. Courtesy of Galerie Perrotin
points of view,” Roth asserted. An example of this would be the works of American photographer Chris Jordan, who’s collection of polluted seabirds elicited the most significant response from viewers at the exhibition. Travelling the shorelines of beaches and islands around the world, Jordan photographed the content of seabirds’ stomachs, burst open and bare as they decayed on the sand. “What you see is horrifying,” Roth lamented, “You see that the diet of these seabirds increasingly consists of plastic and other human waste.” While speculations from skeptics claim that Jordan’s photographs are “ersatz documentary images”—images that are staged but mimic something real—Roth insisted that the message prevailed regardless of the image’s nature. “These pictures, even if they are not documentary images, have had a tremendous impact because they make our viewers ask the question, could this possibly be real and are we really having this kind of an impact on wildlife and on the natural world?” At the end of the day, Roth argues that art certainly has a place in any social or politically charged movement. Art is a lessconfrontational means for communication, making it “incredibly easy to connect people who otherwise might not see eye to eye on a certain subject, or share a perspective about different experiences.”
Adrien Missika, Documentation photograph of Darvaza, Turkmenistan, 2011. Courtesy of the artist
Mishka Henner, Wasson Oil Field, Yoakum County, Texas, 2013. From the series The Fields, pigment print. Courtesy of the artist and Bruce Silverstein Gallery
The Edge of the Earth: Climate Change in Photography and Video September 14 – December 4, 2016 Guest Curator: Dr. Bénédicte Ramade Ryerson Image Centre
This Planet Is Not A Carefree World
disneyunhappilyeverafter.tumblr.com Another artist striving to inspire change in the discourse around social issues and the environment is American animator Jeff Hong. “There’s a natural tendency to give a different perspective to something familiar, and turn it upside down,” Hong said of his series, Unhappily Ever After, which removes Walt Disney characters from their fantasy realms and places them in stark, realistic settings. Having worked on a handful of renown Disney films including Tarzan, Hercules, Mulan and The Emperor’s New Groove, Hong decided to harness the emotional connection and nostalgia that audiences have for such beloved Disney characters. “I wanted to show the consequences of wh at would happen if we transported them away from their magical fairytale land and into the world we live in,” he explained. By displacing these characters, both human and animal, Hong splits the theatrical curtain: “Not one living thing on this planet lives in a safe, carefree world.” Ariel, the favourite finned princess of The Little Mermaid, wriggles ashore in “Oil Spill”, crippled and smothered by the toxic spread on her body. In another image, the famous Elsa from Disney’s recent hit, Frozen, weeps on a drifting glacier amid the expanse of a melting arctic landscape. Again Hong tears a character from their idealistic
setting by placing Winnie the Pooh in a ravaged forest. In “The Hundred Acre Deforestation,” Pooh scratches his head in confusion as he sits among the wreckage of wood chips. “Creating an emotional response through images can be effective for eco-activism,” said Hong, “if not to change people’s opinions, then to remind ourselves of the daily things we do that affect the environment.” While he believes that it’s too late to stop the damage we’ve incurred on the planet, Hong maintains that we can still “slow the damage down.” Hong’s works aim to disturb complacency and remind viewers that “our choices can have a large affect on others.” The cunning paradox of Unhappily Ever After is that, while living “(un)happily” ever after suggests a fated ending that cannot be changed, Unhappily Ever After also portrays the characters’ endings as the result of our actions, rather than destiny. “Unhappily Ever After gives a false impression that we can’t do anything to better ourselves or the environment,” said Hong. While the effects of climate change can’t be reversed, the rate at which the climate changes can be decelerated, as our actions and choices can contribute to the resulting effect. Hong’s repurposed Disney characters motivate viewers to live more consciously by fighting anti-environmental policies, reducing our consumption rates and “replenishing what we use.” “To me, making the viewer pause and really think is the strongest and most effective way I can engage an audience without using any words.”
Keep Your Oil Out of My Water
The work of ecologist artist Dr. Aviva Rahmani could not be more relevant than today where, in the United States especially, issues related to oil and water been making global headlines lately. Most notably is Donald Trump’s recent rise to the president-elect. One of Trump’s election platforms threatened to dismantle the recent Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon pollution in American power plants. Carbon dioxide (which accounted for 81% of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions in 2014), enters the atmosphere when fossil fuels like natural gas and oil are burned. Whether or not Trump manages to uproot the Clean Power Plan once seated in the White House, the stance he has taken does not consider issues relating to climate change to be a priority, especially regarding sustainable energy and the reduction of oil use. When Dr. Rahmani spoke with INSPADES prior to the 2016 election results in October, she expressed concern that the “chasm that has been unveiled in [American] demographics will gobble up all our attention,” and that climate change initiatives would fall to the back burner. Despite the distraction of Trump’s controversial triumph, headlines have been drawing the environmental issues concerning Standing Rock Reservation into mainstream discourse. Even celebrities like Jason Momoa, Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, are using
social media to raise supportive awareness and show their solidarity with the people of Standing Rock. Since April this year, the residents of Standing Rock have been blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline with their campsites in heated opposition to construction. They have since risen in strength, with over ninety indigenous groups across North America joining their protest. The Dakota Access pipeline, which would carry crude oil under the Missouri River reservoir, threatens the community’s main water source and cultural sites. While the majority of people do associate the term “oil spill” with negativity, they don’t always grasp the toxic ripple effect of such disasters. By visually representing contamination in her series Oil & Water, Dr. Rahmani hoped to “connect the idea that oil spills degrade water systems.” With her artwork Dr. Rahmani captured the “deceptively beautiful sheen” of contaminated water, conveying the irony of how attractive “life subsidized by the agony of the entire planet” can seem on a surface level. “I wanted to make something that would illustrate exactly how water is befouled,” she explained. In 2008, Dr. Rahmani journeyed by train down the continent, “passing fields of corn for ethanol shared with fields for cows.” The jarring juxtaposition of crops being harvested for fuel on the same land where cows (harvested for human consumption) were feeding, created a visual of toxicity, representing the negative impact of our lifestyles on the planet. Travelling
to a conference in Baton Rouge, Dr. Rahmani met Dr. Eugene Turner, a wetland biologist, whom she later joined in efforts to produce Gulf to Gulf, an endeavour to effect climate change policy with art. Through various artistic mediums, Gulf to Gulf recorded the cyclical catastrophe of oil, “the destructive loop between fertilizers derived as by-products from oil, applied to factory farms, running into the Mississippi and making dead zones in the Gulf, where ever more oil is extracted and spilled in what was once one of the world’s richest ecosystems.” While Gulf to Gulf continued to grow as a project in 2009, the Oil & Water series came into being with a simplified visual message and a potent strike at the heart of the issue. “We are in a war for our very survival,” Dr. Rahmani claimed. It is her hope that politically charged series like Oil & Water will enable widespread recognition of “the threat portrayed in the image,” and that people would be “mobilized to action.” Oil & Water engages conversation, as each image offers hope in the form of “a meditative mandala for ecological enlightenment.”
Trash Talk and Sustainable Creativity
Let’s talk dirty. Resourceful artists Marina DeBris and Aurora Robson have turned discarded trash into artistic treasure, repurposing waste in an effort to rejoin the circle of sustainability and recycling.
It’s easy for consumers to toss their excess product in the bin and never be faced with its accumulation. In 2013, statistics by Eurostat found that in the European Union each individual generated an outrageous amount of packaging waste - roughly 157 kgs (346 lbs.). The consumptive mentality of society has become far too aggressive, with increasing demands for more product than can be produced by a limited planet. “When I moved to Los Angeles, I was appalled at the amount of rubbish washing up on the beaches,” said DeBris, whose name is an intentional play on “debris”. After moving to Australia, she realized that polluted beaches were a “worldwide problem.” DeBris and Robson remind viewers that waste, such as plastic, can never be broken down naturally; however, it can be sublimated. Converging trash and fashion, DeBris created the innovative and sustainable art of “trashion”, incorporating waste into high-end clothing designs to impress the possibilities of reusability. “It’s really quite simple,” DeBris told INSPADES while explaining the message behind her work, “We need to drastically reduce the amount of single-use plastic we consume.” Designing elaborate gowns from Styrofoam food containers and corsets from plastic cutlery and straws, DeBris’ trashion is surprisingly edgy, taking the “Paper Bag Princess” image to a whole new level. “I was trained as a graphic designer, so getting my hands dirty has been tremendously
liberating,” shared DeBris, who went on to explain that the garbage she gleans from shorelines have been in the ocean for so long, that wearing the items is “no worse than swimming in the sea.” “Some people are disturbed to know that I don’t clean anything,” she mused, “but making the trash look beautiful would dilute the message.” In a separate interview with INSPADES, inventive multi-media artist Aurora Robson agreed with DeBris’ appropriation of trash. Based in New York, Robson has inserted herself into the waste stream cycle by bringing her enchanting artistry to the mix. “Waste is merely displaced abundance,” she expressed. “I hope that when people see my work, they think about their relationship to matter of all kinds,” said Robson, who works mostly with plastic due to its overproduction and detrimental impact on the environment. “Debris is typically, by definition chaotic, dirty, crumpled, dystopian, inconsistent and clearly unintentional. I try to give it the opposite qualities,” explained Robson, whose ventures in intercepting the waste stream first began with an attempt to subjugate negativity. “My work started off as a quiet, personal meditative practice. I stumbled upon the issue of plastic pollution and the problems associated with this increasingly pervasive material.” In her installation “Plant Perception”, Robson commanded the shape and appearance of trashed materials, creating alien movement
from garbage to form a lively, crystalline sculpture. “This problematic condition, our collective addiction to newness, keeps me engaged with product design and makes my practice more interesting and challenging to me,” said Robson, whose work finds a place for each piece of discarded waste that we so carelessly toss on the regular. Many of Robson’s sculptures, such as “Isla” and “Ona”, resemble stained glasswork with their translucent vibrancy and voluptuous movement. Created from plastic waste alone, Robson repurposes the negativity of garbage for decorative and meaningful communication. “The universe consists of spheres,” Robson explained of her curvaceous pieces, “I am constantly trying to imagine ways to reflect that in my work—the circularity of existence. The wholeness we are all part of.” Moving beyond the art of sustainable creativity, Robson founded Project Vortex, a collective for artists working with waste. The community unites the voices of artists and confronts the issue of waste through a unique approach. Project Vortex serves to “form more ties between conservation efforts and artists around the world,” who are working together to rewire society’s obsession with single-use plastic. When Robson began her work and launched the Project Vortex network, she didn’t approach waste issues with a political agenda. “I really just try to make work that transcends issues that are divisive,” said Robson, who hoped to bring people together
through her work, instead of forcing them apart by revealing their differences. “I think real changes will take place through education,” Robson explained, delving into her reason for designing the educational course, “Sculpture + Intercepting the Waste Stream”. According to Robson, the college course guides students in their discovery of waste conversion to art, allowing “creative stewardship to emerge with generations of young people who will do a far better job at protecting our environment than their predecessors.” While Robson admitted to feeling “disheartened” and “powerless” in the face of monumental waste and the incessant damage we inflict on our planet, she believes that pairing art and science within the realm of education will inspire “effective agents for change.” The world of diverse creative expression has the power to take root in human impressions, regardless of whether or not the artwork is intentionally politically charged. By simply suggesting the concept of reusability and mindful consumption, the visually communicative medium can host a platform for discussion, which is the first step in progress. “We need to refresh our collective memories on how to behave as a species,” concluded Robson, “without adversely affecting our environment.”
If you believe in the power of art and would like to learn more about how to slow the effects of climate change, here are a few ways to learn more: Project Vortex www.projectvortex.org A global non-profit network for “green” creatives working with plastic waste. Get inspired by other artists, or apply to collaborate with the organization. The Clean Bin Project: Documentary Film About Zero Waste www.cleanbinmovie.com If you’re interested in learning about the waste stream, and how to reduce the amount that you contribute to it, this documentary is a great way to gain insight. reusit.com www.reuseit.com A high quality retailer offering eco-conscious products like plastic-free cloth sandwich bags, stainless steel drinking straws and more. Aviva Rhamani www.ghostnets.com - www.gulftogulf.org Marina DeBris washedup.us/ www.facebook.com/marina.debris www.instagram.com/marinadebris/ twitter.com/MarinaDeBris Aurora Robson www.aurorarobson.com www.projectvortex.org www.instagram.com/aurorarobson twitter.com/rorirobson www.facebook.com/AuroraRobson
â€œI always encourage people not to stay on the surface of an image. I encourage them to dig deeper, to try to find a hidden meaning or the purpose of the picture.â€?
BY JACLYN TRUSS
A man stands still amidst a barren forest, dirtied and disheveled by some unforeseen occurrence. With his right hand raised in defence, he denies the offering of a lush, vibrant rose of unknown intent; his eyes are stricken by anger or anguish, love remembered or lost, bared apathy or steely resolve--or perhaps, by all of them at once. “Storytelling is my thing,” says Spanish photographer, Fran Garcia. It certainly is. While “chaos, randomness and disorder” could be used to describe his work, Garcia has the capacity to amalgamate a vast array of sensations, believing all feelings to be united and birthed of the same family. Through this, he is able to evoke an emotional singularity, creating a black hole gravitized by the totality of human emotion. In this space, emotion is void of differentiability and becomes dependent solely on how the viewer themselves feel in that moment. “Even if my pictures only try to express my intimate emotions, I always try to move people to feel related to them, today or in any moment of their lives,” says Garcia. Garcia’s self-portraiture, in its poignant, poetic and deftly passionate delivery, is inspired by almost every artistic and emotional expression. Infused with essences of other art forms such music, literature, film and painting, the process of his work is entirely self-made; Garcia is the artist, subject, conceptualizer and the realizer of his every project.
“I make two different kinds of photography: one that reflects my inner emotions and feelings; and the other kind expresses my everyday mood,” he explains. It is in the latter where Garcia’s street photography and sunset shots dwell, as reflections of his everyday happenings, and these images are kept exclusively for his eyes alone. The former, however, where pictures reflecting Garcia’s inner contemplations and feelings reside, he candidly posts on Instagram for all the world to see. In his posts, Garcia includes not only a title for each image, but also a title of the song he feels would best accompany the visual and encapsulate his emotional experience. “Aside from the picture itself, the title of the picture is also so important to me,” Garcia says of his posts, “I always encourage people to not stay on the surface of an image. I encourage them to dig deeper, to try to find a hidden meaning or purpose, an illustration of all that was behind the lens; the author, his feelings and his intention.” For a photographic purist like Garcia, a deeper meaning is the only thing hiding behind the scenes, with post-production and editing representing a mere five percent of his entire process. “As in cooking, if you don’t have quality ingredients you won’t cook a good meal. You can add spices, recook, reheat - but you won’t achieve the expected result.
â€œAuthenticity is fading away. It is more important than ever that people get to know themselves and what they really feel.â€?
This applies to photography too. It’s not the most expensive camera or phone. It’s not about this app or that app or even your editing skills,” insists Garcia. However, he does relent that for some photographs to achieve their purpose, editing becomes a necessary ingredient to create a particularly palatable picture. This is very apparent in his piece, “Communication Breakdown”, which features a trio of identical headless men, donning crisp business suits and ties tightened snugly against their non-existent necks. Using three separate shots to construct the image, with the heads removed through Superimpose, the layers were arranged and then filtered with Mextures. “This is actually my most intricate concept,” explains Garcia, “It’s about all of the communication we have lost as human beings; the loss of authenticity due to the massive influence of social media in our lives. We don’t talk face to face anymore, we do it through a cell phone screen. We have become just numbers, avatars, user handles - people without heads, faces, eyes, or brains.” While post-production is hardly an extensive part of Garcia’s process, the conception and preparation aspect is all-consuming and unquestionably revered. Garcia strongly believes that taking weeks or even months to conceive a fully formed idea is an optimal stance for flawless execution. Though he tries to shoot daily, nothing is random or left to chance.
“Everything is carefully meditated location, wardrobe, poses, even weather,” Garcia discloses. He does not shy away from abandoning a long prepared shoot if the weather is not as “foggy” as he was expecting. Garcia admits, “I could have done the shoot anyway, and maybe there would have been good shots, but if I did that I would have thrown out all that previous process of conception. In short, conception is everything. The rest is just a click.” With his mindful devotion, it is difficult to believe that photography for Garcia is a hobby and not a profession, but this is by choice, not circumstance. He divulges, “Though I have thought on many occasions about making a living out of photography, in the end, I have come to the conclusion that when a passion turns into a job the passion dies, and I can’t allow that to happen.” Whether watching him walk a lonely road, play the piano or wash up on shore, drenched in defeat and unmatched strength, Fran Garcia’s relentless dedication and respect for his work is refreshingly stout. His steadfast beliefs and process help him to create deeply moving images that are meant to be felt, and not simply viewed.
BY JACLYN TRUSS
ALL BUT ABANDONED “We never looked through a window without gazing at the sky and discussing how many different greys were present in the clouds...”
Sally Mills is a self-proclaimed doodler and hoarder—but we call her a masterful raiser of the dead. “My art, as you put it, is purely doodling playing with light, colour, texture and apps! One day I might even learn how to use my camera properly!” she laughs. Residing in the small town of Chorley in Lancashire, England, Mills recently had to purchase a ten drawer cabinet to store her ever increasing collection of decay. “My first love was dead buildings but when the weather was poor or time prohibitive I started shooting dying flowers. In both, the subtleties of colour and texture fascinate me, and the way light defines them can be mouthwatering,” she explains. We connected with Mills to speak to her about her unique craft, her art-filled beginning and to see what draws us so deeply to things that seem to have the life seeped out of them. Where did your path to photography begin? I was brought up surrounded by art in various forms - my grandfather was an amateur photographer who took and developed the most amazing images, recording the time he spent in India and East Africa during the 1930 and 1940’s, and my mother was a specialist art teacher, whose passion for her craft stretched from theatre design to fine art painting. As a child, I wasn’t conscious of their influence, but looking back, their enthusiasm for observing and interpreting, artistically, the world around them and, in particular, my mother’s love of
â€œIt is the same fascination that attracts me to dying flora, the changes in structure and the mellowing of colour.â€?
light and colour, was indeed infectious. We never looked through a window without gazing at the sky and discussing how many different greys were present in the clouds (we get a lot of grey clouds over Chorley!), or walked under trees without stopping to watch the movement of light. All of that said, how it brought me to photography, I know not! I dabbled with art at school but was employed in the public sector, so did very little handson work until I purchased my first iPhone; this I used to take pictures whilst out walking with Edward (my 98-year-old Jack Russell Terrier), of my surroundings. My first camera was provided by my goddaughter on permanent loan, a Nikon which I am ashamed to say I still do not know how to use properly. But truly it was Snowdrop Cottage that really caught my imagination. Tell us more about the Snowdrop Cottage and why it inspired your current style of photography? Snowdrop Cottage was a tiny cottage in the village where I grew up, and for as long as I can remember it looked rundown, but in later years appeared completely dilapidated and abandoned. Then one day, I saw it was surrounded by temporary fencing and bins so I went over to have a look. The builders on site explained that the cottage had been inhabited by the same owner for over 60 years, but had been condemned on health and safety grounds, and was to be demolished. Before the owner happily moved into a new home, they had become more infirm and had withdrawn into living in just one room, so until
the builders had gained access, no one had been upstairs since the 1970’s. I was allowed to go in and in this tiny, tiny dilapidated place my love of empty and abandoned places began. I went back several times recording the last days right up to her last. There is something about the abandoned and decayed that fascinates people, why do you think that is? It’s difficult to describe why or what it is that fascinates us about empty places. There’s the obvious curiosity of seeing someone else’s life (I can never decide whether that’s healthy or not), and the sense of attachment to a time long gone.There is an enchantment with the beauty of things old, but also the changes that decay creates; light through a broken dirty window is refracted and diffused very differently, and the textures, tones and colours of peeling paint are absolutely palatable! It is the same fascination that attracts me to dying flora, the changes in structure and the mellowing of colour. Where do all of your flora subjects come from and do you arrange flowers as they are drying to achieve a particular look? I collect things when I’m out walking or from my garden, and sometimes I buy bunches of flowers. All are left to dry naturally and I photograph them as they change in shape, colour and texture. Though this does present a natural hoarder like me with problems; because their change is ongoing, I struggle to
throw them away. I don’t choose anything with particular forethought, much preferring the element of surprise that comes with the drying process, nor do I pose bunches of flowers as they dry (though I will sometimes remove a genre from a vase to create a different picture), as ultimately, Mother Nature knows what she’s doing and is so much better at it than me! What camera(s) do you use? I have just purchased a Canon 760D and a macro 100mm 2.8L IS lens, and am still coming to grips with the change. I am very much a kinetic learner and need to spend time out there doing, ideally with supervisory support rather than trying to understand manuals! I still also, when caught without my camera, use my phone. What are some of your favourite editing apps and why? When I discovered editing tools I was totally hooked, loving the ability they gave to enhance and emphasize light and colour without the need to have any technical photography skills - a much less messy form of painting! I like Snapseed for familiarity (the first editing app I used); Photoshop Express for flexibility; Paint FX for precision; Mextures (oh, how I love thee!), for colour, texture, light - and that is just about everything needed to ‘paint’ a picture!
You clearly have an involved editing process. For you, when does an image feel “finished”? I don’t think it ever is! What I am happy with one day can look completely different the next and be deleted without a second thought! There are only a child’s handful of pictures that I don’t feel inclined to play with further and I really don’t know what distinguishes these from the rest! I spend hours and hours editing and have hundreds of pictures that will never see the light of day, albeit I was happy with them at the time of completion...but isn’t everybody the same? Tell us more about how Instagram communities have influenced your work and ability to connect with others. As for Instagram, I’ve met people and visited places I would never have met or gone without Instagram. I’ve developed a couple of relationships that are valuable, and firm friendships with a few people that I truly treasure! It is difficult to know the extent of the influence it has had on my work, as I believe that to be hugely subconscious, but it certainly sets standards to aim for, educates and inspires me. The active, constant support that comes from the virtual realm is so encouraging and I’m genuinely appreciative of it; that people you have never met--and probably never will--can be so responsive, is humbling and means a great deal.
BY JACLYN TRUSS
mnupnx Dumping Darkness
For the Italian photographer known as Manu Punx (aka MNUPNX), photography is a means to release his inner pain, each frame a new place to discard the darkness of his soul. “I’m a depressed person,” Punx revealed, “I am never really happy.” For him, the beauty of his photography is unimportant; having someone see his images, admire them for their aesthetic and then turn around and forget why this picture has come forth from him, leaves him with an underwhelming sense of meaninglessness. Punx believes that only those who truly share his pain can understand the depth of his images, because through them he offers his audience understanding amidst a common ground of suffering; however, even others relate to his work in this way, he finds little in the way of consolation. “I feel a deadness inside, a darkness that translates to my followers. The fact that I have so many followers means that so many people feel as I feel, and this, to me, is so sad,” reflected Punx. His work is reflective of his tumultuous circumstances and inner turmoils, and through it, Punx endeavors to engage us at the root of our darkest emotions, reminding us that even if they seem peacefully concealed they are but the calm before the storm or the slow reading of a burning book - they are simply lying in wait.
“Have hope. Don’t live this way.”
Donning a gas mask and a business suit, a self-portrait of Punx shows him protecting himself from rampant societal hypocrisy and fakeness, and the damage it causes to self. In “Snatching Your Colour World”, hands claw out through a veil of red threading, an impression of his desire to destroy the fake happiness that so many people pretend to have. “I hate false expression. It is horrible to show happiness when inside there is total sadness because then you are not truly happy,” said Punx. While poignantly calling our attention to the inner demons we so relentlessly try to hide, Punx himself exists in a tragically gloomy world where darkness claims his every attention and where suffering and sadness are the constructs of his daily life. He imparts that while the messages contained in his images are meditations of despair, there is a deeper underlying message he wishes to convey: “What I have to tell my followers is simply this: Have hope. Don’t live in this way.”
BY JACLYN TRUSS
In the United States, the state of North Carolina is nestled sweetly between the Atlantic Ocean and the Appalachian Mountains-a cornucopia of gorgeous scenery from mountaintop to shore, and a dream for any photographer; however, there is something even more beautiful and picturesque to be found here, and Michelle Bishoff, wife, and mother of five, wakes up every day with the intention of capturing it. “I started with my iPhone, shooting landscapes,” said Bishoff, “But when I got a DSLR, I quickly moved to photographing people. My family is the most important thing to me and my daughter, in particular, is a huge inspiration to me because she has encouraged me to go after my dream of being a photographer.” Some people joke about breeding a hockey team, and Bishoff--while close--has bred a “dream team” of muses instead. With her daughter as her main muse and her other four children no strangers to the lens, Bishoff is never left wanting for a subject, or with the inability to produce the beautiful pictures she conceives. This is a fortunate circumstance for which Bishoff is ever grateful, because once she sets sight on an image in her head, she is driven by a deep need to produce it through photography.
Often inspired by the circumstances in her life or a loved one’s life, self-taught Bishoff knows that her keen eye will only take her as far as her technical skills when it comes to producing her vision. “I have a lot more to learn,” reveals Bishoff, “Photography has become my passion, an outlet that is all mine and extends past my limits of creativity. I’m a very transparent person, real and honest, and therefore all my work is the same - you get all of me in my work.” Energized by the images she sees on Instagram, Bishoff took the leap from hobbyist to professional photographer two years ago. Although she does acquire paid gigs, her desire to put her family first has kept her from going full force. Despite this, Bishoff enjoys her artistic journey as is, reveling in motherhood, artistic creativity, and being a valued member of a larger community; she has the pleasure of spending time with her children, capturing all of their precious moments, and she considers the support from family and friends to be nothing short of a beautiful gift. Bishoff imparts, “I love inspiring others and hope that my work sparks something in people, more than just looking at a photo.”
BY JACLYN TRUSS
Art has no Abraham limits Yusuf When we appreciate the work of others, that is the highest achievement
Malang, the second largest city in East Java Province, Indonesia, is known by residents as the “Paris of East Java” for its spectacular panoramic. It is here that 23-year-old Abraham Yusuf calls home, and with up and coming artists like him, it may not be long before Malang is also compared to Paris for its artistic prowess. Yusuf’s digital creations, with the softening of harsh photographic detail and use of contrast and silhouettes, carries more the markings of a painted picture, bearing more resemblance to an artistic reproduction than a pixelated reality from a camera. With his complex method of layering monochromatic images and shadowing contrast between the foreground and the background, Yusuf is able to add incredible depth and create a sense of vast distance within his pieces. He is known at times to revel in monotone colours - cool tones to create foggy and evening scenes, juxtaposing warm, golden hour sunsets and sunrises, leaving the viewer with a velvety and whispering fluidity. More like a super-slow motion video, Yusuf’s subjects appear not to be fully still, but simply slowed in time.
Yusuf took an interest in photo editing five years ago when he felt he had not mastered his technique with the camera; he found that, with the assistance of online tutorials, he was able to pour his imagination into a photo editor and bring his vision to life. In his piece “Never Met a Sunrise I Didn’t Love”, we see the silhouette of a young girl swinging from a cliff with an endless world in front of her--a sense of the boundless, far-reaching nature of Yusuf’s creativity. While Yusuf loves his home and believes Indonesia to be “a wonderful country that people may not expect,” he does hope to travel the world, seek out hidden paradises and expand his horizons. “Art has no limits,” imparts Yusuf, “And neither should we.”
BY JACLYN TRUSS
Garden Elena Leontiou
never liked flowers, but, after a visit to the botanical gardens in Thailand, she was mesmerized by the delicate beauty of the flourishing flora; she was instantly inspired to create a similar digital garden with her own unique touch. “My Instagram gallery is a magical garden, my secret place to hide all my emotions - a digital representation of myself,” says Leontiou, “The capture of every flower in my gallery is attached to an important personal moment. Some pictures are inspired by the loss of loved persons of mine, some by the end of an affair, and others represent joyful feelings. Every photo is accompanied by a caption quote which represents these feelings.”
With a masters degree in the psychoanalysis of advertising, Leontiou knows a thing or two about emotions, having learned the ability to psychologically tap into human emotion and use hypothetical theoretical structures to understand human behavior. â€œThe aim of psychoanalysis in advertising is to reach a higher understanding of human behavior in order to come closer to the way ideology of consumption works.â€? Leontiou explains. Leontiou worked in the field of advertising as a graphic designer for ten years; however, due to economical crisis she was forced to change career paths, and currently works in the Department of Civil Aviation in air traffic control. In her free time, she still works as a freelance graphic designer, dealing mostly with the creation of posters, corporate identity, packaging, booklets and book covers for her clients. For Leontiou, taking pictures of every significant moment in her life was nothing short of a passion. She obtained her first camera at the age of eight, and from that moment on, never stopped capturing the beauty around her. While pursuing her bachelor degree in graphic communication, Leontiou also took photography courses, with an acute focus on the darkroom process for developing black
and white film. At that point, her interest was mainly black and white portraits, but a strong motivation urged her to further research and become a self-educated photographer and photo editor. Later came Thailand, with its astonishing and luscious gardens, and from that living advertisement, Leontiou was sold. “When I take a shot of a flower, I have the sense that it talks to me and guides me on how to enhance its best features by using the power of light, shade and focus. The final aim is to make my captures look like paintings because I have always loved paintings, and in general, every form of art,” says Leontiou. Leontiou is actually not particularly interested in taking a beautiful picture; in fact, it means nothing to her at all. Instead she is enthralled by the manipulation of the photo, using Adobe Photoshop 7.0 on Mac, and Snapseed and Mextures on mobile devices, creating artistic elements that enhance each blossom into its best self. “I guess this originates from the fact that I am a graphic designer and I have been taught to transform photos into objects of desire,” admits Leontiou. And so her garden of imaginary flowers grows, each painting us one step closer to the secret garden within.
BY ANISSA STAMBOULI
Prepare to be dazzled.
Spectacularly silly and epically talented, Captain Cowboy and the Money Maker will leave you toe tapping, finger snapping and head bobbing to their charming busk routine. “It’s street corner music, it’s brothel music, it’s exciting and it just energizes people,” said Captain Cowboy of their quirky sound.
Playing old-time folk tunes and Americana at a ragtime pace, rounded by jazzy vocals and a gritty finish, Captain Cowboy and the Money Maker animate the stories of forgotten songs in a way that sparks a smile and inspires applause. INSPADES met with the busking duo at Jimmy’s Coffee in Kensington Market, an eclectic patch of diversified culture in the heart of Toronto where the pair often performs. “When we first met, we bonded over this love of old country music,” recounted Money Maker, mentioning Hank Williams as one of their pseudo-mentors. The duo met at an open mic night in the small town where they lived, and it wasn’t long before the two were reveling over their passion for music and history. “We found this sweet spot in the 1900s and the 1930s that we absolutely love,” said Money Maker, describing their musical exploration as they experimented with song covers; “As opposed to wanting to learn the songs, we wanted to learn the stories.” The couple began their journey as professional musicians when they auditioned for the Subway Musicians Program run by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). “I didn’t think we were going to get the TTC performing license,” admitted Captain Cowboy, as the two had never performed together and had no act under their belt. “When we got it,” Captain Cowboy continued, “we said, ‘Let’s not give ourselves another option or get ourselves other jobs. Let’s just do this, and if we fail, we fail.’”
Prior to the TTC audition, Captain Cowboy and Money Maker were miserable with their boxed-in life and “square” jobs; Captain Cowboy worked fifty-plus hours a week as a contractor, while Money Maker juggled two waitressing gigs. “We lived in this tiny town that was basically just an intersection with the gas station,” said Money Maker, “We weren’t saving any money and we didn’t have any time to see each other. It was so horrible.” When they acquired their TTC license, the pair gleefully broke up with their mundane lives and hightailed it to Toronto, with adventure before them and serendipity on the horizon. “We thrust ourselves towards it with reckless abandon and let our act evolve into what it is now,” said Money Maker. While Captain Cowboy and Money Maker were ready to embark on a fresh chapter in their lives, arriving in Toronto in November made for a “rocky start”. It was too cold to busk outside, daylight sank by late afternoon, and the couple had yet to establish a strategy for busking. Before the move, the pair managed to accumulate a small cash stash, allowing them to pay three months rent up front once they found a small attic apartment on the Danforth, freeing them to focus on honing an act instead of stressing over finances. “We were putting rice in our eggs to prolong our breakfast and keep our bellies full for longer, but it was so worth it because it was empowering to be so free,” recalled Money Maker of those first tough months in the big city.
As the duo had performed separately but never together—let alone busked— the TTC license enabled them to monetize their practice time, as they spent countless hours playing in the high-traffic subway stations. “I get paid to practise, and that’s the only way to get good,” said Captain Cowboy, “I like busking—it’s the most blue collar way to make money as a musician. You just go and drop your case, like punching your clock in at work.” With vaudevillian costumes and theatrics, Captain Cowboy and the Money Maker soon became a favourite for Toronto commuters. “Part of the reason why we’re so successful is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Captain Cowboy mused. With Money Maker holstering a homemade banjo and donning bottle cap tipped gloves to play her washboard--laden with bells and whistles, and Captain Cowboy armed with his metallic guitar and tambourine tap shoes, the duo brings a captivating performance and unique sound to the grey washed streets and stations of the city. “There’s always been a nod and a wink to everything that we’re doing,” shared Captain Cowboy as he described their zany stage presence, “We’re in ‘show business’,” he added with facetious hand gestures, “There’s always ‘jazz hands’ to everything that we’re doing.” Besides their musical versatility and skill, Captain Cowboy and the Money Maker transcend the white noise of the city with their charismatic performance. “I make sure that our costuming and presentation are top
notch every time,” said Money Maker, who recognized whimsical wardrobes assist in drawing an audience. When asked how integrated the characters of “Captain Cowboy” and “Money Maker” are with their off-stage identities, Money Maker described, “Captain Cowboy and Money Maker are very much us, as real people in our true from—evolved from people in square jobs, to glitter covered weirdos on the sidewalk.” “We take being silly very seriously,” added Captain Cowboy, who chose his name simply for its “stupidity.” “I just thought of two male power-archetypes, captain and cowboy, and mixed those.” While Captain Cowboy’s character is a cheeky nod to projections of exaggerated masculinity, Money Maker’s character received her moniker by accident. While developing their act, the pair thought, “Ukulele songs are cute, but the washboard will be our money maker!” Writing “money maker” on her first washboard with a huge dollar sign, encouraging people to drop change for their performance, Money Maker made a name for herself among the busking community of the subway lines. As to further fuel their vaudevillian presentation, their routine also includes sporadic bits, or “wrinkles” as Captain Cowboy refers to them, that interrupt the songs and add texture. “We’re hesitant to record anything, because our sound is in the live act, and it’s entirely based on having an audience in front of us that we can work off of,” explained Money Maker.
“We’ve played some of these songs literally thousands of times,” added Captain Cowboy, “The only way that it can stay entertaining is by trying to make her laugh.” Changing the lyrics, making animal noises and drawing attention to little mistakes throughout their performance keeps the pair energetic and fresh, and actively engages the audience in the humour of the moment. “You make your act a smooth-running, welloiled machine, and then you have the fun of throwing a monkey wrench in that machine and seeing what comedy comes from that,” said Captain Cowboy. Over the past summer, Captain Cowboy and the Money Maker took their act on the road, hitchhiking from Toronto to Newfoundland to busk, play the occasional bar and feed their zeal for spontaneous living. “There was plenty of sleeping in parks and on the sides of highways, but we didn’t want to plan too much,” said Money Maker. “Not planning was part of the fun,” added Captain Cowboy, “it was also part of the experiment. Could we go to another city, and reproduce what we’ve managed to do in Toronto?” Their only plan was to return with as much money as they’d had at the starting line, and they were successful. “We’d show up in a city, drop our case, and eventually someone would show up and ask where we were staying,” said Money Maker, who recounted tales of human kindness and generosity that left the two feeling “humbled and inspired.”
While in Halifax, the house that they were staying in burned down while they were busking. With nothing but the clothes on their back and their instruments, Captain Cowboy and Money Maker were struck by luck when Halifolks, an image-based blog capturing the faces and stories of Halifax, publicized their misfortune. Shortly thereafter, the story went viral, attracting coverage from CTV News and a wave of support from Halifax residents. “We got backpacks, a tent, sleeping bags, all this food, a twelve-pack of beer,” Money Maker laughed fondly at the recollection, “People who couldn’t donate anything were still calling us over to have dinner.” “It was better than everything going right,” Captain Cowboy agreed. The Canada’s east coast was kind to the buskers, who easily found rides along the side of the highway, which they attributed much to juggling and “looking like idiots”. While often drivers are hesitant to pick up hitchhikers, their quirky appearance seemed to remove all sense of potential threat. “How are they going to fit knives into their pockets when their pockets are full of confetti?” Money Maker joked. While playing on the streets in cities like Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax, the standard duet of Captain Cowboy and the Money Maker would often expand unexpectedly, as passers-by joined in the show. “People would come up as we’re busking and just pull out their instruments,” Money Maker recalled, “On the Halifax harbour
we had a clarinet player, a harp player and we had a guy playing the mandolin; people would just come up and start jamming.” “I couldn’t imagine travelling without busking,” said Captain Cowboy, “because otherwise, you’d just go sightseeing, whereas if you busk, you meet a lot of musicians and artists who’ll show you around.” When asked about the dynamics of living, working and travelling with their romantic partner, Captain Cowboy answered, “We’re very open, honest people who are really good at making fun of ourselves.” “We can be independent people together,” said Money Maker as she turned to Captain Cowboy to add, “I allow you to have feelings, and be a human being, and mess up, and in return you allow me to have feelings, and be
a human being, and mess up. I feel like our relationship, romantically, is so strong.” Regardless of their rising success, Captain Cowboy and the Money Maker intend to stay true to their busking roots and keep their venue performances limited. With plans to tour Canada’s east coast again next summer, the pair also hopes to visit the Yukon at some point. In the near future—or at least as far ahead as the two dare plan—Captain Cowboy and Money Maker hope to live out their days as musicians on the road. With an ongoing documentary of their musical journey in the works, they even plan to kick things up a notch. “We’re converting a bus, or some kind of vehicle, to live and tour out of, chasing the sun and busking wherever we can.”
BY JACLYN TRUSS
WINNER of the INSPADES Magazine
Fashion Design Contest CYNTHIA CHIZOBA UDEH-MARTIN is an entrepreneurial Toronto-based designer who, at the young age of 23, is already making a name for herself in the fashion world. In 2015, Udeh-Martin launched her fashion brand Zoba Martin, the name derived from Cynthia’s Igbo (Nigerian tribe) name Chizoba, which means “well-protected”.
Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, UdehMartin moved to Canada as a teenager and currently studies at the Toronto Fashion Academy. A fashionista from the start, UdehMartin has always been fascinated by the way fabrics, colour combinations and materials could be assembled to create new designs the world has yet to see. While she has discovered her niche in elegantly handcrafted, custom designs that blend African prints with a contemporary North American edge, UdehMartin also dabbles in retro designs, fancying remakes of 1950â€™s couture in particular . Not only are the stylish and unique fashion creations of Udeh-Martin a form of personal expression, but her custom approach also appeals to the personal expression of her clients. To support this amazing up and coming fashion artist while achieving her please look stunning looks, you can while you show support for this amazing up and coming fashion artist please go to http://www.zobamartin.com/
“I’m inspired by the brand Delpozo. His bold artistic pieces, the colors, choice of fabric and style gives me life! I collect inspiration from everywhere I go, from nature to architecture to the beautiful people I see on the streets.” “I am very intrigued by different cultures and diversity, how a group of people can create a way of life for themselves and pass it on from generation to generation, and the way it gradually changes over time.” “Starting a fashion brand is not as rosy as it may seem on social media, but every day I am in it is an opportunity for me to learn and be a better designer for myself and my clients.” “I put a lot of thought and work into every piece I create because, to me, each piece is a masterpiece.” “I want to make history with my pieces someday, it may not come easy but I am willing to put in work.”
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Published on Dec 14, 2017