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Siegart von Schlichting A Mosaic of The Human Experience

Frantisek Strouhal Art Embracing Awareness

Edmond Looi Bespoke Luxury in a Montage of Creativity INSPADESMAG.COM - JUNE 2018 - N11 • $6.99 - 1 Year 19.99

Ewa Cwikla

Strength in Vulnerability

model: @adamjosephchase | photo: Sergio D. Spadavecchia creativespades.com



true gentleman knows how to concoct the perfect oldfashioned, nurse a cobra bite, has a fully stocked vintage toolbox and owns a classic pair of socks to accent his favourite pair of wingtips or hi-tops.






This Toronto-based band will hit you like a train raging over railroads seasoned by whiskey and rust

Albany Pickering


Jaclyn truss Letter from the editor


Lisa Agurén Discover the elixir of creativity within the vulnerable, perishable construct of time


Miloš Prokić Deepredfly spills from the void to chase his own the nascent art scene

Hot Lips


Edmond Looi

Theresa Sujata Senti Catching a glimpse of what lies beyond the surface


Max Chung Set sail with CRWNS through the uncharted waters of the trap music movement

006 • inspadesmag.com


Solaja Oluwakemi Deepening the intensity of digital art as a medium for expression



Luca Storelli The story of a cinematic photographer following in the footsteps of teachers

Frantisek Strouhal


EndlessFaces Photo Essay Agustin Gomez

This connoisseur of sneakers offers bespoke luxury like you’ve never seen before


From Bromoil to the carbon process, this spiritual artist takes art to a new level of awareness



Ewa Cwikla Contemporary photographer sheds Rembrandt’s light on vulnerability with classical, renaissance portraits

Navid Fotouhi Do you see what I see? Be carried away by uncommon imaginings



SERGIO DAVID SPADAVECCHIA Publisher/Creative Director - info@creativespades.com creativespades.com - @creativespades JACLYN TRUSS Editor in Chief - info@inspadesmag.com Anissa Stambouli Assistant Editor - info@inspadesmag.com @astamdesigns A. Samuel Lewis - Writer - www.imr-sv.com - @imr-sv Albany Pickering McCabe - Resident Poet

CONTRIBUTORS Talia Markos - Editorial Assistant Dario spadavecchia - Media Research Christina Deveau - PR & Social Media - @christinadeveau Portrait Community Feature

EndlessFaces ADVERTISING INQUIRIES info@creativespades.com

032 Siegart

von Schlichting Capturing the miracle and unique intricacies of each human spirit

COVER: SIEGART VON SCHLICHTING INSPADES Magazine is designed & distributed by Creative Spades © All images, text, logo and content of INSPADES Magazine or Creative Spades properties is under the Copyright Laws of Canada. Any reproduction strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

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Chrysalis "Love is like a chrysalis: in the beginning, timid and fragile beautiful but breakable ah, but when the time comes and it emerges from its shell... it's a butterfly it's a diamond it's a rock not just on her hand but in her heart immovable, unbreakable, fragile no more."

By Albany Pickering


Letter From the Editor BY JACLYN TRUSS

EndlessFaces @EndlessFaces - @eyesofkratos


Every moment is a reflective one.

Every moment carries the gift of coming into knowing. I was always a clever girl. Not because I was exceptionally smart or good at life, but because I paid attention. I paid keen attention to the cause and the effect, the tone of the voice, the look of the face, the feel of the energy, the mood of the room, the silence in the sounds and the sounds in the silence. In any given interaction there is, first and foremost, perception. I lived in the fascinating world around me, and I perceived with all my might. And then, I reflected. Sometimes, it would dig me into holes, as yesterday is not a good predictor of today, and perception is wholly subjective. But a hole I fell in is a hole I’d have to climb out of—and there are many holes on the endless path of self-discovery. But I worked at it. Learned to control my perception and, in turn, my reflection. And now, I much more enjoy what I see. So feel free to see the world for what it truly is. Look at your life from a 30,000-foot view. Let yourself scheme grandly within the grander scheme of things. Let the petty social norms fall away like the soundless flecks of dust they are. Make way for matters only to you. Remember that the outside merely reflects what’s inside. So be well aware of your being. In this life, you needn’t either be skilled or clever, but merely conscious. Or else, for the whole of your life in this world, you will look, but never see. And we want you to see.


— when you feel inspired to— Queen of Spades inspadesmag.com • 011

Lisa AgurĂŠn - lisaaguren.se


L isa Aguren

Sacred Breat h of Chance “I am fascinated by the fact that the time itself, which is so vulnerable, perishable and cannot be touched, can be frozen in a photograph.”

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Lisa AgurĂŠn - lisaaguren.se

For Swedish still life and portrait photographer Lisa Argurén, photography is the pursuit of mindfulness--an awareness of the world, of others and the self. Through floral arrangements, natural lighting and feminine subjects, Argurén explores the strength of vulnerability and the beauty of fragility. “Creativity is an elixir, a life-giving force that is deeply rooted,” Argurén reflects, “Creativity is not just about efficiency or perfection. Creativity stands for curiosity, imagination and exploration; with it, you can open doors that are otherwise closed.” Experiencing something that harmonizes with her current state of mind or mood—shooting a photograph, being inspired by music, discovering the beauty of nature, or connecting with someone in a meaningful way—are all ways that Argurén experiences mindfulness, “a feeling I long for and could fall in love with.” With photography, Argurén can freeze the moments that affect her within the depths of her soul, visually containing the indescribable mix of emotion and inspiration that are unique to the momentary experience she shares with the subject. “Photography is a way to prove to myself that a feeling is true by capturing it in an image,” insists Argurén, “Nobody can tell me it’s not true because even they can see it. Through my camera, I can turn an abstract feeling into a concrete picture—it’s like stopping time.” The precarious moment from one sliver of time to the next in a photo shoot is exhilarating for Argurén—the beat between seconds is a sacred breath of chance with the power to alter the outcome of the image significantly; to what extent the captured moment will provoke mindfulness in both creator and viewer lays at the mercy of a timely flash of the shutter. “I am fascinated by the fact that time itself, which is so vulnerable, perishable and cannot be touched, can be frozen in a photograph,” she contemplates.

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Lisa AgurĂŠn - lisaaguren.se

Contributing to her respect for the vulnerability of time is Argurén’s fascination with the power of fragility. Often manifested in her work through floral arrangements or the delicate posturing of women, Argurén aims to present vulnerability as one of life’s most admirable experiences: “People who dare to show their fragility are paradoxically so strong. It’s beautiful, and I think and it inspires me. I believe that life’s beauty rests in the silky softness of a petal. The fragile and the strong growing on the same branch.” Additionally, Arguén finds the gradient between light and darkness inspirational and transcendent. “Light and shadow are the beauty of life. When they meet, I can see a magical and timeless calm in which the content of life is written.” Argurén’s passion for photography was birthed three years ago when she moved back into her childhood home outside of Jönköping, Sweden, with her family. Now residing near lake Vätern, Argurén is surrounded by deserted areas speckled with aged, decaying houses. This accounts for the vintage, haunting beauty of her photography, which is always captured in natural light and paired with flowers collected from her garden. “I now walk the same paths I did when I was a child. The same gnarled trees give off shadows, and still, the magic remains in the light there. Something awoke inside me and I wanted to explore it further,” she explains. The nostalgia gave rise to the unanticipated desire to create, and from there Argurén pursued photography as a hobby, while she worked as a teacher during the week. Eventually, she opened an Instagram account to feature her artwork, and she continued to take online courses in photography. When fans began to ask for printed copies of her work, Argurén obliged, and gradually started to participate in fine art shows. Working mostly with her children, friends, or her friends’ children as models, shooting without an assistant in natural lighting quickly posed a challenge to Argurén.

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“I shoot with a very simple, smooth and small Canon EOS 100d 18-55 mm zoom and 50 mm. It has a smart touch screen, fast autofocus and produces good quality images.”

Lisa Agurén - lisaaguren.se

“During a shoot, I have to run to the model, adjust how the dress falls, and run back to the camera--I have to be completely present because I know that in just a few seconds, the light I was looking for will disappear,” she explains. Although her talent begs to differ, Argurén describes herself as a “beginner” in photography. Aside from working with natural light, the manual camera settings can prove especially difficult at times as well, she admits, “As a beginner, things can happen during a shoot that I have not encountered yet--there may be camera settings that I need to research online before we can continue with the shoot.” While shooting with a model can involve such stresses, Argurén has the gift of time when it comes to her still life portraits. Going into the shoot without specific preconceived notions, beyond the props that she will use, Argurén allows the image to take shape during the photographing process. “I hold on until I am satisfied, I have no real plan--it must develop. While shooting, I wait for the exact feeling to take shape, and when it comes, I know I’m done. I’m not giving up until that feeling comes,” she shares. For Argurén, the final image is not about capturing perfection; photography is an open experiment to see where her abstract thoughts can take her. “For as long as I can remember, my closest companion has been longing. A strong and wordless longing,” she confides, “Being creative is my way of exploring where that longing can take me.” After three years spent nurturing her passion for photography, Argurén now works part-time as a teacher, devoting two weekdays to her photography. She currently services clients with her photography and is hoping to explore shooting with animals. Most recently, her artwork was exhibited in Stockholm this past April and May, and she also opened a Tictail shop online to sell fine art, posters, notebooks and cards featuring her photography. “When I hear someone say that I’m their source of inspiration, that inspired them to create on their own, my biggest goal is achieved,” Argurén concludes.

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L isa Aguren

Lisa AgurĂŠn - lisaaguren.se

“Creativity stands for curiosity, imagination and exploration; with it, you can open doors that are otherwise closed.”

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“I don’t want to be just another piece of the puzzle...even if it means that I might fail before reaching my eventual goal.”

Miloš Prokić - @deepredfly



Miloš Prokić - @deepredfly


MAGINE for a moment, a childhood devoid of your favourite bedtime story or Saturday morning cartoons. Envision your grade school bereaved of all art programs, the hallways barren and dull, uncamouflaged by finger paintings and bright iterations of the student’s wildest imaginings. Can you fathom a childhood vacant of crayons, clays and colour? Serbian and multi-disciplinary graphic design student, Miloš Prokić, knows no alternative. Born in the small town of Smederevska, Palanka, he spent most of his childhood living with his mother and sister in Dobri Do, an agricultural community with just over 1,000 total inhabitants. In Dobri Do, farming and livestock are the primary driving force of the Serbian economy. Emphasis on manual labour has diminished the need for specialized work and abated creativity. “The main cause for a general lack of art in some regions of Serbia is the bad economic situation: when people don’t have a lot of money and struggle with low salaries and high bills, the first thing that is going to suffer is culture,” Prokić explains. He sees the perception of the arts in Dobri Do, and similar rural communities, as vastly different from other regions of the world, “Contemporary art is viewed as something weird, useless and sometimes even scary,” he divulges. Without a formal introduction to the arts and the basic creative techniques that are generally taught in most grade schools, art has become a foreign topic to most locals. However, Prokić, with his natural inclination toward creativity, was unwilling to allow the inadequacies of art culture and the misconceptions harboured by his community to hinder him from pursuing his affection towards creative projects. Discouraged and desperate for an escape, Prokić abandoned school and moved nearly 300 kilometres away to live near his girlfriend, seeking refuge in the city of Leskovac in southern Serbia. It was here he found a community that was more accepting of the arts and was able to transition himself toward a rigorous creative trajectory. Contrary to the educational system in Dobri Do, which Prokić found unduly monotonous and entirely irrelevant for his devotion towards the arts, Leskovac provided a more diverse subculture that could nourish and refine his creative inclination. “There are many world-class painters, talented

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graphic designers and crafty street artists which makes the art scene so much more alive, I can feel that creative energy, and it motivates me,” Prokić reflects. Harnessing this newfound creative energy, Prokić set out to cultivate a robust artistic repertoire. Systematically refining his craft, he practised mediums such as charcoal, watercolour and ink, utilizing dramatic, hyper-realistic and even abstract stylizations to propagate his technique further. Persistence and determination proved beneficial for both his artistic abilities, as well as his self-confidence, and in 2015 Prokić set aside his ambivalence and entered a scholarship competition at the Faculty of Digital Arts at Belgrade Metropolitan University. A highly regarded achievement, this scholarship is granted to only one student in all of Serbia each year, presenting recipients with four years of formal graphic design education. The single-round elimination contest requires students to interpret a topic using a variety of artistic mediums to demonstrate their competence in each area. The first round involves a written comprehension of the subject, articulating creative analysis and visual interpretations exclusively with words. Next, each student is tasked with illustrating their interpretation visually, which are critiqued by a panel of professors from the university. Finally, the concluding round requires the remaining two students to present their concept from ideation to completion, including an analysis of the topic and how it relates to their interpretation. Manifesting the expanse of his creative aptitude and ceaseless desire to succeed, Prokić swiftly advanced through the initial rounds, dazzling the panel of judges with a modern rendition of the ‘carrot and stick’ metaphor used to represent the topic, “Where are we going?”. When the scholarship was awarded to him, triumphant and galvanized, Prokić felt more invigorated as an artist than ever. Prokić found himself now journeying into an even more immersive world of art that would further spur his artistic persona. Reflecting on his continued formal education and artistic growth in the Faculty of Digital Arts at Belgrade Metropolitan University, Prokić ruminates: “Before I went to art school I was skilled in drawing, but I did not know how to paint. I was a bit ashamed because I felt as though I could not complete as an artist. I could create outstanding black and white images, but when it came to colour, it was like I was a completely different person.”

Miloš Prokić - @deepredfly

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Miloš Prokić - @deepredfly

“During that period, we had an assignment to make a hyper-realistic painting of one animal or insect—I chose flies because I was fascinated by their anatomy. After a few weeks and many futile attempts, I finally managed to create a worthy painting! My professor admired it and it was the first painting that I was absolutely proud of.” It was that accomplishment that helped to breathe life into his Instagram sobriquet: Deepredfly. He chose the colour red as a representation of the strength and determination needed to persevere in his imposed artistic hiatus, as well as symbolizing the passion and desire to succeed in creating artwork that others could relate to. The fly exemplifies the intricacy and attention to detail of his illustrations, similar to the complexity of a fly’s anatomy, while simultaneously reminding Prokić of the value of persistence. Instagram offers the ideal creative outlet for Prokić to experiment with new trends and refine his creative style. “As Deepredfly, my main goal is to continue to evolve as an artist. Making daily artwork truly allows me to discover my inspirations and better understand my perception of art,” he explains, “When I devise a new method or technique that reveals a completely untapped area of creativity…those moments are priceless to me.” Comparing his earliest works on Instagram to some of his more recent pieces demonstrates Prokić’s commitment to expanding his design repertoire, as well as his ability to manoeuvre illustrations that combine numerous artistic mediums. His earlier works adopt a more traditional approach to art, consisting predominantly of anonymous characters portrayed in different positions and motions over plain backgrounds. The ambiguity of Prokić’s early pieces indicates a period of self-reflection and personal discovery, soliciting endless new forms and techniques to identify his creative spark. In his latest work, Prokić intuitively blends modern design proficiency, elaborate illustrations and visceral typeface to achieve an unprecedented style. Confidence, maturity and a touch of audacity have allowed Prokić the opportunity to completely reinvent himself as an artist and succeed despite humble artistic beginnings. “I don’t want to be just another piece of the puzzle. Instead, I want to create my own puzzle with my own image and try to position it within the market amongst other competitors, even if it means that I might fail before reaching my eventual goal,” asserts Prokić. Uprooting himself from the only world he had ever known in search of a dream proved to be far more valuable than Prokić could have ever imagined, setting him on the road to opportunity and preparing him for a future no longer limited by anything other than the vast expanse of his imagination.

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Miloš Prokić - @deepredfly

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A Mosaic of the Human Experience Siegart von Schlichting

“Photography is a form of meditation. Leaving in the early morning to photograph flowers with dew, or capture fog in the early moments of the sunrise—I find there is a lot of silence and freshness.”

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“Photography enabled me to combine creative expression with results that satisfy me.�



HAT is a portrait? For some, it acts as an emotional transmitter, communicating the subject’s experience to the viewer; for others, it is a reflector, where the viewer projects their ideas and personality into the image and gains refreshed introspection. While the purpose, function and essence of a portrait differ from person to person, for German photographer Siegart von Schlichting, a portrait is a miracle that captures the unique intricacies of each human spirit. “It's about capturing the magic, that special element,” Schlichting shares, “Every human being has so many facets and is different. Everyone, in a way, is a miracle.” In each image, the elegance and commanding strength of femininity persist. Working mostly with female models, Schlichting reveals, “They often seem to have a secret and there is something dark and mysterious around them.” Despite the relentless ticking of time, a photograph captures an isolated moment that has been snatched from time’s propelling pace. “Each photo is a lasting reminder of a period of life,” Schlichting reflects, “it is also a discovery of ourselves.” For Schlichting, these moments of time are then tempered with a polished finish and a touch of glamour. In her

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portraiture, themes of floral arrangements and flowing fabrics abound. Collaborating with artists to bring elaborate makeup and costume designs to each project, Schlichting’s collection is compelling and alluring. Born in Germany but raised in South Africa and Namibia throughout her early childhood, Schlichting’s impressionable years received ample exposure to various cultures, where she learned that each group of people bring a unique and colourful fabric to the mosaic that is the human experience. “I think growing up in a foreign country with a completely different culture has made me more interested in and accepting of other people, and it has influenced my view of nature a lot. I still have memories of heat, strong colours and wonderful flowers,” Schlichting describes. It is common for Schlichting’s portraiture to feature floral headpieces in the models’ costumes, held in their hands as a prop or imprinted on the pattern of their gowns. In fact, when Schlichting first began to pursue photography four years ago, her primary subject was nature and landscapes, but particularly flowers. “I used to be a passionate gardener for many years, and all the flowers and blossoms inspired me. Since I began photography, I find that I look more closely at my environment and see more details and colours than before,” she shares. In her daily professional life, Schlichting works in a different world of numbers, paper, sales figures and excel charts. While she enjoys being able to pursue her career and her passion for photography on the side, the busy nature of her professional life begs for the reprieve that creativity offers:


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“My job is a fast one; everything is always urgent and everybody is in a hurry—you can hardly tell whether it's morning or evening. Photography is sort of a meditation. Leaving in the early morning to photograph flowers with dew, or capture fog in the early moments of the sunrise—I find there is a lot of silence and freshness.” While Schlichting became a photographer in recent years, the embers of artistic flare had been keeping the hearth of her inspiration warm for years. As a teenager, Schlichting enjoyed painting but lacked the patience to study and excel. “I completed an art course, but ultimately, I didn't feel talented enough,” she admits, “I was convinced that I would never become a great artist.” Yet as Schlichting grew and went on with her life, the arts remained her “secret love”. It was during a “fortunate” stint between jobs in her career, that Schlichting became re-acquainted with her creativity. “I used that free time for photography,” she remembers, “Photography enabled me to combine creative expression with results that satisfy me. Using Photoshop, it sometimes feels like I am painting again as I used to when I was young.” In fact, much of the artistic process that goes into Schlichting’s photography is through post-production edits in Photoshop; “I try to feel how many additional elements are good for the photo. What does it need to lift it higher, and what is just simply is too much?”

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Striking the balance between a polished finish and an ostentatious veneer requires nuance and patience in Schlichting’s approach. After selecting the image from the photo shoot to work on, she “gets to know the heart of the picture” through detailed edits of the model’s skin. Next, Schlichting forms the background of the portrait using layers and textures from her “huge” Photoshop library, an endeavour that can take hours. Lastly, Schlichting sets the colour tone of the image “so that all the parts harmoniously join in one arrangement.” While Photoshop can enhance the magic of each piece, the real miracle of a portrait occurs when the photographer is working with the model to draw out the unique elements that make them human. “When I’m working with a model, I try to connect with her to create a picture that combines aesthetics and expression,” Schlichting explains. She recalls an incident where a photo shoot yielded disappointing results when the model’s inexperience interfered with the project. “I had a great make-up artist and really fancy dresses with even greater ideas for the shoot, but the model was totally overwhelmed by the dress and styling and looked anxious and fearful on camera the whole time,” Schlichting remembers. After that experience, Schlichting learned that models can’t just be pretty—they have to be compatible with the style of the shoot. “For me, the model is absolutely essential


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to the picture,” she insists, “I can balance a lot of things in post-production, but not the overall expression and intensity of the model.” In addition to the style needing to match the model, Schlichting learned to not “overload” a photoshoot with a high volume of ideas. “The photo shoot is a complete composition and everything must fit together. If one part of the puzzle doesn’t work, then the entire thing will unravel.” Despite her seemingly effortless skill, experience and lustrous style, Schlichting considers herself to be at the beginning of her journey with the art form. Attending workshops and watching tutorials online for photography and editing, she continually aims to expand her ability to bring her visions into reality. Currently, Schlichting is experimenting with natural light. Having spent years shooting in studios, she is now focused on extending her horizon to outdoor photography. Reflecting on the experience of portraiture and photography, Schlichting concludes: “Creating a picture is an intense process of bringing the inner vision to an outer form. Sometimes it is an easy process, but sometimes it is difficult and almost painful. Sometimes you fear that you will never arrive at your desired destination, and sometimes you are very glad that you ended up in a totally different place than you expected. You never know beforehand, and that’s the mystery of it all.”

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“Everyone, in a way, is a miracle.”


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“I used to be a passionate gardener for many years and all the flowers and blossoms inspired me. Since I began photography, I find that I look more closely at my environment and see more details and colours than before.�


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NEON CITY SOCKS In an era where there were pastel street lights and Lamborghinis, these socks would have paired perfectly alongside overpriced mojito pitchers with sugar cane stirrers and white beds with curtains on the sand.


My Freedom: The Model’s Name is Syed Hashim Javed “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone” Blaise Pascal

Frantisek Strouhal - frantisekstrouhal.com


Frantisek Strouhal

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Frantisek Strouhal - frantisekstrouhal.com

Born in Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic), I used to model for my grandfather and uncle who were both painters. During the summer, I tagged along with them, touring the castles and looking at the artworks and crafts. I saw an abundance of wonderful art, and I was utterly mesmerized by it.” “In 1968, the revolution turned my life upside down. My ambitions to become a poet, writer and photographer were dampened by the whole new social structure brought about by the communist repression.” “After years of discontentment, my need to escape my social environment became so strong that it drove me to leave Czechoslovakia and I immigrated to Canada. Later on, I realized that listening to my intuition was the right choice for me. The idea of it, at first, was frightening as I didn’t speak one word of English and was armed only with a small English/ Czech dictionary—but the experience was actually very rewarding. I was able, after a very long time, to feel that I had finally regained my power and joy back.”

“While living in Northern Ontario, I had become a writer and, while visual aspects were included in what I did, I had thought that it would only ever be a supportive prop. But, one day, as I stepped out of the small cafe where I was enjoying an espresso, I had a sudden realization that my life would shift. I knew that truly, I wanted to be a visual artist through the medium of photography and to express and share my understanding of myself and the world with all.” “In 2002, I moved to British Columbia where I always dreamed of living. It was there that I intensively began to look for an alternative photographic process that would fulfill my growing artistic desires. After experimenting and mastering Bromoil, I was introduced to the carbon process. This is when I switched to a different photographic process altogether, a more painterly medium using watercolour papers and lithography inks. It was the beginning of a new artistic expression that is forever evolving and parallels my spiritual evolution. I had finally found an affinity with a method outside the prevailing conventions in combining 19th-century styles with 21st-century art and craft.”

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Frantisek Strouhal - frantisekstrouhal.com

“To create my images, I use photography, digital collage, contact printing and lithography inks on watercolour paper. The watercolour paper is soaked in a gelatin bath then dried. In the meantime, a digital negative is made, contact printed under UV lights on the sensitized watercolour paper which then become the matrix for applying lithography inks, building up layers upon layers to create the desired image.” “My artistic ideas just come from the inside—a moment in, a moment out; feelings in, feelings out. My internal monologue shapes itself as a vision, an image which I sketch on a sheet of paper. To materialize this vision, I capture the figure of live models with my 4x5 camera. These portraits are integrated with previously collected images of landscapes, architectural details and still life in a collage effect, situating the personage in an imaginary environment. I love to work with the human form. The human form is essential to my artwork. It is the most universal symbol of beauty that stirs and satisfies my mind and heart.”

“It is in the studio that I become most creative. My studio, being the brightest room in our house with its skylights, is facing the mountain range, surrounded by fruit trees and, in the summer, the delicate smell of the wild violets scattered in the grass and the luxurious scent of the lilacs fills the air. Listening to inspirational talks, an eclectic choice of music or silence, I prepare myself to ink the matrix. It is then that I feel in perfect harmony with myself, totally in the moment. There is no time. My creativity just flowers. I enjoy the process of bringing the light out of the darkness in the artwork by erasing, clapping, and rubbing some of the inked layers off. The piece, all of a sudden, has a life of its own and is guiding my next move. I am totally driven by it.” “I am now also in the midst of writing a book, with the aim to capture the magic of life’s ephemeral, yet eternal essence with engaging visuals that slowly pull you into a provocative and enigmatic world. Short writings accompanying each image are to assist you like a guide on a journey of expansion and

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Frantisek Strouhal - frantisekstrouhal.com

awareness. You cannot embrace art without embracing the unknown because where art and awareness meet, the possibilities are endless. Art has two important responsibilities; to remind us of life’s beauty, and helping us expand our perspectives allowing us to make room for the unknown.” “It has never been a better time than now to share love and compassion with all. What life has taught us needs to be put back into the service of others.” “My series, Art Embracing Awareness, embodies the purpose of my work. An essential aspect of my art explores thoughts and inspirations of an existential nature and investigates the interaction and harmony between the spiritual and the physical world. My work exists to connect with others in contemplation, and peace. It is not static but invites interaction.” “Art Embracing Awareness also reflects my love and struggle with solitude, as well as my ability to evoke emotions through the medium of portraiture. With the help of posture, personality, and composition of light, each image is designed to lay specific emphasis on the core thoughts, and moods that inspire and unravels our subconscious nature. Solitude, beyond being a physical circumstance is an internal disposition, and only in that state of mind can we truly contemplate. What

we meditate upon is subject to our personality and experience. With such deliberation, we may find our own genius, confront our demons, or simply revel in sweet nostalgia.” “When I was working on ‘Silence Within’ I came to understand that silence is not something that thought has created. It happens inevitably, naturally as we open, as we observe and investigate in ourselves. Silence is not the absence of noise, silence occurs only when the content of consciousness has been fully grasped.” “I believe that by creating these works of art, I contribute to the work of the universal awakening of humanity, and helping people to experience joy and peace within themselves and also to remove and transform the cause of prejudices and fear. A work of art can help people grasp the nature of their sorrow and give them the ability to understand how to transform the negative and develop the positive aspects of themselves.” “Imagine what it would be like if you could feel more and more peace and harmony in yourself and everyday life? The beginning of freedom is in letting go of all you think you are, leaping into a world without any familiar landscape, and emerging as the person you always were with the awareness of your everyday existence.”

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Frantisek Strouhal - frantisekstrouhal.com

What is the Bromoil Process? Bromoil is a process for making an offset reproduction by first making a photographic print on paper with a silver bromide emulsion, wetting it, and then using it as a lithographic plate—the lighter parts of the emulsion tends to repel the oil base of the ink and the darker parts tending to hold it. What is the Carbon Process? The carbon process is a photographic process for producing positive prints by exposing sensitized carbon tissue to light passing through a negative. Washing removes the unexposed gelatine leaving the pigmented image in the exposed insoluble gelatine. The Gear Every portrait from Stouhal’s portfolio was created in his studio in British Columbia, Canada, with a large format 4x5 Linhoff camera. He uses Ilford Delta 4x5 B&W films which he develops in his darkroom with a special developer called Pyro.

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Theresa Sujata Senti - @sujarta.photography

Theresa Sujata Senti @sujarta.photography

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Theresa Sujata Senti - @sujarta.photography

“I do all kinds of people photography: fashion, fantasy and creative work. Currently, I am planning a series of mermaids and another with mirrors, but no matter what the ‘topic’ of the shoot may be, the very first pictures I take are always portraits.”

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“The reason is simple: there is nothing more interesting or more beautiful than the face of a person.�

Theresa Sujata Senti - @sujarta.photography

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“That is what my Faces series is all about: catching a little glimpse of the person, and what lies beyond the surface.�

Theresa Sujata Senti - @sujarta.photography

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“The face of a person tells you a lot about their story. The depth of their eyes and the way they look at you. The curve of their smile, the cut of their scars. The lines in their face or the absence thereof.�

Theresa Sujata Senti - @sujarta.photography

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“Each feature mapping their many roads of life, all the places they have or have not been. It is the story of the soul, written on the skin.�

Theresa Sujata Senti - @sujarta.photography

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IN VULNERABILITY Ewa Cwikla - ewafotos.com





ulnerability is our greatest measure of strength. It is the courage to reveal yourself to others, to have them see you as you truly are, regardless of the consequence. For contemporary portrait photographer, Ewa Cwikla, that is her primary goal and vision—to uncover the intensity of her subject’s vulnerability and portray it for all to see. For Cwikla, the act of photography is as much of a prerequisite to life as breathing and, as with any breath, her images contain the depth of her. Her art is void of smoke and mirrors, encompassing only the most authentic elements of human nature. With over 20 years entrenched in the revealing world of photography, Cwikla is widely known and revered for her emotionally charged fine art photography. A storyteller at heart, every click of her camera has been an odyssey into the souls of her subjects, accumulating a thrilling portfolio led by a creative intuition that is envied by many.

Ewa Cwikla - ewafotos.com

With her apparent technical prowess, it is shocking to discover how little of her time is driven by technical aspects. Her shoots are not offered much in the way of pre-planning outside of communication with her models—from the location to the wardrobe, to the overall vision, everything is left to the impromptu leadership of her inspiration. For Cwikla, her creativity and emotion are at their pinnacle when left to their own devices at the moment. “For each photo shoot, I repeat to myself: ‘Trust yourself, stay close to your concept; trust your sense and creativity,’” says Cwikla, “Any doubts about myself I throw away. For me, that is my best preparation!” However, little did she know, that a revolution was on its way that would challenge how she perceived everything about her process and altered her art forever: “I was a film shooter for many years and was a long opponent against all things digital. I have to confess I was initially dead set against the digital revolution. I felt that

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digital photography was not real and somewhat fake. I loved the feel touch and manual input of film and could not understand why digitalization had stopped this. The moment my work appeared on the paper in the darkroom was always an extraordinary and unusual experience for me. “The turning point for me was the introduction of a digital camera combined with Photoshop, which allowed me to pursue creative goals that I had wanted to do for a long time and it allowed my creative soul to pursue a new form of expression and experience.” For nostalgic reasons, a part of her heart will always remain with analogue photography, but in the spirit of complete honesty, Cwikla admits that the rise of digital photography has allowed her creativity to soar to places that analogue could never take her. “The workload is lighter than it used to be and I have a lot more control with lighting,” concedes Cwikla, “In the studio or on location I have more control with light now than I ever had with film. I consider myself a ‘light hunter’ whose job has been made easier through the advent of the digital photographic revolution.”

Ewa Cwikla - ewafotos.com

While capturing the light is the heart of any photograph, inspired by the Dutch masters of classical art history, Cwikla’s passion for the great renaissance painters is reflected through lighting techniques. Her use of light to define and delineate her subjects, while for painters is a demonstration of their skill in the management of shadows to create a three-dimensional effect in a painting, displays her talent for bringing a three-dimensional life to her subjects: “The emotions within my photographs are very personal. I always look at the model through my own prism of classical lighting and renaissance portraiture. The history of art plays a paramount role in my photographs, and I gain creative inspiration from master painters such as Veneer, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Hais.” The choice of colour palettes in Cwikla’s images are also reminiscent of the painters of old and displays a kind of inner darkness, another side to her soul. While she is known to be a generally happy person, her real inspiration comes from the atmosphere of majestic woe present in the works of the Renaissance painters, which she tries to recreate in her photographs. Her images take the viewer back in time, almost

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a pilgrimage through history, where joy and sadness are present at every turn. And, just as the renaissance focused on Humanism, Cwikla too attached importance of the individual: “I like to shoot all kinds of people, but have been continually drawn to photographing women and children. For the children, I want my pictures to represent innocence and purity, and—as a woman myself—I like to capture the full breadth of the female experience through portraiture. And that is why I have very few nude pictures. “Each model is an individual challenge to seek out their personality. I know what I want to achieve in a portrait and sometimes that can be enhanced a little, but what I see through my camera viewfinder is the most important.” Since Cwikla first began her photographic journey, her main focus has been self-education. It is her unbridled experimentation and natural, intuitive creativity that has allowed her to learn and become more advanced in photographic techniques with each passing year. Cwikla encircles herself with her immense passion for learning, and this has allowed her not only to grow as an artist but also attributes to the steady

Ewa Cwikla - ewafotos.com

progression of her career. Already in a position to create what she wants when she wants, Cwikla’s upcoming projects are sure to delight: “I have a few new projects in the pipeline. One is my project, Zodiac, for my forthcoming exhibition. Each image will be part of a monthly horoscope, all styled like old paintings with new interpretations of classical lighting and eras. “The latest is in the Baroque style, where the subjects were painted with lily white skin and soft dark backgrounds to create a spotlight effect, an almost holy type of lighting. Another new project is called Papier-mache, where I am designing my own clothes out of paper and having them used, to some effect, with my recent model shoots.” Trusting in herself, Cwikla is always one to think big, hoping that one day her images will appear in prestigious galleries for the world to see. “For me, it is of paramount importance that people don’t stop looking at my photographs and are emotionally touched by my images,” says Cwikla, “That, to me, is the most important factor.”

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“For me, it is of paramount importance that people don’t stop looking at my photographs, and are emotionally touched by my images.” I shoot with a Nikon D800 and Nikon D850 with an 85mm 1.4. After I won the portraiture prize at The Sony World Photography Awards 2017, they kindly gifted me a Sony Alpha A7 II with a Carl Zeiss 135mm f2. I also use a lot of studio equipment such as reflectors, softboxes, beauty dish, strip lights and a whole array of different backgrounds and lights.

Ewa Cwikla - ewafotos.com

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At Sea Max Chung Max Chung - @_crwns_


“I want my music to make you emotional, but also make you want to turn up and break things at the same time. It’s this duality between organization and chaos that really fascinates me and I think that the best dance music seeks to find a balance between these two diverging ideas.”

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In many ways, the electronic music industry can imitate the precarious nature of a turbulent sea. The rolling evolution of production techniques, the flood of new subgenres and the continuous waves of major streaming platforms present a tempestuous environment for even the most seasoned sailors to navigate. However, New Orleans-based electronic music producer, Max Chung, leverages his position as Editor-In-Chief for the digital music publication, Run The Trap, to anticipate future trends, allowing him to meticulously polish his musical persona, CRWNS, to prevail amidst such stormy seas. A natural born performer, Chung defies the typical progression that most musicians adopt. “I didn’t start producing until after I started performing live. I see

Max Chung - @_crwns_

myself as a DJ/Performer first and a producer second,” he discloses. Chung grew up in the suburbs of Chicago until moving to New Orleans, Louisiana, to study philosophy at Tulane University. “Being at Tulane monumentally shaped my future career as an artist, but not in the educational sense,” Chung admits. The rich cultural history and extensive musical pedigree of the ‘Big Easy’ furnished the ideal foundation for Chung to build his career, while Tulane provided a rigid network of support that could sustain it. Hosting a ceaseless itinerary of fraternity parties, the social scene of Tulane offered the ideal training grounds for Chung to refine his craft and gain confidence in his live performances. Intricately crafted sound design and

energetic live performances have allowed Chung to captivate the electronic music industry at an astounding pace, meriting performance at iconic venues such as Los Angeles’s SPACE YACHT, or renowned New Orleans music & arts festival, Buku, in just under four years on the scene. The extent of Tulane’s support system manifested when Chung’s mix was entered into the Winter Circle Productions’ annual Bassik 2 BUKU event and was voted first place amongst submissions, affording Chung the opportunity to play his debut set at coveted the Warehouse District venue: Republic New Orleans. Eager to extend the reach of CRWNS, Chung began working as a staff writer for Run the Trap, further integrating himself into all facets of the music scene, and eventually work-

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ing his way to up to become their Editor-In-Chief. “Working with Run the Trap is incredible because it makes me keep upto-date on all the new music that’s dropping and all the trends that are constantly arising. Now, in sort of an abstract way, I like to think I always have a pretty good sense of where the music scene is heading,” Chung reflects. His position with Run the Trap provided a reliable platform to grow the roots of CRWNS, and a robust audience to which Chung could promote his music. Through conducting artist interviews and publishing daily articles through Run the Trap, Chung became a familiar face and voice within the scene, networking with notable musicians and producers, which groomed him for future col-

Max Chung - @_crwns_

laborative opportunities. In the spring of 2016, Chung was offered the opportunity to remix the iconic trap anthem, “Street”, by American DJ and trap producer NGHTMRE, for his premiere release via Run the Trap, which has since accumulated nearly 750,000 plays on SoundCloud. Other noteworthy remixes include Whethan’s pop sensation “Savage”, which surpassed 200,000 plays and Ekali’s “Blame”, which has over 100,000 plays and was performed live by Ekali at Coachella 2018. Chung’s unique approach to remixing has garnered support from notable names within the industry, playing an instrumental role in his rapid rise to success. His style of music questions the distinction between trap and future bass; meticulously woven melodies accentuated

by luscious synths set a euphoric mood, while bass-heavy drops provide the ideal contrast to energize the crowd. “I want my music to make you emotional, but also make you want to turn up and break things at the same time. It’s this duality between organization and chaos that fascinates me, and I think that the best dance music seeks to find a balance between these two diverging ideas,” Chung reveals. A fortuitous position for Run the Trap provided the necessary inspiration and self-confidence for Chung to set sail with his maiden-musical voyage CRWNS, while his ceaseless determination and tenacious work ethic have ensured that his vessel will triumphantly ride the unpredictable tides of the music industry.

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WHAT IS TRAP MUSIC? Trap Music is a genre that is starting to gain quite a bit of momentum through the ever-growing sub-genres of dance music culture. Although this new found hype towards trap music, or EDM Trap Music as some may call it, has recently emerged, there is a history behind the origin of the Trap genre that is all but new. Trap music first emerged coming primarily from the south, a genre filled with a hard attitude that you can feel in the sound of the brass, triangle, triplet hi-hats, loud kicks, snappy snares and low end 808 bass samples that are used when composing tracks. The percussion samples of choice when making trap

“Being at Tulane monumentally shaped my future career as an artist, but not in the educational sense.”

Max Chung - @_crwns_

music usually originate from the Roland TR-808 Drum Machine. When speaking of the “originators” in the trap music game, southern rappers like Waka Flocka Flame, Gucci Mane, Young Jeezy, Three 6 Mafia, and Manny Fresh come to mind. As well as some of the iconic trap music producers like Lex Luger, Zaytoven, and up and comer Young Chop. However, the new “trap music movement” or “EDM Trap” genre that is evolving has seen the use of techno, dub, and Dutch house like sounds incorporated with the inclusion of the original Roland TR-808 drum samples and vocal samples used by the originators. A number of stylistic offshoots of trap developed, which in the

latter half of 2012 gained a rise in viral popularity and made a noticeable impact on dance music. To simply break it down, Trap music would be best described as a combination of: 1/3 hip hop (tempo and song structure are similar, most tracks are usually between 70 -110 bpm) – with vocals sometimes pitched down 1/3 Dance Music – High pitched Dutch synth work, Hardstyle sampling, as well as a plethora of trap remixes of popular EDM songs 1/3 dub (Low-frequency focus and a strong emphasis on repetitiveness throughout a song) By: Run The Trap (https://runthetrap.com/what-is-trap-music/)

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HOT LIPS hotlipstoronto.com





ith their rhythmic synth bass, grunge overtones and vocals that wail like velvet, Hot Lips will hit you like a slick train decked in neon lights, raging over railroads seasoned by whiskey and rust. With a sound that can only be described as the long-lost prodigy of The Kills and Garbage with a dash of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Hot Lips stands out from their progressive grunge peers for their signature sound—that doesn’t include a guitar. With a sound that’s sure to pound your ribs into a head shaking, arms thrashing trance, the heavy synth bass ruled by Alex Black, the incessant energy of drummer Keith Heppler, and vocals strewn with a sultry edge by Karli Forget keep the heat of Hot Lips smouldering. Having shared the stage with enviable bands like the Los Angeles based 3TEETH and Ontario-based Crown Lands and established Toronto venues like Velvet Underground and Horseshoe Tavern, the Toronto dwelling Hot Lips have made their mark in Canada’s largest city, and beyond. “Our sound comes from the basic elements of rock and electronic music, but it’s unique in that we don’t have a guitar player, and we use a lot of bottom end, and deep sounds,” vocalist Karli Forget explains in an exclusive INSPADES interview. “The three of us play with a lot of passion and energy which translates into our heavy and dark writing structure. There’s a lot of depth, warmth and crunch to our music.” While listening to the beat of Hot Lips, charged like electrified grunge, a sense of drubbing movement and pulsing lyrics make their sound a nearly tangible, auditory experience. “It is a reflection of our blood, sweat and tears over years of working through our careers to get to this point,” Forget reflects of their music, “It feels great to be in a group that cohesively creates these powerful songs and receives positive feedback and excitement from the audience.” Conceptualizing their work is a truly collaborative process for Hot Lips. Working with the foundation of a melody or experimenting with a verse written by Forget, the trio works together to “build the pattern and structure alongside the melodic flow.” The result? A voluptuous rock that endures the fickle taste for ‘catchy’ songs, leaving a relentless residue that stains the mind with a lasting sense of completion and combining elements in a way that “feels right” to both band and audience. “The song takes on a life of its own, and it’s easy to decipher what it needs to breathe, and what it needs to reach its full potential,” the band collectively agrees. In their single, “I Wonder”, a sense of anticipation and hunger builds within the verse, moaning down a resonating baseline with the ultimate release of a floating chorus, giving each listener rise to their unique experience of the song. “The words need to have purpose and meaning,” Forget elaborates, “I find that I am most inspired to write when I am emotionally triggered by strong emotions such as anger, frustration or sadness. A lot of our songs carry darker undertones, so it helps to be able to reach into that mindset and release the emotion in a way that is methodical and poetic.” Despite their edgy style of music, Hot Lips maintains a polished finish, a glossless veneer to coat the “crunch” in their


“Our music is a reflection of our blood, sweat and tears over the years of working through our careers to get to this point.”

MUSICAL GENESIS: Hot Lips members share the moment or influence that sparked their dedication to music. KARLI: My dad always had a guitar in his hand and was singing around the house and with his band—being exposed to music on a constant basis very much shaped my path.

KEITH: When I was nine years old, an older cousin showed me “Scentless Apprentice” by Nirvana, the drums are composed like a guitar hook, and that was it, I was hooked. ALEX: Nine Inch Nails. Everything from the music to the live show is raw yet flawless. Watching

the “And All That Could Have Been” DVD on repeat and seeing them live twice has changed my perspective on music and performance. SOUNDS LIKE… Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Garbage.

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sound, and follows relative structure to stay fresh for each show. “We rehearse A LOT,” Forget emphasizes, “Show prep is an evolution of its own as the songs and performance changes. Personally, I make sure to do vocal warm-ups, drink plenty of water, sleep well and stay away from caffeine, alcohol and acids for a couple of days before a show.” For bassist and synth maestro Alex Black, listening to their set on repeat before a gig, while practising outside of band rehearsals, keeps him sharp, along with “general callisthenics for my neck and body so that I can thrash around.” Keeping it simple but essential, drummer Keith Heppler adds, “Practice, practice, practice.” Steeped in heavy synths, blistering bass, slamming drums and vocals to put a siren in her place, the Hot Lips undoubtedly steam up each venue they hit. Born by a night of Goldschlager and Tabasco, the name fans the flames of the talented trio. With the incendiary effect of their American Hardcore EP and their 2018 single, “I Wonder”, Hot Lips has the energy to fuel the restless rocker within, and a sound to carry you through the heaviest heat of summer. If you’re looking for an anthem album to amp up your summer, look no further than American Hardcore.

Local music enthusiasts may recognize Hot Lips members from running with previous bands such as: Crooked Valentine, PURRR, Grizzlie - Karli, drums. Secret Broadcast, Die Mannequin, Red Light Riot, Saigon Hookers - Keith, drums. Old Major (previously played bass), Fat Mob (currently plays violin, synth and mandolin) - Alex.

www.hotlipstoronto.com www.facebook.com/hotlipsmusic www.instagram.com/hot_lips_music https://open.spotify.com/artist/0fGeips7gFwETLyDoAImT6? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shwaE0XkqUU inspadesmag.com • 097

Edmond Looi - @edmondlooi


A MONTAGE OF CREATIVITY EDMOND LOOI My unique touch comes from accentuating the finer details in work that others have already created. I like to take a bold approach by using the base work as a foundation upon which I can work in my style and influence.

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alaysian-based sneaker designer and shoe connoisseur, Edmond Looi, was first enticed by art through adoration for his father’s work as a building contractor. While it was the extravagance of massive architectural wonders and the open innovation that initially captured Looi, it took the discovery of his passion for customizing luxury goods and sneakers to entangle him in the arts for life. Since childhood, Looi loved to draw and doodle obscure iterations of everyday items, finding joy in unusual or non-traditional interpretations of ordinary things. Born in the small town of Ipoh, the capital city of the Malaysian state of Perak, he grew up idolizing his father’s work. It was this predisposition that led Looi to enroll for a degree in architecture at University Tunku Abdul Rahman in 2012. After graduating from university in 2015, Looi accepted work as an architecture assistant for a local firm in Malaysia with the full intention of advancing within the role and following in his father’s footsteps. However, he couldn’t help but feel that something was missing. At the same time, Looi’s close friend was developing a project that beckoned a new generation of consumers, redefining the frameworks of luxury and urban jewellery. Looi envied the freedom and challenges his friend was experiencing and was captivated by the notion of achieving similar repose from his own work. Sneakers and luxury goods had always fascinated Looi, but abandoning the path that he had adhered to since adolescence baffled him. However, the resolve was imperative, and Looi resigned from his position in September 2016 and invested all of his time and financial savings into his luxury jewellery label: Andfersand. His courage and determination proved worthwhile, as the first piece Looi created symbolized a turning point of growth for both Andfersand and Looi himself. Revisiting the joy and confidence contrived from succeeding in his first venture with Andfersand, he recalls: “My first project with Andfersand was a collaborative piece created alongside the sneaker community ‘KL SOLE’ for an event they held in Kuala Lumpur. It was a dual functionality accessory that could be worn both as a bracelet or a lace plate to secure your shoelaces.

Edmond Looi - @edmondlooi

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“Only 100 pieces in total were created, and 90% of our stock sold within the first 24 hours of launch. The moment that I saw my work being desired by the community is indescribable… it provoked me to work ten times harder, and continues to motivate me to this day.” Distinguishing a landmark moment in his career, the KL SOLE project dissipated the obscurity and uncertainty that shrouded Looi’s ambitions, encapsulating him with a newfound sense of adventure and an inner-desire to redefine the meaning of custom footwear design. “My unique touch comes from accentuating the finer details in work that others have already created. I like to take a bold approach by using the base work as a foundation, upon which I can work in my personal style and influence,” Looi explains. The result? Extravagant, unconventional, bespoke custom sneakers and streetwear that intuitively blend the unprecedented quality and attention to detail of luxury goods with the exclusivity and eccentricity of the sneaker community. Completing thirteen incredible new projects since January 2017, and earning recognition from personal idols such as Virgil Abloh, the creative director of luxury brand Off-White, Looi has wasted no time in also establishing himself as a footwear designer. Looi’s custom sneakers and streetwear are all made by request; orders are taken via email or through direct messages on Instagram. He fields requests from customers that have brand new, unworn shoes and garments that they would like customized and either they approach him with a design that they have in mind, or they will devise one together. Sometimes clients will even give Looi the complete freedom to create whatever he wishes. Looi perceives the concept of customization differently than most: “Design is subjective, especially when it comes down to customizing a piece of clothing or pair of shoes that already exist within the market. It becomes a matter of seeking inspiration from the original, and accurately and seamlessly incorporating those elements with my unique tastes to achieve something completely new.”

Edmond Looi - @edmondlooi

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One project empowered Looi to propagate his innovative approach to customization, further challenging him to explore his interpretations of the word ‘montage’. Looi began his creative process for this piece by designing a multi-layered graphic to illustrate the individual components and design principles he hoped to incorporate within the montage. Fascinated with the dexterity of primary colours, Looi conceptualized a design that would combine the characteristic Off-White arrow and signature diagonalstripe pattern with red, yellow and blue. For materials, Montage leveraged the unusual length of the Off-White industrial belt and the vacant canvas of the Off-White zipper hoodie, resulting in a tessellated, detachable velcro-patch accessory for the sweatshirt and a mosaic industrial belt collage. Montage debuted in November 2017 at the Nike x Off-White Release Event in Singapore, where it garnered the attention and support of many influential affiliates in the fashion world and sneaker community. Despite these remarkable accomplishments, Looi adheres to his humble nature, reiterating: “I feel so blessed and grateful to be apart of this modern era, which allows for determined, like-minded individuals from all corners of the globe to congregate through shared interests and collaborate with one another professionally, it’s truly astounding.” Despite his rise in success, Looi’s path was not always this unequivocal, and his sense of individuality is something that has developed with consistent effort and determination throughout his career as an artist. Through self-analysis and unabiding personal determination, Looi was able to identify a novel approach to footwear design, distinguishing his work from competitors. Preserving his childlike fascination for devising unique interpretations of commonplace elements, he continues to thrill the masses with his avant-garde creations.

Edmond Looi - @edmondlooi

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TALIAN photographer, graphic and image designer, videomaker and musician, Luca Storelli, has developed an impressive and diverse portfolio over years, packed with a dramatic, cinematic flair. Having worked within the entertainment industry from an early age, although photography was not a pursuit until later in his life, Storelli has wasted no time using his lifetime of experience to create his own world of visual storytelling. Storelli is also not quiet about to whom he contributes his success and humbly offers gratitude to the great teachers and mentors that, he believes, shaped his talent and originality within the world of photography. INSPADES caught up with Storelli to hear about his passion for cinematic photography, his creative process and those who have helped shape him into the fine art photographer that he is today.



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“I think of myself as a combination of different passions and interests. In the 1980s, I began working as a dubber in many films, cartoons, and television series that were broadcasted in Italy. It was very enjoyable working in a studio in front of the silver screen, dubbing cartoons with other young people like myself. For me, it was not a job, it was complete fun. “Aside from dubbing, I also worked as an actor in two movies and one of them, in which I was the co-protagonist, was shown at the International Film Festival in Venice. I also worked on radio programs as a narrator and, following that, I worked in theatre for three years. For my first production, I even wrote the soundtrack, which I then performed live.” “I completed my education at the Roberto Rossellini State Institute for Cinematography, where I began to understand the beautiful world of cinema and photography. While I was in school, I also studied graphic design, but I was a musician also. “As I studied music, I began working as a keyboard player before opening a house record company. I worked there as a producer and composer with DJs, licensing many dance records throughout the world. “Later, and until four years ago, I was part of a famous and historical Italian pop music group called ‘I Cugini di Campagna’, in which I played the keyboard. We were very popular in Italy, but we played abroad too. For example, we performed at Chin Picnic for Chin Radio in Toronto different times, plus many other places in Canada and the U.S.”

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“I love movies. I think photography in cinema is a fantastic example of beauty. Every single frame in a movie is, for me, the inspiration for study and growth. Each shot must communicate and transmit emotions, so it must be original.” “Often, when I am watching a movie or a television series on Netflix, I will push the pause button many, many times; I want to see the single frame because every single frame is full of beautiful and gritty details. “For example, try watching The Alchemist, Penny Dreadful, or Gotham television series, and you will better understand what I mean because those shows, in particular, offer a host of opportunities for cinematic photography. “I conceive a picture as if it were a photo frame from a movie and my photography was inspired by all the colours, tones, lights and composition of the image within each film frame.” “I learned to be an original photographer by my fantastic masters, Joel Grimes, Lindsay Adler, Scott Kelby, Ivan Gorokow, Pratik Naik, Amanda Diaz, Bella Kotak, Svetlana Belyaeva, Damian Piòrko—each of them completely different and original.” “One person in particular, right now, is fascinating and inspiring to me on an entirely new level—dramatic portrait photographer, Chris Knights. I have had the opportunity to study with him, and my workflow and techniques have greatly improved. I appreciate and adore his incredible talent and am so grateful to have had an opportunity to learn from him.” lucastorelli.com

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“I often take the same approach in all my work but in fine art, obviously, I must pay attention to certain factors. I think of fine art as a world completely different from reality—a dimension where I can make imagine everything. It is something like a fairytale, so my mind can bring to life something special. I want a story to tell, I want the perfect location that is strongly connected with the story, I want beautiful dresses and I want all of the details.” “For the most part, I like to establish a connection with the model while I am shooting. I like to live real emotions, not just create a pose without feeling. I think that connection and communication between the photographer and the model is the foundation of good work. I also like to see the emotions on the faces of my crew members when I tell them about the story and they become entangled in the overall vision.” “My photographic techniques are a mixture of learnings from extraordinary people that I bring with me into my own work. From them, I learned secrets and routines that have now become my methods, and significantly increased my professional skills.” “The photos I submitted here come from different scenarios and genres, but the approach to the post-production process is always the same. I begin by choosing the photo that I want to process. I look at the pose, the details, the model’s expression and what the image tells me. Then, I begin working the image with Adobe Camera Raw. This is essential because I can work with HSL adjustments, luminance, saturation, white balance and many other tools that are important at this processing stage. I learned how to work with Adobe Camera Raw from my studies with Ivan Gorokow, a fantastic Russian photographer from whom I learned many techniques.” “In the next processing stage, I do a local photo correction with the ‘healing brush’, which I use to remove blemishes, wrinkles and so on. I learned the principles of beau-

ty retouching from two artists that are really important to me—Julia Kuzmenko and Pratik Naik. “After that, I start the long but fundamental process of ‘dodge & burn’, which I learned from the artists mentioned above and from Peter Coulson, the last extraordinary photographer I learned from. It is a long process because, with a Wacom Pen and tablet, I begin to draw light where there is darkness while drawing dark in the light areas. “When I work, I create a black and white layer. This helps me perfectly see all of the areas to edit. At this stage, one image requires approximately one hour of processing time. Once done, I start Frequency Separation. It is a process that decomposes the image data into spatial frequencies, so we can edit image details in the different frequencies independently. Julia Kuzmenko was the first photographer whom I learned this technique from, mixed with Pratik Naik and Chris Knight.” “After completing this stage, I can begin to work on the rest of image. First of all, as learned from the great photographer Scott Kelby, I use a technique that gives life to the image; it is called ‘tonal contrast’. It is a Google Effects filter that gives an extraordinary impact on the photo. “Obviously, I create a layer mask for work, and then I decide where to use this effect. This is helpful to add impact to dresses, backgrounds and objects. The results of this filter are extraordinary. “Finally, I begin the most creative part of the post-production: the colour toning. For this part, I have recently started to use an extension that Pratik Naik created, the Infinite Color Panel. This extension randomly analyzes the image and gives thousands of possible variants of colours. You can change parameters like curves, colour balance, gradient map, etc., so you can immediately experiment the different effects on your image. The results are amazing!” inspadesmag.com • 113


“My favourite project is always the next one, the one that does not yet exist because every shoot I do is always better than the previous one. By continuing the study of different masters, I am constantly improving my techniques and, in doing so, I can experiment month after month.” “I am currently working on a fine art project that will be set in an extraordinary 16th-century location called Ninfeo of Bramante. It is a historical outdoor setting with extraordinary cinematographic value, where my next project will be realized with models immersed in beautiful dresses, nature and flowers. I am extremely excited about this project because I find it to be compelling—and I hope it will be compelling for all of you as well!” “My career was marked by my teachers, and my dream would be to be able to work with one of them at least. It is beautiful to learn from the masters and then talk with them about your progress. It is almost like a dream. I must thank them again for all they are doing for me! “My passion for learning always keeps on going, especially in a world where everything moves so fast. I want to continue to improve, compare and continue to learn from so many great people around me. I want to become a better artist—I want to grow day by day.”


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EndlessFaces Agustin Gomez photo essay

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EndlessFaces - Agustin Gomez


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EndlessFaces - Agustin Gomez


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Navid Fotouhi - @photoart.ir


Tangible Imagination When I first started on this road, everyone ridiculed me... and I refused to listen to them.

Navid Fotouhi

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Navid Fotouhi - @photoart.ir

Navid Fotouhi’s mind swirls with surreal images. He will see the Eiffel Tower but envision a shark tank within, he will see the sleek motion of a graceful goldfish but emerging from the delicate curve of a woman’s back, or he will see the beauty of a person’s growth but by the newly budded greenery growing up from their ankles. Sometimes Fotouhi dreams up these flights of fancy, but other times, something will simply catch his eye and ignite his creative flame. But one thing is for certain, he wants you to see what he sees.

A digital artist from Tehran, Iran, Fotouhi never took a class to learn editing or design. Although he spent countless days and nights working to improve his abilities, when he chose the path of an artist, he was met with less than enthusiasm by those around him. “When I first started on this road, everyone ridiculed me. They wanted to know what my purpose was, why I would want to do something with no foreseeable monetary gain. But I loved this work and refused to listen to them.” inspadesmag.com • 125

Navid Fotouhi - @photoart.ir

It was a fortunate call for him to make. Fotouhi’s wildly inventive images have since garnered him the appreciation of 14.4k followers on Instagram, and now, his biggest critics have become his biggest fans, asking him to teach them what he knows in the hopes that one day they too, can be like him. His feed is marbled with familiar faces, as Fotouhi’s images will at times contain notable people, such as his stunning image dubbed Flower Elf, in which a portrait of Margot Robbie has been cut with defining white lines, overlaid on soft flowing florals, accentuating her elf-like beauty. Or Olivia Wilde in Wild Free, the icy, breathless blue of her skin illuminating in contrast to the warm burnt orange of the gentle Koi that float above her. Fotouhi's ideas flow to him simply by looking at the same things around him that others see, but interpreting them differently. Throughout his collections, you’ll see a common thread of uncommon imaginings, novel connections and combinations, woven metaphors and the perfect touch of whimsy.

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Navid Fotouhi - @photoart.ir

While sometimes there are particular messages that may accompany his work, Fotouhi’s main objective is to entice people to alter their perception in order to see ordinary things in a unique way, a way in which you require imagination to understand. For Fotouhi, his creations are both rest and play—it relieves him of not only the daily stressors of life but also the daily doldrums. “It's like rest to my mind,” admits Fotouhi, “But it also brings me to life when I become bored with other tasks. It is a reprieve in either regard because once I have begun the process of creating, I am carried away.” Fotouhi not only becomes carried away, but he also takes his viewers with him. Participating in an endless art, where not even the sky's the limit, Fotouhi’s only boundaries are the outermost reaches of his ability to dream. Evoking viewers with his art is an expressive and emotional experience for Fotouhi, one that sparks much joy, curiosity and experimentation. Fotouhi says of his art, “To be able to create a tangible manifestation of my very imagination in a way that can be perceived intelligibly within the minds of others is astonishing—I am in love with it.”

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Navid Fotouhi - @photoart.ir

Participating in an endless art, where not even the sky's the limit, Fotouhi’s only boundaries are the outermost reaches of his ability to dream.

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Navid Fotouhi - @photoart.ir

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Picked You Thi S O L A J A


“By combining both graphic art and spoken word, you can appreciate them both as individual pieces and as a combined element also, because the spoken word helps to give meaning to the art and vice versa.�

Solaja Oluwakemi - @kemi_ii


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four in the morning, but Solaja Oluwakemi is awake, focused intensely on her computer—she will know no rest tonight. The limited data of 10GB assigned to each student at her school will be used mostly on tutorials, presets and Photoshop magazines—she will be laughed at when she asks for more data or falls asleep in class, but that will not deter her from pursuing her passion. The 19-year-old recently graduated from Covenant University in Ota, Nigeria, with a B.Sc Degree in Architecture, but began designing her digital art two years ago, shortly after joining Instagram. The digital masterpieces she saw there inspired her to want to create also and, once she had learned about Photoshop, she found herself staying up all night watching tutorial videos and practicing. “I am passionate about art and design—I have to be creating something, through any style or medium. Currently, I am in love with 3D, Animation and VFX. I plan to go back to school to get a degree in those. Until then, I will continue to create art as I know how to.” Newly into her journey of artistic editing, Oluwakemi is still trying to mould her concepts, transforming her situations or feelings to art: “Art usually evokes strong reactions from people, whether they are people who understand art or are regular everyday people. In this series, I tried to see what reactions I could get from these particular artworks, so I asked some friends of mine to document their response in written form–thus combining two types of art to heighten the experience for the viewer. “This process has been enlightening because digital art is a medium of expression that doesn’t get as much attention and praise for being as deep and intense as poetry. By combining both graphic art and spoken word, you can appreciate them both as individual pieces and as a combined element also, because the spoken word helps to give meaning to the art and vice versa.” Sharing the entire creative process with INSPADES for three of her artworks: B O U Q U E T, THE BEAUTIFUL&DAMNED and D R O W N I N G, Oluwakemi presents the entirety of these projects to you, showing you her personal meaning behind the artworks, her process of creation and the images themselves coupled with the collaborative poetry, to create a unique and all-encompassing artistic experience.

Solaja Oluwakemi - @kemi_ii

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Solaja Oluwakemi - @kemi_ii


The commentary behind this speaks of heartbreak—the fact that roses symbolize happiness and sadness both in life and in death respectively. Roses themselves also serve as a symbol of love because, although beautiful, the thorns represent either the heartbreak we could face when we love someone or the pain of rejection when that love is not reciprocal.


1. Duplicate the background image. 2. Name the layer 'Roses'. Cut out a part of the face using the Pen or Lasso tool, and apply a layer mask. 3. Apply Bevel and Emboss to the layer 'Roses'. 4. Bring in an image of rose bouquet and clip the 'Roses' Layer. 5. Make sure to bring out some of the rose petals (this will make the image look like the rose is embedded inside of the face). 6. Make sure to use adjustment layers such as Levels and Hue & Saturation to blend the image of the Rose Bouquet to the 'Roses' Layer well. 7. Begin to add shadows to where the roses fall on the face. Do this by creating a layer below the 'Roses' layer (above the background layer) and paint with a soft brush using the colour black. Then use the Gaussian Blur on the layer and reduce the opacity. 8. Also add shadow to the insides of the hollow made in the face. 9. Use the Hue & Saturation Adjustment to reduce the saturation of the entire image. 10. Press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E to merge the image to an entire new layer without affecting the others, convert to a smart object, then Filters > Noise > Add Noise. This is to add texture to the image. Make sure to add very little, although it’s optional. 11. Now you can play with Levels, Gradient Maps, Selective Color, and Colour Balance to give your complete image the feel you are looking for.


Roses in life, Roses in death Would you give a bouquet to a florist I lie in a bed of flowers, my feelings are in a casket, but there are even roses for corpses I long for a love so deep it’d intimidate the oceans Allow me to drown in my emotions Emasculate me Let’s hold hands under the illumination produced by the street lamps then sing our favourite tunes as we swing hands Perhaps you don’t like petals; I assumed wrong I remember being told that life wasn’t a bed of roses while I was young It’s a hoax; I roll from side to side in agony from the prickling of these thorns — Photographer: Andreas Fidler (Picture gotten from Unsplash.com) (https://www.instagram.com/velvationvisuals/) Poet/Writer: Emmanuel Etim (@_thestereotype)

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Solaja Oluwakemi - @kemi_ii


For this piece, the first thing that comes to my head is “power” when you think of the creation of the universe, gods or beauty that is controlling—power is a crucial figure in these themes. Also, the universe is beautiful and chaotic at the same time, which gives reverence to the corresponding poem. The reaction I hoped to induce was the way one feels when you are looking at pictures of the universe.


1. Duplicate the background image. 2. Name the layer ‘Cosmos’. Cut out a part of the face using the Pen or Lasso tool, and apply layer mask. 3. Apply Bevel and Emboss to the layer ‘Cosmos’. 4. Bring in an image of the cosmos or cosmic or space with stars and clip the ‘Cosmos’ Layer. 4. Duplicate images of the cosmos or cosmic or space with stars and create an inverted layer mask (filled with black) on each one. 6. Resize and Rotate them. 5. Use different smoke brushes with color white on the inverted layer masks. Make sure to use it on the outer edges and make sure to use different shapes of smoke brushes and variate the sizes and angles. 5. Make sure to use adjustment layers such as Levels, Hue & Saturation, to blend the image of cosmos or cosmic or space with stars to the ‘Cosmos’ Layer well. 6. Add shadow to the insides of the hollow made in the face. 7. Use the Levels Adjustment on the entire image as you please. 8. Press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E to merge the image to an entire new layer without affecting the others, convert to a smart object, then Filters > Noise > Add Noise. Again, this is optional and used to add a degree of texture to the image. 9. Now you can play with Levels, Gradient Maps, Selective Colour, and Colour Balance to intensify the feel of the final image.


I was gifted with tales of the gods and kings But there was one whose story was feared to sing For she was a chaotic beauty, a cosmic being And the most astonishing thing I have ever seen You see her eyes didn’t shine like stars but were actual constellations Telling stories becoming myth And her hair flows dark and clean like the river of the milky way And though her heart burned with the sun Her soul was a cold and empty void And in her embrace men found wisdom Some peace while others found everything So when we tell the tales of time of the vastness of Mother Earth We should never forget the infinity of the mistress universe — Photographer: Peter Sjo (Photo gotten from Unsplash.com)(https://unsplash.com/photos/Nxy-6QwGMzA) Poet/Writer: Bamise Ayomide (Instagram: @ayo.mageek)

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Solaja Oluwakemi - @kemi_ii


Love is the central theme of this piece and sadness is the primary emotion, with the dark colours suggesting a solemn mood. The writer compares love with the swaying of oceans, and how the protagonist in this piece keeps coming back even though it’s detrimental to her wellbeing.


1. Duplicate the background image. 2. Name the layer ‘Water’, Cut out a part of the face using the Pen or Lasso tool, and apply layer mask. 3. Apply Bevel and Emboss to the layer ‘Water’. 4. Bring in an image of underwater. It could be of a diver or fishes and clip the ‘Water’ Layer. 5. Make sure to use adjustment layers such as Levels, Hue & Saturation, to blend the image of underwater to the ‘Water’ Layer well. 6. Add shadow to the insides of the hollow made in the face. 7. Use the Levels Adjustment on the entire image as you please. 8. Press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E to merge the image to an entirely new layer without affecting the others, convert to a smart object, then Filters > Noise > Add Noise. 9. Use Levels, Gradient Maps, Selective Colour, and Colour Balance to give your complete image the desired feel.

THE POEM The tears you cause ruin my makeup I’ve had enough Of the things we’re made of The Devil’s spawn You made me sin I look like War, but there’s peace within The most peaceful things Have the worst rage That’s why when we fight, I never engage The tears you cause prevent me from waking up I should let loose of the anger I’m saving up I never have the courage to say enough — Photographer: Albert Dera (The image was gotten from Ubsplash.com) Poet/Writer: Loti (Instagram-@still.loti)

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