Monthly Archives: November 2012

Alone in 1000 Square Feet, Set 1

It was 6:56pm on the evening of August 15 when the flamboyant detective understood this was no ordinary murder scene.

At the same time across town the afflicted war veteran was having realizations of his own…

While his friend, the turbulent mob associate, was in the middle of a very important business deal.

The details from that transaction made no difference to the occupant of the residence one house to the south. The distressed burglar was hard at work, reaping what he could as his window was closing fast…

But not as fast as the clever spy’s.

“What’s the hurry”, said the brilliant psychopath to himself in the mirror of an apartment he had entered only once before.

The following day was spent analyzing images and materials taken from the gruesome display by the flamboyant detective.

And breakfast was ruined for two nameless thugs by an unannounced visit from the turbulent mob associate.

But the thugs had it easy compared to the clever spy, who withstood a night of interrogation and still maintained his cover.

Another day, another “…fuck it”, said the afflicted war veteran.

“50/50.” No matter how prepared, the distressed burglar knows there’s a fifty-fifty chance things could go wrong during any break in.

“Are you certain get the fuck out of here are the last words you’d ever like to say?” asked the brilliant psychopath.

A broken vase. A sideways chair. That was the extent of the mess made when the clever spy broke free and overtook his captors.

The minutes felt like hours as the flamboyant detective tried to comprehend what had taken place in the crimson apartment. “Could a human have done this?”

Some have no conscience.

Others remember all too well.

Some like to talk.

Others prefer the quiet.

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Studio Lighting Tips

There are two studio lighting setups that tend to appear in ads today. By no means are they new, but they’ll never go out of style. Both place the model on a white background, but the first only uses one light, causing a shadow and making the background go gray, while the other uses three lights creating an “infinity” look. Below are diagrams and samples of how to achieve each.

Simple, one light setup.

The result.

Three light setup, removing the environment.

The result.

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A New Partnership : Tribehaus | Photo Studio Group

Sunday we shot our first of many sessions for Tribehaus, owned by entrepreneur extraordinaire Anna Bagozzi. With its eclectic and trendy inventory, Tribehaus is an online presence unlike any other offering women’s fashion with plans to expand to menswear. Anna has turned the brand into an empire with her insane marketing skills. Check out her Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr pages.

For model shots, we required a studio space that would allow for flexibility and a seamless or cyc wall, a panel with rounded bottom corner to lend an infinite spatial quality to the images. Not only is it an incredibly brilliant concept, Photo Studio Group, is a community-based resource, offering their space and equipment at a fraction of what it typically costs. We just started our membership and we urge others to visit them as well. It’s better than any other scenario we’ve come across during our years in commercial photography.

Image: Photo Studio Group

Every shoot depends on successful collaboration of the team. We were really lucky to have Amelia modeling. Not only does she have an incredible high fashion look, she was so personable and a breeze to work with.

No shoot is complete until you bring in hair and make up and Taryn Scalise is a master of both. She got us through two complete looks very quickly and was on hand to catch fly aways with the brush and lip stick touch ups between shots.

Amelia and Anna going over logistics on the set.

Anna from Tribehaus, Nick from Chin-Azzaro and Taryn from Tough Love MPD

We can’t remember the last time such a production went so seamlessly and we can’t wait to do it again. In the meanwhile, support our partners and let us know if you have any questions about buying from, visiting or hiring our friends. See you next week!

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How Do I Sell this Painting/Print/Drawing My Mom Gave Me?

You know it’s worth something and yet the art dealer won’t take it and it hasn’t sold on craigslist. What do you do with the painting that was given to you that you’d rather have the cash value for?

The last two weeks we’ve received quite a few inquiry calls about selling works that were given to them so I decided to answer some of the most common questions. (This is a general overview and not to be taken as professional or legal advice. Every situation is exclusive of any other and we’d prefer you call us for your specific needs)!

My mom told me she paid $3,000 for the painting. What can I sell it for? 

Unless it’s a “known artist” (this does not have to be a household name, but I consider this a person that has an auction and/or private retail record. Or, someone that has been “discovered” by a dealer or curator and has been deemed academically relevant), the likelihood of a piece appreciating is very slim. That doesn’t mean that paintings you bought for a few hundred dollars can’t grow in value, but the seemingly long list of artists you see becomes very short when you talk about resale. And more realistically, the painting is not worth what you paid for it and in some cases, worth less.

It’s worth less than we paid for it? How is this possible?

If your mom bought it from a dealer or art fair, and it’s a contemporary (living) artist, it’s hard to gauge in one lifetime what the piece will be worth. It all depends on demand for that particular artist’s work. If there’s little competition and the works are easily accessible, the work is worth what the dealer and artist agreed to split the sale for and what it  covered –  a lot of overhead such as utilities, travel, insurance, publicity, marketing and general costs. Those are the facts behind selling works at a gallery. It is after all, a business.

I found a dealer that sells this artist’s works but they wouldn’t accept the painting for consignment. Why?

There are many reasons a dealer may not accept the work. But the most common one is that they don’t believe they can sell it. Dealers know what their clients will buy and they have to protect their investments as well. By the time a dealer takes on the cost of insuring, shipping and (if required) framing or having the work cleaned/repaired, it may not be worth the trouble to take on the consignment. Sometimes they may ask you to take on a part or all of these costs and you could see how this could add up and possibly deter you from the transaction as well.

Also, remember that if you’re in a hurry to sell your piece, this is a lengthy process. Rarely do dealers buy the piece from you outright. They will hold the painting under terms that if and when the work sells, they will send you a check for your share. A dealer’s cut can be any percentage you’ve agreed to but generally it’s 20-50 of the retail selling price.

Where else can I look to sell it?

Auction houses are a great resource for buying and selling works and would be my next suggestion for clients. Keep in mind you have to show proof of ownership whether it be a receipt or legal paperwork bequeathing the work to you (a will, notarized document) and provenance (a list of who the work has belonged to since it’s creation) only helps to make the piece more sellable.

Auctioneers have the same responsibility as a dealer has to represent, market and sell your work to the highest bidder so they also get to decide whether they will accept your piece for sale as well. This can also be a long process since sales may occur seasonally or bi-annually.

The auction house won’t accept it either. What do I do now?

A client asked if they could sell the piece on ebay themselves. I told them that it was a possible avenue but they should remember that they take on all liability of the sale. Meaning, if they advertise the work by a particular artist and it’s authenticated later that it’s not, they can be sued or have the price of the piece demanded by the buyer. That said, there are many successful sales on ebay. I just simply remind people to be wary and protect themselves.

None of the above worked. Why won’t anyone buy this??

It would be simple enough to say that in a low market, art isn’t selling. But that’s not the case for high end collectors as a recent contemporary sale proved for Sotheby’s and Christie’s earlier this month. So why hasn’t anyone bought your painting?

Let’s say you have a 1,000 people in a room. Only about 10% of those people are “art collectors”, or people that actively seek art from artists, dealers and fairs on a regular basis. Of those 100 collectors, perhaps only half of them may like the painting of flowers you’re offering but how many of them will actually want to buy it for the $3,000 that your mother paid for it? Unless it’s a known artist or they truly, truly love it, the percentage will be very small – maybe 2 or 3 people.

I wish I had better news for everyone that needs the extra holiday cash this season. But I wanted to give some realistic advice to help you better understand the daunting task of fine art collecting and selling. It’s not simply slapping on a price tag, unfortunately. It’s actually easier to sell a multi-million dollar work than a low or middle market one and this is true at almost any time in art collecting history. I’m always here for questions so please feel free to email me. Best of luck with your collection building!

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Portfolio Review

Yesterday I, along with UM Penny W. Stamps School of A+D alumns Ariel Frizzell and Jessica Krcmarik, had the pleasure of being part of a panel discussion regarding the importance of a good portfolio.

Ariel is the Digital Marketing Specialist at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. In addition, she’s a graphic designer and photographer. During school, Ariel held a paid internship with the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, giving her a great advantage in the work field. I cannot stress the importance of taking initiative to gain real life experience as a student. As a result of her networking, Ariel went to work with the Michigan Theater right out of college.

Jessica is a freelance illustrator and very recent grad. During school she worked as an Admissions Buddy, giving advice to incoming students about the curriculum and available resources. Today she’s still helping students by sharing her personal experience as a freelance artist. Her amazing works can be seen here.

Both had phenomenal information during the discussion. Although we all offered something different, there were no conflicts. Below is what I had to say:

The goal of a portfolio is to be remembered. When showing a potential client your work you only get ONE shot at proving you’re not only capable of achieving their goals, but better than any other candidate they’re speaking with.

One important thing to consider is that no matter how strong the work is inside, a bad presentation can equal doom. Anybody can go to the store and buy a premade book to hold and display their work. YOU’RE ART STUDENTS, BE CREATIVE. As your work develops it will become more and more apparent how it should be viewed. Maybe in a book or maybe in a hand made box wrapped in cow hide. Either way it’s important to recognize that YOU HAVE COMPETITION. When you feel you‘ve hit a wall you absolutely can’t go wrong by asking the opinion of your professors and peers.

Put your strongest work forward! You have to hold attention AND impress!

As far as photography goes, KNOW YOUR PROSPECTIVE CLIENT, or know what you’d like to concentrate in. Don’t show a car company a portfolio with your best portraits. It’s more than okay to be versatile and shoot portraits and products and food, BUT KEEP MULTIPLE PORTFOLIOS.

It’s also very important to be able to talk about your work. This may or may not come up in an interview, but it’s better to be prepared. The work in your portfolio should represent you, not what others think. In the creative field, the ability to explain how you reached the final product shows technical understanding, but if you hesitate when asked about a piece the client may interpret that as uncertainty.

Another important LIFE OR DEATH consideration is curating – KNOW HOW TO EDIT YOUR WORK. In terms of photography, my rule is to not show two photographs from one session. I don’t care that you liked the light on the model in shot 5 and the facial expression of shot 11 – neither will the prospective client. PICK ONE and show your range.

Even if you love all three, you must pick ONLY ONE and leave room for other works. Think of every page in your portfolio as valuable real estate.

When you’re ready to start looking for work after you graduate or while you’re still a student, WHICH I RECOMMEND, make a list of places you’d like to work and order them most desirable to least. Next, get an interview with one or two of those you like the least. This was advice Professor Ed West gave me many years ago. The idea is to get the nerves and mistakes out of the way first with places you don’t care to lose. Once you’re comfortable with the real thing here’s what you’ll need: your portfolio, a resume, business cards and professional or flamboyant (or both) attire. DO NOT CHEW GUM!

Finally, there will be some clients that will want to see work digitally. Whether that’s their preference or they’re half way across the world, LET THEM MAKE THAT DECISION. Otherwise a physical, well-made copy of your work that potential clients can hold and flip through is worth its weight in gold.

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My Hero

While passing through the snack aisle recently, my eyes were assaulted by a box of crackers with an image of Spiderman from the most recent film. His new costume looked like it should have a NIKE swoosh on it (Image care of Filmdrunk).

What happened? Why get so detailed and compromise the imagination? Super hero comics are still a huge part of my life and greatly influence my personal work. The Uncanny X-Men, issue 273, was the one that started it all for me. Two pages in was a full spread of all the characters and their names.

From that point on I began collecting and learning.

I was there when the X-Men met Gambit’s wife. I was there when Scott Summers became distracted by Betsy Braddock and nearly lost Jean Grey. I was there when Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton was ripped from his body by Magneto.

The writing and illustrating were flawless! There was amazing back story. There was well thought out imagery that would augment imagination, not overtake it. I can appreciate new generations becoming fans of comic book heroes, but I’m saddened they won’t benefit from the visual stimulation, stories and overall composition and layout comic books presented.



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Seeing Art : Gallery, Opening, Museum

This past weekend we hit up a few art events in and around town. Art and culture is something that we love seeking out and the conversation afterward is just as rewarding as the experience itself.

Our first stop Friday night was at Neutral Zone, the non-profit teen center that offers creative, academic and fun programming for students. It offers everything from art training to mentoring to homework help in every subject. It’s really an incredible resource and a great cause. “Americana” was the theme of the evening and offered a look at students’ views on the state of America whether it be political, social or economical. It was a great turnout with live music performed by the teens and lots of PB&J sandwiches.

We popped in to Work Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan’s art gallery on bustling State Street. Last night’s story slam, Word of Mouth, theme: Falling, was much like The Moth on NPR Radio. People were given five minutes to tell a true story from life. We stopped in to hear the music and see the work but had to move on before they started from intermission again.

The last stop on Friday night was at the University of Michigan Museum of Art for After Dark, it’s seasonal event of art browsing, music and tours. We had a chance to see some incredible cartography and prints from the current exhibit, Discovering Eighteenth-Century British America: The William L. Clements Library, on view through Jan. 13, 2013. There was also a video installation piece by the art collaborative, Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries that’s worth seeing particularly if you’re not used to seeing time-based works. 

A quick tweet from outside the Museum of Art.

Saturday night we ventured to Chelsea to the River Gallery to see our friends, artists Helen Gotlib and Dylan Strzynski show at “10 under 40”, a vetted collection of works by artists under the age of 40. From digital video work to classic printmaking and drawing, we saw a great array of mediums and styles. And we were proud to see Helen tie for 1st place with her floral and nude drawings, a much deserved feat. Dylan showed an incredible new series of works, focusing on formal structures in residential architecture, a departure from his usually whimsical illustrative style but still entrenched in colorful themes.

We always urge people to take every opportunity to look at art. It enlivens our spirits, challenges us and sometimes it makes us think. Enjoy.

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Where’s the Beef

We love food, and this post marks the beginning of how we’ll show it. Once every two weeks (or more) we’ll highlight a favorite food, giving us a chance to share some great recipes as well as showcase some amazing eateries.

Below are two different favorites: barbecued beef ribs and potato skins.

Beef ribs can be found in most grocery stores with the refrigerated meats. I begin with a dry rub that includes brown sugar, dill, garlic and more. Then I stand the ribs up in a slow cooker with about an inch of water at the bottom. Then I wait six or more hours… When they’re ready I have two options: pull the meat off the bone or BBQ them and throw them in the oven for twenty minutes at 400˚. Enjoy!

Potato skins are simple! Begin with a bag of potatoes, clean them and halve them. Bake them for two to three hours at 300˚. When they’re soft and cool, scoop out the center to make “boats”. Next, clean and dice your favorite vegetables. We chose bell pepper, onion, tomato, broccoli and… bacon! Start filling the potato skins with your selections, cover them all with cheese and bake them for twenty to thirty minutes at 350˚. Buon appetito!

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Alone in 1000 Square Feet

It’s important to stay busy, but it’s also important to have fun. I recently began a series of images involving six different characters. Over time their stories will grow and conflict.

The guidelines are simple: only I can be in the image and it must be shot in my apartment, common area or basement. The techniques, however, are limitless.

I present: the brilliant psychopath, the afflicted war veteran, the clever spy, the distressed burglar, the turbulent mob associate and the flamboyant detective.

We can do the same for you. Contact us for more information.

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