The Bryan Ohno Gallery

We have talked much about the photographers behind the LEGO photography show In LEGO, We Connect, but we have not mentioned the man who has made it all possible: Bryan Ohno of the Bryan Ohno Gallery. I would like to take a moment to talk about what led to this partnership as well as to thank him for his own leap of faith.

Bryan and I go way back to a time when I was creating beautiful sensual underwater figurative photography. We had worked together for a few years in the early 2000’s; which seems a life time ago. When Bryan contacted me in the summer of 2013 to ask me to show my work in an upcoming show on sensuality, I was both surprised and pleased to rekindle our friendship. I had to explain to him that my energies had moved away from figurative work and I had discovered a new passion – toy photography. Although I decided to participate in the Get Naked show, I knew that I ultimately wanted to show my LEGO photography in his gallery. I would just have to prove to him it was worthy of his time.

I really like Bryan’s motto: “to feature works that blur the line between art and science, challenge art traditions, and embrace evolving cultural intersections.” I really feel strongly that what Me2, Avanaut and I create with LEGO falls squarely under this philosophy. It really felt like a perfect match of gallerist and artists.

If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting Bryan he is full of boundless energy. He is quick to smile, easy to interact with and makes the whole process of collecting art fun and never intimidating. I have spent many an afternoon engaged in spirited discussion with Bryan about whoever he is currently showing. My favorite was his recent showing of Yumiko Glover. I am still pondering her work and its multiple meanings.

When I presented my idea of a group show of only Lego toy photographers back in the summer of 2014, Bryan will be the first to say it was my passion for this project that piqued his interest. Over the course of a few months we had several conversations regarding the state of photography, Lego, and talked about calendar placement. I did my best to educate him on everything I knew about toy photography, Instagram and the amazing Lego community that I am a part of. By the fall of 2014 we knew when the show would open and who our major players would be. (Trust me when I say I had to take my own leap of faith when I approached Avanaut to participate.)

I tell you all this because this show is a true partnership of artists / curator and now collectors. Me2, Avanaut and I would love to have the opportunity to do this again both at Bryan’s charming gallery, or some other gallery in this big wide world. But to do that, we have to show that there is an audience for our work.

If you get a chance to check out the gallery and the show in person, be sure and take a few moments to get to know Bryan. Thank him for  taking his own leap of faith in presenting this unique show. And if you have the wall space, I hope you will consider supporting his gallery by purchasing some LEGO photography. By doing this you will ensure that he will continue to present interesting shows that reflect and embrace these evolving cultural intersections that Lego photography inhabits.

~ xxsSJC

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Opening Night

Opening night is an evening that is both dreaded and anticipated by any artist. I spent much of last week ignoring opening night (denial is not just a river in Egypt), but the appointed time did arrive and we all made our way to the Bryan Ohno Gallery.

I am not going to bore with my ramblings on what was a fast paced evening and a blur of people stopping by to see the show. But I will share with you a few photos from the amazing Jim Bennett who was kind enough to photograph the evening’s festivities for us. You know what they say…a picture is worth a thousand words.

~ xxSJC

The show continues through April 11th; I hope you will get  a chance to see the work in person. I know I speak for all three of us when I say we are very proud of what we created. 

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Photo Walk

One of the events that we organized around the opening of In LEGO, We Connect was the Saturday afternoon photo walk at Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park. Originally this was going to be an event aimed at meeting up with existing Instagram friends, but we opened it up to anyone who was interested. This ended up being a terrific decision.

The photo walk was a great way to avoid the inevitable let down that occurs after a major event, like a gallery opening. It was good to keep busy engaged in the craft that we all love – photographing toys. Doing it with friends was an added bonus. Eventhough I have engaged in this activity before, most notably the Epic Las Vegas Toy Photo Safari, I believe it was a relatively new activity for Boris and Vesa.  They appeared to jump right in and had a great time

Since this event was publicly advertised we had a few new recruits who embraced the whole concept with gusto. It was so much fun seeing local rock photographers Sunita and Stephanie, as well as 16yo Cameron and 10yo Ava get down and dirty with their toys as if they had been doing it forever. According to Ava’s mom, Ava felt it was the best day ever, getting to photograph along side the “big dogs”.  Even though Sunita and Stephanie didn’t bring any toys along, there was plenty to share. Toys were arranged, photographed and borrowed through out the afternoon.

It was a beautiful sunny day on Puget Sound and there were plenty of smiles to go around as everyone enjoyed the fun that only photographing toys with friends can provide.

A personal highlight for me, beyond mentoring Cameron and Ava, was watching Avanaut walk off with my newest raptor to take a few photos. Not exactly what I would have expected from the king of Star Wars Lego photography, but I am looking forward to seeing the results.

As the past weeks excitment fades into a distant dream, I know that any feelings of depression are going to be mitigated as I begin the process of editing all the photos I took throughout the week. I am also looking forward to taking a few of these new converts out on another toy photo adventure and continue to grow our community well into the future.

~ xxSJC

Feel free to contact me if you want to arrange a photo walk here in Seattle. I’m always up for a toy photo safari. 

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Vesa playing with his new friend.
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Wiiman showing the newbies how its done.
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Cameron and his mom Gwen.
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As Boris captures some excellent bokeh, Vesa encages in a popular photo walk activity – sniping.

TheGeekParent

I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that I will be doing a quick  phone interview with TheGeekParent on Thursday, March 5th at 7pm EST (3am London).

I will be talking about my process, history, inspiration and the road that has lead us all to be exhibiting at the Bryan Ohno Gallery. Here is a link that will take you directly to the site if you care to listen in.

This has been a heady week of meeting old / new friends, as well as a lot of hard work from all three of us, coming together all at once. I have been more than a little overwhelmed. I am grateful that ME2 has been able to keep his head in the game and keep everyone up to date on our activities.

I promise when the week is over I will have much to say on the whole process. In the mean time I am going to keep my feet on the ground and enjoy the moment.

So come listen to the interview on Thursday (or check out their archives if you miss it) because in my mind I will be speaking to you, our amazing friends and supporters.

~ xxSJC

 

Promotion: the Artists Achilles Heel

I think a lot of artists are under the assumption that creating a body of work for a gallery show is the hardest part of any exhibition . I would like to propose that creating the work is actually the easiest part;  while promoting it is the most difficult part.

Promoting ones work is never easy for an artist; it feels weird to blow your own horn over and over again to get noticed. But in this new reality of everyone being an artist and every artist being a small business person, a part of the emerging creative class, that is exactly what you have to do. Blow your own horn; time and time again.

The idea for this show was a pipe dream of Me2 and myself over a year ago. It wasn’t until I pitched the concept to Bryan Ohno last summer did we have any chance of it becoming a reality. Since that fateful pitch,  I have been laying the ground work for promotion. I have been trying to be an active member of the gallery, creating connections with like minded friends, letting existing friends know what I would need if it all came together and  then not being shy about asking for it, giving away my work to promote interest and of course building up my social media profile across four separate platforms.

And this from the person (me) who quit all social media except Instagram over a year ago because it was ruining my life. Now I find myself so deep down the social media rabbit hole I wonder if I will ever escape again.

Yet I have been overjoyed by the response from friends both online across all media and in real life. Friends are putting up posters around town and on the Eastside (read Microsoft campus), other friends are using their own business and personal networks to get the word out, many friends are sharing the event via Facebook, I have received lots of personal responses to e-mails expressing congratulations, regrets and of course a few “Yeah! We wouldn’t miss it!!”

I am definitely reaping the rewards of having spent a good chunk of my life’s energy on the internet and in real life creating connections and I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

So if you are one of those mentioned above, thank you!
Thank You !!! Yeah right, Thank You, You Rock !

Yet I feel it won’t be enough and I am asking for your help. We have joined our respective boats together here on StuckinPlastic and for this I am grateful. Now we need to make some waves with this amazing toy, plastic, LEGO, friendship boat we have created together.

I want you to share the information about this show with your friends, circles, groups and connections. We are a global community and our reach is incredible. It will be fun to see exactly how far we can spread the word and make our collective plastic, fun loving voices heard.

Why ?

Because we know you care, you care for the toys, for toy photography, for the creative toy revolution we all stand for.

This show is as much about YOU as it is about us; you who have supported us , you who want to join us next time, you who want to stand proud when you are with family and friends taking a toy photograph.

Help spread the word. The more waves we make online will only lead to more interest, (hopefully) national press, international awareness and put toy photography right where it belongs…in the spotlight. Because the world needs a little more joy and a few more smiles.

~ xxSJC

So, how to help us get the word out ? Just download this image and share it on the social media platform of your choice and link it to us and tag it with #ohnolego here on the web, on FB, G+, Reddit, Tumblr, … 

If you know of anyone who we should contact, please let us know in the comments. No lead will be overlooked and TLC will be included.

Rest assured we will repay all your efforts and energy by paying it forward! We believe in good karma. 😀

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An Oasis in the Desert

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Eight months ago, Shelly (@xxsjc) Paul (@bricksailboat) Nick (@wiiman) and I sat at a bar in Seattle, enjoying a cold beer on a warm afternoon, having just finished a group photography outing. We marveled at the engaging experience our photo safaris tended to be and decided to invite others to come meet us… in Las Vegas.

Last weekend, I found myself in the beautiful Nevada desert taking photos of toys with a dozen other people. They had traveled from miles away to hang out (and in my case bunk) with folks they had never met. Each had their own artistic abilities, interests and styles, but the rocky landscapes seemed to bring out everyone’s best. Figures were borrowed and techniques were discussed, all with a peppering of laughter and playful competition. We got to know each other throughout the weekend, but nothing was more impressive to me than the positive attitudes and good-natured sensibilities that I encountered from this amazing group of artists.

While waiting to board my flight home I thought about why I felt so good. Why did I have such a strong sense of pride about a silly little meet-up? Two things come to mind. First, because we actually did it. People talk all the time about things they ‘want to do’ but we just did it. That is tragically rare and utterly awesome. Secondly, because I have been fortunate to photograph toys with my friends and it was wonderful to help others see how great that can be. Photography tends to be an isolating experience in many ways, but if you can go shooting with another person it becomes altogether different, if not improved.

We’ve begun talking about the next #toyphotosafari and I look forward to seeing my friends again, but nothing has me more excited than the thought of adding to our numbers. Finding others who love to take pictures of toys, bringing them together and share the fun of group photo sessions; that’s the new challenge and reward ahead.
That’s why I feel so good.
Jaiken – @dinoczars

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#vegastoyphotosafari

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you have heard me mention the Las Vegas toy photography meet up for several months. I even wrote a series of posts about some of the people who I was excited to meet. This past weekend all that planning and anticipation paid off in four fun filled days in Las Vegas, Nevada, when 12 toy photographers met up to take photos, eat, share and even toy shop together for the amazing #vegastoyphotosafari.

Day one started out slowly as people trickled into town. While a few early birds managed to sneak off for some location scouting and toy photography in the desert the rest of us checked in to the Flamingo Hotel and got settled.  Later that evening we all met up for dinner at In ‘n Out burgers which turned out to be the perfect place for some casual conversation and of course a few toy photos.

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Group photo courtesy of Wikitoybox

No, Las Vegas convention would be complete without lanyards and our good friend Cindy (@coney_dogg) surprised us all with custom lanyards so we would fit right in with all the other visiting conventioneers.

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Photo courtesy of Brickandmordor

On day two we headed out to the desert together to photograph at Red Rocks Canyon National Conservation Area. It was a beautiful sunny day and the red rocks and desert scenery where a wonderful back drop for our toys. {A big thank you to Dennis (@krash_overide), Josh (@papajov) and Dean (@dean80s)} for providing transportation!) The time flew by as we moved to different locations in the park taking advantage of the scenery and changing light.

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Image courtesy of Bricksailboat

After dinner we met up in one of the hotel rooms for a more intimate evening of sharing toys, prints and laughter. Josh surprised us that evening with a toy raffle. Names were pulled from a “hat” and toys were chosen by the winners. It was interesting to see what toys people picked, there were even a few unexpected choices made. We also enacted our photo print exchange. Everyone was instructed to bring 20 copies of one image and we would exchange prints. I think we all agreed this was a great way to remember everyone and the work that they do.

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Image courtesy of xxSJC

On day three our local contact Sean (@amptoys_2), took us to an abandoned lot in downtown Vegas were several houses where covered in graffiti.  This was an interesting location choice because it encouraged most of us to stretch beyond our comfort zones. Watching each photographer approach this unique environment was interesting and several of us commented how much of a challenge it was.

After that we hit the toy stores, three of them. It was fun to watch the veteran toy collectors approach the toys and make their purchases. Those of us new to toy collecting or strictly Lego, learned a lot about collecting and the sheer variety of toys on the market. Between the raffle and the shopping I think everyone went home with more toys than they arrived with.

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Josh and Cindy go shopping! Image courtesy of brickandmordor 

By day four we had lost a few of our attendees due to differing travel schedules, so the last of the die hards decided to go back out to the dessert for one last photo adventure. Since this was our third day of shooting together there was no awkwardness. Everyone settled into the environment with their toys and got to work. Occasionally we would compare notes, show a recent photo we where proud of or join our toys up in some group photos. It was a very productive and enjoyable morning.

Now it was time for our final goodbyes. Already there had been lots of hugs and big smiles as we looked back on our action packed weekend. Luckily this bittersweet parting was made palatable as plans were already being made for future get togethers.

This event was incredibly successfull for all involved! We all left Las Vegas richer in friends and photographs; the two things that make the Instagram toy community so special.

~ xxSJC

Below is an Instagram feed of the photos we took over these four days. Since most of us took hundreds of photos this tag will continue to grow over the next few weeks and months as we post our edited photos. I hope you will continue to check back and see all the photos as the #vegastoyphotosafari tag grows. 

[instagram-feed type=hashtag hashtag=”#vegastoyphotosafari” imageres=full]

Wikitoybox

Its hard to believe that the great Las Vegas Toy Photograper meet up is less than two weeks away! A small idea conceived amongst friends so many months ago is about to take place. Besides seeing old friends,  I am looking forward to meeting three long time Instagram friends. I have already talked about Captain Kaos and Krash_Override and today I want to introduce you to Ki Chen otherwise known as Wikitoybox. Ki is a breath of fresh air on Instagram. Not only does she take wonderful photos with her iPhone, she designs her own toys and is a positive voice within the toy community.

Ki has created her own line of resin toys around colorful poop. In a community dominated by guys I am sure you can image that these have been very popular. (I hear she will be bringing them with her to Vegas and I will have to pick up a few more.)

I Poop When I Steal by Ki Chen
I Poop When I Steal by Ki Chen

I am always impressed with what Ki can accomplish with her phone; she is a master of the photo edit. She knows when to use those specialty photography applications to benefit the overall image rather than overwhelm it.

I Swear it Wasn't Me! by Ki Chen
I Swear it Wasn’t Me! by Ki Chen

I find I am drawn to toy photographers that mix up their feeds with more than just Lego toys. There is so much happening in the collectable toy universe that it is fun to see what is new and has people excited.

Optimus Needs Help With the Level on Zelda by Ki Chen
Optimus Needs Help With the Level on Zelda by Ki Chen

Sometime you see a shot that is just plain beautiful on every level,  like this image of a dunny being painted by HO model railroad people. The lightening, sense of scale and short depth of field make this a really fantastic image; one of my favorites by Ki.

There’s Always Room for Improvement by Ki Chen

Of course it is not lost on me that Ki is one of the most respected members of the toy photography community. She is a wonderful photographer, dedicated toy designer and she commands the respect of her peers within the community through her gentle and kind nature.

Ki Chen is one of those amazing people who make the toy community a better place and I look forward to taking our online friendship to a new level.

~ xxsjc

Krash_Override

The epic toy photography meet-up in Las Vegas, NV is less than five weeks away. I have already written about Captain Kaos who I am excited to meet; but Matt is not the only one I am looking forward to meeting. I am also excited that Dennis Taylor, otherwise know as Krash_Override on Instagram, will be joining us!

Dennis is one of the nicest people on IG and certainly one of the most talented people I have encountered. Not only does he take incredible photos, he makes his own unique toys. Just imagine toys made by a nicer version of Sid from Toy Story, but just as beautifully twisted.

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Dennis’s feed is a mixture of toy photography, custom builds in progress and new toy purchases. Basically an eclectic mix of toy fun. There is a constancy to all this madness though. Every monday morning I wake up and I am greeted by a photo of Shipwreck hung over from another weekend of debauchery. This has been going on so long I don’t think it would be Monday without seeing a new photo.

Mixed into his wonderfully gallery are photos of custom toys in various states of deconstruction. I enjoy watching the creative process take place, all the way from a new batch of less than stellar toys sent to him by friends, crazy half finished mash-ups, all the way to the often breathtaking finished creations. The transformation is absolutely fascinating and many times I can’t help but laugh at the wacky mashups that somehow always work.

It is easy to get side tracked by Dennis’s creative custom toys and forget he is an incredibly talented toy photographer. He really has an emotional connection to his toys and it shows through in his photography.

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It will be my absolute pleasure to spend the weekend shooting beside him, talking shop and swapping photo tips.

As Smeagol says: Vegas or Bust!

~ xxsjc

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If you are interested in joining us in Vegas, there is still time!

Have you ever tried to make your own custom toy?

#stuckinplastic: The Exhibition

One of our goals here at Stuck In Plastic (#stuckinplastic) is to create opportunities to show toy photography away from a computer or hand held device and place it squarely on the walls of fellow fans, board rooms, coffee shops and galleries alike.

To that end I am pleased to announce the very first Stuck In Plastic exhibition which we just branded for now #stuckinplastic: The Exhibition.

My friends +Me2Avanaut and I will be showing our collective works – large, and we mean large- at the Bryan Ohno Gallery in Seattle, USA, Planet Earth for five weeks starting March 5th, 2015.

And yes we want YOU to come and celebrate our very first art exhibition in my hometown with us.

In fact if you are able to make the opening we will all three be in attendance (yes, these two Nordic dudes are coming over to this side of the pond).

Showing my work with these two gentleman is a sincere honor, and the additional opportunity to meet them…well lets just say 2015 is looking very bright indeed.

We will be talking about this exhibition periodically between now and March 5th as our plans take shape and offcourse we are interested in your views, so stay tuned !

I hope you will take time out of your busy schedule and meet up with us for the opening reception on the 5th (or at least help us spread the word). It would be wonderful to turn this into a mini meet up and show the world and beyond (or at least Seattle for now) that we are a force to be reckoned with.

My sincere hope is that this is a grand success so that we can travel #stuckinplastic: The Exhibition to a town near you, add a few more members, and continue to grow this movement.

~ xxsjc

Our very first picture we posted here on Stuck In Plastic.

If you would like more information about this, or future exhibitions, please let us know. 
Have you signed up for the Best of 2014 Photographic Challenge? If not, sign up here!