Yesterday was the big day for us here at Stuckinplastic; we had our second group show in Seattle at the Bryan Ohno Gallery. It went so much better than we had expected! It was packed in the gallery with people looking, talking and interacting with our pictures. Shelly and I were at the opening and had an opportunity to meet friends (old and new), fans and family and to talk about our pictures.
We will share with you a few photos from the great photographer Christopher Nelson who was kind enough to photograph the evening’s opening for us.
The show continues through December 12th; We hope you will get a chance to see the work in person. We know we speak for all four of us when we say we are very proud of what we created.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” ― Heraclitus
Sometimes the pace of progress is so slow its almost impossible to see. Then along comes an event, like the upcoming opening, that illuminates just how much progress has been made. Continue reading Heraclitus
I really value Boris and his connection to Big Inc. He is always asking me the right questions when I begin to waver like: What is your ROI? As an artist it is easy to sit in ones ivory tower creating photographs and not take the time to step back and think about ideas like “Return on Investment (ROI)”.
What is ROI? It is a business term used to measure rates of return on money invested in an economic project to determine if it is a succes and should be continued. It is a slippy formula at best and like all business ideas, I am wary of taking any of it too seriously.
Yet I can’t help but look at what I am doing and wonder if it is all worth it.
My toy photography has definitely passed beyond the realm of hobby, beyond the simple idea of passion and moved into that grey area of commerce. I spend a considerable amount of my creative energy working on this blog, keeping up to date on Instagram, trying to figuring out Facebook and creating a presence on Google+. I even manage to spend a few minutes every day editing or actually taking photos. Of course when I look at the actual money that I spend collecting the latest mini figure or money spent ordering custom mini figures, the cost is even higher.
I realize I am in pretty deep here with this toy photography project when I consider both real and creative costs. So as a responsible business person, I have to ask myself, what is my return on this investment?
Would I be taking photographs of toys and LEGO if there was not a social media platform to be posting the results too? Absolutely! Like Boris and Kristina before me, I have written that I would be doing this if social media did not exist. Would I be doing it to this large an extent and with this much passion? If I am honest with myself, probably not.
So what do I get out of all this energy and money invested in what is undoubtedly a money losing proposition?
A sense of self. It is a whole lot more fun to introduce myself at parties as a LEGO photographer than as a bookkeeper. Trust me the conversations that result from discussing toy photography and LEGO are far more interesting than the intricacies of QuickBooks and the best online filing systems.
Community. I know we have talked about this before, but it can never be stressed enough. In a world that seems to be falling apart at the seams it is wonderful to connect with like minded individuals across the globe. We have written about how amazing it was for all of us who attended the Baltic Toy Safari to meet for the first time as strangers, yet we all knew that we weren’t, not really. We had interacted enough on different social media platforms that we came together as friends. It is this community spirt of joy and friendship that keeps me coming back.
An opportunity to give back. Honestly I love sharing with you my experiences as a photographer, both in my distant past as well as current adventures. I love looking for interesting articles, documentaries, mini figures and photo tips to share here. I love it when I see these thoughts and ideas reflected back to me through the filter of social media.
You are probably wondering where all this ROI discussion is coming from. If you are not aware, the StuckinPlasic crew is about to open a second group show at the Bryan Ohno Gallery on November 5th. As the bills begin to come due on this next show I try to keep my eye on what is really important, the intangibles that I outlined above. I also have the thrill (and no, I do not use that word lightly) of seeing my images off the screen, printed on fine paper and framed beautifully. It is as if these five framed prints are the culmination of an entire years work. It is a heady experience.
Can an artist look to business formulas to assess whether or not an art project is successful and should be continued? In my opinion, you can and should. I think that no matter what decisions you make you have to make them looking at all the data, both financial and emotional.
No matter how successful (or unsuccessful) this next group show will be for me personally, I know I will be coming back for more. Although I may have to tweak the formula.
What return do you get from your toy photography investment that makes it worth while?
As a photographer and artist I love sharing my work on Instagram, but nothing replaces the joy of seeing my photographs beautifully printed, framed and hanging on a gallery wall. So when Bryan Ohno asked me, and the members of the StuckinPlastic collective, if we wanted to take over the gallery for November, we jumped at the chance! Continue reading In LEGO, We Connect ….the adventure continues
I think we artists don’t talk enough about the emotional cost of putting on a show like In LEGO, We Connect. We tend to focus on the successful press, impressive sales and positive feedback but never talk about the dark underbelly. When you put your entire heart and soul into creating something meaningful out of nothing, there is always a flip side; and trust me, it’s not pretty. Continue reading The Dark Underbelly
One of the more memorable opportunities to come out of this whole experience of “In LEGO, We Connect” has been meeting and interacting with Chris Pirillo, a local and influential tech blogger here in Seattle. It seems Chris loves the LEGO mini figure as much as we do and was more than happy to meet us at the gallery for a personal tour. It seems Chris has been following Boris, Vesa and I for some time on Instagram and is one of our biggest fans.
When Kitty and I decided to reach out to Chris when we were setting up our PR plan, we had no idea we would be connecting with such a big fan and one so willing to help us spread the word about our work. Not only did Chris come to the gallery and interview all three of us, he put together this really incredible video; it is a wonderful snap shot of a moment in time. It is also a great glimpse of the work in the gallery and approximately four minutes from each of us trying to talk coherently about our work.
I hope you will give it a watch and learn a little bit more about the folks behind StuckinPlastic.
Thank you Chris for taking the time to make this awesome video and share it with your community. It is a real gift and we are forever in your debt.
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.
One thing we have not talked a lot about on the blog is selling our work. Our ultimate goal is to create a self sustaining loop of creators and collectors of amazing toy photography. Since photography is easily reproduced the concept of editions is an important one to address.
All three of us, Boris, Vesa and myself, came to our edition numbers in very different ways. But each of us wanted to create a unique object that both the collector and the creator would know has immediate and sustained value.
Much of Vesa’s work flow is limited by his creative work process and his day job. Many of his photographs are created for and owned by his clients. Because of these restraints he decide to edition his seven prints for sale in editions of three. This certainly makes his amazing images all the more appealing.
Boris is also limited by time and his creative process so I was surprised when he decided to sell his works as one of a kind prints. Once that amazing piece “The Dark Knight” (see above) is sold, there will be no other. In a world that is inundated by photographic images this really creates a special and very dramatic statement. My hat is off to Boris for creating work for the discriminating collector.
I also decided to sell my work as one of a kind pieces. I tend to be rather prolific in my shooting, but only a rare few will ever make it to a gallery wall. Unlike Vesa, who is approaching his work as a cinematographer, I approach my work as a painter. I want my works to be experienced as you would a painting and selling them as unique images seems to get to the heart of that concept.
We have no idea what the future will hold for our little collective; certainly the work and the show has been well received. But will that be enough to inspire us to continue? I have no idea. I am hopefull that a few brave souls will step forward and help us begin to build that amazing collector creator loop that we all dream of.
In Lego, we Connect runs through April 11th. If you get a chance I hope you will stop by the gallery to see the work in person. It is a rare opportunity to see this work as it was always intended, large and impeccably printed.
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.
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.
I have certain rules I set for myself when editing down images into a cohesive set for exhibition. One of them is to not be too attached to any one image and always be suspect of any image I am too attached to. But rules are made to be broken, even this one.
I have an unnatural love for the Chima line of LEGO mini figures, I will freely admit this. Even though LEGO sells this line well, the online toy photography community tends to be pretty disparaging of these figures. I see this opinion reflected repeatedly in the number of likes for a Chima image compared to just about anything else I post. I know that an images popularity is dependent on many factors: when you post the image, who is active during that time and of course the subject. Some figures just have more pop culture resonance than Chima.
Because I can’t seem to make up my mind on the final six images I will be showing next month, I printed two extra images so I could do some last minute editing. I was uncertain what the last alternate image was going to be until I was tagged in someones feed that had posted this image:
This image hit a little too close to home because I was (am?) this kid. Maybe this is why I like the Chima sets so much, because they are the underdog, the nerd, the misfit, much like me.
So I went to my desk and found my favorite image featuring a Chima figure and got it ready for printing. I sent it to The Color Group (who are beyond awesome) for enlargement. I know this image will look great but has little salability (I admit I could be wrong), but I don’t care; I am super excited to see it hanging proudly on the gallery wall.
I can’t stop haters from hating, but if I am going to lay it all out there, I should include one of my personal favorite images of the year. I’m going to break my own rule of not including an image I am overly emotionally connected too, and let the chips fall where they will.
I want to extend a very large thank you to our friends at The Color Group who have been more than wonderful to work with. They are printing all the images for this show (18 large scale prints), working with two artists from out of the country and holding my hand as I periodically melt down. They have made every deadline and printed the work with care and professionalism. I can’t recommend (or thank) them enough.