@TheCourtous

Today’s Feature Friday is none other than @thecourtous; home of Brickland’s very own lego soap opera, lego Courtney and a large cast of real and fictional charectors. If you’re not familiar with Brickland, it is where various signature figs engage in skullduggery, intrigue and romance. More than a few disasters have befallen the inhabitants of Brickland, both man made and natural, and we are kept on the edge of our seats on a weekly basis.

Continue reading @TheCourtous

The Joy of Art

I enjoy receiving ArtNetNews every morning in my mailbox. I enjoy the articles on the comings and goings of the fine art world. I feel like  a voyeur to this rarefied world of museums, galleries and million dollar art sales. It is a world I will never be a part of and I am just fine with that. The following headline reinforced this opinion:

Okwui Enwezor’s 56th Venice Biennale Is Morose, Joyless, and Ugly

Continue reading The Joy of Art

Watermarks – another point of view

Recently Mike wrote a post regarding the use or non use, as the case may be, of watermarking your photography. I want to give you my two cents on why I choose to watermark my photographs.

First I will say I agree with Mike that a watermark shouldn’t be a distraction. If you choose to use a watermark make sure its well designed and not a visual distraction. If you aren’t handy with fonts, consider paying a design professional to create a unique logo for you to help you stand out. With powerful apps like Watermark+ you can determine color, density and size of your watermark to minimize the visual impact on your image.

Second, I believe in branding.  By creating a unique logo that you use consistently over all your social media platforms, you will help fans identify you as the source of your creative photography faster. Images are passed around on the web, that is a fact of life, so why not have a way for people to quickly identify you as the original creator? I’m not  a particularly lazy person and even I wouldn’t do a reverse image search; I certainly don’t expect the average toy photography fan to do one.

I was intrigued by Mike’s comment that he wants his images to look their best on the Internet. For me that is not a concern. With social media apps like Instagram, that limit size and shape, I think that expectation is unrealistic. I want my images to look their best when they are hanging on someone’s wall, not being looked at on a computer, or worse yet, a mobile device.

Finally, the most important reason I watermark my images is pride. Frankly I’m proud of the images I take and I want the world to know I took them. Just like I sign and number all my prints for sale, I watermark all my photographs; my watermark is essentially my digital signature.

I respect anyones decision to watermark or not; there are no easy answers to this question. I personally feel the pros of watermarking outweigh the cons, if the watermark is well designed and applied tastefully.

~xxsjc

My Copyright Lawyer
If you have any further questions you can contact my intellectual property lawyer.

Which camp do you fall into and why?

My Muses

I have been asked more than once what are my favorite mini figures to photograph. Normally I would be diplomatic and tell you all of them, but I have come to realize some characters mean more to me than others. I am about to pack for another adventure and I want to only take my favorites, or as I like to refer to them, my muses. Continue reading My Muses

65 Million Years Ago …

In the beginning I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

I had been working on a dinosaur-themed comic book and purchased a few toy dinosaurs to help with anatomical designs. The Allosaurus was first, but soon followed by a Triceratops and a Velociraptor. All made by the French brand, Papo.

They had almost no articulation, but the detail of the sculpt and paintwork were unparalleled. That’s what really caught my attention, the realism of the figures. Continue reading 65 Million Years Ago …

Square Peg in Round Hole

I have been an active participant in the online toy photography community for three years and I almost always feel like a square peg in a round hole, I simply don’t fit in.  This feeling has been growing the last few months to the point where I want to chuck the whole thing and run in a more appropriate direction.

You’re probably scratching your head and wondering how could this be? Let me outline exactly how I don’t fit into this amazing group of people.

First, there is my age. Continue reading Square Peg in Round Hole

Bricks Culture

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There are two new magazines launching on April 13th, 2015 that are aimed at LEGO fans. The first one is a monthly called Bricks which will include set reviews, regular columns and interviews with staff at The LEGO Group (as it is currently pitched this magazine will be similar to Blocks magazine currently available). The sister publication to Bricks, called Bricks Culture, is the one I am more interested in. This magazine is a quarterly publication aimed at LEGO and how it intersects with pop culture.

We here at StuckinPlastic are excited for the launch of this magazine because the editorial staff has been incredibly supportive of us. In the inaugural issue they will be featuring an article on the In Lego, We Connect exhibition and we couldn’t be more thrilled. (Personally I am curious what they will say.)

Bricks Culture will also be featuring one of our favorite LEGO bloggers, David Alexander Smith. David is capable of defining LEGO and it’s surrounding culture in a much broader social context. I find his point of view refreshing; I hope his views will get the larger platform they deserve.

I am concerned that the staff of these new magazines has only include one woman on its list of contributors. I think if you they are trying to reach a broader audience, beyond those steadfast AFOL’s,  having a larger woman’s point of view could be useful. But I am willing to take a wait and see attitude on how this develops.

In the meantime I have my subscription to Bricks Culture ordered and I hope you will at least give issue #1 a try (they are offering both print and digital versions of the magazine). You can order the first issue or the entire first year here. I would love to see this project succeed since it is relevant to what we do on Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, etc.

All though publishing in the age of the internet and a fast moving information stream seems a bit like a Sisyphean task, I will be rooting for them to succeed!!!

~ xxSJC

Is a magazine like this something you are interested in? Regardless of your answer I would be curious your opinion. 

If you would like  to read about the fine folks people behind these magazines I will send you to Brickset for the official press release.  

Captain Kaos

When I began writing this, I went about it all-wrong…

I treated it as an assignment. “Why do I photograph toys…?” Hmmmmm.

I went off on an “artsy-fartsy” tangent and got all philosophical. “I PHOTOGRAPH TOYS BECAUSE THEY ARE THERE!” Or something like, “Well, often times my figures express how I am feeling much more succinctly than I ever could….” Maybe even, “The question that lies at the very core of our existence as human beings may perhaps, be answered by a photo of that ONE action figure, HARUMPH!”

Of course, that’s all absolute nonsense and the answer to the question – WHY – is much more simple than any of that.

When I was growing up, my Father was an Officer in the United States Army. When asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, my answer was always “I wanna be an Army man like my Dad!” I can directly attribute my enormous collection of G.I. Joe figures (yes, the originals with fuzzy beards and Kung-fu grip) and plastic green army men to being raised as an Army Brat. Those figures suffered through unimaginable battles. I’d melt pieces of them out, create a small hole and place shredded cotton, colored red with a marker, in the holes to simulate blood…than take them outside, set them up somewhere and take pictures.

After I’d burn up a roll of Kodak 110, my Mom would take that film to get them developed somewhere…I vaguely remember a shack in the middle of a parking lot off of Highway 440 in Killeen, Texas. Than, what seemed like many years later, we’d get the developed roll back and I’d tear open the envelope to stare at my glorious war scenes I’d recreated! Of course, the photos were terrible, out of focus and blurry. But I had taken an idea I had in my imagination and “made it” real.

FANTASTIC!

Star Wars captured my imagination in 1977 like it did every other kid of my age at the time. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. Stormtroopers, Darth Vader…. light sabers, blasters, A DEATH STAR! Let me say that again and this time imagine you’re nine years old, sitting in a movie theater, speechless, and a figure clad in black armor, wearing a helmet that looks like it’s from one of your nightmares, mentions THE DEATH STAR! WHAT ? ! ? My toy photography took off in a new direction…

I spent many, many hours setting up R2-D2 and C-3PO in the playground trying to recreate scenes from Star Wars. Hard to do with the limited number of figures available at the time, but damn if I didn’t try my hardest.

Fast-forward thirty years and toy photography has become my “creative outlet”. I’ve always done it, before there was a name for it and long before social media existed. A few years ago, I was messing around with a clone trooper from the Star Wars saga and on a whim I posted it to Instagram. It wasn’t anything fancy. The trooper was sitting at the end of a beach chair and I was fortunate enough to catch some lens flare. Surprisingly, the picture was a hit with (GASP) other toy photographers!

There were OTHER people that were doing the SAME THING!

My weird little hobby had found a home. I’ve met some incredibly talented people in “IG Land”. I’ve been inspired, amazed and sometimes, literally speechless when scrolling through my feed. So many talented people across the globe, all taking pictures of toys, with the dedication, enthusiasm and achieving the results you’d expect to see in an art museum.

So why do I photograph toys?

I guess because I always have. It’s a part of who I am. I’m always looking for a way to improve my shots and discovering new techniques to employ. I enjoy the entire process. Toy photography is a small and fairly specialized genre… I certainly hope I’m part of it when it’s noticed AND respected for what it is, by a much larger audience.

~ Matt Rohde

The beginning.
The beginning.

We are very happy to announce that starting next week Matt will be posting  a weekly feature here at StuckinPlastic and I couldn’t be happier! I have long admired his photography and the (often) poignant stories that accompany them. Matt has been a big inspiration to me and my own toy photography and after reading his “Why?” statement I understand that much better. I hope you will give him a very warm welcome. ~ xxSJC

This post is part of our “Why? series”, where we interview toy photographers around the world and ask them the simple question: Why?

Here are a few of the other iconic interviews: East Mountain, Jaiken, Balakov, …

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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