- or how i take credit for inventing assignment fine art. (part one)
I was commissioned to create four custom images for a luxury residence in Miami Beach. This great assignment, and a new backwards workflow that it has spawned, came about by sheer accident. While showing my work to a Twitter exec in New York, he told me, "Your work is so awesome and conceptual! Man, I would love for you to go to my vacation home in Miami, and put art like this on my walls". Those are dream words, mister.
So began a two month long process of collaborating, conceptualizing and creating photographs for him that shifted the usual see-it-in-a-gallery-take-it-home method into reverse. But in the end it gave the collector images that he was a part of - and that are a part of him.
But to me, a conceptual photographer who has collaborated with creatives for years, it's actually what I'm used to. I'm used to a creative process that starts with varying degrees of something like this: "Hey Nick, this is sort of what we want, what are you gonna do about it?" Bring it, I say.
collaboration is cool
My first step in the collaboration process was to assemble a catalog of Koudis-style images, not only to give my client a good feeling for my work, but also my capabilities. This gave him a visual starting point for our conversations. He talked about his concerns with the level of "edge", for example. We discussed palettes, sizes, and he sent me photos of the rooms. I came back to him with a few solid ideas. I really don't mind over conceptualizing at this point, because the discarded concepts just go onto a list and I'll pick them out later on when I need a good idea. I delivered him two mockups before I even got to Miami. When I arrived in Miami, the collaboration continued. I think I need to say that collaboration with the client is not a sell-out at all. I love it. It really gives these custom images a depth that off-the-rack pictures can't touch.
Because of my client's history with the city, we settled on a Miami theme. The assets for each photo would be from the local area. We had long talks about his personal style, and his world, and we drove around Miami together while I gathered photos from his town. Over the course of the three days that I set aside to shoot elements, I shot over 500 images. And in the week to follow, I edited the images down, and assembled the four compositions and prepped them for the incredible giclée lab I discovered in Miami. The prints were flawlessly pressure sandwiched in acrylic and aluminum museum mounts.
I started with the guest room. I wanted the photo to be a welcome message to anyone who stayed there. This thermostat is set to 72 degrees and reflects the hospitality of the owner. It floats on the horizon of the very beach that's visible out the windows opposite the photo.
In the master bedroom, using images from the beach photographed from the 17th floor balcony, I created this spoof of the current tilt-shift trend. I sculpted a miniature surfer from acrylic medium, and incorporated him into the scene in this mind bending little game of scale. Get it?
accidental venus with goiter and goldfish
During my week long asset collection of photos of Miami to incorporate into this collection I passed this fountain on Lincoln Road. I quickly shot the abstract image you see here, but later discovered the reclining nude sleeping in the tiles. This is the most accidental of the four, but it still has a connection to the client. He knows the fountain and spent a lot of time on Lincoln road in his Miami days.
Positioned on the way out of the master bedroom, I wanted this image to serve as positive encouragement - and a reminder to see obstacles differently. The green palm trees in the background are the promise of a future of growth.
Anyway, my point is this - The process brings a LOT more to the table when it allows the artist and client to share ideas. The photographer becomes a part of the home, in a way. The art then represents him in a much more personal way. And the client gets to tell a story. Every visitor to his home gets a full narration of the creative process, way better, in my opinion to - "I picked it out, I like the colors."
And if my client had bought art in the traditional way, it wouldn't nearly be as much a part of him as it has turned out to be.
[Nick Koudis is available to discuss your assignment fine art project]