Wednesday November 7th, 2012
by Maria Luci
Cheyne Gallarde‘s Firebird Studio specializes in vintage inspired photography. He describes his style as the lovechild of American painter Norman Rockwell and French filmmaker Michel Gondry. Most of his work is based on retro advertising work and he and his team are devoted to artfully combining classic fashion, colors, and props into “one retronaughty package that’s as cinematic as it is camp.” Recently, Cheyne decided to take his love of the classics a step further, and delve into the world of literature—with his camera of course.
Tintin and Snowy
It all began while Cheyne was watching The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a film the features literary characters from the works of Jules Verne, Ian Fleming, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain and more. The movie’s mixed bag of characters inspired Cheyne to put his own spin on some of his favorite novel characters, and thus, production on the series “Paperback Portraits” began.
First, Cheyne put together a list of characters he wanted to bring to life. Of the selection process, he says, “I tried to select characters that would be fun to bring to life with costumes and props, but that weren’t too popular. The popularity thing was an issue because if a character was shown on television or in a movie, people already have a preconceived notion about what they should look like.” However, Cheyne did still pick one character who’s been interpreted many times: Sherlock Holmes—”There are currently three modern interpretations of Sherlock Holmes, so that was a challenge to do something different.”
With his characters chosen, Cheyne and his team got to work on casting, wardrobe, propping and location scouting. Key props for shots like Dorian Gray’s mirror, Tintin’s dog Snowy and Alice’s “drink me” bottle were made specifically for each shoot. Most of the models were friends that Cheyne felt fit the parts well, and clothing was designed to match each character.
Behind the scenes
So far, Cheyne has completed five photos for the series, with characters from Adventures of Tintin, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Through the Looking Glass, the Sherlock Holmes novels, and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. He’s especially happy with the Holmes portrait, saying he’s “different from current versions—less showy and more eccentric. I wanted mine to be unkempt; the kind of guy who slicks his hair down by spitting into his hand. His surroundings are full of ephemeral oddities, which are the physical manifestations of his knowledge.” But his favorite shot so far is that of Tintin because “it conveys the sens of action and adventure, and I think Hergé would be proud. I’m also personally proud of my handmade Snowy!”
Cheyne is currently working on portraits of Pippi Longstocking, Nancy Drew, Peter Pan and Dr. Jeckyll. He’s also held a small exhibit of the series, which was very well received. Through this process Cheyne says he’s learned a lot, especially that “there are lots of people in the world like me, big kids with big imaginations, yearning for adventure.
View more at firebirdphoto.com.
Wednesday September 26th, 2012
Recently, UK-based travel photographer Julian Love came to Wonderful Machine looking to promote his latest project, a collection of images following the journey of Clara Hayward, a young woman traveling from London to Istanbul in search of adventure. Here’s a brief synopsis from Julian: “It’s 1931. The British Empire encompasses a quarter of the world’s population, and London, the largest city in the world, sits at it’s center. Somewhere among the diplomatic residences of Knightsbridge a young woman receives a letter that will change her life forever.”
Julian was hoping to create some type of creative marketing campaign that would center around Clara’s journey that would entice clients to explore not just the series, but all of his other work too. So, designer Peter Clark and publicist/writer Maria Luci put their creative heads together and began thinking up concepts to present to Julian. After a few group emails and Skype conversations, they settled on the details for the project—a campaign that we were all three very excited to pursue.
The first step of the project would be a print campaign—something far from the typical postcard. They would create the following:
- A Personal letter, written as if from Clara to a dear friend
- 3 vintage-style images of Clara’s journey, printed to look slightly aged, each with a caption “hand-written” on the back
- A hand-made vintage-style airmail envelope that would contain both the images and letter.
All three items would be sent to over 200 targeted clients on Julian’s list. Then, the printed package would be followed up by three email promos that mimicked vintage postcards and would direct the recipient to Julian’s Clara tumblr, which features behind the scenes content and additional images. The promos would go out to the same clients who received the print pieces along with a much larger list to get a broader range of eyes on his work. On top of designing, writing, printing, and hand-making these pieces, Peter would also help Julian modify his existing tumblr template to fit the overall project design.
To get started, Peter and Maria researched vintage mail designs (postcards, envelopes, stamps) and tried to replicate that aesthetic as much as possible. One big issue was figuring out early on how to print the three images so they would appear vintage, but still keep the image quality intact. Julian ended up using a printer in London so he could see the printed proofs in person before he signed off. He went through several rounds of test prints before settling on the final look and feel to the cards.
Another key component to the entire project was generating interesting copy that would go along with the design. Julian worked directly with Maria for this, to create a fun and engaging letter from Clara. Maria was also in charge of writing each of the image and email captions. Julian advised her to write Clara to sound as British as she could—not an easy task for an American.
For the font styles, Peter and Maria considered using a typographer or calligrapher for the project, but ended up going with an existing typeface that looked great and translated well across all the different mediums.
For the envelopes, Peter experimented with premade airmail envelopes. They looked fine, but didn’t feel right. Their overall size was too long (or too small) and some of the paper stocks on the envelopes weren’t the greatest. In the back of his mind, Peter had another idea: to create handmade envelopes, one by one. They all knew this would be a lot of work, but definitely worth it in the end.
But before they could get Julian on board with making envelopes, Peter and Maria did some research on different paper stocks. They made a trip to the local xpedx paper store to sample the latest stocks to consider for both the envelope and the letter design and brought back 15 different options they felt would work for the project. After laying them all out and examining them down to the last detail, they settled on a textured grey stock for the letter and a smooth blue paper for the envelopes.
To save on production costs and to have more control over the printing process, Peter and Maria ended up printing/creating everything in-house, except for the images. That was the most laborious part of the assignment, automating the printing of 200+ custom addressed envelopes and letters and then manually cutting and gluing everything. But, as they thought, it was totally worth it in the end.
One of Peter’s favorite parts of the project was coming up with an interesting email promo that was different than what most clients receive in their inboxes. He had a lot of experience in making vintage-themed design and used his skill to craft a layout that allowed Julian to switch in new images and copy for each promo. Every little detail was thought out, including having the correct postage stamps on the card.
To unify all the elements of the project, Peter came up with a stamp-like seal that said “Follow Clara’s Journey Online.” The copy was surrounded by a distressed globe shape. This seal was placed on the back of the printed images, the letter, the email promos, and the tumblr. When all was said and done, the finished products looked amazing, and truly one-of-a-kind.
Julian told us he’s hoping to shoot more images for the series when his schedule allows. Be sure to check out Julian’s site on the project, journey.julianlove.com, as well as his portfolio, julianlove.com.
If you’re looking for help with your portfolio, design, copy, marketing or to just want to learn more about our services, please visit the consulting section of the Cog.