process

It’s rare for me to have a paper trail for my work. Not that there aren’t variations or versions when I work with Lego (or occasionally a lot), but the differences are usually so minimal that they’re not worth commentary. This time the arm was like… this time the light was reflecting on the minifig head so I adjusted…

So when I find one, I tend to want to talk about it. Especially when the results are good. Like, I’m kind of impressed I managed it. This may not change the world, but it was a challenge when I needed one, so…

Of my more mundane cards, the most popular in the local shops are the ones of distinctive Seattle sites. While I’ve got one of the Hammering Man outside the Art Museum (not THAT Seattle) or the new ferris wheel (it’s neat but not distinctive), the cards that sell out are of the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. They may not be the most creative cards I’ve ever designed but I’ll follow the market.

But not another “minifig in front of stuff” image again. It may sell (mostly. Like I said, I’ve got two dead designs) but it’s boring and limiting and quickly becomes minifigure on moss. And since I’m not a big Builder, I didn’t see much hope in trying to build, say, the Space Needle for a card, so I needed a new angle.

Funnily enough, I built the Space Needle anyway.

Make something distinctively Seattle while steering clear of just one landmark? I thought of those old postcards. You know the type: vista, name in big letters, “GREETINGS FROM”…

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The idea came together from there. And I made it up. The easy part was picking a few locales to shoot potential pictures for the letters, even if I didn’t quite know how I was going to do that. The harder part was the vista.

Everyone knows the Seattle skyline. Even if you’ve never been to Seattle, you know it, thanks to Frasier. Everyone who comes to Seattle wants to go to Kerry Park to take The Picture of the skyline. I know this because I used to live a couple blocks away. Enough to have more fun taking photos of the tourists than the view itself. Not that I didn’t do that too.

Clear sky

Like I said, you’ve seen this.

So start there. Imagine the letters, what can be done with that?

I went a little… weird with it.

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Start with a sketch. Then run through Stud.io and come up with something that’s… close?

[I love that under the sketch I wrote “Can I manage this?”] [Yes I can read my own handwriting, thanks.]

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Well it’s not going to win any prizes for scientific accuracy, but when you order the pieces from Bricklink and run over to the actual Kerry Park…

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Bingo. And like that, I never have to go to Kerry Park again (yeah right). Although being asked what the hell I was doing was kind of fun.

From there, a painfully rough draft done on my phone to make sure this could work. Roughly.

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This is where I started to believe this was doable. I wasn’t entirely sure how, mind you, since my Photoshop skills are very rough and learned piecemeal. And although I found a pretty good tutorial on a couple of tips and tricks involved, it was an admixture of Photoshop and Illustrator and would involve the library and….

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I managed to do it all in Photoshop anyway. And if it wasn’t exactly like the tutorial it was good enough that even my tendency to fret and quibble shut up long enough for me to be happy with the result. Really happy.

Happy enough that I took money from another recent wholesale order and ordered cards and postcards that arrived in the time I’ve been dithering about this entry.

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These are going down with me to Tacoma on Saturday. We’ll see how this crazy idea goes. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe not.

Either way I think the journey’s been worth it and I’m pleased that I challenged myself just a little bit.

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pin-up push back

I mean, really, the thing that I love most of all about pin-up photography is the creativity.

The boundless variety involved. You can have a brunette or a blonde or even a redhead!

And the poses! Don’t get me started.

Lowest common denominator sexy. Take model, put in retro clothes and styling, pose in a style that Vargas made famous with a facial expression never seen in nature….

Just add Pose 16-b in Outfit Bikini 4 (red) holding a Prop from the Closet.

Believe it or not, I love pin-up artists. Give me an Elvgren girl any day of the week. But that’s because they’re working in sheer fantasy, regardless of the photo references involved. And I like that fantasy because I can buy into it.

It’s the translation into the real world of three dimensions where I can’t help but wonder if it hurts to sit like that or walk in those shoes for too long that I get lost. And yet, because the modern translation is aping those classic looks, there’s the expectation that, hey, isn’t she…?

I always liked the idea of intellectual pinup. The idea of making it personal to the model or subject instead of forcing them into the mold. I haven’t managed it yet. Maybe this summer?

layers of lego

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Titled “Thank You, Sir”

Y’all know my Lego kink project is kind of satirical, yeah?

In all the assorted preparations for getting my work ready for SEAF (prints arrived last week, I’ll frame them after I vend in Tacoma in two weeks) and looking over the schedule (the artist’s “VIP” reception should be a hoot) there’s one event that leapt out at me as being particularly juicy.

The weekend before festival properly begins, there will be a chance for the artists to meet with the show’s docents. In this way, we can talk about our inspirations, share stories and other tidbits that could be useful in making a sale. Oh, yeah, and connecting the viewer with the art too. Whatever.

So I’m very curious to see what they make of my photos before I talk to them about it. Because there’s a lot going on here. And while the work is serious, I’m curious.

On the first level: this is Lego. And that’s silly and fun and unlikely and probably a big part of why my photos were accepted. They simply look different in a field of nude models and semi-abstract sculpture.

On the next level: I’m genuinely looking to make kink and fetish and sexiness look fun and even silly. To the point I’ll pull in dad jokes to serve my purpose:

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I submitted this as a lark and it wasn’t accepted. It’ll be showing up in the store, though.

A lot of what’s out there strikes me as grim and dark and, honestly, mean. It’s grim men in leather vests or strict women in severe corsets enacting impossible shibari in tricked out dungeons. And while there’s more to it than that, the image is prevalent enough that I think people find it off-putting.

And I know this because I faced it when I went out vending bondage rope at my last day job. Not all the time, of course, but for every buyer who knew that they wanted X length of Y color, there was someone who was intrigued by the idea bondage but not if it required converting their garage into a sex dungeon and buying fifteen pairs of leather pants. My job was as much about putting a human face on the product in jeans and a t-shirt instead of a reject from the Village People.

This is my attempt to make human art. Sweet. Loving, even if the scene itself is one that involves fifty feet of rope, a riding crop and a violet wand and looks to an outsider like an outtake from one of the Bourne films. Yes it can be lovingly brutal, yes it can be silly.

But deeper still? This is satire.

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I went through one of the online festival catalogs and I swear that I saw this picture two or three times. Not exactly the same, of course, (and obviously no Lego was involved) but in the broad strokes there it was: woman, rope and engineering combined to make… this.

Is it still sexy the fifth time you’ve seen it? The tenth? If the only real difference between this image and the next is the knot work but otherwise she’s just bound like a side of beef?

Is it still “erotic” if we take the human model out and replace her with a RealDoll (the link is mostly safe for work, nothing super explicit but use your discretion)? Or a Lego minifig? Or…?

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If the only difference between two images is that one features a brunette and the other a blonde…?

So yeah. My submissions are sincere. I’m not storming the barricades and throwing shit around like a bonobo at the zoo. But I am tweaking some noses here and there. I am trying to imbue plastic figures with more humanity than I see in most fetish photography. I’ve had friends compliment me for making the top image in this entry feel human. Gentle.

I’m looking forward to SEAF. I’m looking forward to that meeting. I’m looking forward to seeing if maybe, just maybe, I might change some minds.

At the very least, I’m hoping I can sell all these out.

Stay tuned…

resting fire face

Spinurn 09/07/16

I’m deeply amused whenever anyone complains about how they’re never smiling in their Spinurn pictures. “I always look so serious, y’know?”

Dude, you’re playing with FIRE! I get it.

Spinurn 08/23/17

Don’t get me wrong, as a photographer I love it when someone plays to the camera or looks like they’re having a blast. But as a fellow flow… person… thing… I also understand how hard it can be to relax enough to look at the audience or a photographer or, say, anything but the BALL OF FLAMING MATERIAL YOU’RE SPINNING PERILOUSLY CLOSE TO YOUR FACE!!!!!

Because, trust me, no matter how familiar you are with your prop, no matter the safety training you’ve done, it’s fire and I think our hind brains will never stop reacting to it as such, because to do otherwise would be potentially perilous.

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So yeah, I’m happy for the pictures of people having fun and laughing. But if they’re not expressive…

Don’t we all kind of get why?