Ah, the first project of the semester! It’s wild to look back on this and see how I’ve grown both in skill and confidence.
For this first assignment, we were assigned a poster to be created with only three key elements- a series of photo booth portraits, found type, and a photocopier. Admittedly, it was a project I initially thought I’d hit out of the park, as I’ve always been attracted to super lo-fi art and I have a pretty strong affinity for crafting and handiwork. Thus, after hitting up the photo booth at Union Pool in Brooklyn after a few drinks with friends, I was feeling pretty good about myself.
That quickly dissipated after realizing how intimidating a xerox machine can be when you haven’t used one since about 2001. But after wrangling with it for a little while, (and jamming it several times), it was actually a lot of fun playing with it’s various settings. Despite the machines limitations, it still allows for a little bit of creativity in sizing and contrast. I’ve always loved the imperfections of a photocopied image, so I was pleased with how my photos looked after going through that process.
I was initially inspired by Renaissance portraits with the glowing halos surrounding their subjects, and I thought that would be an interesting classical element to include in juxtaposition to the very deconstructed and modern nature of the project. As a fine artist and illustrator, I have a tendency to cover every inch of paper with very fine detailed drawings and patterns, the phrase “less is more” means nothing to me. As a result, the first versions of my poster definitely had this vibe, there was a LOT going on. I had a combination of nine different found types (I chose R to represent my last name) and hundreds of copies of my face sliced and diced and covering every available whitespace. You’ll be able to see this version in my photos, and the resulting crit I received was to try to tone it down, simplify, embrace the white space.
No doubt, creating a simple piece is so much more difficult than making something incredibly complex. I struggled. However, after parring down the types to just three, and completely reevaluating my halo concept from something quite overwhelming to something much more simple and floral-like, I’m very pleased with the result. I feel like I stuck very much to my own style in the actual portrait segment with the sliced and diced faces, and that the compromise made in changing the background helped elevate the piece from it’s previous iteration.
While I feel like I’ve grown in the several months since making this piece, I still really enjoy it (it’s hanging above my desk now), and I fear the xerox machine no more. I’ve been using it more and more in my personal work as I love the texture it gives images, so I’m glad I had the chance to rediscover it.
You’ll find images of my process and a few versions of my piece here- Portrait Project