Visit my portfolio website here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Shae DeTar- Artist of the Month- April

This month I want to focus on the photography of Shae DeTar, specifically her painted photography. This series is just as it sounds, photography that has been painted on. I feel like many have attempted this with varying results, but the result of Shae's blending of these two mediums is original, seamless, and exquisite.

Shae DeTar

What Ms. DeTar has done with the application of paint on the images creates a product that appears to be timeless. So timeless, in fact, that the result is reminiscent of a time before color photography was even an option and people just colorized their black and white photographs after developing them. Shae uses a watercolor-like wash in most of the images but with that there are pops of more deliberate shapes and vivid colors.

Shae DeTar

The above image is one that stands out in my mind when I think about this series. This is because I'm reminded of a short video I saw once upon a time while researching early film experiments. In 1900, the Lumiere Brothers produced The Serpentine Dance, which is a hand-colored film of dancers who use the dresses they're wearing as tools to create the illusion of dancing butterflies. It's a mesmerizing video to begin with, because of the dancers' fluid movements, but with the evolving color added in post it becomes quite hypnotic. In this particular photograph, Shae's use of a muted color palette and the brushstrokes around the figures "wings" gives a sense of movement, allowing me to visualize the model dancing around like the Serpentine Ladies.

Shae DeTar

Shae DeTar

I find Shae's painted photographs to be inspiring and multifaceted. They appear to be very well thought out, from head to toe, from pre-production to post-production. This is something that Darryll especially appreciates because he knows how much time and effort it takes to see your vision through to the end. It's a way of thinking and creating that is deliberate and thorough. Beyond this, Shae is merging paint with photography, fashion with nature, and the past with the present. Her success in tying all these elements together is why we think she is defining art.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out more of Shae's work at


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Monthly Roundup of Links- April

Because we've been so busy at the studio lately, our weekly round-ups will now be monthly.  This month in the world of art and design, I bring to you these little nuggets of interest:

Charles Emerson's photos of flowers underwater are striking and fresh.

This 360˚ panoramic GoPro video is unreal and extremely innovative.

Jonas Ginter

Finding Vivian Maier is a documentary film that uncovers the truth about a mysterious nanny who, unbeknownst to everyone around her, captured beautiful street images her whole life, only to be discovered after her death.

These photos aren't totally a new concept but these are by far the best execution I've seen of re-creating classical paintings in photography.

Bill Gekas

Bing Wright's mesmerizing photos of sunsets projected on a broken mirror is like a beautiful watercolor, interrupted by dark chaos.

There's something so aggravatingly beautiful about a simple+clean design...for example, these counter weighted candle holders.

So that is what tickled me this month! See you next time.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Kyle Thompson- Artist of the Month - March

After delving into the work of Chicago-born photographer Kyle Thompson (our March Artist of the Month), I've identified three main themes that are delicately strung throughout his imagery. Isolation, hope, and serenity. Some images feature only one of these themes, some images nail all three, but any given image of his is able to stand alone and still be powerful.

This particular image catches my eye, for obvious reasons, but reading further into it, it displays one of those main themes I mentioned, which is Hope:

Carcass (2012)
The hands are reaching up towards something but they are more welcoming than strained. In other images we see a light in the distance, signifying some kind of salvation or clarity.

It may not be obvious at first, but when I look at the next image, I find it delivers a strong sense of Serenity:

Untitled (2012)
The Isolated figure is shrouded and appears to be helplessly hanging high above ground but certain clues tell me that the figure is perhaps not hanging, but jumping/levitating. His toes are pointed, his spine is curved forward, his arms are relaxed, and the fabric is not taut. The idea that he might actually be in control of this situation, along with the billowing white fabric and blue/green hued background, is definitely giving me a sense of Serenity.

Here is an image that displays the final of the main themes I've translated from the body of Kyle's work…Isolation:

Untitled (2013)

She appears to be stranded, which I take from her lack of belongings (even lack of shoes). But there's that Hope in the distance, in the form of a foggy, shadowy building that almost looks like a castle. And just round it off, there's also a sense of Serenity with the calm beach, muted color scheme, and the relaxed stance of the figure. An image that captures all three themes.

I believe this "theme threading", let's call it, is such an important thing to deliver as an artist because once you have successfully created your own brand, or "look", people will be able to recognize your work immediately, even if they have never seen that particular piece before. It is something that Darryll has established in his career, with the common thread being society+technology and its effects on our perception. I believe Kyle Thompson has achieved this as well and is giving us another way to define art.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Descending to Heaven Photo Book

Recently, we've been very busy at the DSFA studio with Darryll's newest series, Descending to Heaven. One of our tasks was to publish a large-format (in true Darryll Schiff form) photo book with select images from the series. We finally have a finished book and are ready to share it with the world.

 It is a 42-page, 12"x12", lay-flat, full-color, and might I say, gorgeous book. As well as pictures, we have included two pages filled with kind, creative, and generous words about the series from noted art critic, Michael Zehn.

"The Parade Commences"

Creating a series-specific photo book is something we've done with a past series of Darryll's, El Lago, and will continue to do for future series. Books like these are important to the series as a whole for many reasons. Of course, it is a great way to promote the series. The actual prints are so large and it helps for potential buyers to see them smaller and closer together to get a better sense of the flow of the series. (see actual scale below).

Chelsea with a proof from the series. 

The book is also meant to be a limited-edition collectible to represent the series or to accompany a purchased Descending to Heaven print. Additionally, we carefully mapped out the flow of the series in this book and therefore, it serves as a great reference for us at the studio when putting together a show.

The index section of the book.

This book is truly one of a kind in the world of traditional photo books and printed at the highest quality, which is very representative of Darryll's work as a whole. To learn more about these limited-edition books, of which we only have a handful left, please e-mail me at

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Weekly Round-up of Links- 3/3/14

Here's a small set of links to preoccupy your mind and spark your creativity!

Here is an insightful guide to follow when designing logos/brands, or anytime you find yourself using color!

If you're in the Chicago area, go see the Edward Gorey exhibit at LUMA. Angela, the docent, will spill all the strange and surprising details about this man's life and work and it is truly enthralling.
"B is for Basil" - Edward Gorey

Anila Quayyum Agha has created an intricate cube lamp that casts its design on the walls surrounding itThis shadow and light art installation is becoming more and more popular it seems and will probably (hopefully!) soon leak into the interior design world.

Photo Cred:
This little book by about creating and sharing your work is simple and so, so logical. Sometimes we just need people like Austin Kleon to break it down for us!

LACMA has started a live read series where notable actors/actresses gather to do an unrehearsed table read of a classic movie script of Jason Reitman's choosing. The last script was Pulp Fiction featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan (!!).

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Artist of the Month- January/February- Alex McLeod

Because it is now February and we missed January's artist of the month due to Photo L.A. madness, I wanted to change gears and bring something really different under our spotlight to start off the new year. This artist is doing something so unique and fascinating, I find it hard to put into words how it makes me feel. This artist belongs in their own category of art-making; he is BOLDLY defining art and that is why I present to you, Alex McLeod.

Alex McLeod
When I first saw these images, I envisioned the artist meticulously creating miniatures and then placing each detail by hand into a 3D landscape and then photographing the finished product under the appropriate lighting. All of this is true, but what makes this exceptionally intriguing is that it is all done within the computer. There is no photography involved. These are fully digitally rendered images that McLeod is creating.

Immediately, my mind begins to journey through the landscapes and drink them up. They are so lush, elaborate, and inviting. Something I noticed shortly after is that there aren't characters in these images. This lack of people or animals becomes eerie, a feeling which is enhanced by the fact that these are such joyful and fantastical environments. So where are all the people?

Alex McLeod

This question allows me to begin to picture the kind of wacky characters that would exist in these environments and the kind of stories they would tell. They have a similar effect of matte paintings, that were once used in film making to provide an environment that, pre-3D rendering technology, would have been very difficult to build by hand. Now, they are done digitally and generally used for the same purpose, or for pre-visualization in movies, video games, etc.

Digital matte painting
I also begin to think of the I Spy books I read as a kid. Within the books, each page opened up to a new landscape, filled to the brim with objects you were meant to search for and identify. Again, when these books were first made, they weren't using 3D modeling software. They were building miniature sets, the way I originally thought McLeod was creating his images. 

Walter Wick creating a miniature set for an I Spy book.

This is so impressive to me because beyond the fact that McLeod is imagining up these whimsical, colorful spaces that I have never seen the likes of, he is rendering them in such a way that allows us to believe that these "sets" physically exist behind a camera somewhere.

Alex McLeod

In McLeod's art, all is not really what it appears to be. His technique is complicated, I'm sure, and something that no other artist will likely be able to imitate. In a way, Darryll has a similar approach to his art. He's making images that one may look at and try to identify the technique. In the end, what he's doing is a lot more complicated than meets the eye. I think Alex McLeod is able to say the same thing. In this way, he's blazing a trail and defining his own brand of art.

To see more of Alex's work, please visit his website here.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

From Sunshine to Snow- Home from Photo L.A!

As you all may know, DSFA made a trip out to Los Angeles recently to be a part of Photo L.A. Darryll was to be the feature artist of En Foco Gallery's booth. We used this great opportunity to preview Darryll's latest series, Descending to Heaven, as well as display some of his biggest "hits".  Fortunately for our frozen Chicago hearts, the weather in L.A. was unseasonably warm with temperatures in the high 80's all week long. We stayed near the L.A. Mart, where the fair took place, in the Miyako Hotel in Little Tokyo. We had a lovely stay, and an even greater time during the fair hours. 

The view walking towards booth 714…our booth!

Part of the new Descending to Heaven series.
The first night was a special VIP preview where the city's biggest names in art came to enjoy food, drinks, a live DJ, and of course, an exclusive look at the art. It was a lively and exciting night and I may have been a little more than excited about the fact that Elle Fanning and Moby were present that evening. By the end of the night, we felt overjoyed with the reception that Darryll's work received. It truly set the tone for the rest of the week. 

Enjoying the view.

Friday through Sunday were regular fair hours, open to the public. Each morning Darryll, his sister Lesley, and myself would get there a tad bit early to walk around and get our own look at the multitudes of work tucked within booth after booth. Overall, we were thoroughly impressed with the collective talent of the artists being represented at their individual booths. There were galleries from all over the world and various parts of the U.S. The attendees were also a very diverse bunch. We met all kinds of people from all over the world with different stories to tell. 

Chatting with a man about Darryll's work.
The responses that Darryll's work received seemed to come from an inspired place in people's hearts. Aspiring photographers felt recharged and motivated by his work and long-time art lovers admitted they hadn't seen anything quite like these images before. However, I think the best responses were not the verbal, but the physical ones; jaws dropping, fingers pointing, and faces smiling.  We didn't know what to expect going into this event but left feeling fulfilled and successful. We are so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to be a part of this event and hope to be there next year!