2012 is off to a wickedly cool start. I entered the new year with my Phish New Year’s Eve in New York City print selling out it’s run in only 2 weeks. A new speed record! A big thanks goes out to the phans who helped make this one of my most successful prints since my first foray into Phish Phan art with Bethel.
For those who missed out on the NYC run, there are still posters available from a few of the other Phish shows I did fan art for in 2011 on www.movingthemerch.com. Feel free to check it out.
Of course, the plan is to hit the ground running in 2012 as soon as the mystery of Phish’s summer tour dates becomes solved. As always, my collaborator Doug Whitworth will be helping bring the ideas, while I bring the art. I do have other projects in the works that will monopolize a little more of my time this year, but my plan is to target tour dates that I have interesting concepts for as well as some of the bigger venues. This might mean fewer posters for 2012 then in 2011, but I guaranty they will be really well executed and in some interesting new styles.
The big change coming down the pipes is a completely new design for my overall web presence. Basically, this means a new look for my personal portfolio, blog, and also movingthemerch.com. My goal being to simplify the process of getting my work uploaded and on the web as well as streamlining my page designs. What I am finding to be the most time consuming task is photographing all my work for the portfolio.
If you visit by current portfolio at www.benwhitesell.com you will see that most of my work was originally photographed against a wood background. The background actually being my dining room table. Hey, it’s always good to be creative. Since I am planning on moving away from the heavier textures of my current websites to a more minimal white look, I wanted to re-photograph all my work in a way that supported this new direction. So, I got a little more creative then the dining room table.
Here is a photo of the set-up I have been working with:
While I have the benefit of having a few key pieces of photo equipment, what I like about this set-up is that it is easy to put up and take down and requires a minimal amount of fuss. Basically, my set-up consists of a Nikon D7000 that has a commander function which allows be to trigger my Nikon SB900 flash remotely. I then set my flash on a light stand and position it just to the left of the prints that I am photographing, giving me a single directional light. A really simple, but nice lighting scheme.
I have been using 2 lenses, one to capture my wide shots, and one to capture my extremely close up detail shots. I have been using the all-purpose Nikon 18-200mm Nikkor VR2 for my wides and a Nikon 60mm Macro lens for tight details. The beauty of a Macro lens is that it allows you to take extremely close photos as well as play with the depth of field. This makes for some visually appealing detailed shots. My background is a white piece of foam core from Staples. It is 30” x 40” and I think I picked it up for around $8.00. It turned out to be much cheaper then Office Depot’s slightly larger piece of foam core. Luckily most of my posters are designed at 13” x 19,” so I didn’t have to go any bigger with the foam core.
Here is a sample of what my new portfolio pages will look like:
The only issue I had was on the full poster shots at the top. I was able to get the slanted view of the posters you see at the bottom with little hassle, but the directly overhead shots were impossible. I even stood on a ladder and leaned over the prints. Unfortunately, the issue seemed to be in a slight lens distortion. My solution was to take the original print files and essentially add a drop shadow to help separate the prints with the white borders from the web page’s white background. I typically see a photoshoped image in most people’s portfolio for the full image. I am guessing this is why.
All in all, a simple process. The time consuming part ended up being the fact that I created quite a few printed pieces last year, and I want to add a portion of those to my newly re-designed portfolio. So, it took a few sessions to click all the pics. I will go through my choice of hosting and the web development of my new sites in a later post for those interested. I actually learned a few key things from handling a lot of the back end html coding last year when I set up my current sites. A decided for this year that a simplification of this process was key to moving forward. Keep an eye out for these changes and new posters in the not so distant future.