PROJECT GUIDELINES!

PHASE 1: CLIENT / ARTIST RELATIONSHIP

All visual references, influences, imagery, stories, color palettes, and any other pertinent information is shared. 

 

You decide how involved or uninvolved you would like to be in this process. Some clients say "I don't want to interfere, have at it" while other clients say "I want this piece to be really personal so I want to share a lot of information"

So you tell me. This is all totally up to you. 

For commissioned pieces, this work is made solely for you and your space. We talk, you send references if you like, you're as involved or uninvolved in helping me understand what sort of feeling you want to evoke. Do you want a funny piece? Do you want a political piece? Do you want a sentimental piece?  If so, how? We figure it out in initial conversations and then go from there. 

It is really important in this initial phase to share as much of what is going on in your head as possible. I only know what I'm told so the more information I get, the more I have to work with. There is truly no such thing as too much information. 

Also during these initial conversations, it is a good time to share any images of your space, any color palettes, and / or any relevant design information that is important for me to know. For example, it is good to know ahead of time if there are any colors to absolutely avoid.   

Per our work agreement/contract, you are allowed to ask for progress reports should you choose. If you want these, this is the time to make that known. 

Once we get a good idea of where we want to head, I begin work. 

PHASE 2: MY PROCESS 

With all information gathered, work begins. 

I begin my work by sketching out initial ideas after gathering all necessary information from Phase 1. From there I begin the first step of my process: sourcing materials. All my materials come from physical antique magazines and vintage ephemera that range from the 1920s to the 1980s. 

Each element of the collage is found by flipping through thousand of pages of these magazines and then cutting them out by hand to be scanned. 

Elements are scanned on a large, high quality flatbed scanner and then pieced together digitally to create a totally new composition. 

PHASE 3: PRINT PROCESS 

Work is approved to be printed. 

Once the work is completed, it is sent digitally to you to view prior to final printing. All details at this point should be hammered out. There should be no major changes or any changes for that matter - the work should be done.  If you asked for progress reports during phase one, you will have had the opportunity to give feedback at those points in the process. 

REFERENCES

Have a specific example of work of mine you like? Have a specific visual identity you think is important for  me to see? Share it!

VISUAL REFERENCES

Assume I know nothing about your visual tastes/aesthetic. If you have an idea of something you want that is really specific, help me understand that. Share references of work of mine that you like or share images of work you think I ought to see that you want to inform your piece. 

Do you prefer my more abstract work? Do you have any work reference you want me to pay homage to? For example, one client commissioned work for a property that had a long history of growing Dahlias. So for the work I created them I was told not only to reference Dahlias but was also specifically told to reference Andy Warhol's 1964 Flowers. 

INFORMATIONAL REFERENCES

Informational references are subtle nods to information, facts, or stories you have shared with me. They take form as imagery in the work. For example, one client wanted me to tell the story of how her family came to be - how she met her husband and ultimately started a family. To do this, she shared a lot of details and information that ended up in the piece as imagery or words. 

EXAMPLE IMAGERY

What to think about if you choose to provide images to include in the work. 

If you choose to include specific imagery in your piece(s), there are two important things to consider: 

(1) Cropping

(2) Quality 

Full body imagery is the cream of the crop, greatest, best thing you can possibly give me. 

Photographs where ankles are not cut off, arms aren't missing and faces aren't blocked by random things like tree branches (you'd be surprised how often that actually happens) make incorporating figures into work easier. It gives me more options to work, more angles to play with, more diverse perspectives to use. 

When figures in images are cropped / cut off / obstructed it limits what you can do with them. Their missing limb then must become part of the composition in order for the piece to read as believable. 

Here we have a classic case of amateur photography with an accidental ankle crop.  With an image like this, the figure would have to always be in the foreground with ankles cut off. Or I'd need to find something for him to stand behind. A random rock, a bush, a car, a herd of wild geese, you get it - sometimes for it to make sense compositionally, it then fails to make sense in other ways.

Success! Too cool for school guy really does have feet! His Mom is missing the tips of her toes but I can work with that. Here is another good example of how the figures works in one way but are limited in another. Pink Lady could be used as a figure by herself but her son is missing an arm. So he needs to be used with his Mom or positioned with another figure in order to make anatomical sense. 

We're going to be printing large! This is exciting but also means we need to be careful about the sort of images we use. High quality, high resolution is best if you send any digital copies. The more information I have by way of pixels, the better the print looks. That being said, the materials I use are predominantly old magazines from the 30s / 40s / 50s / 60s. With these, I have a super high powered scanner that I use to scan images at the size that they need to be printed at. The quality doesn't enhance but it doesn't suffer any losses if that makes sense. As far as stylistically, don't be afraid to include old / physical photos - they maintain the same sense of physicality that I like with the magazines. They're faded, the colors are nostalgic, it works. 

We mostly just want to avoid iPhone photos. Though some would work. 

I challenge you to think beyond a photograph or image. The more information and the more materials I have to work with the better. Like I said before, I like to create work and jam pack it with as many references as I can. And with my scanner, I can scan anything within a certain size - Handwritten notes, objects, patches, anything meaningful I can try to work in within every edge of the frame. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

No amount of information is too much. If you want this piece to include very specific ideas / imagery / concepts it's important to be as specific and detailed as possible at the beginning of this process. 

I will do my best to include as much as makes sense and is possible. 

hello@mikcooper.com // Brooklyn, New York, USA // © mikcooper.com & Almost Exactly LLC. All rights reserved.