Pre-Ramble: I spent a better part of the morning going down the most enjoyable rabbit hole. It started with a series of portraits by British photographer Luke Stephenson … portraits of caged birds against colored backdrops entitled “An Incomplete Dictionary of Show Birds” (shown left).
The Show Bird series reflects the driving philosophy of Stephenson’s work … to characterize “life in Britain and the British psyche” …
“He photographs, what to many, epitomizes the eccentricity of Britain … creating affectionate portraits of his subjects and documenting worlds often hidden from the mainstream.”
The unretouched portraits of the colorful, restrained birds could definitely be characterized as eccentric and non-mainstream — they are also immediately fascinating and beautiful. Each bird sits calmly in attitude on a simple wooden perch, their unique palate of feathers, feet and beaks in striking yet subtle contrast to the flat backdrop tones. Many of the photographs look like delicate illustrations.
The Show Birds series reminds me of the work of another artist I love — graphic designer Jose Guizar. Among Jose’s many exceptional projects, his weekly illustrated series, “Windows of New York” (shown left) documents the widely varied architecture, and personality really, of windows that exist all around New York City. Guizar describes the project,
” … a collection of windows that somehow have caught my restless eye out from the never-ending buzz of the city … a product of countless steps of journey through the city streets … This project is part an ode to architecture and part a self-challenge to never stop looking up.”
Like Stephenson’s birds, the Windows series is also very colorful and restrained. Each tight, digitally rendered piece represents an actual window that can be located at a street address that appears below it. The windows are uniquely charming and compel you to imagine yourself looking up from beneath them on the city street.
The Take-Away: Two lovely series that depict everyday subject-matter in a direct, understated, beautiful way. I wonder if Luke and Jose are aware of each other’s work?