Sam The Woodworker

I have always been fascinated by people who can fix and repair things that are not working, or who can make something out of nothing. For over 30 years, Sam has been doing woodworking, shaping wood into beautiful things.

Sam is 80 years old. He is a father of five boys, and had been married for over 52 years to his wife Karen who passed away almost a year ago. For 20 years, Sam had been selling pots and pans door to door before getting recruited to sell medicare supplements and long-term care. He did that working for others for a few years, and in 1980 started his own successful business in that industry.

Sam had always been interested in woodworking, but really got into it about thirty years ago. In 2000, he built his own workshop, and started doing more intense things. He's made so many pieces that he can't remember what the first one was. But his favorite one is a rocking horse for his grandkids that will be handed down from generation to generation.

Woodworking has always been appealing to him for its creativity, and the process of making something beautiful out of a piece of wood. While Sam was running his business, working with his hands, making things out of wood was a way to relax, to get a way from the stress of life. It was a therapy for him. And even though after his wife passed away last year it took him a few months to be able to even walk into his workshop, once he did, woodworking was a way for him to deal with the grief, to keep his mind off things. 

Sam with a rocking horse he made for his grandkids.

Sam with a rocking horse he made for his grandkids.

Sam preparing a piece of wood to be cut.

Sam preparing a piece of wood to be cut.

Sam with two of his boxes.

Sam with two of his boxes.

The Process - Inspiration by Jeremy Slagle

Jeremy Slagle, founder of Slagle Design

Jeremy Slagle, founder of Slagle Design

As promised, I asked a couple of people - artists, creatives - to share what their creative process looks like. And today my friend Jeremy Slagle  lets us have a look into where he draws his inspiration, and what he does with it.

Jeremy is an award winning designer and the founder of Slagle Design. In the opinion of many he is a master of his craft and the best designer in Columbus. He tells us about inspiration behind the Luna Burger brand and packaging.

Here's Jeremy:

For me, inspiration comes from many different places. As a designer approaching a new project, I do my best to remove any pre-conceived ideas before I have had a chance to do a “deep-dive” into the client's unique situation. Who are they? Why do they exist? Who are they talking to and why should they care? Who else occupies their space in the market?

For Luna Burger, as with all of my food clients, we hold our first creative meeting in a grocery store, typically Whole Foods. My first source of inspiration is my client. Why did they decide to leave their career to start a veggie burger company? Does the world really need another veggie burger? If so, why? I find that most of these answers come from the people who have done the hard work: the client. In Luna Burger’s case, the owners are passionate about a plant-based vegan diet. They saw how their diet had a radically positive impact on their health and lifestyle. They simply wanted to take their knowledge and expertise and share it with the world. 

Luna Burger didn’t set out to create another veggie burger. They created THE veggie burger, made only from plant-based ingredients. While other companies were doing their best to make a product that looked and tasted like a hamburger, Luna set out to reset the standard. It’s a veggie burger that is supposed to taste like the ingredients, not mask them with fake flavors.

With this in mind, we created a package that stood out among the competition in the frozen food section. While others showed photoshopped images of meat-like burgers on their packaging, we decided to focus on the ingredients. My partner and strategist on the project came up with the idea: “What if we literally show a kaleidoscope of the key ingredients on the box?” It was a brilliant move. 

Because of the inspiration given by my client’s passion, my strategist’s insight, and finding the “whitespace” in the market, we were able to create an effective and inspiring brand and packaging that brought the entire project together into an aisle-stopping brand presence.

Kick Start Luna Burger (© Slagle Design)

Kick Start Luna Burger (© Slagle Design)

Luna Burger t-shirt (© Slagle Design)

Luna Burger t-shirt (© Slagle Design)

The Process - Inspiration

Often, I get asked what inspires me or how I made an image, or why I made it a certain way. So I thought I’d talk about the creative process, and I broke it down to three parts - Inspiration, The Making of an Image, After Creating. I have also asked a couple of friends to share with me in the future posts how they create, and what inspires them.

Inspiration for me is not that hard to find in almost anything my surroundings. I get inspired by new things, and by old things long unseen. I find inspiration in listening to songs, reading a book, or a magazine or a newspaper. I'm preparing a project inspired by a book written by professor and gerontologist Karl Pillemer about the lessons of life the elderly have learned throughout their many years. And as everything in the world has already been photographed, I also draw inspiration from other photographers and their work.

I did a series of portraits inspired by Richard Avedon’s In The American West. Currently, I'm working on an ongoing project inspired by portrait photographer Howard Schatz, and I'm getting ready to start working on another series of portraits inspired by another photographer.

Once I have an idea that I know I’m going to be working on, I begin to create in my mind the image - they say that if you can imagine it, you can create it. It is at this point that I am pre-visualizing the image - tone and contrast (this is where lighting - the amount, positioning, etc. - comes in), composition, cropping, I am considering the lens I will use, where I will stand, where the subject will be to bring into reality the picture I see in my mind.

The image below of my nephew Mitch was inspired by a portrait of a lion I ran across on Facebook. It was a black-and-white image, and I loved the contrast in the photo, the lion's intense gaze, his full, thick mane. I just needed to find the right person to photograph, since I didn't know any lions. When we visited family for New Years, I knew I wanted to use Mitch for this image once I saw that he had grown his hair, and its thickness and length reminded me of the lion's mane. And just as a lion enjoys affectionate fellowship with the members of his pride, Mitch values the closeness of his family.

Mitch.jpg

Imagine - Mollie

Imagine is a project inspired by Howard Schatz’s In Character series of portraits where he asked his subjects - actors - and he suggested to them situations and characters, and captured their portrayal of those situations.

In Imagine, we ask people - friends and otherwise - what they dream to be and see in life, and what they fear. We ask what makes them laugh, and what makes them cry, what brings up emotions and feelings in them. We then ask them to imagine that those dreams and feared moments have materialized.

Mollie is 24 years old. She is a hairstylist, and she dreams of working at fashion shows and working for a big-name hairline. When she’s not dressing up people’s hair, she likes to relax or be outside. Mollie knows a lot of people, but really cherishes only a few. And although she loves to be around others, she is perfectly fine being just by herself.

She is very curious and inquisitive, and is passionate about people in her life, and the things around her, big or small like colors, trees, flowers. She loves to help others by doing things for them or just by being with them, encouraging them, making them feel comfortable about themselves. And she enjoys the presence of her cat, Jacqules (the love of her life). 

Imagine, you are out on a walk in the fields or in the woods, and you, kind of suddenly, walk into an area that completely takes your breath away – the trees, flowers, the colors, just the beauty of it all, everything about it!

Imagine, you are out on a walk in the fields or in the woods, and you, kind of suddenly, walk into an area that completely takes your breath away – the trees, flowers, the colors, just the beauty of it all, everything about it!

Imagine, a person responsible for fashion shows at Paul Mitchel calls you and says to you, “Mollie, I want you to come to New York City, and work the New York Fashion Week for me!”

Imagine, a person responsible for fashion shows at Paul Mitchel calls you and says to you, “Mollie, I want you to come to New York City, and work the New York Fashion Week for me!”

Imagine, the same person at Paul Mitchel after you've worked together at the New York Fashion Week, calls you and says to you, “Mollie, you did a such a great job for us at the the Fashion Week in New York, and I would love for you to work for us in our Paris office!”

Imagine, the same person at Paul Mitchel after you've worked together at the New York Fashion Week, calls you and says to you, “Mollie, you did a such a great job for us at the the Fashion Week in New York, and I would love for you to work for us in our Paris office!”

The Liberator Awards

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to photograph The Liberator Awards for 2016 in Ohio.

Ohio is one of the worst states in the U.S. for sex trafficking. It is reported that 1,000 juveniles are forced into the sex trade each year in Ohio, and of these many are only middle-school age. Trafficked children are often already vulnerable.   According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health thirty percent of children in homeless shelters and seventy percent of street youth have been victims of the sex trade, They are vulnerable as it is, and they are being exploited by traffickers and buyers of child sex.

But Ohio has been making efforts to fight sex trafficking with stronger legislation and technology developments to fight traffickers and their networks online. State Representative Teresa Fedor, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman have sponsored legislation on both state and federal levels to battle sex trafficking. 

The Liberator Awards seek to highlight and acknowledge those who work to abolish modern day slavery in the form of human and sex trafficking. They are sponsored by TraffickFree, an organization that builds awareness about domestic sex trafficking and sexually exploited children in the U.S.,  and S.O.A.P. (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution), an outreach to fight sex trafficking at large events and in communities.

The awards are presented to individuals or organizations in the following categories: individual, student or student group, elected official or law enforcement, organization or church or civic club, volunteer, and survivor. 

Being able to be a part of this event was an honor, and a humbling experience. As I am currently working on a project on the issue of sex trafficking, it was also a great opportunity to hear stories of victims and those who fight this crime.

Jeanette Bradley, winner of the Survivor Award.

Jeanette Bradley, winner of the Survivor Award.

Senator Portman speaking with sex trafficking survivors and advocates.

Senator Portman speaking with sex trafficking survivors and advocates.

Senator Rob Portman, winner of the Elected Official Award, with Theresa Flores, founder of TraffickFree and S.O.A.P.

Senator Rob Portman, winner of the Elected Official Award, with Theresa Flores, founder of TraffickFree and S.O.A.P.

The ceremony was held at the Columbus Athenaeum.

The ceremony was held at the Columbus Athenaeum.

The Liberator Awards.

The Liberator Awards.

Myself with my dear friend Jeanette Bradley, an advocate and former victim of sex trafficking.

Myself with my dear friend Jeanette Bradley, an advocate and former victim of sex trafficking.