I’m thrilled to welcome another brilliant artist to the FSC family! Dorothea Taylor is a founder and the current owner of T.P. Design, a studio based in Stone Mountain, Georgia. She’s brought a signature blend of illustration, typographic styling and design to her work for clients like Disney, Pepsi, Church’s, General Mills, Cartoon Network, Georgia Pacific, Dunkin Donuts, KFC and Taco Bell. It’s a total package that’s so unique, she coined a word to describe it: “designustration.” I hope you’ll check out the remarkably varied, fresh and versatile range of her work on our site.
As I work to bring more diversity to our family of artists, I’m thinking about Black History Month in new, more nuanced ways. So is Chicago-based fashion and lifestyle photographer, Martine Séverin. Today, I want to share with you not just some of Martine’s beautiful recent images, but also a powerful, honest piece she wrote exploring her lifelong ambivalence about BHM and, ultimately, her gratitude for the questions it raises—for her and all of us. I hope you’ll give it a read, and let us know what you think.
Why I don’t like Black History Month or so I Thought By Martine Severin
Memories of walking through the halls of my elementary and high school where ubiquitous posters of the All-Stars of Black History tacked to bulletin boards scuttle across my mind.
Through most of my years in school, I was one of, if not the only Black person in my class. Black History Month for me, at that time, consisted of lesson plans taught by well-meaning white teachers who deemed themselves impartial to race because they did not see color. The biases they had against their Black students said otherwise. Worst, the insistence for us, the Black students, to talk about our experience of being treated less-than made me wonder if Black History were a tool to remind Black folks they should feel lucky to no longer be oppressed.
In America my dark skin color opted me into a system that would send me daily notifications; I would never have all the rights of its “other” citizens. In February, it seems that those notifications doubled daily.
The scholar and famed founder of Black History Month, Carter G. Woodson first had the idea of focusing on Black History in 1926 with the hope that someday race relations surpassed the need for such a celebration. When will we reach that point?
This year, I’m celebrating Black History Month through a lens separate from the white gaze. I don’t just focus on the Black History All Stars. Rather, I’m reminded of the people who fought for equality or lost their lives to the system of racism. I’m reminded that though I was born in Haiti, as a naturalized American, I benefit from the struggle and hard work (often paid in blood) by those who came before me.
This year, as I redefine for myself what Black History looks like, I have more questions than answers. I ponder how I can be an agent of change. How do I continue to question the framework in which I operate so that I hold the fewest biases as possible? How am I complicit in a system that’s holding me back? On a daily basis, what steps can I take against the system? How can I create opportunity in my work to mentor and create a pipeline for BIPOCS in the photo industry?
This year, I’m grateful for Black History Month and the lessons it has taught me about how to marry hope and action to ensure a more equitable society for myself, my BIPOC peers and for my own family.
As February 14th approaches, I’m feeling lucky to spend my days looking at beautiful images and working with people who pour their hearts into making them. I hope you enjoy this virtual Valentine from all of us at Freda Scott Creative. May the week ahead find you safe and well. And may it bring you chocolate, oysters, and most of all, lots of love.
San Francisco-based still life, lifestyle and food photographer Christina Schmidhofer has an incredible gift for what I think of “styled spontaneity.” In this recent work, she brings her love of flowers and other organic elements to the tabletop to showcase the connection between some of her favorite beauty and wellness products and the natural world. She and stylist Fanny Pan got totally into foraging: honeycomb from a beekeeper friend in the Oakland hills, driftwood, seaweed, rocks from their favorite beaches, moss covered bark and mushrooms from their backyards, and homegrown aloe vera. Taking beautiful packaging shots is something a lot of photographers do. But showcasing packaging in images that are not just beautiful, but also tell a product’s story in a fresh, natural, eye-catching way—that’s the art of “styled spontaneity” I admire so much in Christina’s work.
San Francisco-based Peter Cassell has collaborated closely with one of our illustrators, Filip Yip (he’s part of the “& Co.” of Filip Yip & Co.) for years on branding, character, technical illustration, infographic and motion projects. Pete does it all, but his real brilliance comes through in his storytelling work and, especially, in his caricatures. As you can see in these recent samples, his style is engagingly spontaneous and painterly, but also stunningly true to the soul of his subjects. Also shown here are three of Pete’s storytelling pieces that were included in the prestigious Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles annual show. By the way, did you ever wonder how caricatures got their name? If you’re curious, write back, and I’ll send you Pete and Filip’s promo piece that reveals all.
This week, as we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and witness the start of a new era in American history, I’m thinking about standing up to hate and discrimination. I love this line from our Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem: Being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. In that spirit, I am recommitting to expanding our family of artists to include more people who have been overlooked and to sharing their work with clients whose goals and values are about uniting people and making a better, more just world. I’m filled with renewed hope that all of us can be part of repairing the world through generous dialogue and standing for understanding. May these beautiful images of hope inspire us in that work.
The Mohonk Preserve is Brooklyn-based photographer Bryan Coppede’s happy place. A section of the Appalachian Shawangunk Ridge (aka, “The Gunks”), it’s a world-class rock climbing destination, 90 miles north of New York City, where Bryan has climbed, camped and refueled his soul for more than a decade. He’d always wanted to shoot portraits there, but “climbers in their element” is a story that’s been told again and again. Then one day, inspiration struck: a series of portraits of the park’s rangers—the unsung heroes who rescue climbers, keep them safe, and protect this pristine wilderness. Last October, he spent two days photographing them in the places that mean the most to them. You can feel their love—and Bryan’s gratitude—in every one of these images. That’s the mark of a great visual storyteller.
As we boldly leap into 2021, I’m beyond thrilled to welcome a new artist to the Freda Scott Creative family. Vancouver-based photographer/director Blake Jorgenson, is a masterful adventure, automotive, and active-lifestyle photographer who has created still and film work for many of North America’s leading brands, including Acura, Adidas, Columbia Sports, Eddie Bauer, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Nike, Oakley, Patagonia, RAM Trucks, Red Bull, Specialized, The North Face, and Under Armour—clients who are looking for images like these that have the power to inspire and stop people in their tracks. Welcome 2021, and welcome Blake!
Looking back on 2020, I asked our artists to send me an image or a thought that sums up something they’re taking away from this strange year. One thing all of them said was that sheltering in place actually inspired them to get more creative. Brian Smale now knows more about the election process than he ever imagined possible. And Eli Meir Kaplan says he learned to loosen up with recipes: “Missing ingredient? No problem!.” Me, I learned that changing my outfit every day is excessive, that taking my office outside and following the path of the sun through the day is a pleasure. And that my neighbor’s son has trumpet lessons on Tuesdays at 3 p.m.
From San Francisco-based still and motion photographer Christina Schmidhofer, I hope you enjoy this virtual holiday card—two cheer-full videos she just completed for Williams Sonoma. Another example of how beautiful and joyful photography can be created even in these challenging times. Wishing you a safe, healthy, happy holiday season, with lots of sweet reasons to celebrate.