Chantel King: Q&A

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We sat down with NERD’s beauty photographer Chantel to chat through her favourite projects, her creative push and the importance of diversity and representation not only in her work but also on set.

What inspired you to pursue a career in beauty and portraiture photography, and how has your journey from art foundation to graphic design influenced your unique style?

I began my career exploring fashion photography. I was captivated by Tim Walker’s portraits. I love his wonderful, creative use of lighting and oversized props to enhance his images. Honestly, I began shooting beauty due to a lack of finding a brilliant fashion stylist, which is extremely important in fashion. To my surprise, I find so much joy in shooting beauty and portraits and wouldn’t look back. I love photographing all skin types well and capturing the realness of a person.

Your portfolio showcases a diverse range of projects, from soft and gentle portraits to bold and dynamic compositions. What is your favourite project to date and why?

There are many favourites of mine; however, if I had to choose one, it would be my ‘Synthesis’ series. I love this series because it’s not merely a portrait, but a collaborative piece involving makeup, hair, styling, and art direction. I shot the portraits alongside still lifes, which were then collaged together by the art director to form a new portrait, hence the title ‘Synthesis.’ These portraits have received much praise and recognition.

Your commitment to inclusivity and representation in photography strongly aligns with our values at NERD. How has being a black female photographer impacted your journey in this industry?

Representation is extremely important to me; being seen makes a huge difference in this industry. I address this message wherever I can. I also ensure that I have a diverse team, whether in front of or behind the camera. This diversity is reflected in my portfolio and the stories told through my work. I notice the significance of subtle surprises from models who recognise me as the photographer, and the fact that the majority of assistants who reach out to me are women of colour. They see themselves in me, which is deeply rewarding. Additionally, I strive to pay my expertise forward in various ways.

Experimentation seems to be a key element in your creative process, from playing with different lighting techniques to exploring various styles. Could you tell us about a particularly memorable experiment or project that pushed the boundaries of your artistic expression?

Yes, I love playing with light. The shoot where I pushed myself the most was in my ‘Art of Glass’ beauty series. For this series, I held different vases in front of the lens, creating a beautiful spherical viewpoint of the image that I simply could not recreate in post-production.

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And finally, tell us a NERDy fact about yourself 🙂

I absolutely love all types of puzzles whether it’s jigsaws, escape rooms, sudoku, or any puzzle where I have to solve something, I get so excited and even more when I complete it.

See more from Chantel here.

NERD Productions Welcomes Illustrator Amanda Lanzone

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Catching up with Amanda, we took a peek into her creative journey and explored her sources of inspiration, her favourite work,  and found out she really is a true NERD!

What has been the most exhilarating source of inspiration shaping your bold and playful style in illustration, and how has it evolved throughout your career?

I have always drawn from my own life and interests. I enjoy drawing the things I love, things I think would be clever, my surroundings, things inspired by memories, current happenings, or things I wish existed. Inspiration can really come from anywhere at any time. I have taken pictures of trash in the street because I liked how the colours looked together.

I think it’s very natural for an artist to continuously grow, and at the same time hone in on what makes them consistently and uniquely themselves. Over time, my style evolved naturally. I pretty much use the same base formula when I make new work, but expand it by tweaking things here and there. I just do what feels right to me at the time.

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Could you share with us a memorable project where you offered a clever creative angle to a concept, and how did you approach the process to achieve it?

Vice had me come up with some unique banners for each of the astrological signs for their horoscope section. This concept was inspired by a big corkboard I had in my childhood bedroom that had a bunch of my stuff stuck to it. (photos, drawings, stickers, tickets, small toys, crafts, trinkets, etc)

The creative process for this was very involved, but also very fun since they really let me run wild with this idea. I worked closely with an astrologer to come up with specific items to fill each sign’s ‘cork board’. Putting these together was meticulous since each item had a specific purpose behind it, which I still think is really cool when I look back on it.

As both an illustrator and a professor at the School of Visual Arts, how do you balance your creative pursuits with teaching and mentoring aspiring artists?

You have to make time for the things that are important to you. Both creating artwork and teaching are very rewarding to me. With my art, I do my own thing, and I guide each of my students to do their own thing, too.

I remember what it was like and how it felt when I was a student at SVA, I learned so much while I was there. And over the years, my career experiences and personal work have taught me things, too. I’m grateful to be at a point where I can pass my knowledge and help young artists blossom. Even as someone who now teaches others, my learning and development are constant.

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And finally, tell us a NERDy fact about yourself 🙂

I definitely have a bunch of niche interests, but some of my more ‘nerdy’ ones revolve around Japanese media. I have a few different old video game systems still plugged in. I never gave up playing games like Katamari Damacy and Dance Dance Revolution. I also still take care of Tamagotchi. I read manga and watch a lot of anime, too. ✌️

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See more from Amanda here.