Framed group portrait by Abigail Varney, digital print 2013.
Full collector disclosure - this one isn't "mine"... I bought it for my partner and it hangs on our wall at home, so I guess it's "ours"?? Guhhh, OK, it's His.
In a bit of a panicked state back in 2013, it was rapidly approaching my partner Nick's 30th birthday. While listing off things he loves in my head (art, dressing up, attention, being immortalised, his friends, a bit of a project) I had a lightbulb moment; I would make him the star of his own photoshoot featuring his closest friends, doubling as a small party. Ding!
First things first, finding a photographer - Lucky for us the year before I had met and befriended incredible young photographer Abigail Varney. Abi works mainly in fine art landscape / street photography, portraiture, and shoots the occasional wedding to pay the bills. Having studied at Melbourne's Photography Studies College, completed an NYC internship with Mary Ellen Mark, had a hand full of exhibitions, and some very impressive portrait commissions under her belt (but not yet the jet-setting-rockstar artist she will surely become), Abi was at the perfect point in her career for me to approach her with a commission and not feel like she might regret getting involved. Also, we got along really well so I knew she'd be the perfect fit for the unconventional shoot I had in mind.
The second lucky-for-us was that Nick at the time was building a bar with a 400 capacity band room and a ten meter stage to boot. The venue (Howler, in Brunswick) was nearing completion, so as a long shot I asked his boss if we could use the band room as our backdrop. In an incredible act of generosity, he said yes. (Looking back, that was an immensely trusting leap he took there, thanks Brendan!)
I'd had a little bit of experience in styling and wardrobe (and quite frankly couldn't afford to pay a professional to do it) so I came up with an easy to follow theme loosely based around the Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet gatefold artwork. There was no lighting at the venue at that stage, nor was there much else of use to us really, so it was a case of all hands on deck to help in the set up. We dragged in the huge table, props from where ever we could find them, hooked up a couple of work lights, and set about making the scene look genuine with the pizzas and booze until Abigail arrived.
I'm not sure how many frames Abi took, it must have been like herding cats for her, I'm almost certain that at least one of us was blinking, blurry, or absent in every single shot - except this one. Thankfully, one is all you need right?
I realise this particular way of collecting artwork is a bit more involved than usual. It isn't like a Pinterest scenario where you can have a crack at DIY-ing along at home, and I know that it's pretty rare to have access to a band room, set, or costumes, or outrageously gorgeous friends(!), but I highly recommend it none the less. There's an endless array of emerging photographers out there, especially those willing to work outside the box, it's a win, win really. All you need do is ask.
Artwork - Nick and Friends, 2013, digital print, framed.
Price - Arrround $600ish inc frame (excluding pizzas etc.)
Purchased via - Abigail Varney
Find out more:
Michael Joseph's Beggars Banquet
Howler Bar and Theatre
Nick and Friends, by Abigail Varney, digital print 2013.
The Humble Collector.
By sharing the unique stories of how I came to own the art I do, I hope to show you that not only is buying art for your home exciting, enriching and painless, but it's undeniably rewarding for all involved.