• Steven Heller

Illuminating Artists and Designers

Rafael Vasquez has been photographing designers and illustrators for the past few years. He corners his subjects at events and asks them for permission to enter their homes and studios. “For me, the joy of the creative process of portraiture is the sublime path of happiness in my life,” he writes. He plays with light in ways that underscore this joy. With a light pen he paints his subject in a glow that he captures with the camera. The random hits of light make for surprising results, that he then prints on a luminescent paper. He captures evocative aspects of his subjects as they subliminally follow the flow of the lighting wand. I asked Vasquez how he developed his technique . . .

Edward Sorel, caricaturist.

“I came across the technique out of frustration and desperation. Before using a camera, I used a paint brush and before that, a pencil to create my images. The problem laid in that I couldn’t get my ideas out fast enough with a brush and oil paints.I was proficient enough with a camera to get into SVA. In my first class there was a demonstration called “Painting With Light.” The instant I heard the words I knew the technique would be the answer to my creative block. So my canvas went from white to black, which makes more sense to me because when we are asked to imagine something, many times we are asked to close our eyes. What I create comes from that darkness.”

“My brush is now a hand held light, and the canvas is the black. The colors are always there, but only the necessary ones revealed. Decisions still have to be made on composition, content, subject matter and intention.”

“The satisfaction comes in the ability to create a work that expresses what I am, in a manner that, for me, is closer to painting than photography. And that is important to me. I’m still painting, but now with an infinite amount of colors on a black canvas.”

Here are his latest collection of portraits. Each is imbued with distinctive haunting yet human allure.

Louise Fili, designer, type designer, author.

Marshall Arisman, painter, illustrator, author.

Steven Brodner, caricaturist, illustrator, activist.

Steven Heller, author, educator, gadfly.

Bob Gill, designer, author, educator.

Gail Anderson, art director, designer, typographer, author.

George Lois, advertising wunderkind, author.

Judith Wilde, artist, educator, author.

Richard Wilde, educator, art director, author.

Seymour Chwast, illustrator, painter, sculptor, designer, author, pioneer.

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