Category Archives: Four and Sons

Dog Run-Four, 19th March 2013

FourAndSons_DogRun_04Photography: Michael Crouser

The Running of the Dogs

Michael Crouser’s Dog Run was never intended to be what it became. The series of provocative black and white photographs of mutts interacting in urban playgrounds (or ‘dog runs’), was initially supposed to be figure studies of Great Danes in motion, bringing to life Crouser’s elegant visions of  “musculature, movement, shapes and glistening coats.” Residing on the sidelines however, Crouser became a voyeur to a far more complex situation—dogs playing wildly with no regard to being watched. Fascinated by their interaction, the photographer shot over several years what would become Dog Run, “some very intense, very goofy images of eyes and tongues and legs and tails flying around.”

Though he has never had a dog himself, he couldn’t help but be drawn on his runs around the Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis to the relatively new phenomenon of the urban dog park; and the sea of dogs that inhabited them. In fact, he often found it rather therapeutic remaining motionless for hours on end whilst the animals around him went wild.

Crouser’s strong aesthetic is far from the saccharine soaked displays we so often see of perfectly groomed golden pups playing with balls in ribbon-threaded baskets. These dogs were shot as they really are, raw in monochrome. Yes, the images are intense, however they are not entirely dark, and are often tinged with humour.

Crouser explains, “I’ve been asked more than once ‘What’s with the darkness? What’s with the intensity?’ I can only say that if photography is a personal expression, then I must be tapping into a darker, more intense, more emotional side with photography than I’m able to otherwise. I don’t think people see me as “dark” in mood or in character, but there is a lot of intensity and heaviness, and even violence in my photography, but also quiet humor. I believe that the most successful of my photographs, and the larger collection of works put together are really a pretty true reflection of myself. I sometimes feel that my more personal work has more in common with painting or rough pottery or certain types of music than it does with much that is out there in the photography world. I don’t expect everyone to see that, it’s just how it feels.”

Crouser continues to hone his “magical” craft, and admits he is constantly learning and improving, publishing his works for others to see and consider, but ultimately embarking on a very personal journey. With his camera now pointed on his next project The Ranch (a series depicting the disappearing world of cattle ranches in the Colorado hills), it’s a certainty his intelligent aesthetic will be thriving for years to come.

Dog Run-Four, 19th March 2013

Ware the Dog-Four, 27th February 2013

FourAndSons_WareOfTheDog_032Image courtesy of Ware of the Dog

Ware It Well

Tom Scott and Jackie Rosenthal know a thing or two about fashion. Jackie worked for many years as Sales Director and merchandiser for several fashion houses in both New York and Paris, and Tom spent seven years at Ralph Lauren before starting his own line of atypical knitwear in 2001. The two met through a mutual friend one New Year’s Eve in New York and the two became fast friends.

It was only a matter of time then that Tom’s skills in textile and fashion design would merge with Jackie’s background in business and sales and enthusiasm for modern design. Enter Ware of the Dog. Says Rosenthal “We were walking the dogs one summer afternoon in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and started talking about how fun it would be to design a line of pet accessories. We walked by a “Beware of the Dog” sign on a fence and the name was born.”

From here Rosenthal’s Coton De Tulear Hugo and Scott’s 12 year old Beagle Linus became modern muses for their stylish line of gear for the modern mutt, with Hugo playing inspiration for the hairy sweater and Linus modelling for their sleek website’s sketches (when he wasn’t angling for snacks that is).

While they are inspired by art, film and modern design, each piece is made with a whole lot more.“Tom and I work a lot from a feeling, an emotion more so than a concrete reference. We hope to offer innovative, beautifully made products for dogs. The company was started on the basis of creation, so we are constantly trying to make things in a way that is different from what you currently find in the pet accessory market,” says Rosenthal.

All the great creatives put a little love into their products, and these two are no exception, with everything from product execution to site photography to marketing strategies reflecting their “sense of humor, love of design and craftsmanship.”

While Ware of the Dog currently focuses on jumpers, leashes and collars, there are many exciting new challenges in the pipeline too, including a series of artist collaborations, international expansion and all new items for Fall 2013.  There’s exciting times ahead and these two are doing it in style.

wareofthedog.com

Ware the Dog-Four, 27th February 2013

Peludos-Four, 15th January 2013

FourMagazine_Peludos_01Image courtesy of Peludos
Photography by Jonay PMatos
Illustrations by Manu Griñon, David García, Eva Solano and Abel Cuevas

Do-good dogs

Karolina Arija Ax is one of those unsung heroes who quietly goes about her business whilst changing the world around her bit by bit, day by day. Her way? T-shirts.

In 2011 Arija founded Peludos (‘hairy’ in Spanish), the Madrid-based t-shirt brand. Together with partners Álvaro Ortiz and Maria Serret de Ena, Peludos has enlisted the help of numerous talented creatives to design apparel which benefit not only the wearer, but countless others as well. Arija explains “The market needs more socially committed brands. If you sell something, sell something with real values, something people can relate to, something that fills important gaps or helps society in some way. If you’re going to consume, whatever it is, the best feeling is knowing that you made a good choice and you contributed to a better living for whom it may concern (and not only the CEO).”

Each t-shirt is 100% cotton, screen printed locally in Madrid with all factory employees operating under appropriate working conditions. Each edition is printed in limited numbers and once the t-shirts are sold, all proceeds are donated to an animal shelter. The first run raised $700 and benefited the Madrid-based ANAA shelter.

Says Arija of her chosen beneficiaries, “I noticed that a lot of pet lovers knew nothing about animal shelters nor about adoption, and that they were willing to help but didn’t know how. I really admire the work animal shelters do; rescuing, caring for, housing and giving infinite love to these poor animals that have had such bad luck. As far as I know, all animal shelters are financed by private donors and the people who work there are volunteers who give their lives for the cause. It’s incredible.”

Each time a collection is produced, the Peludos team looks for new ways to improve the quality and essence of the product, such as switching to non-toxic ink, and screen-printing all garments by hand. The designs are modern and fresh, in a rainbow of colours and are as varied as the artists who have made their mark on them. As well as the designers, all those responsible for the brand, graphics and visuals are conscious of making a positive change, and many have an adopted dog of their own. “I love culture and think it’s necessary for our existence, so I started the brand motivated by offering great products designed by people that were culturally involved.”

Arija has her hands full with several other dog and community-skewed projects, including a workshop for kids who sang for a dog that had been in a shelter for a year to appease his loneliness (he was adopted two weeks later!), and a festival for dogs in Malmö, Sweden, giving dog owners a reward for their endless love replete with concerts, art and workshops.

To learn more about Peludos click here
To support Peludos and buy t-shirts, go to shop.aaapeludos.com

Peludos-Four, 15th January 2013

Kubrick the Dog-Four, 19th December 2012

FourMagazine_Kubrick_06Image courtesy of Sean Ellis

A Dog Odyssey

At Four&Sons we meet a lot of pretty cool dogs. Kubrick, the beloved four-legged friend of photographer Sean Ellis, may just be the coolest. Just like his namesake, Hungarian Vizsla Kubrick lived an artistic existence, and before his death of cancer in 2009 shared a highly creative life with his master.

Ellis, a self-taught photographer, began taking photos at age 11 in his hometown of Brighton, England — a world away from the fast paced lifestyle he exists in today. “I got into photography because of my father. He was a keen amateur and showed me how to set an exposure on our family camera. I was hooked from then” he recalls.

When he moved to London in 1994, Ellis began his swift ascent up the fashion photography ladder, gradually building a client list which reads better than an Academy or CFDA Awards guest list and a portfolio which includes the likes of acclaimed fashion bibles i-D, The Face and various international Vogue’s and BAZAAR’s. He has also delved into the world of filmmaking including the Oscar-nominated short Cashback, and created ad campaigns for everyone from H&M to Jean Paul Gaultier.

Along the way Kubrick remained by Ellis’ side, accompanying the photographer at every turn to become a part of the action himself. Says Ellis, “throughout his life Kubrick accompanied me on most of my shoots. I just got into the habit of taking a portrait of him with whoever I was working with.”

Such is the impressive caliber of these shoots they have now been compiled into a book, Kubrick the Dog, which includes the best images of Kubrick throughout his life. The coffee table tome consists of 12 years of pictures — some from photoshoots, others documenting his battle with cancer. With a forward text by old friend and fashion icon Stella McCartney, the book showcases a dog who was a little bit naughty and a little bit human. A dog who was just as much at home on set as he was making a beeline for diners picnic baskets at the park.

Compiling the images was “cathartic” says Ellis, and he is thrilled so many people will get to enjoy Kubrick’s life just as he did over the years.  A beautiful book with a whole lot of heart, we think Kubrick would be proud

To see more of Sean Ellis’s work click here
Kubrick the dog is available at Amazon

Kubrick the Dog-Four, 19th December 2012

Free Stitch-Four, 3rd October 2012

Free Stitch

Easy Peasy Japanesey

Residents of Tokyo have long been known for their ability to start trends, go wild, and never do things by halves — and their pets are by no means an exception. Such is the concept behind Free Stitch. The dog accessory label started by a group of Tokyo-based graphic designers hungry for simple and high quality apparel for their dogs has since morphed into an extensive range of beautiful goods.

Says Director Tomofumi Komori, “Japanese suppliers, retailers and consumers are looking towards the future of pet care in Japan, and are encouraging a balanced lifestyle between owners and their dogs. To others, it may seem like Japanese people are too crazy about their pets but for us it is just another way of enjoying our lives with our pets.”

Free Stitch’s parent company, Full Size Image Corp, is known for brand identities and design for fashion and interiors and everything in between; and the expertise carries through to the dog line. The understated products stand out precisely as a result of their high-quality design and sophistication; and range from dog collars and jackets to tote bags and bedding (with most materials sourced locally.)

The campaigns, which are nothing short of gorgeous, are shot by in-house photographers renowned for their portraiture skills. The pups featured are in themselves an interesting bunch found in all manner of places. Some, like cute Chihuahua Papiko, were scouted at a charity photoshoot (she ended up with second place after killing it in the clothes), others are selected from applications submitted through their website. As part of their ongoing animal support, Free Stitch also ensure at least one dog included in the catalogue comes from a shelter “to encourage people to change their lives with their pets for the better through the brand message.”

The company’s approach is to never take themselves too seriously, and still manage to create a quality result. Says Komori, “I think it’s important to have a sense of humor when working with animals because a lot of things go wrong or sometimes the dogs don’t do what we want to them do, however I also think that running this company needs a sense of balance. It is important to be serious about the challenges we face and our commitment to quality, but also to enjoy the working environment and the joys of working with pets”.

With such fine products and a brand made with heart, Free Stitch is on the right track.

Images Courtesy of Free Stitch

Free Stitch-Four, 3rd October 2012

Charlotte Cory-Four, 12th September 2012

Charlotte CoryModern Menagerie

The Darwinian evolutionary theory is a well-known historical premise, which suggests that all living species are descendants of common ancestors – be they apes, plants, genetic mutations or the like.

The work of writer and artist Charlotte Cory explores this theory and takes it one step further with her series You Animal, You!, where artworks referencing the classic carte de visite style of photographic portraiture is given modern, surrealist twist with the inclusion of animal heads. From pigs and apes, to birds and of course dogs, this technicolour animal farm is striking when contrasted alongside the vintage wares of yesteryear.

With art in her blood (broth her grandfathers were artists and she inherited their paintboxes), Cory was always destined for a creative life, but the road wasn’t an easy one. Her parents weren’t at all keen on her attending art school so she instead enrolled in English and Medieval literature at University. In her final year however, fate intervened when she caught a paralysing virus in Seville which set her back three months. To make money and pay for her studies she sold her illustrations to publishers for book covers made on an old printing press, including about 50 woodcuts for Faber book titles and several pub signs.

Her work can’t be classified simply as photography as she almost ‘paints’ with the photos, manipulating everything into the pictures as well as applying collage techniques to give them a 3D effect. A typical piece takes shape over a vast period of time. Usually Cory owns the original picture, takes her own and after some time will merge them together, ensuring the right images are paired together.

When asked about the concept itself she says, “I am very interested in that first generation of people who lived with photography – and also lived with Darwin’s ideas. They lost their sense of being immortal and godlike – they were only animals. At the same time they acquired immortality by leaving perfect images of themselves behind them when they died. They were exciting, terrifying times – hence the transmogriphy in the artist/photographers’ studios. This is what we really look like…”

A woman on the move there is always a new project up Charlotte Cory’s sleeve, and she’s currently working on some fabulous furniture designs, as she continues to “seek world domination or at the very least, a whole alternative universe”. Watch this space.

All images courtesy of Charlotte Cory
You Animal, You! is published by Blackdog books

Charlotte Cory-Four, 12th September 2012

DOCA Pet-Four, 28th August 2012

DOCA

Built to last

In an era where every aspect of our lives can be intrinsically stylish in every way, it was only a matter of time before someone took the humble pet food and water bowls and turned them into something fabulous. A fine example of this new homewares trend comes from American designer Luke Wong, whose clean lines and slick creations are proving a hit amongst the style-conscious set.

Wong wasn’t always a pet furniture designer. Born and raised in Greenwood, Indiana; the founder and creative force of stylish dog and cat homewares label Doca Pet (the name is an amalgamation of DOg and CAt) originally studied interior architecture. After completing a BFA at the Art Institute of Chicago, and inspired by his pet Weimaraner Madyson, Wong turned his skills to pet products, and the results are just gorgeous.

Wong says “A lot of the products come from working with fabricators on other projects/pieces and just knowing the capabilities and kind of getting some ideas from design trends that are out there.” These include the Smorgasbord, a cubic stand with a unique raised wood grain texture and the Dogleg Diner, a retro look in powder coated steel that can suit a small or large pet animal friend.

All the pieces are modern and quite architectural — a nod to his background. Wong admits he is not much of a talker, so he expresses himself through design, his “outlet”. Every Doca Pet product is unique and different, but they all have the same modern aesthetic, produced using contemporary materials. The Smorgasbord for example is made using a resin/fiberglass fabricator, ensuring the product is consistent yet functional. Inspired by all manners of people including Donald Judd; at the end of the day Wong created Doca Pet to mix his love of design and commerce whilst producing work that people love.

“I like to design and I like business — Doca Pet allows me to marry the two. Being able to design products that people enjoy is awesome. I get a kick out of being able to see a company grow from an idea and to keep growing.”

With his beloved yet slightly nutty Madyson by his side, Wong is just going from strength to strength and is sure to be making his mark in homes across the globe.

DOCA Pet-Four, 28th August 2012