Friday, August 15, 2014

Kickstarter Project Signal Boost: "Temple of Art" Documentary To Unveil the Life of Artists

Click pic for larger version
"Temple of Art" is such an interesting documentary Kickstarter project that involves an astounding number of artists, like Bill Sienkiewicz, Jason Shawn Alexander, Jim Mahfood, Stephanie Inagaki, David Mack and Grant Morrison. And these are just a few people from over 50 wonderful creators who aim to unveil the life of an artist, what art means to them and how they connect with the people and world around them. The brainchild of "Temple of Art" (which incidentally started out as a 2-year photography project) is Allan Amato.

Red Dot Diva first heard of photographer Allan Amato through artist David Mack's social networks. Also, Allan Amato was the one who took an awesome black and white profile photograph of David, which was later used quite often as David's promotional picture when he here for last year's Singapore Toy, Games and Comic Convention (STGCC). The photo is in fact used again for this year's guest profile pic as David is returning to the island this September!

The project was launched just before this year's Comic-Con and the accompanying panel that featured Allan Amato as moderator, together with collaborators David Mack, Bill Sienkiewicz, Jason Shawn Alexander, Barron Storey, Dave McKean, Kent Williams, Grant Morrison, Ryan Graff, Stephanie Inagaki and Jon Schnepp. The room was packed to the brim with interested fans and media. (Unfortunately, Red Dot Diva had another media op at the same time and was unable to be there in person.)

Currently, there are a few more days left to the "Temple of Art" Kickstarter. To add a little boost to the fund-raising campaign and to bring more awareness about the project to this side of the globe, Red Dot Diva has asked Allan Amato to provide a little more details about himself and the unique project.

Allan Amato - Rugged handsome, yes?

Red Dot Diva: Tell us a little about yourself.
Allan: I’ve always done art and dabbled in lots of art forms but I always thought photography would be a fun thing to pursue. I felt like I had a knack for it, but it’s a very expensive hobby so I never really pursued it. I’ve always had really grandiose ideas that I could never realize as a painter or an illustrator -- photography was the medium that was missing, but I needed that push, which was provided oddly by Hurricane Katrina. Once that happened, I attacked it. I bought lights, the camera. I didn’t care about the money -- I put it all on credit cards. I photographed anything...I just sort of chipped away at it, was always in a good mood, and always felt really confident that I would succeed. The transition from shooting your friends to all of a sudden shooting Terry Gilliam -- that’s a weird transition. I don’t know how that happened. It just happened one day.

Red Dot Diva: How did the idea of the "Temple of Art" project come about?
Photo reference: A David Mack Portrait
Allan: I photographed David Mack, the visionary writer and artist behind Kabuki.  The images that resulted were and continue to be some of my all time favorites, and we both got along fantastically due largely to our rugged, yet strangely vulnerable good looks. (Red Dot Diva: No argument there! *grin*)  I felt compelled to do a little brushwork in photoshop to one of the shots, but thought to myself (though I believe I was moving my lips at the time) - how cool would it be if David painted over the image itself, thereby making it one of a kind, rather than an infinitely reproducible digital file?

Shortly thereafter, David brought the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz to the studio, and what began as an attempt to enslave David for the next decade as my indentured artist and all round valet, became the germ for "Temple of Art", which has at last count enslaved and/or encouraged over 50 artists to sit for a portrait with me,  then drawing, collaging, painting, etc on the final printed image.  Pillars of the comics industry like Dave Mckean, David Mack and Bill Sienkiewicz rubbing ink dusted elbows with fine art giants Kent Williams, Barron Storey and Jason Shawn Alexander.  By merging the objectivity of portrait photography with the subjectivity  of drawing, painting, and sculpture, the artist is contextualized within the constructed reality of their own work.  

Red Dot Diva: What would the format of the documentary be like? What topics would it cover?
Allan: I'd like to include a few minutes with each of the 55 artists talking about their process, how they hack a life within art, and how they make ideas real. As well as talk about their influences and the artists, writers and musicians they admire.  The difficult part is going to be how to keep the film under 2 hours with so many incredible talents!

Red Dot Diva: What do you aim to achieve from this project?
Allan: As a full-time photographer I engage in a daily meditation on art as a spiritual and alchemical practice; that nevertheless demands relentless hustle and a pathological immunity to rejection. During the shoots I found myself asking the artists about their processes and motivations, and drawing comparisons with my own approach to photography and portraiture.  But how best to surround and consummate the conversations, the artists and the Work?
This is what I hope to achieve with the film. My own creative process tends to involve a simple conversation initially; its my way of making my subject more at ease. Talking during the initial stage of the shoot, and letting the subject get familiar with the pop of the lights and my position looming in front of them. The first images are always odd with mouths agape and eyes half closed, but as the shoot progresses, I slowly begin to suggest movement and poses.

One of the Kickstarter rewards: David Mack of Stephanie Inagaki
The book and show are a done deal, together with Baby Tattoo and La Luz de Jesus. But those conversations, those are what began to obsess me. We all talked about creativity, the difficulty of our vocations, the flow state within art....

55 artists later, all I could think of was that a film simply had to be. I actually began before crowdfunding it, but found myself in a financial hole almost from the outset. Hence my hope through Kickstarter, that others would love the idea and maybe pitch in to make it happen.  And in addition to the book and film rewards, many artists graciously donated sketches and whole paintings to the project! The Bill Sienkiewicz/ David Mack "Neil Gaiman" collaborations are my personal favorites!

Red Dot Diva: To-date, what has been your most memorable project?
Allan: Definitely this one. I've been at it for 2.5 years, met a stunningly talented group of people, and been both inspired and educated.  My approach to photography has changed forever thanks to this project.

Red Dot Diva: Tell us something interesting / funny about another person involved in “Temple of Art” which not many people may know of.
Allan: David Mack can go downstairs on his hands. Not an easy feat!
Red Dot Diva: WOW  -(๑☆‿ ☆#)ᕗ

Red Dot Diva: What has been the most challenging part of this project so far.
Allan: I think galvanizing the diaspora, trying to get the signals from so many people pointed to the project in time, particularly with the money required to even begin.

More samples of Kickstarter rewards

Red Dot Diva: Fully funded or not, what do you think you've learned from your experience with this Kickstarter project?
Allan: I think we've done everything right for the most part, but not sure I'd compete with the myriad other signals boosting throughout Comic-Con ever again. Its a great place to build awareness but not
to raise money.

There isn't much out there with this level of firepower to begin with, with a bird's eye view into the process of so many incredible humans. Here's hoping it resonates.


And if the "Temple of Art" Kickstarter project resonates with readers, local/ regional artists and fans and out there, do help contribute or spread the word around. The rewards offered are such rare, one-of-a-kind works by the various artists involved.

Hurry though! There are just a few days left to the crowd-funding!


Red Dot Diva has two "Temple of Art" postcards autographed by David Mack to randomly giveaway to two people who have shared this post on their Facebook page or Twitter.

The giveaway will end on 21 August, Thursday, 9 PM Singapore time.

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