The Journey has just begun …

Just back from outer space where we enjoyed a fantastic 24 hour light show where environment and art were coming together. And so now it is time to wonder on great questions mankind and bricks alike have been asking for centuries, like where are we coming from, where are we going to and things like what is art ?

When I asked this question to Lady G. she told me I was lucky and that art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as a painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

So when Meg explained in the comments section of Shelly quest for live after IG ” … that the value of images like this are simply to put a smile on someone’s face. That’s what it does for me …” I do think that a smile is for sure an appreciation or sign of beauty or emotional power and we at least make one part of the definition.

An appreciation, a smile, a like …

The discussion then continues with Mike throwing in the other side of the discussion that likes and being popular is not what it is all about.

And I agree.

I agree completely with Mike and Banksy quote about being famous and the eternal question why one goes to a restaurant (which is after all more as just getting the basic nutrition in and the waste out) .

Now, how does one measure success in triggering this appreciation or emotional power, the smile on Meg face ?

How does one measure his or her engagement with the audience ?

How do we know we are doing something more as just pasting time away or developing our own skillsets for our own pleasure ?

And this is where likes on IG do come in to play.

It is the recognition of other people (and bricks) that what we are doing is putting a smile on their face, or triggers an emotional power within strong enough to move that tumb so slightly up to hit the like and show some appreciation or engage in the discussion.

Other people.  Strangers to us and we share our work with these people, with the world.

Not to become famous, but to be able to engage.

And there are some numbers and rules out there that give a deeper insight in these engagement ratios and some people and services are taking these numbers into a mathematical game, but if you dont try to play the number game, 500 likes on a 2.5K follower base (the Shelly example) tells you that the picture did trigger a smile and an engagement with its audience on 620 by 620 canvas.

But is that enough ?

Is 5K likes on IG the end game ?

No, and here I am completely with Shelly, we have to storm the walls outside IG and make sure our art bring that smile also inside the real house, not just in a fantastic app.

The framed in print, signed and stuck against a brick wall, triggering that smile everytime someone walks by the image.
 

Stuck In Plastic is all about that.

Taking our work to the next level of the journey …

Earth Hour™

As most of you know by now, I was stuck at the end of the runaway of a major non disclosed airport (the third busiest of planet Earth) for the bigger part of last week and was suffering major connectivity problems in our meeting room (one could wonder if this was Faraday taking protective measures) …

Shelly has been touching on some great topics going from the whole IG like debate to the inner self of what art means for all of us (being a rebel or not) and how #stuckinplastic plays a role in this …

And while I would like to take the debate to the next level (yes, I do have strong opinions about all of it) I am stuck here on the outer side of the Death Star enjoying the great Earth Hour and want you to continue the fantastic show of respect to Mother Earth that is happening now …

Continue to tag your pictures and post to #earthhour as we try to save our Planet Earth !

Banksy is My Hero!

Weird things happen when Me2 disappears into one of his top secret assignments. I tend to go off topic…like now. 


“The time of getting fame for your name on its own is over. Artwork that is only about wanting to be famous will never make you famous. Any fame is a by-product of making something that means something. You don’t go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit.” – Banksy


This quote was included in the comments in one of my previous post by the talented @mister_bricks. He altered the quote slightly by replacing “fame” with “likes”.  This quote resonated with me and I felt it was appropriate to revisit the topic “Is Their Life Beyond Instagram?”

I’ll be clear, I’m not looking for likes for my photos. I create them for my own pleasure. I enjoy the Instagram community that has nurtured and inspired me for the last two years. But posting pictures on Instagram can only be satisfying for so long. 

I believe that one of our goals here at Stuckinplastic is to unite like minded photographers who would like to take their toy photography to a new level. Specifically, showing them in real life. This could include displaying them at a cafe in your neighborhood, creating a pop up art gallery or some version of gorilla street art a la Banksy. Whatever or wherever our imaginations take us is fine by me. 


Let’s storm the gates, let’s create an art movement, let’s rejoice in the fact that we are brothers in arms that just happen to be stuck in plastic!

– xxsjc

Is their life beyond Instagram?

Yesterday, I was out taking photos with my good buddy Mr. S (the genius behind Bricksailboat) and we had an interesting conversation regarding our involvement in Instagram and if there is life beyond Instagram for our photographs. After some introspection (not my strong suit), I realized this is what Me2 and I are trying to find out. He is currently attempting to move our mutual fans from Instagram to Facebook or Google+ and ultimately to this blog, through his generous print giveaway. He of course has had some initially success, but I began to wonder what the ultimate end game was? 

Through my professional career I have watched photography become embraced by the masses with the advent of the phone camera. Many of these photos are distributed through social media sites like Facebook (350 million per day as of 2/2/13) and Instagram (55 million a day as of 3/6/2014) and many more never even leave the phones or cameras they are taken on. That is one hell of a lot of photos per day!! How does one even get noticed amongst this fire hose of images? Is it even necessary to get noticed? Why do we take photos in the first place? 

Me2 mentioned a Pandoras Box when we talked earlier about editing apps, but to me this might be the ultimate question: Why do we do what we do here? Or more specifically: Why do I take photographs that will (realistically) only be seen by a few friends and my family? 

Below is my most liked photo ever on Instagram and it makes me wonder if getting 500+ likes is about as good as it’s going to get? What do you think? 

– xxsjc

A little competition …

Like us on Facebook !

As you most probably know by now Shelly and me are having a little friendly competition going on here at #stuckinplastic on who can get the most engagement on G+ or FB.

Our lottery handed me the FB pages, and what better than to organize a little Easter Egg Surprise Lottery with an exclusive Me2 print.

Everyone who likes us on facebook automatically gets his or her name entered in the Easter egg and an innocent hand will pick the lucky three winners (yes, we have three signed prints reserved for you).

Now, you can seriously increase your chances (up to 5 times) by sharing this blog, reposting on instagram or sharing the love anyway you see fit (be creative and show us here or on FB and instagram).

The rules are simple.

Everyone that likes #stuckinplastic will enter our gigantic easter egg, and the innocent hand will draw the lucky three winners (yes, we have 3 signed prints reserved for you).

Only one print per household. 

Likes counted on Easter Saturday 19th April 2014.

Official drawing happens on Easter Sunday 2014

So get going and spread the word, like us here at 100% stuck in plastic and you may find an extra easter egg coming your way !

A Brave New Future!

We will definitely get back to the Pandoras Box alluded to in the last couple of posts. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves I want to back track a little it.

When I mentioned earlier that I had left both Facebook and Twitter in the same day, I probably didn’t mention that it was in one of those self destructive moods I occasionally find myself in. I certainly don’t regret the decision to essentially explode my social media life, but I realize in hindsight it was absolutely necessary. 
As an artist I like to occasionally reinvent myself. First I was a fine arts photographer for 20 years (back when that actually meant something), then a rocktographer and then a videographer. All those iterations of myself have created connections. I felt constrained by these connections and I wanted to rid myself of them. I have faith that anyone I have a meaningful connection with will find me again. 
So for three weeks I was blissfully free. No twitter, no FB, no one metaphorically looking over my shoulder. This has ended rather suddenly and I am back on Twitter and I have replaced FB with Google Plus, all for a good cause. I am committed to growing #StuckinPlastic into something meaningful and of course making a few new friends along the way. 
I want to thank everyone who has already connected with us via FB and G+. Our community is growing and I couldn’t be more pleased. If you are on Twitter, please look us up there too. 
So here is to exploding the past in the name of moving forward into a brave new future. 
– xxsjc

Total Meltdown

Total Meltdown

When Shelly opened up the pandora box of where do you want to take your editing I felt the complete scala of rainbow colors (and beyond) passing by and was actually pretty close to a total meltdown experience.

The question is maybe too large to answer in our life time but it is still a question we have to ask ourselves and is for sure part of every photographers inner monologue and will pop up here once in a while at #stuckinplastic (and we even may find its own #hashtag for it).

When IG (instagram for those of you who are not into acronyms) took filtering and direct feel good snapshots to the next level on the iPhone, we actually took the quick snapshots into the next level and added some magic to it that was previously only reserved to the inner crowd.

And that is great, and we should embrace it, explore it, extend it, use it, filter the heck out of it ….

Now, at the same time it is actually just that, taking your picture to the next level.
It is liberating the inner beauty of what is already there.
It is extrapolating it, magnifying, making it more visible.
But it can only do as much with the RAW (pun intended) material we present it.
A bad composition will not turn into a masterpiece because we apply a Hefe (not the beer, the filter) or a Lord Kelvin to it.

And sometimes we will push a good composition and well lit balance over the edge and ruin the experience with post processing and filters.

I love HDR (especially the kind that takes a tripod, a golden hour, 3 exposures and some heavy post processing in the studio and when you post it no one actually thinks it’s HDR and just loves the scene), I love filters, I love artificial lightening, I love cleanup as ultimately the picture needs to be telling the story, be magic, pulling you in, regardless of the tools used …

Now at the same time I love a low ISO, an f stop that gives me a bokeh I cannot artificially recreate and glass that allows me to blow up my pictures full frame without the need to crop (you know the whole macro discussion) and deep down I believe in craft to reach art …

So, will we discuss “technique” here on #stuckinplastic ?

Yes, for sure (unless you tell us to shut up and tell us you only want the pictures).

So whenever it make sense or Shelly decides to open up the box of magic we may be taking a deep dive in filters and techniques …

Let us know in the comments below what you think about “post processing” …

Totally M.

How far is too far?

With the prevalence of filters and their relative ease of use, how far is too far?
Rarely do I jump at the bait of contests on IG, usually I’m too busy doing my own thing. But recently one caught my eye and I decided to try my hand. The parameters are pretty simple: create an image using Snapseed’s HDR Scape filter. This is not a filter I ever use favoring a more natural look to my photos, but hey, trying new things is good! Right? So I present to you a before and after of one of the images I submitted. Personally I felt I had taken this image about as far as I could using this app, but I was informed by one of the judges I had not taken it to the “ludicrous” level. I laughed and told him I had! Maybe we just started at two different points on the editing spectrum.
Should I take my editing even farther? Where do you stop? Is this even a relevant discussion? 
I’m sure Me2 will have something witty to say.  
~ xxsjc 

Ready or not…


Three weeks ago I impulsively shut down my Facebook and Twitter accounts (more on this later), of course this was before “The Wager”. Me2 and I have a little friendly competition going to see who can get the word out fastest regarding our collaboration #StuckinPlastic. I chose Google+ as my preferred social media platform and with much bravado and trash talk set off on my quest to get the word out. Well maybe I spoke too soon. They few friends I have connected with on G+ are from my past lives and aren’t active anymore; my battle will be decidedly uphill. 


In a moment of weakness I reactivated my FB account, thinking I could lurk around the edges and help promote this new endeavor; boy was I wrong. After seeing my feed again, my reaction was instantaneous and visceral. I fled as fast as my curser could find “log out”. I may have to concede this competition to Me2 sooner than I might like, but not without reaching out and making a few new friends along the way. So all you G+ AFOL Lego community members… ready or not, here I come! 
~ xxsjc