Andy Warhol had the Factory and Alisha Goldstein has nice people.
Six years after leaving New York to build a new life in Los Angeles, the photographer is gathering all the cool, creative people she’s met as muses for a project predicated on the low-tech Polaroid. She began collecting the instant cameras a few years ago, finding some on eBay and buying one from a friend. Rotating through six machines, she started snapping portraits of people who made pit stops at the Hollywood headquarters of her brand development firm called Jane Smith Agency.
“We just had these interesting people coming through,” Goldstein said, a bit jet-lagged after her once-a-month sojourn to Tokyo for business. “It was also loosely inspired by the Andy Warhol Polaroid book and how he documented the times. And he did Polaroids of the people who went through the Factory. Not to compare what we’re doing with that, it was a loose interpretation of that. It’s documenting the revival in Los Angeles. The city has changed a lot in the last few years.
“It seemed like a really natural fit to document what other people are doing and create a creative platform that connects them all together.”
The platform is none other than the Internet, where Goldstein plans to premiere a portal today with a dozen subjects — including actress Caity Lotz, rapper Yung Jake, model Jac Jagaciak, chef Ari Taymor, 16-year-old dancer Larsen Thompson and Gigi and Bella’s big sister Alana Hadid — and short interviews that elicit haiku poems as well as opinions on dream dinner party guests. Blanda Eggenschwiler, a Swiss artist who’s collaborated with fashion brands such as Barbara Bui and Topshop, enlivened the plain Polaroids with vibrant streaks and languid drawings that are digitally overlaid on the pictures. On her own portrait, she etched a woman curled around her visage.
Plus, a red smear leavened the serious stare given by Adonis Bosso, who’s recognized for his ad campaigns with Ports 1961 and John Elliott.
As of last week, Goldstein has photographed 42 people, each allowed 10 shots from a single pack of film. The aim is to release three additional portraits a week.
“We may end up making it a book,” Goldstein said. Proving how she has adapted to the L.A. lifestyle, she’s also drawing up T-shirts and tote bags printed with the Polaroids. “But chic ones,” she noted, differentiating her designs from the cloth carryalls that have replaced plastic bags around town. In the world’s entertainment capital, where many have perfected pitches for TV shows and movies that are short enough to unreel on a walk across a parking lot, she also has her own tagline: “Friends, lovers, co-conspirators, the extraordinary, the eccentrics, the famous and enigmatic. A chronicle of the creative times in Los Angeles.”
On the other hand, a creative streak doesn’t guarantee automatic entry into Goldstein’s group. Part of her modus operandi is “steering clear from dealing with people who were, just plain and simple, not nice,” she explained. Hence, the name of the club’s web site: nicepeopleonly.com.
Ugo Mozie got his foot in the door via an introduction by a friend. Born in Nigeria and raised in Houston and Los Angeles, he’s worked in public relations for Vivienne Westwood and in fashion by styling Teyana Taylor, Joe Jonas, Chris Brown and Nick Cannon. He’s now applying his expertise with aesthetics to rebranding Nigeria’s Arik Airlines and designing new uniforms for the pilots and flight attendants. Hoping to inspire other young Africans interested in the arts, he’s spearheading an institute in Nigeria for creative youth. He draws on the energy of artists descending on the City of Angels.
“L.A. has the power,” he said. “It’s a strong movement.”
For his Polaroids, he sported a crisp white shirt offset by a brown headband accented with red and yellow bars. Blanda picked up on the color scheme, brushing red and yellow lines up and down his picture.
“I’m not a model or anything. I’m not the most comfortable in front of a camera,” Mozie said. The thought of spotting his face on a shirt or bag makes him laugh. “I’m not one who is used to having my image and likeness like that,” he said.
Ever the creative, Goldstein sees something unique and special in each photo.
“There are no images that we don’t like,” she said. “Even if they’re off, they look good. Polaroids all look good.”