Erik Madigan Heck is not your average 25-year-old in the fashion and art industry’s. This guy has a portfolio and cv that is hard to compete with. Having photographed for designers such Lanvin, Rick Owens, Lacroix, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rodarte and Helmut Lang.
Erik’s work as a photographer, publisher and cultural theorist has intertwined significantly with the world of ‘A’ in 2010, as can be seen in Giambattista Valli’s A#10. The work of photographer and nomenus quarterly Erik Madigan Heck is consistently noteworthy. I am personally most impressed by the distinct style of photography he has developed. His shoots have a rinasciment aura.
Erik is a real breath of fresh air and an exciting prospect for the future of fashion imagery and publication. The following is an extended conversation between Dan Thawley of A Magazine and the artist Erik Madigan Heck, who is the Editor of Nomenus Quarterly (At 23 he launched it, it's an online magazine contributed to by iconic industry personalities). They discuss Heck’s working methods, his two most recent photographic series’ for Haider Ackermann and Undercover by Jun Takahashi, and his opinion on the state of fashion today.
|Erik Madigan Heck for Lanvin|
|Erik Madigan Heck for Rodarte|
|Erik Madigan Heck for Lacroix|
|Erik Madigan Heck for Giambattista Valli|
"I suppose I am an advocate of more considerate fashion photography, or at least fashion photography that can engage viewers outside of the very small industry that we work in. We have to keep in mind how small our industry really is, and how boring it can be if we just stick to glossy skin with standard fashion poses in a studio.
I attempt to use the clothing to talk about things other than just the clothing - things that may be in the back of our minds that are ultimately more important than just a shirt or pair of pants.
For the most part my professors dismissed fashion and fashion photography as a cheapened artistic practice that really didn’t have any relevance to the art world. I disagreed considerably, granted I was in an MFA program, not a fashion program, but I always felt that fashion could be discussed and considered with the same amount of thought and social depth as art photography is discussed.
For both types of photographs are a catalyst to discuss something larger, whether it’s a portrait of a woman by Katy Grannan hung in Chelsea, or a portrait of Guinevere in a fashion spread, you can speak about both images in relation to feminism or the current role of women if you choose to take the conversation there.
Yes we are [in the business of selling a product], and in Art it’s also about selling a product too. A painting or a sculpture are also commercial products, but there are ways to create that can stimulate minds and conversation, and there are ways to do it where we are just filling pages with catalog imagery and the latter is too often what we are settling with. There is inarguably an establishment of photographers and art directors accounting for 90 percent of what we consume visually in fashion today, we all know their names - they are celebrities. From them we see the same aesthetic formulas time after time: furthering this sort of inverted hipster-utopian American Apparel culture. They are essentially sending the message to emerging photographers that in order to be successful you have to find your recognizable formula and never stray from it.
I think that we have reached a period where the element of money has become the central focus in fashion, and its very scary to me. It's scary to pick up a fashion magazine today and see a litany of thoughtless spreads created by photographers and stylists who aren’t truly realizing the power they have to make something thought provoking, and instead are imitating their surroundings. I think people should want to alter the norm, or want to make a statement of some sort, even if it is as simple as attempting to create the most beautiful image ever made - which in itself can be a very powerful political statement. Instead we discuss who is paying for the spread, and how to appease an advertiser who wants the same look as their competitor. And that is very frustrating".