Directed and Produced by Alec Ozawa
Hand Models: Alex Kruser (Tattooed Left Arm) and Alex Radovanovitch (Tattooed Right Arm)
During my last quarter as an undergrad for my BFA in digital photography, I had to complete a senior project in order to graduate. My professor requested a 6 image photo set with a strong original concept and work process, which eventually expanded into the making of this video.
I initially struggled with concept, but decided to create photo illustrations based on Shel Silverstein’s poems after browsing through a box of my old childhood books. Silverstein’s writing and illustrations always seemed iconic and relevant despite age, so the project took shape into something fun and open to possibilities of creative direction.
After settling on a select number of poems with interesting lines and themes, I began shooting photographs to combine into surreal and visually abstracted images. In addition to making supplemental photos, I wanted to package the images and derivative poems in a clean and organized manner. This led me to dabble into graphic design for book layout, as well as appropriate typography. During work process in typographic design, a class critique offered insight that hand-rendered typefaces instead of those with uniform digital appearances would better suit the overall quality of the book. I took this advice and had a good friend, Erich Buttstadt, help trace the poem and book titles with sumi ink, brush, and a steady hand.
Once I finalized the photo book and several other portfolio books, I moved forward and began drafting sketches for a sturdy and authentically hand-made package to hold all my work in a single safe place. As the son of an engineer and grandson of a carpenter, I decided that removing myself from the computer and working with traditional tools would satisfy my creative expansion with the project. I spent a week brainstorming before gathering the necessary materials: various sizes of oak wood, hinges, latches, leather strapping, rivets, clasps, screws, stain, wax finishing, etc.
Several days later, with the help of my father and his workshop, I held the finished project, a two compartment chest built from hardwood to house my photography books. Each compartment is self contained and independent from the other, reinforced with multiple layers of straps and locking mechanisms, and hand-crafted to compliment the printed work, as well as offer an experience of discovery for the viewer.
Despite cautions to end my insane compulsion with this project, it still needed one more aspect to fulfill the spread of creative disciplines that I desired. Making this video was the final step and the best way I could think of sharing something that I loved making, and hope that everyone can enjoy as well.
This project became more than an assignment, but a journey of learning new things, revisiting old lessons, and making things for the joy of making things.
Never grow up.