Let us tell you what: We seriously double-tap Kristen Joy Watts. As an art-and-fashion-savvy member of Instagram’s community team, she’s in charge of discovering new talent, creating cool new content, and brainstorming fresh ways to collaborate with the likes of Vogue (see: #metgala) and the Frieze Art Fair New York (see: #emptyfrieze). Obviously, we wanted—needed!—to know more, so we asked Kristen to get real with us. —mattie kahn
Q: Spill: What’s your favorite Instagram filter? A: The city usually inspires the filter. I’ll probably use Hudson at about half strength, for example, when I’m in Vancouver next weekend—a bit of blue for a rainy place.
Q: What makes a good Intagram, do you think? A: We often feature tips from the community on the Instagram blog, and that’s a great place to start. I think great photographs have to be beautiful—but they also have to have what Roland Barthes called punctum: a photograph’s personally touching, even wounding, quality. Maybe it’s a hair askew or a slightly crooked horizon line—imperfections that haunt you.
Q: What’s your favorite landmark in NYC? A: Does Momofuku count?
Q: Where do you head for the best slice of pizza in New York City? A: On one of Scott’s Pizza Tours.
Q: Which Of a Kind designers do you have your eye on right now? A: I’m looking at the Chen and Kai (@ChenandKai) planters in my kitchen.
Q: What’s the last viral video that made you cry-laugh? A: This got me.
Q: Any guilty pleasures you’re willing to admit to? A: I think a lot of people would say that they like Boyz II Men, but not a lot of people still listen to “4 Seasons of Loneliness” about once a week.
“Seven years ago, when I co-curated an exhibition of works by Dionne Simpson, I was also recovering from Hodgkin’s disease. After the exhibition was over, Simpson gave me the most minimal of the works, and my favourite of her deconstructed canvases. Now, this piece hangs in my bedroom, and I wake up to it every morning - a daily reminder of the generosity of the human spirit, and the gems that await you after life’s struggles.”
Patricia Ritacca was photographed in Toronto on May 16th. You can follow her just-launched curatorial collective on Instagram.
We became friends initially because we were passionate about each other’s work. I was thrilled to meet Cannon at my panel in 2011 because on many occasions I had shown her work at Bergdorf Goodman to R/GA’s clients for inspiration.
We have unique yet complementary perspectives on the challenges faced by what we’re calling “Timeless Brands,” or brands rich in heritage. Cannon is on the front lines and behind the scenes at one of the most storied retail brands in the world. R/GA’s clients include several with rich, complex histories who are bravely exploring social storytelling.
We’ve successfully convinced several colleagues who will have unique insights on this topic to contribute video interviews. These will add depth to the conversation and variety to the talk.
Photographing Everyday Objects That Make Us Who We Are
They’re oft forgotten under the bed, nestled between some books on a shelf, or tucked away in a closet. A wooden box, a ring, a photograph – we all own those seemingly unremarkable objects that are, in fact, bursting with personal meaning. Revealing their story gives a glimpse into our past, shining a faint light into the depths of our soul.
That’s what Kristen Joy Watts and Ramsay de Give are doing with The Weight of Objects – a photography blog that features portraits of people side by side with ordinary, but prized, possessions. A founding member of the New York Times’ photo blog, Lens, Watts is the editor, and Ramsay’s the photographer – using a medium format “tank of a camera,” as he describes it, that was discontinued in 2004. (He is also colorblind.) We talked to the duo about light, color, and finding subjects in unexpected places.
How did The Weight of Objects come together?
Kristen Joy Watts: I wanted to match quiet portraits with a storytelling method that would reveal just a hint of each person portrayed. I thought that asking each subject to share the story of a treasured object would achieve that. And I knew that Ramsay would capture each object with the requisite awe and wonder.
The hill in question — in Lincoln Park in Chicago, overlooking Lake Michigan — is not very big, and didn’t occur naturally. It was born in the 1940s, when a pile of dirt was moved to make room for a tunnel.
When Mr. Octavious first saw the hill, not too far from where he lives in the city, he felt an immediate connection. “When I was little in class and I drew a hill,” he said, “I would draw that shape. That’s the hill in my head.”