Monday, July 27, 2009

35 Pieces

We had a wonderful studio visit with the gallerists from Denise Bibro Fine Art last week. They went through each piece in the collection so far and chose 35 pieces for the upcoming show at their Platform Project Space. I love the idea for how they are going to hang the show and I think it will be very arresting for viewers.
As such, we have a lot of work to do to get all of them ready for exhibit which means a bit less time for working on new pieces. However, we are diligently pulling fresh photos from member profiles for new paintings and hope to have at least 3-5 posted before the end of August.

"Matt Held: facebook portraits", opening on Thursday, September 10, 2009 from 6:00PM - 9:00PM, will run through October 3, 2009. In the main gallery, "Johnny Madsen: Red, Yellow and the Blues" will be on exhibit.

Monday, July 20, 2009


We are all a-twitter over here at Held Studios for August's WIRED magazine. Not because of Brad Pitt, but because Matt and his fancy pants got a nice little mention in print and online.
I am not sure what else to say but - WOW! If my body could sprout wings and fly around, I would totally let it. Instead, I'll just bounce of the walls for a little bit and say thank you to Sonia Zjawinski for contacting us way back in March, pushing her editors to let her write the story and having a cool photo for Matt to paint (who doesn't love a woman chugging a bottle of wine? Who is ask you? Who?).
Monday went from zero to hero!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Words on a Portrait - Oliver

Oliver Perera is a British UOTC. Here are his words:

"The picture was taken during my recruit training phase with Oxford University Officer Training Corps, one of 19 UOTCs covering the UK (similar to America’s ROTCs). UOTCs have two aims, firstly to develop and train potential Army officers (regular and territorial) alongside their University studies with the aim of them going to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for their officer training. Secondly, UOTCs are unique in that they are comprised of students many of whom have no intention of joining the Army, so they also intend to provide the potential business leaders of tomorrow with valuable insight into what the Army is like. With the hope that in the future they have better understanding of issues facing the Army, and an understanding of what ex-soldiers moving to a civilian life have done were they to one day to employ one or work alongside one in their company.

The photo was taken at the end of a particularly wet and cold Christmas camp on Salisbury Plains. It was actually taken around 10am but a mixture of cloud cover, forest blocks and the photographer using the camera's flash made the photo appear to be taken during the night.

The photo was taken by one of the Sergeant Majors who had brought his camera along to take some photos of us “in action” to put up on the unit's website. After we had finished doing some posed photos I was still aware he was taking photos but I didn’t noticing him taking this one hence I wasn’t posing which I think has led to a good photo, and now and even better painting by Matt."

Solution identified

After we posted yesterday's note about Facebooks "friend" limit we received some good feedback from group members about which direction to go. As such, we've decided that taking a more critical approach to the process of accepting requests - as opposed to starting a new profile page - would be the best way to go forward. Unfortunately it means laying down a rule that excludes anyone under the age of 18. I know it's kind of a sucky thing to do, but operating a project that is self-funded, and includes the use of a free social networking platform, has limitations. While we find the limitation to be silly (why is this a problem for Facebook engineers, but not MySpace?) it is what it is and we have to deal with it the best we can.

Going forward you can join the group and then request Matt's friendship. Whether or not you are accepted will be based on the content of your default photo and whatever information we can see on your page that intrigues us to look further into your profile photo album. From there, the usual parameters apply to the process of choosing a photo for the project. See Q & A post. If you are not accepted, please don't take it personally! We will continue to post new images of the portraits, however, all will be made from the "Matt Held page" so that everyone can see and no one will be excluded. We will also moderate that page less so you are able to post notes, ask questions, etc.

This project has really turned into so much more than either of us could have expected. We make a great team and we both believe very strongly in the message of the project and love that it's been so well received by the digital community. We thank you for your patience, kind words, and support! Remember that this project will likely take two years to complete and while Matt has completed 56 portraits, he still has another 146 to go!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The 5,000 friend limit and what that means for this project

Not long ago, I was made aware that Facebook has a limit (the engineers call it a scaling limitation) on the amount of “friends” a Facebook user can have. The limit is 5,000. We at Matt Held Studios have been racking our brains on how best to work around this as my friend list is nearing 5,000 and have yet to come up with a clear, concise way to deal with the issue. I wanted to let you know that while we want to be as inclusive as possible to people interested in participating in this project, I need as much free time in the studio as I can get. Being bogged down with administrative work will only slow the progress of the project and I’d like to avoid that as much as possible.

The way this project is set up is a) you join the group b) you add me as a friend. Once you’ve done those two things, I go through profiles of those “friends” whose default photo intrigues me to look further into your profile photo album. Then, a few more things happen a) I add the chosen photo to the queue and b) contact you when I am ready to start the piece c) post an image of the completed photo to the group page and d) email the subject their respective jpeg. Being my “friend” is key to access your images and allows me to choose the image. I do not want to give this part of the process up.

I have two possible solutions to the issue:

1. People continue to join the group page as desired but start being more selective as to who I add as my friends based on their default image. This would also mean going through existing “friends” and deleting those who do not have photos fitting within the parameters of this particular project - i.e. no kids, no dogs, no significant others, clear, color photo, quirky poses, props acceptable. This would allow me to manage one profile and allow active participants in the project to remain as part of the project. It would also mean “rejecting” people and I don’t really like that idea.

2. Start up a second Facebook page – call it Matt Held Studios – and direct all new friend requests, after 5,000 has been achieved, to that page. This would create a bit more work for me and my administrators – maintaining two pages and making sure people are directed to the right area, both pages get updated, etc., but this way I don’t have to eliminate people from the project.

I am not sure what the best option is, but hope to reach a decision within the next few days.

That said I do want to make you all aware that I have also been working on what my follow up to this project will be. I am not ready to disclose full details; however, regardless of whether or not one of your profile photos is chosen to be painted, I hope you stick around as group members to find out. It will be something you can all participate in if you have a camera.

Until then, hope life is treating you well.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Words on a Portrait - "Lauren"

Happy day after the fourth of July! We have a nice short post from "Lauren". It is one of my favorite portraits. The color, the light, the cool, refreshing looking beverage on a seemingly hot day. Lauren was kind enough to say a few words about the original photo and here they are:

"This is a rare picture of me taken with my camera. Normally, I'm the one behind the lens and this instance is an exception to that rule. I was in Guatemala for the wedding of two dear friends and the ceremony had just ended. I am drinking a delicious mojito and I would proceed to drink a few more after this one. The weather was perfect, the wedding was beautiful and the night was a late one. I won't forget it.

The portrait that Matt painted from this photograph is lovely. I feel happy to have contributed to this amazing project."