• 125_0013

    Jenny van Sommers for 125 Magazine

  • 125_0018

    Jenny van Sommers for 125 Magazine

  • 125_0048

    Jenny van Sommers for 125 Magazine

  • 125_0059

    Jenny van Sommers for 125 Magazine

  • 125_0065

    Jenny van Sommers for 125 Magazine

  • Christo8_0091

    Jenny van Sommers for Nowness

  • Christo1_0013

    Jenny van Sommers for Nowness

  • Meat_02_rgb

    Jenny van Sommers for Melrose and Morgan

  • Meat_09_rgb

    Jenny van Sommers for Melrose and Morgan

  • Meat_08_rgb

    Jenny van Sommers for Melrose and Morgan

  • F_2_ballplaneshadow

    Jenny van Sommers – Personal Project

  • G-ball-planeshadow

    Jenny van Sommers – Personal Project

Photography

Sumptuous new Olympic still-lifes from the superb Jenny van Sommers

Posted by Rob Alderson,

Still-life photographer Jenny van Sommers arrived on these shores after failing art school in Sydney and and has gone on to establish herself as one of the most interesting, skillful practitioners of her craft working today, with a roster of clients ranging from Nowness and Another Magazine to Nike, Hermes and Apple. As her latest commission is published in 125 magazine, we spoke to her about past, present and future…

The new work for 125 sees Jenny taking the five Olympic rings and reproducing them in five different set-ups to create a series of shots rich both in beauty and crafstmanship.

Hi Jenny, tell us about this new Olympics project. How did it come about and what approach did you take?

The Olympics project was commissioned by 125 magazine – they gave me an open brief for their Olympics issue, five to six pages. I have always loved the Olympic Symbol, it is probably my favourite graphic of all time – circles and spheres, primary colours and so on. I always work the same way, I sit down and focus on the project and do research, then I forget all about it for about a week, then I get in the studio and just do whatever comes into my head. 

Without sounding sycophantic – how on earth did you fail art school? How did that affect your career/artistic development?

I failed art school in Sydney for the simple reason that they did not like my end of term project, which was 12 large photographs. They were black and white photographs of buildings, people, things from my life. They just straight up said that they didn’t like them and failed me.

It was interesting because it was very hard to get an F, so I guess they really didn’t like it! The effect it had was to free me from trying to make images for others to approve or like and just do my own thing. 

You’ve worked with some massive brands – what in your opinion makes for a good brief? What makes a nightmare client?

A good brief comes from an art director with a strong idea of what they want. Also a very good art buyer is essential, as they have a lot more influence on the outcome than you would think. A nightmare client is one that stands back and has no opinion until the end when they finally tell you what they wanted.

Where do you get inspiration from?

I get inspiration from all over. I drove past a garage the other day that was full to the roof with dark, oily junk, the guy was sitting out the front because he couldn’t fit in his garage anymore it was so full. I want to make a series about that.

I also love modern and contemporary art, I try not to copy contemporary art knowingly but I’m sure I nick ideas without realising. I don’t want to do that, I want to do my own work. My main influences/favourite artists are Sarah Lucas and Ellsworth Kelly.

What do you hope 2012 has in store for you?

I was very busy last year making ads so I am able to produce a lot more of my own work this year. I have started a new thing which is to be in my studio for two days a week without a plan for a project and just see what happens.

I want to produce a lot of personal work in the next year, a lot more than the last ten years. I want to get through what I think of as the more obvious ideas I have … work through them to get out the other side… to something that I can’t get to now.

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Photography View Archive

  1. Bakerevans-cos-6-int

    We’ve been big fans of photographic duo Baker & Evans since their inaugural collaborations in 2011. There were zines with encouraging quotes surrounded by men dressed in foliage, celebrations of wet-look hair gel and more recently, photographs of Lernert & Sander’s mayonnaise dumbbells. You’d think after that run they’d have to retire, but Baker & Evans just keep pulling great work out of their seemingly bottomless bags.

  2. Freunde-von-freunden-jordyvandennieuwendijk-list

    Dutch artist and illustrator Jordy van den Nieuwendijk is a 24-carat It’s Nice That favourite. We’ve featured his work multiple times (both online and in print), he’s spoken at our events, heck he’s even been for lunch at our studio (he had a baked potato).

  3. Erinokeefe-americanquatro-home-int

    We first posted Erin O’Keefe’s work almost exactly a year ago. Since then, the New York-based artist and architect has been producing more optical illusion-based wonders. Erin’s architectural practice, and the inherently formal considerations of spatial perception involved, informs the distorted perspectives of her photography and 3D collage.

  4. Marygaudin-list-int

    Architectural photography can often feel elitist at best and stuffy at worst, so imagine our delight to come across this new book Down the Long Driveway, You’ll See It, by New Zealand-born, Montpellier-based photographer Mary Gaudin.

  5. Visser-namaqualand-int-list

    Day-to-day Francois Visser is the kind of photographer you’ll find with his lens trained on scantily clad, elfin adolescents, such is the nature of fashion photography. But his carefully-composed portraits have a sensitivity that many newcomers lack; a substance-before-style approach that denotes a mature understanding of his medium.

  6. Davidtitlow-damonalbarn-int

    This year’s open submission Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize was awarded to London-based photographer David Titlow for a photograph of his toddler son. The photograph, if you haven’t seen it, is a hazy, Vermeer-esque image of David’s hungover friends on the morning after a party, passing his new son around in the cold light of the Swedish sun. Back on UK soil, David’s work couldn’t be more different. He seems to be something of a darling of the glossies: snapping models and celebs for the likes of Vanity Fair, Esquire, Nylon and Marie Claire. His impulsive, confident shots are a far cry from his tender, voyeuristic personal work – which is why we wanted to ask him a few questions about what he does. Here he is…

  7. Asger_carlsen-nymagthecut-int

    The annually ubiquitous words “resort collection” evoke whiffs of Campari and orange, sunset-lit terraces in The Hamptons, a suitcase of freshly pressed, pastel daywear. That’s why we were rather surprised when New York Magazine’s fashion branch The Cut decided to commission Asger Carlsen to help show off 2015’s sartorial offerings. Asger is a Danish artist living and working in New York, and is the go-to man for distorted, nightmare-like monochromatic images that have the power to send bolts of nerves fleetingly through your teeth.

  8. Wesleyverhoeve-oneofmany-int-8-jess-denver

    I don’t mean to show off, but I’ve met quite a few Americans, and I often ask them about the creative scene in the USA. More specifically I’m interested in whether it’s possible to elucidate any recurring themes or general characteristics in such a huge, diverse country. Most of them, bluntly but politely, say that no, no it’s not. What a ridiculous question. Get out my car. So to study American creativity is actually to study its individual outposts, and that’s where Wesley Verhoeve’s One Of Many project comes in.

  9. Arthurdrooker-merfest-main-int

    Cool Hunting used to be a place of current art and design, expensive watches, exclusive booze bottles, leather mountaineering accessories and cars you will never be able to afford. Nowadays it’s a place of exotic content nestled snugly in a brand new redesign that’s pretty ahead of the game. Recently it’s been championing the work of an American photographer called Arthur Drooker, largely focusing on his series entitled Conventional Wisdom. Arthur is something of a curiosity-lover, and his wild, weird series are the visual result of him being unable to resist the pull of “Bronies,” ventriloquists, clowns, re-enactors and taxidermists.

  10. Marcokesseler-outtakes-11-int

    We featured Marco Kesseler’s This Land Of Ours That Is Not Ours series last summer. The project forms a portrait of the street clashes in Kiev between government forces and the pro-European movement, documenting the tensions that led up to the riots, seemingly mundane domestic details and the broader architectural setting of the uprising.

  11. Tilljanz-olafur-list-int

    Remember back in July 2013 I said that photographer Till Janz was making a pretty impressive name for himself in the portrait photography business? Well, not to toot my own trumpet, but look who he’s been shooting lately. A-list Hollywood filmmaker Spike Jonze, check; king of the modern art world Olafur Eliasson, check; exclusive editorials for 032c, covers for Zeit Magazin and campaigns for Nike; check, check, check. It’s also worth mentioning he only got seven minutes for all those shots of Mr. Jonze. Anyway, needless to say the boy’s done good, and it’s great to watch him progress into the big leagues. Toot toot!

  12. Stephenshames-bronx_boys-list

    If the photographs in Stephen Shames’ series Bronx Boys don’t seem to sit comfortably alongside the funny, shareable, imagined-one-day-and-shot-the next photographic projects which we are so accustomed to seeing on the internet, then that’s because they don’t. Rather, Bronx Boys is the product of 23 years spent photographing a group of people living in the Bronx, New York City, and the photographs were taken not to garner likes or shares, but to publicise the plight of one of the poorest areas in NYC.

  13. Thomasprior-handball-list-3-int

    Thomas Prior is one of those sneaky names who first crept onto our radar with a stunning series documenting a firework fight in Tultepec, Mexico, and has since reappeared at six-monthly intervals with new and ever more adventurous projects from around the world. There was February last year, for example, when he photographed the YouTube awards for Vice magazine, and then a few months later he cropped up again with this brilliant series of images taken in Greece and Turkey for Afar magazine.