• 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. List-lowres_hmp_dougiewallace_shoreditch_goldsofa

    It’s become so easy to be sniffy about Shoreditch, all besmirched as it is with lecherous city-boy drunks, Johnny-come-lately “street food pop ups” and guided pub crawls for hapless young backpackers. But while we won’t bother to go into the tired old complaints about gentrification, it’s important to recognise the perfect storm of creativity, East End charm and some awesomely peculiar characters that made the place so alluring in the first place.

  2. Gruetzner-tanztee-1_(list)

    Andrea Grützner’s images from her series, Tanztee are bold and brilliant, capturing the interactions of a rural Eastern German community in a beautifully eye-catching way.

  3. List

    Johnny Dufort is a photographer from Cornwall who is currently living and working in London. That’s about all we know of him thus far, but we’re dead certain it won’t be the case for long; the young’un was picked up by i-D earlier this summer as one of the new generation of photographers, and as they so aptly phrased it, “learn their names, because you’re going to need them!”

  4. List

    Ester Grass Vergara has been on the site before with her wonderful monochrome plants but her portraits of beautiful human beings are just as enticing. Her style is all about the crisp lines and fresh faces with wonderful tones and shadows glancing off sculpted cheekbones and glistening hair.

  5. List

    Ambition is an often underrated component of creative undertakings, but that’s not a charge that can be levelled at Robert Bösch’s genuinely astonishing shoot for Mammut’s 2015 campaign. Working with hundreds of specialist climbers, Robert took this extraordinary series of images to mark the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn ridge by Edward Whymper. These pictures have been doing the rounds for a few weeks now but if you haven’t come across them yet then let yourself be dazzled by their brilliance and the organisational feats that brought them into being.

  6. List

    If you’re yet to be acquainted with the weird and wonderful world of Toiletpaper then allow us to introduce you. Artist Maurizio Cattelan, photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari and art director Micol Talso got together some years back to create images which distilled their passion for the bizarre, the grotesque, the darkly humorous and the sensual. From this came Toiletpaper Magazine, and before long their work had spread across the fashion and art industries like wildfire, picking up the attention of a number of big-time brands along the way. No surprises there.

  7. List

    It’s a well-established fact that even the most conceptually exciting product designs can fall flat on their face if they’re photographed poorly. Imagery can often make or break these projects. And while of course this isn’t the be-all and end-all, it’s worth taking this part of the process seriously to maximise the chances of your work cutting through the noise.

  8. List-kurt

    Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain is easily one of the most mythologised, eulogised and conspiracy-theorised musicians of the last century. Whether we consider his sad induction into the 27-club, his tumultuous relationship with Malaysia Airlines mystery-solving wallflower Courtney Love or the various mental and physical ailments that manifested themselves so intensely through his songs, Kurt’s was a life destined for scrutiny.

  9. List

    To say that Rebecca Reeve enjoys a magnificent view is not to do her work justice. The British-born, New York-based photographer has long been occupied with framing landscapes with domestic devices in her work, from placing a pair of translucent curtains around a mountain range and invoking the Dutch custom of covering paintings at the wakes of deceased family members to help them make the transition to the afterlife, to hanging a blind in front of a swamp to oddly effective ends. On an aesthetic level this unusual use of the prop partially obscures her chosen view, bringing a curious sense of mystery to the image, but the subversion of that familiar sense of domesticity resonates much further than surface level, creating an odd feeling of displacement with a surrealist slant.

  10. List

    A couple of weeks ago, Channel 4 aired a documentary (below) which saw photographer Giles Duley (himself a triple amputee) meet some of the disabled victims of the war in Syria. It was a difficult watch but an extremely important story to tell, and one that meant a lot to Giles. He got in touch to say that although The Guardian ran an in-depth piece on the same theme, he had some photographs which weren’t used that he was really keen to get out there.

  11. Main1

    Every once in a while it’s worth having a good old stare at the architecture around us. Often we simply stop noticing buildings because they’re so good at doing what they’re supposed to do; which is a shame because as well as functionality, there’s an overlooked beauty within those structures we can all appreciate.

  12. List

    If you ask me, the beauty of Maciek Pozoga’s work lies in the fact that it can’t be pinned down. He’s eternally “juggling between documentary, art and fashion,” as his website explains, resulting in a style which grows “from a specific conception of documentary images, naturalistic and authentic but tinged with poetry and humour.”

  13. Main

    I’m super into these portraits by Maya Fuhr, I think I spent about 45 seconds staring into the pond-coloured eyes of the guy two pics down. Maya’s got this magic touch when it comes to photography, her work is so simultaneously humble and powerful, making her the perfect candidate for quietly strong editorial and personal work. We’ve covered her editorial before – a brilliant photo shoot of girls in messy bedrooms – but something about the power of her portraits made us want to write about her again. She also recently opened up to us about her days as college a fresher, and the perils of choosing the wrong degree (with some brilliant photographs of her in 2008 to accompany it, naturally).