2018 might feel like a lifetime ago, but for us, we can remember it quite well: it was the year we revisited the mind-boggling work of JP Bonino. This was the moment the Uruguay-born photographer started dabbling with digital techniques, a move that raised his already strange and remarkable creations to another level. We were stunned by the madness of it all – think characters riding a dinosaur or posing for a picture with an uncomfortable amount of pegs stuck to their face.
Well, we can happily say that things have gotten a little weirder. Scrap that, a lot weirder. JP has returned and this time he’s armed with a refined set of digital skills that’s allowed him to dance between realism and hyperreality with even more ease and flair. “Since the last time we chatted,” he tells It’s Nice That, “I’ve been learning and growing in both a professional and personal way.” This has garnered him a matured portfolio and an increased client list spanning 3D creations for fashion label Syndical Chamber, run by Sergio Castaño Peña, as well as fashion editorials for the likes of Calvin Klein and Paloma Wool.
Nowadays, you’ll find JP waking himself early, cracking himself a Uraguayan mate – a traditional caffeinated tea drink – and heading out skating first thing. Or if he’s not taking to his board, he’ll swap the wheels for the waves and head out to the sea on Sant Pol de Mar, located nearby the village he lives in. “If there’s wind, I’ll do windsurfing, and if there’s waves, I’ll surf,” he notes. Once the time reaches nine or 10 in the morning, he’ll head back to his computer to start getting his head down on some jobs. “Obviously this is when I’m not on a shooting day, and if that’s the case, I’ll wake up early but I’m more busy making myself pretty.”
One of these jobs is a campaign for Anderson Bell 2022’s collection, launched recently and featuring an extremely bizarre set up of events. In one image, located in what appears to be a playground – concrete floors and a metal fence gives this impression – children have been swapped for a (mostly) headless group of characters hanging about and jumping over one another. In a different picture, a pig is split in half as a subject zip wires between the two parts. The only element of normalcy is that the human subjects are wearing the Anderson Bell clothes.
These entertaining scenarios could, quite frankly, not have been achieved if it weren’t for JP’s new-found adoration for digital techniques. “I’ve been flirting with different processes and tools to not get bored,” he says. “But, the pandemic has helped me slow down and get deeper into studying virtual universes because we couldn’t go out. I love it so much that I can’t stop mixing reality and fiction, where even I don’t know what’s real and what’s not in my work.”
JP has certainly made a name for himself in this particular field, not least for the fact that, if you commission him, you’re guaranteed something that’s uniquely his own. Gaining trust and a reputation from his clients is something that JP is particularly proud of, especially since it allows him more creative freedom. “I always try to get the most freedom and trust possible, so I can make the line between personal and commercial work thinner and thinner,” he explains. Whatever he puts his creative mind towards, though – be it spinning heads or a surreal fashion campaign – it’s always going to be made with passion. “I put so much love into all the projects I work on,” he says. “I love them all.”
JP Bonino: Anderson Bell 2022 (Copyright © JP Bonino, 2022)
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she became online editor in 2022 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.