Interview: Artist Ebon Heath On Creating Complex's Beyoncé Cover Art

Interview: Artist Ebon Heath On Creating Complex's Beyoncé Cover Art

How were these pieces made? 

Generally, I work with papers and plastics in my sculptures. For my jewelry, I use metals, plastics and leather. I originally was hand cutting my letters but now I use lasers which give me more freedom to work with different kinds of materials.

The majority of time working on these sculptures is spent on assembling all the elements. Tying hundreds of knots in nylon fishing string to make letters float invisibly or twirl like tornadoes. Designing these structures tends to be more of a engineering problem then fine art since my factors for a successful piece are balancing weight evenly, structural support and discovering the best use of materials for construction.

This specific project was quite surreal since I was in Bali working on my jewelry collection and came back to NYC just to build these 2 structures. I had a great crew of set designers (Amir and Jamie) that helped make all the production details come together, created a rolling design studio in the back of a rent-a-truck, and with little sleep we all made it come to life.

Your cover art adds a new dimension to the classic celebrity magazine cover—what are your thoughts about designing covers in an age when print magazines are struggling to stay relevant? 

I love print, but magazines are now websites and covers are now thumbnails. As a kid, 12-inch record sleeves were like giant worlds I would stare at for hours—now its probably 12 pixels. Yet, to impact media, you still need images, and hopefully art, that will entice the viewer to come and take a look. We eat with our eyes more then ever before—a pop up ad, a billboard, bus stand, everything is filled with images and headlines, not just the newsstand anymore.

Print may die because we run out of trees to make paper, but the addiction we have to visual candy is only growing. Hopefully, however, if you add more quality to the printed word covers turn into posters and magazines will become collectible—more so than bookmarks online will ever be.

Tags: interviews, ebon-heath, beyonce, complex-cover-stories
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