DPP Home Profiles Justin Fantl: Master Of A New Path

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Justin Fantl: Master Of A New Path

Emerging Pro Justin Fantl uses his singular vision to craft a diverse portfolio

This Article Features Photo Zoom

A series on plastic formations.
Putting his faith in others speaks to Fantl’s affinity for collaboration. He values the input of those who critique his portfolio and offer suggestions for refinement, but after 20 meetings with 20 prospective clients, he’ll have heard 20 disparate suggestions. This is where artistic vision becomes ever more important.

“I certainly respect the opinions of all these people,” says Fantl, “but at the end of the day—especially with art, which in itself is very subjective—you can’t always listen to what other people say. Unless they’re all saying the same thing, and then maybe you should really listen to that. But when one person says one thing and someone else says the complete opposite, what do you do with that? My work comes from a very personal place. It’s really not shot with the commercial realm in mind.”

One outlet for Fantl’s creative collaboration is at The Black Harbor, an online collective that takes the shape of a magazine/blog/gallery for creators of all types—photographers, illustrators, designers. The free-form collaborative approach Fantl attributes to the site’s founder, Mike Jeter, a designer and illustrator who simply wanted to show the world what he and his friends were working on. The result, more a perpetually evolving gallery than a blog post or promotional site, has the effect of honoring visual works for their intrinsic value rather than for directly promoting sales. It’s about celebrating creativity for creativity’s sake.

“Our mission is really not geared toward getting work,” Fantl says. “It’s more of an outlet, a place to put work that you might not necessarily put in your portfolio. You can put stuff up that’s not a finished body of work. I think the idea of blogs is continual content. So there’s strength in numbers, having all these people who have all these different styles coming together in a place to share. It’s interesting because people have started to get work from that site because the site is starting to get more notoriety. But if that doesn’t happen, that’s okay, because that’s not necessarily the central idea of the whole thing.”

Racetrack Infinity.
Adds Fantl, “The site is also a bit of a process. Some people look at it and they’re confused about what it is exactly. They don’t know quite what it is or what they’re supposed to do with it.

It’s less about showcasing people or showcasing the work than it is about contributing to the whole creative community. Whereas you see a lot of agencies now that have blogs, but it’s all just like, ‘Look at what this guy did.’ There’s a little more depth to what we’re doing. It’s not just about showcasing.”

Does that mean The Black Harbor represents a new way for photographers and designers to collaborate? Is this the future of business in the creative realm?

“A new way of doing business?” Fantl hypothesizes. “Initially, that wasn’t our mission, but inevitably...
I’m reading all these articles about art directors and buyers trawling the Internet for images, looking at all kinds of different sites and photo feeds. It seems like that’s important. It’s an interesting model, and it’s still evolving.”

See more of Justin Fantl’s photography at www.justinfantl.com. Visit The Black Harbor website at www.theblackharbor.com.


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