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Interview: Biagio Black, POP Goes the Easel

Photo courtesy of Biagio Black.
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By Gareen Darakjian, Special to LAist

Biagio Black is quite possibly the luckiest son-of-a-gun in LA. He struck gold soon after earning his BS in Mechanical Engineering from The Cooper Union as the creator/designer of one of the most successful online games to date, an accomplishment which contributed to his various projects in the digital as well as fashion realm. He then started his own new media studio and marketing agency, which caters to the biggest names in entertainment. Today, his magic paintbrush is in demand by the likes of Kate, Keira and Vivienne, among the thirty some Ford models whose comp cards he was commissioned to paint in 2005. The six foot stunners, well, stunned both elite and pedestrian audiences and led to Black’s foray into the LA Pop Art scene.

Known for his high-contrast and dynamic prints, Black’s work appears illuminated from within, as highlights add a wood-whittled three-dimensional aesthetic to the subjects’ complexions whose mere personas consume the canvases on which their images are splayed. Through his work, Black celebrates popular and mass cultures and their luminaries, affirming the relevance of the era of excess and the ephemeral identities that inundate and amuse us all. So what does he have that we don’t? How does he get inside the heads of these icons and capture their essence? We caught up with Black on the heels of his new project and asked him to reveal his next venture, why he gets naked with his ideas, and how this former skater kid got the rare chance to do a portrait of his punk icon.

LAist: How did you get involved with Ford Models at the beginning of your career?

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Black: Ford loved a Japanese illustration I did of Kate Moss while making a video for her in Paris. They commissioned me to do similar portraits for the front of their models’ comp cards, which is the modeling industry’s version of an actor’s headshot. The cards became a kind of collector’s item so we decided to do art show. I then took my ten favorite portraits and went through the process of doing six-foot versions of them. The art show somehow became a big Hollywood Fashion Week event with the help of Caroline Rothwell and sponsorship by GM. Something like 800 Hollywood elite came out to the event.