Instagram renegade @BessNYC4 reveals the creative process behind splicing up Dazed’s ‘compellingly controversial’ cover star
Doug Abraham, the man who turned Ben Toms’ Kendall Jenner covers into one mashed-up, glitched-out masterpiece, is no stranger to the magic of collage. The acclaimed Instagram artist – best known for his surreal photomontages of iconic fashion campaigns and models – has accrued 57k Instagram fans since March, and earlier this year was nominated for the CFDA Instagramer of the Year award. His eccentric style appropriates and subverts high-end fashion with a pop culture clash of sci-fi, porn and horror. Having previously taken his blade to the body parts of Kate Moss, Abraham moved onto our winter 2014 cover star Jenner, the 19-year-old reality TV fixture-turned-supermodel who is taking her millions of followers worldwide on a high-fashion ride. But what was it like to chop up, rearrange and reconfigure one of the world’s biggest celebrities? Here, Abraham gives us his tips on how to mash up a cover star.
Feeling inspired? Make your own collaged version of our cover, and share it with us on Instagram. Tag it #dazedandexposed @dazedmagazine – if we like it, you win a copy of the new issue.
BECOME AN INSTA-STAR
“First off, I didn’t have a huge following – maybe like a thousand followers or something. But a lot of them were people in fashion – photographers, stylists and editors – so I feel like it was a classy fanbase! When I first started doing the collages, I already had those people looking at the account. Then it grew from stuff being reposted and I was nominated for a CFDA Instagram award last year. At a certain point, it was growing very quickly – by a couple of thousand a day – but it’s pretty much levelled off. I’m not quite in Kendall Jenner’s league, though! I don’t think there’ll be three million people following me in the near future.”
“I’m on my third or fourth Instagram account. The first few were progressively deleted because they violated Instagram’s rules, and each time I would have to rebuild my following. Pretty early on with the collage thing, people with a much larger social media following than me started sharing my stuff, like Riccardo Tisci. At that point, I was private because I’d been shut down so many times, but I started getting a lot of follow requests so I took it off private and deleted anything which would get me in trouble, because I was savvy by that time.”
GET AU FAIT WITH KENDALL JENNER
“I totally give props to the whole Jenner-Kardashian empire. Having a camera in your house all the time while you’re growing up is definitely a unique thing, and you don’t want to detract from that. Jenner definitely comes from a different background, but it’s interesting that people have opinions about whether she deserves to be on the front cover of Dazed – that idea of ‘deserving’ is a very funny thing. When it comes to modelling, who knows what makes someone successful? At the end of the day, however you got the work, you still have to do the work – the way you got to be where you are is simply a mystery of the way the world is today. Whatever people’s opinions are, Jenner is compellingly controversial and it’s a good conversation for people to have.”
“Jenner definitely comes from a different background, but it’s interesting that people have opinions about whether she deserves to be on the front cover of Dazed – that idea of ‘deserving’ is a very funny thing” – Doug Abraham
REACH FOR THE SCISSORS
“So, imagine you have scissors and gluestick at the ready. It’s pretty much how you’d do a collage with paper and scissors, only digital. Cut-ups are pretty low-tech in that way. Dazed gave me the two original cover images, which were differently styled and photographed, one Junya Watanabe and the other Marc Jacobs. They had a really different vibe, but were similarly staged and posed, which is perfect for what I do. I started with the black-and-white image and I’d go back to the colour image, cut a piece off and drop it on. In the end, it was really just lining it up, cutting her up and putting her back together again – it’s about both keeping their individual parts and visually combining them. I think it looks awesome.”
FIND A SOCIAL MEDIA MOGUL
“I’ve been getting tagged in the Kendall Jenner mash-ups all day when people repost it and it definitely seems like the image is getting out there! Obviously, the Jenner-Kardashian family has so much influence in the social media context. It’s a crazy world. Nowadays, if brands have to choose between a model that has a huge social media following and one that doesn’t, it’s obvious which way they’ll go. There’s a consciousness within the industry of hiring people with a social media presence. For instance, when I did the Cara Delevingne campaign, she re-posted an image I did from a Givenchy show and it went crazy. I couldn’t believe how many people were looking at everything she posts on instagram. When people like that start getting images out there, the images start showing up all over the place.”
To delve deeper into Abraham’s glitched-out artistic processes and pop-cultural inspirations, check out our longread here