The dream of many hard working creative professionals is one born of independence, creative control, self direction, recognition and collaboration with artistic minds enabling a motivating force to push you forward in your craft. There is something to be said about being your own boss, setting your own hours and managing your own business, but this requires you to be a tireless jack of all trades. You must master the business side and all that goes along with it all while maintaining a creative drive, not to mention drumming up business. It is easy to burn out, or fall into a rut, ultimately sacrificing something along the way. What if you could gather great friends, all working in various creative fields with complimentary skill sets to collaborate on projects which benefit greatly from each individual part, making a much stronger whole? I would like to introduce you to the ELK Collective… C’mon in.
The ELK Collective is more than a design firm, it is more than a creative factory, or an art studio. It is a collaborative artistic process, a never ending backstage soiree, a continuing conversation that grows from the foundations of friendship born years ago fed by the experiences that have been lived individually since, to build a strong and unique collective vision that benefits from so many talented people creating a harmonic, diverse chorus.
What is creativity if it does not inspire? What is inspiration if it isn’t born from a place beyond a preconceived framework of comfort? No matter our individual abilities, we can always grow beyond, further than where and what we are right now. In creative design, coming from a variety of experienced and evolving angles, the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts when an individual’s talent is pushed by another’s.
When I began the most recent chapter in my personal photographic journey, I struggled to carve out a direction. I consumed any and all things photography as my fire had been reignited when I discovered digital. Having been photographing life longer than I haven’t in some capacity, I took a bit of a hiatus from photography while I worked my way through college and the years that followed. It was there, but took a back seat to other necessities. From the time that digital SLR’s started to show up, my interest was peaked, but I couldn’t justify the cost of a camera to go along with the lenses I’d had gathering dust in my film bag. About 7 years ago, I reintroduced myself to what has become my second true love (can’t compete with Mrs Squeeze and the fam) and I haven’t looked back. Now, within the collective, I’ve found a new level from which to push myself.
Somewhere along this timeline, I was asked by some friends to help shoot an independently built, multimedia rock and roll fashion show, and the rest can be chalked up in some way or another to a beautiful history balanced between happenstance and luckily timed motivation.
A group of friends, who’d had their own grasp on a collective history, were finishing up school and devising their master plans of grandeur and general world domination. Coming from degrees in fashion and design, their own timelines crossed fatefully and planted a seed which has grown over the years into a beautiful collaboration which I am lucky enough to tag along with.
Erin Cry, Larissa Burden and Kelly Ogden-Gregg turned something that many of us have dreamed of into reality. The late night musing of idealistic occupation discussed over drinks with ideas being scratched onto bar napkins, have actually materialized. While I still hope our super band (we will be called Nightmoves, dibs no callbacks) will come to be, I can settle knowing that these ladies have turned true passion and expertise into a living, breathing reality, even if the proposed tour dates will need to be pushed back.
Lucky for me, my own personal journey has found me crossing paths with each part of this whole over the last decade or so. Also luckily for me, I chose to reignite my relationship with the capturing of light on photo sensitive materials providing me the ability to add to their composition. While this collective is young, it’s experience has matured through the history of individual accomplishment and is being brought to fruition at the perfect moment. A wonderful coming together of belief, and faith in one another which I am proud and fortunate to be even a small part of.
- “ELK Collective are a group of designers and artists comprised of the disciplines of Interior, Graphic and Apparel Design, Fine Arts and Craftsmanship, dedicated to devising holistic designs that enrich the experience of environment. The process of design is everything but linear and ours is one of collaboration with a hands on approach. We are always in search of new materials and methods of detailing in order to expand the possibilities of the client’s vision. Our portfolio consists of Hospitality, Restaurant, Spa and Private Residential projects. With our broad range of work, we are well versed in collaboration and coordination with all manner of professional consultants, working closely with Architects, General Contractors and Subcontractors. With an emphasis on the relationship between function and aesthetic, ELK collective successfully executes both project budgets and deadlines, while maintaining a sharp eye on the details and the highest possible quality of the end product.”
ELK Collective is:
Kelly Ogden-Gregg – Kelly has worked the country from corner to corner for high end design firms as lead designer for such projects as the luxurious Dream Hotel, the Tudor House and Shala Spa in Miami Beach, Florida. Yeah, she designed ’em.
Larissa Burden – 2010, listed as one of the top 30 designers under 30 in the country isn’t stopping there. Larissa’s sweet demeanor should not lull you into believing she will not take the bull by the horns, and own it. Bringing years of experience running projects for various other firms, she is the only person I know who has spent time with Candace Olson, so by proxy, she’s by far the most famous person I know.
Erin Cry – Ms. Cry is a visionary and by far one of the best people to speak with regarding any post apocalyptic zombie based scenarios. She, along with fellow fashion designer Elizabeth Mollo, created the long running Portland Oregon based annual rock and roll fashion show, Doomtown/Sweet FA which has continually needed to find the largest venues in town to accommodate the demand. She is also the lead in our future band, Nightmoves.
Megan Millie – I met Megan at Kelly and Gabe’s wedding while she was coordinating all visual elements. Her attention to detail and proclivity to aesthetic beauty play right into her killer project management and design work.
Sam Koerger – Still not convinced I’m not working with Steve Blake, Sam swears he’s not just following a life of design after having made millions playing professional basketball, yet I’m still leery. Sam adds unparalleled insight through his design work and court vision.
Gabe Gregg – To call Gabe a painter or graphic designer is like calling Oprah Winfrey a talk show host. Sure it would be accurate, but not in any way enough. He is an innovator, a creative medium translating the world around us into a visual melee that cannot be singularly defined. Check out his experiments page on his website to understand what I mean.
Martine Daley – An inspirational cohort in the capturing of images. A comedic entity whose mere presence provides the motivation to maintain merriment, and she damn well knows her way through the butt book… ladies.
Tyson Robichaud – I learn every day. Most days I forget, but I do my best to pay attention to the little details because there in lies the story.
To my ELK Collective friends, I am honored to join in on this journey and so very impressed by what you’ve already accomplished, both as individuals and as a team. To all my other friends, collaborators, readers and inspirational conversationalists, I urge you to join our community in hopes that it may further inspire you in some way. The world begins new, each and every day wrought with opportunity and an abundance of possibility. Feed your soul and you will be rewarded. Do so with integrity and ingenuity and you will reward others as well.
I will occasionally be posting photography from some of the ELK projects as they are documented, here on the blog. Enter your email address at the top right of the page to receive new articles as they’re posted. I’m very excited to see where this goes.
As always, happy shooting,