“It has never been my object to record my dreams, just the determination to realize them.” – Man Ray
Artist Gray Malin is known for his ability to capture the rarified atmospheres of such exotic locations like Bhutan and Antarctica with his photography. When not dangling out of helicopters as part of his quest for the perfect aerial shot, Gray can be found playing with lions in iconic locations like The Parker in Palm Springs as part of his Art.
With those credentials, it should come as no surprise that Disney reached out to him to collaborate on a new art exhibit, celebrating their annual National Polka Dot Day. As part of the collaborate, Disney gave Gray the freedom to re-imagine their famous character, Minnie Mouse. Gray took his inspiration from the flip books of the 1920s, Minnie’s polka dot dress and her favorite accessory – a parasol, all played off the color red of Hollywood’s iconic Red Carpets. All this is part of his new series “Red Carpet.”
Gray Malin, Rock The Dots
Black Chalk – What got you into photography? Was it a particular moment in time?
Gray Malin – I discovered photography in high school, and while I had a knack for it early on. I never imagined it would lead to a future in photography, let alone a career. The first image that I truly fell in love with was “The Fork” by Andre Kertesz. I saw it a small gallery in Paris, the composition really stuck with me.
Black Chalk – What was the first image you ever shot?
Gray Malin – There have been so many amazing shoots over the years, that it is kinda impossible to remember the first image I ever shot. But, admittedly one of my favorite ‘firsts’ is the “Prada Marfa” collection. As a Texas native, that one holds a special place in my heart.
Black Chalk – Where do you get your inspiration?
Gray Malin – My inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere, especially from my travels. I find new experiences, and traveling to destinations I haven’t visited before are often triggers for concepts and shoot ideas.
Black Chalk – Why are photographers culturally important? What are some of the contributions they have made?
Gray Malin – Culturally, photographers are just like any other type of artist. They have a point of view to share with the world through the medium of art. Over the past five years, social media has made photography one of the most explosive art forms in the world. It has made this art form more inviting to the general public. Past photographers ultimately have helped to give birth to this art form, and continue to influence new generations of photographers.
Personally I am thrilled that photography has become such a recognized art form. Finally past photographers are being celebrated for their accomplishments.
Black Chalk – What are some of your accomplishments as a photographer?
Gray Malin – I am very proud of taking the leap, and creating my own namesake brand, Gray Malin. Everything that has happened since that moment has only confirmed it was the right move. From the release of my first art book “BEACHES,” to brand collaborations and the launch of new products of my own creation.
Black Chalk – What does art mean to you?
Gray Malin – Art is very important to me. The power of this medium is unprecedented. One glance at an art piece can completely alter your state of mind. It is my constant goal with my creations to provide the viewer with an escape, a moment they want to live in.
Black Chalk – What is the ‘Gray Malin’ experience? What do you wish the audience to get from your artwork?
Gray Malin – I want to create art that is memorable and positive. That it is as inspirational as it is aspirational. Transforming the viewer through their connection with the piece.
Black Chalk – Let’s talk about the act of creation. Walk me through your creative process, from the moment inspiration strikes you to the manifestation of your vision.
Gray Malin – It’s really all about interpreting visual cues for me. I’ll use this latest “Red Carpet” series as an example. When Disney and I first started discussions about a collaboration in celebration of their forthcoming ‘National Polka Dot’ day, I really wasn’t sure what direction to go in! When I observed Minnie’s polka dot dress more closely, I realized that the color of the fabric was strikingly similar to the shade of red used for ‘Red Carpets’.
From there, I began imagining a red carpet from an aerial perspective with white dots creating the same pattern as her dress. Because parasols are both glamorous and a favored accessory of Minnie, they were the perfect prop to bring my vision of white dots to life. With that concept in mind, I was inspired to push myself one step further. To create my first ever video art installation, as parasols inherently create a feel of dynamic movement.
I turned to ‘Old Hollywood’ for inspiration I used the original flip books that created animation from still images to moving pictures. I imagined the dots, I would photograph moving around the carpet to create various shapes and patterns. This movement is captured in our first piece of the art video and with the stills titled “The Leading Lady Vertical” and “The Leading Lady Horizontal.”
Black Chalk – What’s your favorite part about conceptualizing a shoot?
Gray Malin – When planning for a new project, especially those that require a high level of production like “The Red Carpet” series did. l tend to have a strong vision in mind of what I want to accomplish before I ever start shooting. I imagine the end result I want in my mind beforehand, and then it evolves organically during the shoot into something else.
Black Chalk – How do you prepare for a shoot?
Gray Malin – There is tons of work to be done before you ever get to set. Sourcing the right materials, securing the perfect location. It takes time, effort, and dedication. Not to mention lots, and lots of careful research.
Black Chalk – What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?
Gray Mail – Take risks!
Black Chalk – Craziest stories, and wildest moments onset.
Gray Malin – I’ve had many surreal episodes on set, from shooting a live lion at the pool of the Parker Palm Springs Hotel. To my most recent shoot with Minnie Mouse for “The Red Carpet” series. Getting to work with Disney, being able to reimagine one of Hollywood’s most iconic characters was a total thrill and a childhood dream come true!
Black Chalk – What’s new, what’s next?
Gray Malin – recognizable I’m constantly being inspired by my travels around the world. From those experiences, I created a new series of travel luggage tags. I will be releasing a new series of beach aerials including images from the Hawaiian Islands and Australia shortly. Am excited to be releasing a new line of my “Gray Malin Home Tray” collection for Spring. Basically you get to send your coffee table on a vacation!