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Meet the Artist: David Parise

Image via David Parise

Vintage Barbie and Ken got a hot new gig, and, well, nostalgia has never been so hip.

Inspired by the craftsmanship and detail in Mattel's iconic dolls, photographer David Parise has broken them out of the box and taken them out to the beach... and the hotel bar... and the pool for some Slim Aarons-esque leisure shoots. The compositions are always beautiful (because beach), seriously witty (because the '60s), and sure to cue a smile (because dolls). In between his active schedule of shooting and selling on the streets of New York City, we were able to chat with David for more on his witty, whimsical photography.

Name: David Parise

Occupation: Photographer of vintage Barbie and Ken dolls

Where's home? New York City

Favorite Instagram Accounts? @fluersblog, @vintagevandal, @charlottedallison, and of course @vintagebarbieandken

Favorite Studio Tool? Sony A7R digital camera

Favorite artists? Slim Aarons, Laurie Simmons

Sources of inspiration? vintage life, the beach, and my wife 


How did you get your start as an artist? Where did the idea come from for these vintage Barbie and Ken photos? In 2009 we were living in Miami. It was Barbie's 50th anniversary and I saw a book on all the fashion over the years. At this time, I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to photograph miniatures just for fun. Barbie and Ken never being on the list. Then I saw the vintage fashion clothes of the early 60's and a light went on. I mean look at the styling and detail in these outfits. The zippers, buckles, stitching. I had no idea of the craftsmanship that went into the clothing back then. I thought the vintage dolls from the early 60's would work perfectly in the Art Deco background and beautiful beaches of Miami. I began selling at an Antiques and Collectibles Market and got into a New York gallery my first year. The rest is history.

Tell us about your creative process. Many of my first photos were created with memories of growing up by the beach on Long Island, NY. More recent photo shoots are inspired by vintage photos I've researched from the 50's and 60's.

Where do you sell your work? I sell at a few galleries in New York and Miami but mostly I sell myself on the streets of New York and on my website.

"It's a great feeling making people happy all day.
It's the best job I've ever had!"


What sort of reactions have you gotten to these pieces? Always a smile. Usually a lot of laughs and a lot of nostalgic memories from people who grew up with the vintage Barbie dolls. It's a great feeling making people happy all day. It's the best job I've ever had!

Have any funny customer stories to share? Well I have met at least three couples named Barbie and Ken over the years which I find a little strange. Like did they only date people with that name till they finally found the right one? Or, did they just settle on the first one they met?!

That is amazing. These photos have a sense of nostalgia to them. What is it about the 1960's that you love? As I say on my website: "All of us loved the glamorous and innocent lifestyle of the 60's or at least what we imagined it to be!" I believe that sums it up!


"Girls Smokin' by the Pool" by David Parise

"Kickin' It Girl Style" in our Irvine Slim frame with a white mat

 Do you have a favorite piece? "Girls Smokin' by the Pool" is one of my favorites. It's my mom and her sister sitting by the pool always with cigarettes in hand back in the 60's.

How does framing change your work? I have tried metal, canvas, and plexi-mounts with my work but I have never been satisfied with the look. I just love the clean look of a white frame and mat. It just looks more classy and really works with my beach photos.

How has Framebridge added value to your business? Most people dread the framing process between the time it takes, too many choices, and the cost. My prints are relatively reasonable so Framebridge's quality, cost, and turnaround are a perfect match for my business. 


Which Barbie and Ken print do you like best?