Meet the Artist: 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 humorous poses). 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.
Also, this weekend only, we're giving away one of David's prints on our Instagram!
Name: David Parise
Occupation: Photographer of vintage Barbie and Ken dolls
Where's home? New York City
Favorite Studio Tool? Sony A7R digital camera
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 50s and 60s.
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?!
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!
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 your business grown over the last few years? My business has more than doubled the last couple of years. My online business has seen the largest increase…Barbie travels well! I've worked with some strong “influencers” on Instagram to get my work out there and it has really paid off! Advertising has changed so much over the years with slow-down of print and the explosion of Instagram.
How has Framebridge been part of your artistic journey? Framebridge has been a huge game changer for my business. Before, I was using local framers or just selling unframed prints. The problem with local framing was two fold. First, the higher cost but more importantly the logistics. I could only sell to local customers and then I had to arrange pick up or delivery... it was a nightmare. Framebridge’s free shipping anywhere in the USA and moderate pricing has changed my whole business. Framebridge just makes the whole process EASY! Now I can offer framed photographs with many options to choose from (although Irvine Slim is my go-to frame) and have it shipped within 7-10 days! Customers love the service and the quality.
What is the most rewarding part of your work? I used to think the monetary success was the most rewarding part, but without a doubt I have to say it’s seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter and comments from people while selling on the street in NYC or Miami.
"There’s nothing like it: meeting people from all over the world
who share my love of vintage and enjoy my sense of humor."
This past weekend a few girls from the UK passed by and said “You're famous in London!” I laugh because I never would have thought my art would ever be hanging anywhere else but in my own home! I also love the many emails I get from very happy clients, the photos they send, and seeing my framed art on their walls.
Here are some of our favorites of David's work. You can see more for sale on his website. Click on each image below to shop it!