A couple of years ago, a friend of mine contacted me with the idea for a photography project. Wouldn’t it be fun, she said, if we were to do a photo shoot inspired by the work of Brian Froud? For those of you who may not be familiar with his work, Brian is the godfather of all things faerie. His work was directly translated into film in the movies Labyrinth and Dark Crystal, and his art has enchanted for decades. I am an enthusiastic follower of the creations of Brian, his wife Wendy, and their son Toby, so I immediately agreed.
Both of us selected an artwork by Brian Froud that spoke to us, and got to work brainstorming how to created it in three-dimensions. Last fall, I emailed Wendy Froud to seek official permission to pursue this project, and it was given. We then knew it was full-speed ahead on the project!
We selected a photographer for the project, my friend Chris McDonough. I knew Chris was a talented photographer, but beyond that, I also knew that he and his wife were also admirers of the Frouds’ art, and he would understand what we were trying to do.
Chris, in fact, is not only a photographer, but a fine-artist, and several years ago he created this amazing portrait of Brian and some of his creations as a gift for his wife, Ellie.
So as you can see, Chris “got it,” and was a great fit.
The artwork I chose to recreate was entitled “Tapestry,” and has long been one of my favorite works by Brian.
The portrait is relatively simple, but it still required getting together some supplies. The other model involved in this project, Lisa Lombardi, is also an accomplished costume creator, so she made the wings for me. They are phenomenal, and I’m so happy with them.
Next I had to gather the rest of the accessories. The biggest remaining challenge after the wings was the unicorn horn. The library where I work has an employee who is known for his fabrication skills. He has made castles, pirate ships, and fireplaces for different library locations in the past. I contacted him simply to ask how he thought I could best make the unicorn horn. His response was to show up the next day at work with the finished prop. Thank you, John Jordan.
The chemise I already owned, and the faerie crystal was made by me using a clear glass Christmas ornament painted with iridescent paints. The troll-like stone creature she sits on? It’s a small wall plaque (seen in the above Pin board, second row left) designed by Toby Froud, and it was photographed the same day and superimposed into the finished image. It was the perfect choice, since it helped to retain the Froudian authenticity to the image.
The tapestry and brocade cloth I literally grabbed from my wall and the back of my couch before the shoot. And then, the day arrived, and in December we shot the long-awaited image.
Looking at the above behind-the-scenes images, I was already giddy with excitement for how the finished result would turn out. And yesterday, when, after a lot of heart, a lot of dialogue and conversation and many many hours of work on the part of Chris and his wife Ellie, I was sent the finished image, I was absolutely elated.
Here is our homage to Brian Froud’s creation, “Tapestry,” by Chris McDonough, wings by Lisa Lombardi, horn by John Jordan, all other accessories and model, Grace Nuth also known as Sidhe Etain.
I am honored to have been allowed to help create a work so directly inspired by one of the greatest talents in fantasy and fairy tale art living today. The work of Brian, Wendy, and Toby Froud has informed my life in more ways than I can express, and I only hope that this image might capture in some small way how much Brian’s work means to all of us who contributed to the project.
Lisa’s Froudian portrait from that day is still in progress, but when it is completed, I will share that one as well!
The original painting, and our photo: