“It was the decision of a lifetime. I had a couple hundred bucks, a backpack, and not much else, other than a ton of will. I certainly wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t make the decision to grab that backpack and work my way to California.’’ — Jared Leto, The Art of Discovery
CEO of The Creative Coalition Robin Bronk has just released The Art of Discovery published by Rizzoli New York and sponsored by Renaissance Hotels. This is her third book of celebrity portraits and interviews where a portion of the proceeds goes to The Creative Coalition’s campaign to encourage support for the arts in public schools and in communities. Bronk says:
I came up with the idea for this book after spending almost two decades traveling with actors, members of The Creative Coalition, to all corners of the world on various service projects. There’s a lot of time spent waiting in airports, and crossing countries on buses and trains. I work with the greatest storytellers and I wanted to create a vehicle to share these tales of discovery and inspiration that would support the arts — the core of why The Creative Coalition exists.
This collection of inspirational stories from 100 notable celebrities was photographed by celebrity photographer Jeff Vespa and elegantly designed by award-winning art director and designer Nancy Rouemy of We Live Type Ltd. Rouemy’s modern and innovative typography and brilliant photographic art direction paired with Vespa’s stunning shots make for a mesmerizing visual experience.
Vespa and Rouemy collaborated together on set, but mostly 2800 miles apart. Rouemy says:
It was thrilling to art direct many of the artists at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, and, via the Internet from New York, in Los Angeles. I shared a screen with Jeff and was able to see everyone on set in Los Feliz and direct from my New York office; yet, they couldn’t see me, only hear my voice. During each shoot, every single artist parroted, “I feel like I’m in the movie, “Her!’’
Bronk credits Rouemy as an “off the charts designer who made the book sing.’’ Bronk continues:
We were tremendously fortunate to have Nancy Rouemy on the team. Her creative mastery and experience were instrumental in garnering a publishing deal with the premier coffee table book publisher, Rizzoli. That, coupled with the support of Renaissance Hotels — a company that is vested into supporting arts in America — has made for a powerful campaign to do well by doing good.
The Art of Discovery is not your typical coffee table book of celebrities. It’s a deep exploration of spirit and insight. It is a reminder that anyone can turn a dream into reality. The heart and tone of each individual story is the result of, as Rouemy encapsulates, “What was that pinpointed moment that either changed the direction of your life or inspired you creatively?”
One of the featured artists Jena Malone shares the story of her mother who worked two jobs and was “always a little disheveled and dirty, just like a mom.” Then one day she saw her mother playing Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie, and was blown away by what she saw:
She looked enchanting — long hair; make-up, and a beautiful red dress. She had transformed herself, and she didn’t make a big deal out of it.
Malone goes on to say, “I wanted that metamorphosis — that ability to change, to elevate, to be a completely different person.”
Mark Webber shares his experience of being homeless for two years:
Bathed in Polo cologne… I remember lying in a sleeping bag next to my mom in the freezing cold one night and making a connection with a star. It was my first spiritual experience…
At that moment, I knew that life was going to be ok. I still look up to the stars to remind myself that I can still take risks, explore my fears, and challenge myself.
As with the best creative processes, the project was enhanced by unexpected magic. Nancy Rouemy shares her experience photographing Jason Alexander:
I wanted to create something unexpected and funny for Jason Alexander’s photo. While researching existing images of Alexander, I kept focusing on his bald head. I saw it as “prime real estate,’’ and decided to top his shine with a stuffed white dove. When I married the final image with the text (which I received after the shoot), ala kazam… serendipity!
Alexander admits, “My entire childhood, I wanted to be a magician…. My hands were genetically small and especially challenged to accomplish the particular dexterity of the great close-up magicians.’’
However, transfixed by Ben Vereen on stage in “Pippin,’’ Alexander realizes, “the theater is an illusion, a huge and amazing illusion… I could still have magic in my life.’’ The magician’s dove was the perfect prop and Jason’s roaming eyes — nailed it.
The Art of Discovery is the latest entry of a series of books that Bronk created and edited for The Creative Coalition (www.thecreativecoalition.org) that maximizes the power and position of celebrity to serve the common good. The Art of Discovery was sponsored by Renaissance Hotels. The Creative Coalition was galvanized in 1989 by actors Christopher Reeve, Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin and Ron Silver to marshal the voice and reach of the arts community and entertainment industry to support social welfare issues, particularly arts in education. The Art of Discovery is available in local bookstores and at barnesandnoble.com