Reed+Rader are Pamela Reed and Matthew Rader, two Brooklyn-based digital artists who use photography, video, animated GIFs, 3D gaming engines, Miley Cyrus and lots of cats and dinosaurs to create their art. Pioneers in GIFs as fashion images, their work is much sought after by magazines and brands including Adidas, Diesel, Victoria’s Secret, Ray-Ban, MTV, W Magazine, V Magazine, Dazed & Confused, Another Magazine, Muse, Pop, SHOWstudio – the list grows and grows. For me, Pamela and Matthew are an amazing example of what you can do with photography if you don’t limit your possibilities…
You met each other while at college in Pittsburgh studying web design (Pamela) and interior design (Matthew), both later switching to study photography; what prompted that change in direction? What was it that pulled you both towards photography?
With a camera, we were able to create fantastic scenarios, even if only for a moment, and breath them into reality. Neither of us had any natural drawing or painting abilities so photography made sense for us as an art form that we could have success with.
Your early work was all analog; what was your aesthetic at that time? Do you feel that you have carried elements of that early style in to your digital work?
Our early work had a strong hands-on collage aesthetic. We would shoot people, and then collage them into fantasy styles. The style was very arts and crafts with being able to see the paper texture with the collage elements. Even though our work is almost completely digital today, it has come back to that style, but now the hand collage has been replaced with CGI. It’s always been about building; that used to be with construction paper and razorblades – now it’s on a computer. We’ve always loved fairy tale style scenarios, so we’ve just evolved with the work to better portray that.
You were early pioneers in producing animated fashion features using GIFs; where did this concept come from?
We were both kids with Angelfire and Geocities pages so we’ve known GIFs a long time. As the internet was growing, we wanted to create images that were somewhere in between a still image and a video, and the GIF did that for us. We think of GIFs as the purest form of internet art.
Did your client-base come with you for the ride or did you have to rethink your marketing strategy and target new clients?
It was hard at first, surprisingly it still is sometimes. Possible clients at the early stages (2008-2009) weren’t sure what to do with their website and they didn’t create custom content for it, so they didn’t understand why they should hire us to create GIFs for them. Many of them said no, that they didn’t want GIFs to be on their site. Come around to 2016 and almost every one of these publications and clients now have GIFs on their site.
We’ve used a lot of different mediums over the years but, regardless of the medium, our work has always been about building environments for our characters to exist in.
You are now using 3D and VR games engines such as Unreal Engine to create your animated fashion features but continuing to build still photography in to your 3D workflow; do you think you will continue to use this blend of media or can you see yourselves moving more towards video capture?
We’ve used a lot of different mediums over the years but, regardless of the medium, our work has always been about building environments for our characters to exist in. Sculpting 3D worlds and characters and having people explore them by using a gaming engine has given us complete imaginary control. It’s too soon to say completely but we look at VR as a potential final medium – a medium where anything is possible not just to observe but to be utterly immersed by.
We still have a pack of 4×5 Polaroids sitting in our refrigerator, waiting for the special day!
Do you ever pick up an old polaroid and get a nostalgic desire to shoot film again?
We still have a pack of 4×5 Polaroids sitting in our refrigerator, waiting for the special day! There is something magical about film, we don’t deny that but it’s just not able to be a part of what we do anymore.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
Being sent pictures of people dressed up as our Dubstep Dinosaurs with costumes they made for Halloween and parties. Learning that there are children around the world who ask their parents to watch Dubstep Dinosaurs every day, instead of cartoons.
What is next for you both?
The truth is we don’t entirely know and that’s exciting.
I can’t do an interview with you guys and not mention cats – following the adventures of your furry family on Instagram is always guaranteed to make me smile – can we expect to see more feline cameos in your future work?
We’re working on a new video/VR project called CAT SHOWDOWN. There might be some cats in it.
See more of Reed+Rader’s work at:
All images copyright Pamela Reed and Matthew Rader.