New York Spring 2020: At a Standstill, 16 Creatives Work



For obvious reasons, our plan to announce our spring collection was cancelled. Usually we’d have a photoshoot, maybe on a sandy beach or sunny Manhattan street to celebrate Tidal’s favorite season. This year, that wasn’t possible. Instead, we decided to take that same budget and use it differently—dividing it equally among 16 freelancers, artists and creators that make up the creative community we depend upon. One of the many workforces economically impacted by the crisis and left without consistent work.

We wanted to make something that could capture this exceptional moment. Seeing how the world has changed in the days between beginning this project and launching it has been a journey in itself. Like putting a cake in the oven, what went in was very different from what came out—even if the ingredients were the same. Exactly one month elapsed—and it has been both exhilarating and glacial. Days were at once achingly similar and radically different, our attention spans: shorter and longer. Things that felt relevant became irrelevant and visa versa. 

With a shut down factory, we contacted 16 New York based creatives in our network, mailing a mix-match of sizes and colors to each individual, the only styles we had. We didn’t know what we would get back, all we asked for were several photos we could use on social media and our website. 

Now that it is here, the collection of photographs, illustrations, dances, poems, videos and words articulate a whole gamut of sentiments, from hope to worry, jovial playfulness to earnest reflection. If anything we hope they serve as a document of this moment in time, and an indicator of what is to come, and that New York Spring 2020 is a time like no other. 

Scroll down to meet our family of creatives we hold so dearly and see the full project—comprised of fifteen works, from 16 individual creatives capturing what this anomalous moment in New York looks like to them.

Thoughts Of Summer, 2020
Mixed media  

Artist Amber Vittoria’s "Thoughts Of Summer" represents her excitement for the season to come even in these socially distant times. She created the piece in the outdoor space of her NYC apartment—and having the ability to sit outside and draw is one of the simple pleasures she is savoring at the moment. Her involvement in this body of work also carries significance for her. “I am so thankful to TIDAL for including me in this artistic project,” Amber says, “as it has given me a bit of relief both financially and emotionally, making the space for me to be excited about summer and the future.”

IG: @amber_vittoria

In a moment like this, we are craving moments of spontaneity and authenticity. Cue Mark Fitton and Suzanne Darcy the movement-cum-image creative duo behind, BABYHOUSE NEW YORK. Describing it as a “VERY BABYHOUSE experience” which if you know the two or are familiar with their work, self-titling an experience is more than relevant. The team (who are quarantining together) grabbed some White Claws and “whatever they could find around their apartment” styled and staged the shoot on their roof. The result is an eclectic and vibrant collection of images that evoke the randomness and joy we might be missing from life as it was before. 




Besides having one of the best names we’ve ever heard—Balarama (also known as Bala) Heller, is easy to get lost in conversation with. His work equally sends you on an imaginative journey. The NYC-based photographer is committed to dividing his time between personal and commercial projects, something that requires discipline. As an artist, he explores the intractable relationship between humans and the natural world. And while Bala’s commercial work can be described as “visual candy” don’t let the poppy, playful tone fool you ... because it always makes you think.

“I found myself navigating in a creative world that lives between restriction and possibilities.” – Bala shares on the TIDAL project. “In fact, I realized this is not unfamiliar to me, or many artists for that matter. Restriction, limitations both in terms of available materials and support are the standard operating environment for most artists.” With more and more artists being asked to execute creative work while isolated, NYC’s shelter in place manifested this for him. A paradigm shift that now embraces a back-to-basics mentality. “It is in this spirit that I create.” says Bala. “I don't want to over-inflate my process or the results of the process but what artists make now will be a time capsule we all refer to in the future.”

IG: @balaramaheller

Popping over to Clara Kirkpatrick’s Instagram is like entering an NYC-dreamworld. Playing on familiar Manhattan streets and classic iconography of her hometown, Clara aka @doodle_deli brings to life all the things we love most about this city. She even just won New York Nico’s #BESTNYSHIRT contest! 

At the moment, Clara is thinking ahead to her favorite season in New York, summer, and what it is going to look like this year with social distancing. She has found the best way to get through this crazy time is escapism, optimism—and of course, by doodling. She writes that she chose to illustrate a “silly ‘find your beach’ moment” with a (taro!) pop of color. “I love color— I think that's one really easy way to transport yourself on some level,” says Clara.

IG: @clarakirk

“As someone who has never owned flip flops before, the biggest challenge was taking the basic concept of a thong sandal and reimagining it into something wearable (in my eyes) for a larger market. Although I admit that these sandals are probably not quite wearable—yet—given my very limited resources, what I wanted to elicit from the consumer/viewer was the capacity to dream in nonlinear design. I started with the very simple idea of why sandals don't function for me in metropolitan cities and I realized the most common underlying fear of sandals was their openness. I felt vulnerable wearing such naked shoes! Hence the birth of three very abstract pairings of ways I could imagine myself reinventing and wearing the infamous flip flop.” – Gia Seo, NYC-based Art Director and Texture, Color and Layering Extraordinaire

IG: @giaxseo @texturenaut

It’s easy to get lost in stylist Haley Lowenthal’s Instagram. When not sharing work from her strong NYC-based creative community, she shares travel excursions — A pastime Haley and her husband are passionate about. Not being able to travel is exactly what inspired her. “All the drinks I created had a destination in mind” Haley says. “I was thinking of Italy, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Mexico City. All places I personally cannot wait to travel to when it's safe again.” The stylist’s goal was to keep things lighthearted, instead sharing something we can look forward to. “I want to send a message that although we may have a new normal for a long time, we still maintain our hopes and dreams and we can still look forward to the future,” says Haley.

IG: @haleygirl1

“This has been really hard,” says Isabel when we spoke—a conversation that quickly became vulnerable, honest and healthy. Something we all need right now. Isabel Asha Penzlien is a photographer who has lived in the city for twenty-five years. Balancing grief and hope throughout this crisis has been a challenge. Much like juggling the pain of self-isolation while understanding living in a SouthWest facing apartment by yourself is a privilege.

When we first presented Isabel with this project, she was worried she wouldn’t feel inspired. She also knew it might be the last time in a while she’d find work. A week later the shoes arrived. In the afternoon the sunlight comes shining through her apartment windows. “I took these photos with my Iphone on one of these afternoons. Doing this, let my fear go and for a moment I felt relaxed and distracted.” says Isabel. 

And while blind optimism hasn’t helped. What has been helpful is vulnerability, not passing judgments, not comparing yourself to others and in a literal sense—leaving her apartment. It took getting through that first month of survival to understand this. “I identify myself as an obsessive thinker.” Isabel shares. “Isolation aggravates my anxiety, but creating collective mutual support through opening up, speaking about what you are afraid of makes me feel connected and not alone, even if just virtually.”

IG: @nycisa

Jennifer Paccione’s work simply and succinctly reflects the times we’re living through. It is both hyper-realistic and simultaneously dream-like. “Personally, I feel my senses have been heightened during this time at home,” Jennifer says, “Birds seem to chirp louder, the air feels crisper, the greenery outside my window looks more saturated.”

The vintage camcorder Jennifer used was a nod to the familiarity and comfort of a home movie from childhood. In her work, she captures both the loudness and stillness of neighbors in their homes, just like her, restlessly moving from one space to the next. “The flip flops are shown taking us around the house, throughout our day and its mundanities. With a glimpse at social distancing from our street-facing windows and a nod to our city, there is a sense of gratitude for what has been previously taken for granted and an air of hope for the perseverance that is New York,” says Jennifer.

IG: @jenniferpaccione 

Hair Stylist Kazuto Shimomura isn’t often tasked with image making. Usually behind-the-scenes, Kazuto's dedication and skill styling both men and women is the attention to detail that sets a photoshoot apart. When we first contacted him, he paused — slightly hesitant and asked, “Can I do wigs?” We answered, you can do whatever you want. We knew he'd match this project with the same due diligence he applies on set. And even with that expectation, we were stunned. Kazuto hand-dye each wig to match every flip flop style he received. Kazuto was born in Nara, Japan (the original capital) and received his training in the field in Tokyo, where he was also a former colorist. Now based in NYC, the stylist almost exclusively works on editorial photoshoots. For this project he was able to demonstrate his incredible skills with color, which on set you often don’t have the luxury of time to experiment with. 

IG: @kazuto_shimomura

cleaning up the picnic, 2020
when we could still touch, 2020 
comparing our leg hair, 2020 
Watercolor on paper

Designer and artist, Kindall Almond, has found the experience of quarantine in NYC most similar to the feeling of grief, and all of the sadness that comes along with that. “Right now, I am mourning the loss of my favorite season in New York, the summer. I love the freedom from obligation, the skin and sweat,” says Kindall. Though the artist also notes, she’s equally proud of her adopted city, finding “optimism at [New York’s] perseverance” which is felt when viewing her work. 

Looking ahead to a beloved season that might not be, she wanted to create a series of one of her favorite summer activities—picnicking with friends, laying on top of each other, hugging, sharing food and bottles of wine that everyone drinks from. And as we all experience grief, it’s important for everyone to find their solace. “I’ve never been good at actual meditation.” Kindall explains, stating watercolor has occupied that role for her. “Painting with watercolor takes time and patience, building everything up in tiny layers, and there is a sense of peace that comes along with working on something small that you can contain and control.”

IG: @kindalmond

Quarantine has brought photographer Matt Kelly’s life to a different kind of halt. Born with Type 1 Diabetes, he doesn’t have the luxury to take any risks. And even though he lives near his boyfriend who also manages the same pre-existing disease, they have to stay separate. Usually, tracking Matt down in the city is impossible—the two are traveling nonstop. From Kentucky for a cheeseburger to Dubai for a cocktail, it’s normal for Matt to be flown to opposite ends of the world, documenting the simplest of life’s treasures. 

The irony is the photographer needs anything but extravagance in order to create its existence—often self-staging and sourcing uncomplicated props. But in Matt fashion he has managed to turn self-isolation into lemonade, creating a video with photos from his travels “That don't feel quite ‘there’ yet,” says Kelly. After shooting a flip flop to make it rotate on top, he stopped mid-animation. “When I began to edit out the string holding [the flip flops] up, I decided that it would be cool to make that image feel purposely not there yet too.”

IG: @okaymk 

Tidal’s go-to makeup artist, Mika Shimoda is an industry whiz. And the even better part? She’s the kindest most hardworking person you’ll ever meet. It’s hard thinking of a world where seeing her isn’t immediately followed with a big hug. Mika’s body art and makeup was a fun deviation to the au naturale beauty trend … which, trust us—is no easy feat. “I always wanted to try creating full body makeup looks—but frankly, never have reason to.” – says Mika. Now in quarantine and with this project on her plate, she figured why not? Drawing inspiration from her personal collection of print magazines, design books and street style photographs, Mika created a completely unique and inventive series of makeup looks for your face … and your feet. Stay tuned, we might just have a reason to share TIDAL beauty tricks starring yours truly.

IG: @mikashimoda01

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to be blessed with Oak Laokwansathitaya’s presence his whole existence is like a treasure trove. And we mean that literally, figuratively—even spiritually. Often running around the city with more bags than limbs, the NYC-based Set Designer is always concocting something. Even when he’s “off duty” (if you ask right) odds are he possesses the most moisturizing chapstick, a lighter that moonlights as a bottle opener and if lucky, the perfect snack. 

Oak has been quarantining alone in his Bushwick apartment and while we frequently check in on him (in addition to finding life through his IG cooking adventures) we wonder ... How are people routinely spoiled by seeing Oak doing? That’s how intoxicating of a person he is. And if you’re Oak, not being able to have your hideaways of secret fortunes scattered throughout the city at your fingertips, the TIDAL project proved to be a challenge. “I wanted to make a mobile with the sandals and talk about how sleep is such a major factor but I didn’t have all the pieces.” shares Oak when discussing ways to ease anxiety and slow down thoughts in quarantine. “So then I thought—I love the beach and I love being outside and if we can still do that safely and responsibly then we should.” With Oak, comes beauty and like that we were able to see the sky and feel the sand. 

IG: @notanothertree

Mambo Benyen, 2020
Oil, charcoal on hardboard.
24 x 30 inches

“Wayward[Improvisation}/Vodou/Obeah/BackThatAzzUp/Ase%command%/MustBeTheDevilCainBeThemRichFolks/JamaicaCoatofArms/Ayiti/WhereWillYouBeWhenTheyCome/PurpleDurag/NuclearWarBySunRa/PaquetCongo/Itutu<cooool>/dont worry(WeGoneGitAllTheHealthCareWeNeedAfterWeDie)/uh-huh, nuh-uh”

– A source code from Rhamier’s brain on his work titled, Mambo Benyen, 2020. Benyen in Haitian Creole translates to bathing and Port-Au-Prince is the locale in Haiti where one side of Rhamier’s family is from. The piece is deeply influenced by African & Afro-American Art and Philosophy, including ancient religions like Vodou and the aesthetics of The Yoruba while emphasizing Haiti’s beautiful mountains and oceans which is rarely depicted in fine art imagery.

Realized using oil paint, charcoal, plaster and kitchen condiments (salt, pepper, cinnamon). Tools were TIDAL flip flops, palette knife and a brush. 

IG: @rhamierauguste 

If you take a peek at Tim Bendernagel’s Instagram, you’ll see that the Brooklyn-born dancer often shares beautiful short films of himself dancing. You might even recognize Tim’s striking poses (and good looks) as the model in our *Made w/ plants editorial. The process of dancing then editing the footage to create a cohesive and evocative body of work is just what makes Tim so good at what he does—he’s not only an amazing dancer, but his natural discerning eye sets Tim apart in distributing his artform. 

Introducing flip flops created a challenge to his usual process, typically he only dances barefoot. Adding this element felt like a big shift, but once he put the flops on, he found that all the other clothes in his closet started to come out and really served as an inspiration for him to step into character. “It was fun to use footwear and clothing as a source of inspiration for my movement,” Tim says. “An interesting layer of humor began to emerge that I wasn’t expecting (I'm relying HEAVILY on humor these days), as well as characters and abstract narratives.”

IG: @__timus______


A project presented to you by TIDAL New York, collectively concepted, compiled and written by Ben Dunmore, Carly Aimi and Hannah Safter.  

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