Philip Riches • Artist Spotlight

Hi, my name is Philip Riches. I was born in a small town in rural Australia where I spent most of my spare time on my Grandfather’s dairy farm. When I was 14 my older sister became a model; It was a revelation for me, showing me a whole new world with which I became completely absorbed. I started shooting pictures, styling my girlfriends and spending time in the darkroom. It was such an exciting, peaceful and fulfilling period that helped me to cope with the harshness of school and the adolescent environment. Alongside my photographic work, around seven years ago I started my own men's model management. It started as a hobby and now my models work for the likes of Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and feature in Top 50 model lists.

What got you in to Crypto art?

When SalonNFT initially approached me to discuss a potential NFT collaboration, I was intimidated, I was not into Crypto and found the Blockchain concept intriguing but very remote from my every-day experience. Roberto at SalonNFT patiently educated me and I nurtured my interest by attending exhibitions and viewings online. NFT's became relevant to me as a new medium of artistic expression with which I could enhance my artistry rather than a tech novelty. I realised NFTs would help my work become traceable, while protecting my copyright. And in a 'right-click' age, where photographic work is constantly appropriated without the authors consent, NFTs offer me (and other creatives) an avenue towards monetisation of my work.

Where do you find your inspiration?

When I was invited to debut in the NFT space, I knew that my own personal genesis would represent an essential part of the creative process. The 'Teenage Cage” series came directly from my experiences as a teenager growing up in a small town in the 1980s, my emotions were often challenged by my surroundings and I wanted to explore if I could somehow translate these early experiences into a new body of photographic work. I was able to process the difficulties I faced as a teenager via the Teenage Cage series through making something beautiful and, I hope, impactful. In collaboration with my friend and talented makeup artist Pernell Kusmus, we devised this series to comprise six moods - like different lenses through which I could look back at this period of my life. For example, the mood 'Beach' is the translation of a specific adolescent memory. I was loud and tall as a teenager with a lot of blonde hair, I was friends with all the pretty popular girls and danced at all the parties and school socials, needless to say the boys didn’t get me at all! One night I was warned not to go to this beach party as the boys were going to come after me but I went anyway and I swam and I danced like I wanted to. But it’s a very clear memory wading out into the bay on a summers day and sand slapping across my face courtesy of one of the surfer boys. I think in the end it made me a bit fearless and gave me strength, I never really thought they were out to hurt me. I just thought they didn’t get me and my fabulousness haha.

What do you think of traditional artwork?

I come from a more traditional photography/art/fashion scene, but I have been inspired and challenged by the NFT world. Plus, there has been lots to learn, even new terms like mint, DYOR, airdrop, burn, etc. The term 'Phygital' sounds pretty ugly - but in actual fact I find this format highly attractive for at least two reasons. It represents a bridge between my existing 'physical' production i.e photographic prints; and the digital medium where my image file is wrapped in the NFT technology, so protecting it and authenticating it. Being allowed to create both physical and digital twin works has helped me demystifying the perceived complexity of NFTs in this phase where I am dipping my toes in this new medium and marketplace. Even more important to me is that the 'phygital' format allows potential buyers of my work to enjoy it in different but complementary settings. A photographic print is generally framed and hung in people’s homes; its NFT “twin” can be enjoyed in multiple locations - from a laptop to a TV set, to an art wall featuring a digital screen or even as part of a self-curated Metaverse personal exhibition space.

Do you think your art is fulfilling a purpose?

Yes I hope so. I am sure, like many other artists, I felt a lot apprehension when entering this new space. The “Teenage Cage” series is very specifically about myself and my emotional state. Being autobiographical brought up a lot of feelings from the past. Personal work, by definition, intimately correlates with one’s feelings, vision of life and aesthetics then seeing that out there as part of a real-life or on-line exhibition is a challenging moment. But it was also a very exciting opportunity as to me it signifies freedom of expression and represents an unmissable opportunity to push boundaries, experiment technically and cooperate with talented artists.

How did you start out as an artist?

As soon as I could I left home for the big city and pursued my dream to become a fashion photographer. I have lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Milan, Amsterdam, Paris and now London. It has taken me to so many different countries and cities and I also have been able to shoot some of the women that inspired me as a teenager including Grace Jones, Kristen McMenamy, Helena Christensen and Yasmin Le Bon. I have been featured in magazines such as Vogue, W Magazine, L’Officiel, Marie Claire and many others. And I have worked with clients such as the inspired Viktor and Rolf along with Diesel, Hilfiger and L’Oréal. Alongside my photographic work, around seven years ago I started my own men's model management. It started as a hobby and now my models work for the likes of Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and feature in Top 50 model lists.

Who or what inspires your work?

Inspiration comes from everywhere around us.

Which other artist(s) so you admire?

Photography: Avedon, Meisel, Horst P Horst, Mapplethorpe, George Platt Lynes. Music: FKA Twigs, Tori Amos, Banks

Final question, what is next for you as an artist?

I really have enjoyed my NFT debut - almost to my surprise - and I have learned to appreciate this new digital world offered to me by NFTs. On a practical level, NFTs have opened my photography to a much wider audience and streamlined the marketing and selling process. I recently found my old Pentax cameras in a storage unit so I want to go back to basics, shooting on black and white analogue then incorporate the NFT medium to bring old school photography and modern NFT technology together in harmony. I am also thinking of a moving-image project - a multimedia experience with a strong photography direction but also plenty of movement and an especially created sound design. Something to play on an art-wall, on a digital screen. Something that will make me and me friends dance !

We would like to thank Philip Riches for giving up their time to collaborate on this with us.