Alexander Isley successfully pitched the idea of using Hanoch Piven's collage portrait style for TEDMED's speakers' conference held in Washington D.C. in the spring of 2012. The conference was summed up us as the 4 I’s: Innovation, Imagination, Inspiration, and Icons. Who better to commission than Hanoch Piven for such an event? Alex said Hanoch's work brought “soul” to the identity of the conference. By that, I suspect, he meant the artwork celebrated the personal stories of each of the speakers in a way that grounded and honored the natural genius of the subjects instead of putting them on a pedestal. Naturally, Hanoch’s bright colors and conceptual use of objects immediately invites viewer participation to solve the visual puzzle, something rarely experienced with illustration or photography.

The kicker was Alex needed 71 speaker portraits and had only 6 weeks to create the artwork. Hanoch’s process of finding the perfect object of the right size and then creating opportunities for happy accidents that become conceptual and minimal likenesses takes a lot of research, time and patience. The only way to execute this brief and maintain the integrity of Hanoch's hand was to use the app created by both Hanoch and iMagine Machine ( Yes, Hanoch used an app to made 71 portraits in 6 weeks.

And it needs mentioning, it was Alex's brainstorm for each speaker to choose 5 favorite objects they would like in the portraits. This limited brief accomplished a few things: it drew a circle around specific objects giving responsibility to the subjects to pre-approve an essential part of their identities; it was in everyone best interest speed up this process which can be a time killer creating a consistent look for all the portraits since the objects were filtered through Hanoch’s app.

Hanoch made a video of the TEDMED speaker portraits posted here on Vimeo

Hanoch’s “blink” portraits using the 5 objects are both avatar and biography. He successfully completed all the portraits in time for the event and we were able to increase the fee offered by 70% by the time the project was completed. There were a few tense moments of fee negotiation that only happens when so many images are required in a short period of time. To get a project like this off the ground everyone really has to jump in to the deep end and trust our best qualities will come to the fore as the project develops. Of course this is only possible when everyone has a stellar reputation and experience working with each other and on similar projects. It requires velvet glove diplomacy and artistic commitment to see it to the end, no matter what the obstacle. This rare project had a life of its own where everyone played and at the top of their game and contributed to the success of the final project.