When I first saw Massimo Gammacurta’s Lollipop project I knew he had a hit on his hands. 2 years later I wanted to know how a great personal project translates into paying jobs.
APE: Ok, take me back to the beginning. When did you create the lollipop project and what was the process for creating and photographing them?
Massimo: Two years ago I had this idea about making some lollipops shaped like fashion logos. I was intrigued by the possibility of “eating fashion”. When you eat food it goes into your blood, into your system and I felt that it would have been intriguing to make an edible Gucci or a Chanel lollipop. Also, the other idea was about oral fixation, “suck fashion” or it could have easily been…”fashion sucks”. Once I had the idea, then I had to deal with the process of making it. I had to learn how to make hardball candy from scratch and also how to make the molds. It wasn’t easy at all but I felt like I had to do it myself.
Can you tell me more about the process for making the candy and molds? You don’t have to give me any secrets.
I never made hard candy and it is a very volatile media. I had to heat the sugar at 300 degrees and it becomes as hot as lava, is very dangerous and it dries very fast. What makes this pieces unique is the fact that are “sloppy”. All the details work that happens after the base mold is done is what makes them interesting. I played with humidity, double dipping splashing it and ever chill blasting this pieces so they can crack internally. Believe it or not the hardest thing to do was to carry them into the studio. They are lollipop size and they are extremely fragile and i lost many just by carrying them into the studio.
What did you think would happen once you started promoting the project?
I didn’t promote it at all. I just uploaded on my site and I forgot about it for like 2 or 3 days,
Then what happened?
Someone must have seen the images on my site and started tweeting and blogging about them. I woke up one morning and I had 5000 entries on my website in one night and I couldn’t understand why. So I googled my name and the lollipops were all over the internet. Basically it started a chain reaction and I was all over the web.
Tell me about the brands you used, there was some negative reaction at first wasn’t there?
Actually the 1st email I got about this was from a store in Tokyo that wanted to order 5000 lollipops, they wanted to sell them for 12 dollars a piece. Also, I had a lot of legal firms from all over the world checking my site out but nothing really happened apart from a letter from a big fashion group that advised me to stop using their logo. We later talked to them and once I explained that it wasn’t my intention to mass produce these candies and they stop bothering me.
Tell me about the book. How did that come about and what was the result of that?
I really loved the 4 original lollipops I made and I thought it would have been cool if I could make a lollipop book of all the logos I liked. It took me a year but in the end I made and shot 50 pieces and started to send it to publishing houses until I found one (BIS publishing) that gave me a book deal and printed my book.
Now, tell me about the payoff, what jobs came because of it?
The Lolli-Pop project made a lot of noise on the internet and helped me tremendously in promoting my photography business. I shot a candy number story for Wired Magazine, started to shoot major catalogues and editorials and recently I just shot a campaign in which I used all my fine arts techniques and ideas in a commercial shoot.
Was’t there a point when you wondered if it would just make noise on the internet and not result in any paying jobs? How long was it between when you first created the project and the jobs came in because of it?
Yes it took more than a year. I think that many people thought that these were either photoshop or CGI generated. Also some were under the impression that i bought it somewhere and asked where to find them or even thought i was some kind of candy factory producing these myself. It became hysterical and frustrating at the same time. I think when Wired commissioned me the candy numbers is when people started to take notice. After that i would go into meetings with my books and a lot of people in the business knew about the “fashion lollipops”.
And finally I understand Chanel just bought some prints, but wasn’t a lawsuit a possibility at one point?
Yes, but once we explained to them that these were not mass produced pieces but art, they stopped. I’ve already sold a few prints through my gallery in Paris (http://www.visionairsgallery.com), but when Chanel approached me about a month ago to buy 2 prints for their permanent art collection I felt for the first time that this idea had come full circle and the originality of the concept had finally paid off.