Simmons and Mars / by Jaz Malone



I've mentioned Erika Simmons before. She's the previously well-known, currently very well-known cassette tape artist.

Recently, her artwork inspired the Bruno Mars video for "Just the Way You Are." I contacted her about her thoughts on the piece. Her email was so nice, I don't want to cut too much out of it. Here's what she said:

"Let me start off by saying that I didn't contribute much to the video. The director Ethan Lader and the team of animators did almost all the work. A few months ago I got a call from Ethan - he explained his concept for the video and basically just asked my blessing for the go-ahead. I also got a licensing fee for their use of the concept. I thought it was a wonderful idea to use animation to make the artwork come to life, so I was thrilled to participate. I'm not very tech-savvy, so it was an opportunity to see what could be done using techniques I'll never use myself. The team did all the work, but they kept me in-the-loop and I got to help out here and there as more a consultant than anything. The only actual cassette tape sculpture I made was for the girl's hair in the video... I made that and shipped it out to LA so they could photograph it. The rest is all them- they did a fantastic job! And it was very gracious of them to include me in the credits."

Simmons is quite pleased with the new exposure to her work. She also added a note for independent artists:

"Its hard to make a living as an independent artist, so I know exactly what you are feeling.. I waited tables for years making experimental artwork on the side. I never even sold a piece of artwork until I started making the cassette tape sculptures. All I can say is hang in there and follow your passion. There are loads of ripe ideas out there just waiting to be plucked!"

Here is the finished piece. I'm not personally a fan of the song, but I rather enjoy watching the video. Also, check out the director Ethan Lader's work. He's doing some interesting stuff.