About this project
Thank you! Thank you!
We are in the final hours of the Kickstarter ... at this point you are guaranteeing your copy at the donation level of $65 or more. AND, for any contribution of $10 or more you get your name acknowledged in the book.
Please spread the word to your friends. Because this is a limited-edition book, it is critical for you, your friends, and family to pre-order now to ensure they get their own copy of “Of Beards and Men.” Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Of Beards and Men provides an intimate peek into the world of men and their beards.
What is it about a man with a beard? Debate looms large….is he more attractive? Respectable? Trustworthy? Does it define him, or not? Does he use facial hair as a form of creativity, self-expression or perhaps a little rebelliousness?
“Of Beards and Men” is a labor of love for graphic designer and photographer Joseph D.R. OLeary. Over the past 18 months, he’s photographed 130+ bearded men. Each portrait is an exploration into that man’s passions, personality and unique individuality.
The next step for this project is printing a handsomely designed and exquisitely produced book that brings together all 130+ portraits. The book will include three essays by art critic George Slade, photographer and educator Douglas Beasley and Twin Cities’ arts writer Andy Sturdevant. The book is scheduled for release in Fall of 2013.
The print run will be limited to 1000 copies. As a backer, you would be guaranteed to receive a copy with any pledge of $65 or more.
National Praise for “Of Beards and Men”
Vicki Goldberg is one of the leading voices in the field of photography criticism. She has written about photography for The New York Times for thirteen years, lectures internationally, and writes on photography for ARTnews, Vanity Fair and various magazines. She writes:
In a time when portraits are everywhere, on magazine pages, cell phones, and screens ad infinitum (not to mention galleries), these register in an unusual key. This is partly because of the theme, bearded men, which could have been a joke but is not, because it is merely the excuse for a larger exploration of what the sitters are about. OLeary intends to show how masculinity and male personal identity are defined in contemporary society, a subject that can barely be hinted at in so short a compass. Yet he has registered sufficient and often striking differences in style and self-presentation among these men, enough so that viewers can at least imagine that they know something about the personalities who sat for the camera.
The sitters literally sit, a sameness of pose that sharpens the sense of differences. Clothes supposedly make the man, and they do at least disguise him and present some desired image. A hat, a vest, a tie, a T-shirt, a pair of overalls: immediate placement in one sector of the culture. One man here took off all his clothes and managed to convey despite, or maybe because of, his nakedness, the image of a personality. Then there are extravagant or careful beards and tattoos, all clues we generally think we know how to read. And props, and body language, and, of course, facial expressions.
Portraits are deceptive. We’ll never know what degree of a man’s identity was due to his attitude before the camera or to the photographer’s idea of him. Richard Avedon said it all: “We have separate ambitions for the image. His need to plead his case probably goes as deep as my need to plead mine, but the control is with me.”
Questions & Answers:
Why a book of bearded men? So many dynamics converged to yield this project.
• Over the years I have perused many historic photographs and books of portraiture and was intrigued by the prevalence of beards on so many of the men from generations past. I started thinking about and discussing the lack of acceptance beards have today among influential, important, even respected men in society and wanted to dispel our current biases of the shaved vs. unshaved man.
• I was looking for a way to refocus my energies and distract myself following a difficult 2011/2012 during which my brother unexpectedly died and I endured a debilitating bout of Lyme disease.
• As a photographer, I’ve always been compelled by portraiture — of myself and others. People are fascinating and everyone has a story to tell. It is these “stories” that need to be recorded through portraiture.
The project transformed from a simple study of photographing bearded men to an indepth exploration of how men define themselves — personally, professionally or spiritually — in a culture that seems obsessed with defining masculinity as well as granting the freedom of defining your own personal style.
The guys I met during this project were inspirational. Hearing their stories as I photographed them was amazing. Capturing a glimpse of their lives infused the images with a warmth, personality and beauty I hadn’t expected.
How long did it take to photograph everyone? 18 months — from February 2012 to July 2013.
Who are the guys in the portraits? The guys are people just like you. They all answered the call to give their beard its "15 minutes of fame." Initially, they were all local to the Minneapolis area, but as word spread about the project, bearded men came to my studio from throughout Minnesota and beyond including Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Washington.
Ultimately, what connected them was not their beards. Rather, it was the fact that they all had a story to tell and they all stepped up to “tell” it.
How will the money be used? All of the money raised will go directly to cover the costs of printing. To date, all the incidental costs associated with the project (e.g., design, marketing, promotional materials, Kickstarter video, project website, writers, etc.) have been paid for from my personal funds. (The Kickstarter is not intended to recoup those costs).
Why a printed book in the age of digital? This book will be a limited-edition coffee table book, beautifully designed and impeccably printed. Think of it as a keepsake you can enjoy and share with your family and friends for years to come. In a sense it is a time capsule — a visual record — of masculinity in contemporary society. Think of photographs you see of people circa 1900...now imagine what people will think when they look at this book 50 to 100 years from now.
Will the book include text, too? Yes. The book will include three essays. Art critic George Slade will be writing about the importance of portraiture throughout the ages in particular the age of photography. Photographer/educator Douglas Beasley will be writing a critical essay of the portraits in the book. And, Twin Cities’ arts writer Andy Sturdevant will be writing about beards and beard culture in contemporary society.
Will the book be included in the Library of Congress? Yes! If printed, it will definitely be included in the Library of Congress, which means it will have an ISBN number and will be placed in our national archives. Beards will live forever.
What if this campaign generates more money than is needed? Well, that would be awesome. If the project gets more funding than is needed to cover the cost of the printing, I will either print a higher quantity of books or upgrade the production values of the book.
What are the details of the book? The book's page dimensions are 9.75" x 12". It will be 130+ portraits on 168 pages. The images will be printed in full color on 100 lb. matte paper with spot varnish on each image. The book includes three essays, an artist statement, and contributor list. The soft cover version will include a full color cover with extended cover flaps. The hard cover version will be 4mm board covered in fabric with a debossed frame for a full color tip-in image on cover and foil stamping on the spine. The slip case, constructed of 4mm book board will be a covered with a complimentary fabric color with a debossed frame for an additional tip-in image.
Please consider supporting this project. Perhaps your photo will be in the book. Perhaps you know someone who was photographed for the project. Perhaps you wear or love someone who wears a beard. Perhaps you are just a staunch lover of beards. Or, perhaps you just appreciate beautiful portraits. Either way, we thank you for your consideration and support.
Love. Beard. Art.
Standard Edition (soft cover) not shown.
Risks and challenges
What if this campaign does not generate enough money? Sadly, then the book won’t get printed. I believe this would be a huge loss for beard supporters everywhere as well as a huge blow to men in general. All of the generous and awesome bearded gentlemen that made the trek to my studio as well as their families, spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, admirers, and friends will loose the chance to see their favorite beard get the close-up it deserves.
Special thanks to Eric Pierson, Kevin Horn, Nick Leisenheimer, and Patrick Pierson for video direction and production. And to Eric Pierson, Taylor Gerhing, and Michael Johnson for "starring" in the video.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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