Kalen Hollomon has made his career from Instagram. With an audience of nearly 100k followers, California-born collage artist Kalen can now command commissions from the very brands he satirises in his art.
Kalen’s work began with cutting up fashion and vintage porn magazines and mixing the images with more mundane scenes from everyday life in New York to create disruptive “real-time collages” shot mainly on his iPhone. Many of the images are erotic and Kalen’s favourite subjects include men in heels and back-to-camera shots of strangers with their bums exposed, thanks to Kalen’s eye for comic timing, and the ready stock of image cut outs which he often carries with him.
Elsewhere, Kalen’s images exist as social commentary — shots of street sleepers stamped with fashion house logos, Taylor Swift taking a selfie next to a line of homeless people, Selena Gomez taking a selfie with a city in flames behind her or Kim Kardashian posing in front of a natural disaster scene.
Despite using Anna Wintour’s image in his collages, Karen has even worked with US Vogue. His first big commission was to remix runway imagery for vogue.com. Karen has also worked with brands including Gucci and Calvin Klein, produced editorials for Another, Snatch and NY magazines and held a show at fashion shop Colette — not bad for a man who shoots on his iPhone.
Over the past couple of weeks, Kalen has been posting images of sex workers seemingly torn from the pages of old porn mags. Slapped over their faces and stuck down with Sellotape are cryptic messages. At first glance, they seem to be from fortune cookies, but when viewed as a series the notes take on a more sexual tone: “Before you receive, you must give”, “If you aim to do a favour, then go the whole way. Never do anything halfway”, “Soothing your body are the name of the game today”. The series, named Fortune Portraits, is available to buy as double-sized posters printed on newsprint.
“I’m always interested in how things work together or against each other,” Kalen tells It’s Nice That. “And in altering, shifting perception or understanding. For me, the Fortune Portraits are about open-ended questions, seduction and desperation, both the wild unknown and the cliche, false promises and first impressions.”