Multidisciplinarian Luke Abby works within the realms of photography, sculpture and costume design. His first solo exhibition, Characters, acted as a display of eighteen portraits of people he had met while traveling. On Characters, he tells TWELV, “Characters was a mix mash of some of my favorite photos I had taken over the years leading up to it. There was no retouching – the subjects were friends, some of whom I’d recently met. I get excited about taking an image of someone who isn’t familiar with having their photo taken, they have a naivety, or they portray their fantasy.” He has worked with stylists such as Marie Chaix creating limited edition sculptures for Sephora’s Emerald campaign and photographed by David Sims. Another accolade that the he holds is the creation of a solid plastic dresses for Lady Gaga. “I occasionally combine all mediums together.”
The same person is seen in a myriad of ways (photography); in different guises and in each, Luke reveals something unique about his sitter. “It’s important to me that there is truth to the photos. People have millions of layers, which is why I like to photograph a subject over and over again.” Costume design began for Luke in college where he created his ensembles in front of a mirror in his bedroom. In this way, he describes that it was easier to use his own body as a mannequin. “The mask element expressed was a way to express my emotions at the time. If I do that with someone I’m photographing, I’d prefer him or her to be a completely different character. It’s one or the other,” he tells TWELV.
As the oftentimes cited entry point, he was motivated to move into photography because taking pictures was a way to both remember and reflect on the moments that he perceived and formed a part of. He elaborates by stating that this included where he lived, the people he met and the people he shared intimate connections with. For portraits removed from this documentary style of working, in the early stages of his photographic journey, he often looked at old paintings as a form of inspiration.
His costume design takes on a less calculated tone and becomes more experimental. Luke regards his costume design work as “what people perceive it as,” traversing the space between art and fashion. He unpacks the story of his favourite sculpture he has created by stating, “[It was] the first one I ever made. It was a hat made from train tickets that I had collected and saved over two years from going back and forth to London every day from Kent while I was studying. It has all of the different dates on it. It got left in the sunlight for a while and all of the information faded away.”