Though she's been based primarily in New York since 1989, German-born Eva Mueller has a fairly low profile on the U.S. ad scene. This may be changing, in part thanks to her recent work for Steve Madden's Steven line of shoes, via New York's Cramer-Krasselt Hampel Stefanides, which featured one of her trademark styles, images projected on nudes, to great effect (see the June Creativity and AdCritic.com). Featuring projections often derived from architecture and industry-the Madden work includes two apartment building projections, which make for startling window patterns on flesh-"the images are characterized by their minimalist composition and dark humor," she says. "The pictures often have an unusual twist, a visual trick or striking detail whose most immediate reaction is a double take." The inspiration for this style, she says, was an Albert Watson spread in Details of some years ago. "It was a men's hair story and the models had letters projected over their faces," she recalls. "First, I played around with a simple slide projector, which I still use sometimes, and then I tried more-professional lighting equipment. I think most of the projections I see are not done very well technically. I put a lot of time into getting the lighting right. For instance, I want to have a certain amount of return light wrapping around the body to make the projection more three-dimensional. If it's too perfectly cut out against the white background it starts looking like an overlay done in the computer. I've tried that as well, but it never looks as intriguing as a real projection."
Mueller feels she owes her photographic eye to her graphic design and fine-art background in Munich, where she absorbed a host of German styles, including "Bauhaus, Expressionism and a Weimar-era visual sensibility," before making the move into photography. She names Erwin Blumenfeld, Javier Vallhonrat, Peter Lindbergh, Nick Knight and Austrian sculptor Erwin Wurm and among her influences, which makes for what she feels is an "eclectic body of work, sort of a cross-fertilization between beauty, fashion, music, and fine art."
As for ad shooting, she's shot off and on here and in England-over the past decade London has become what she calls her "second home, and the music scene there has been very receptive to my work. Generally I get much more creative freedom in the U.K.," she adds. "The art directors seem to be more visionary and less constricted." Cramer-Krasselt Hampel Stefanides' Tom Kane "is really an exception in that respect, and working with him was very inspiring." Her fashion client wish list includes Helmut Lang, Alexander McQueen, Yamamoto, Comme des Garcon and Prada, "but as long as I can express myself, I don't care if I'm shooting fashion, beauty or music," she concludes. "It's all such a crossover, anyway; it's all about being able to realize an idea."