California-bred and -based photo-illustrator Glen Wexler's career got off to an early start. He shot his first album cover in 1978, at the age of 22, for Quincy Jones Productions, while he was still a student at Art Center College of Design. In fact, he left Art Center after two years to shoot and art direct album covers full time. He went on to do work for the likes of Michael Jackson, Kiss, Van Halen, Rush, Black Sabbath, Yes, ZZ Top and many others, but along the way the digital revolution happened, and Wexler, no stranger to technological innovation-his father is acclaimed architect Donald Wexler, who decades ago worked wonders with, for example, prefabricated steel construction-was ready and waiting. "As a teenager, my art collection consisted of my album covers," he says. "The conceptually-driven covers by Hipgnosis were definitely influential, and their blurring of photography, illustration and design was a precursor to the extended capabilities that came a decade later with digital. When I was in school, I began examining the notion that there was no such thing as an 'impossible' image to create photographically. I was very interested in blurring the lines of what were considered the boundaries of the photographic medium. I wanted to be able to previsualize a concept, no matter how surreal, and make that into a credible photographic reality. Early on, I was working with miniature sets and I was assembling images using traditional methods, such as multiple exposures and darkroom photocomposition."
Later on, the new technology beckoned, conveniently right in his neighborhood. "I was introduced to digital image editing in 1987 by Tony Redhead, who set up the first Quantel Paintbox in North America, which was located only a few blocks from my studio in Hollywood," Wexler recalls. "I was hooked immediately, and I became an original client."
Wexler himself has a host of clients who were no doubt hooked immediately; he's worked for companies ranging from Acura to Warner Bros., and hundreds in between. By 1992, he had a complete in-house digital post setup-after all, "as a photo-illustrator, post is an integral part of my creative process," he notes.
Early photographic influences include the likes of Duane Michals, Edward Weston and Irving Penn, but "at this point in my career I try to stay aware of what's going on with photography, but I'm focused on the images that I want to make," says Wexler. "I don't want to be influenced by contemporary photographers or the fleeting trend of the moment; it's important that the vision comes from within and stays personal."
In a further extension of his digital reach, in January, Wexler and digital artist Carolyn Winslow opened Mode Imaging in L.A.-a creative retouching boutique. And this fall, Wexler will celebrate 25 years in the business with a gallery exhibition in L.A. and the release of a retrospective book, 25:25.