When I first met the furries all that time ago ( only 2008..Ed) I was slightly overwhelmed by their costumes, but more than that their sense of fun and mischief. I was there to do a two page report of RBW, which is the Rather Brilliant Weekend. A sadly now defunct furry convention, which was replaced in a way by the Londonfurs summer and winter parties as well as the now more larger Confuzzled.
After taking pictures for Bizarre magazine and asking a few questions about their costumes, I felt I had managed to ingratiate myself into feeling accepted for a while at least.
After I left, put the camera down and moved on with putting the magazine together every month ( I was the picture editor there for seven glorious years) the furries kept popping back into my mind. There was something about them that seemed to speak to me, sure the costumes were amazing. There was something else though, the playfulness perhaps, the role playing, the mask element, the becoming something different which seemed to stick with me.
I started going to furry meets in London, organised by the Londonfurs. Yes the furries have an organising committee..:-) In fact more than one. In the ten years since I started the project, furry meets have sprung up all over the UK. Leeds, Birmingham, Oxford and Manchester all meet up every few weeks for a social and usually a furwalk.
I had this idea of going to a furry’s house and photographing them in their suits doing something they liked to do, a hobby or something they didn’t, a chore. I hoped to get a mixture of them as people and their characters. First was Smirnoff and although initially my sketching out of what we’d do on the day was very rough ( re…he was clueless..Ed) As soon as the furry in question fursuited up, I seemed to find a way to tell some sort of truth in the picture. Sometimes on the day or sometimes later in the editing suite.
Why is this long introduction important to the latest status of At Home With The Furries? Well sometimes what we set out to do isn’t the complete sum of all parts by the time we’ve finished. I’ll be honest, as I usually am with the furry book there are times I’ve wanted to put the project down and forget it. I just didn’t see a way to move forward with it. But I truly believe that meeting people, sharing experiences and ideas is the only way to gain inspiration. Whether that’s in person, email or through social media.
It also helps when someone else, a publisher or a gallery drops you a line to say we would like to feature the project in our book about the history of photography or the Royal Academy accepts one of the photographs into the Summer Exhibition
So here we are, one day next month I’ll receive a shipment of books on a couple of pallets on a truck that’s driven from Istanbul. It’ll be an emotional moment, of that I have no doubt. I realised during the course of the book design and concept is that the book has to be a homage to the furry fandom, to the joy, the passion, the creativity and the crazy characters I’ve met during this amazing journey.
Why Istanbul though? Well I was introduced to the printer, Ufuk Sahin by the photographer, Kalpesh Lathigra who printed his book, Lost in the Wilderness with Ufuk and his print shop, MAS. The production values of Lost in the Wilderness are superb and I wanted a similar level of commitment to the furry project. In fact I ended up with a level of commitment and dedication to the furry project from Ufuk that if anything went to the next level of what is possible. Mainly because I wanted the cover to be something totally unique, it had to be furry basically. Or at least feel like it. The tactile nature of the furry experience had to be reflected in the book itself.
When I visited MAS last month to be on press and sign off the pages as they came off the printer, Ufuk showed me his R & D room, full of bits of furry material that he had experimented with to make a book. We decided on a felt material that we printed a paw print design onto. It’s simple yet beautiful. I want it to be a surprise for the Kickstarter backers and anyone who has pre-ordered a copy of the book so I won’t be posting any pictures of it until the backers receive their books.
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