She’s been nominated for four Emmy Awards, has won two Webby Awards, has worked with virtually every renowned photographer in the US (from Annie Leibowitz to Mario Testino), overseen shoots with stars like Penelope Cruz and George Clooney and was the photography director at T: The New York Times Style Magazine and Vanity Fair. Enough said, right? But in my opinion, what really sets Judith Puckett-Rinella apart is her ability to connect and collaborate with talented artists to create original works - exclusive pieces which she then passionately shares with the world through Whisper Editions, her online gallery. She is everything I would ever aspire to be: a connector, curator and creative luminary! And I was fortunate enough to get a chance to ask her a few questions about her new (and incredibly exciting) journey…
What inspired your move from magazine photography editor to founder of Whisper Editions?
Magazine editing is pure joy when there are stories that need to be told and dynamite photographers to tell help tell them. But not all stories in magazines are super creative and need a passionate retelling photographically speaking. In my heart I knew it was time to move on and make a space in which I could work with luminaries to create amazing things from scratch. Things that embodied passion, heart, and pure talent. Things you couldn’t find anywhere else in the world.
What sets Whisper Editions apart from other sites?
Whisper works with artists to distill each edition down to it’s purist form. We simplify things so much so I am constantly asked for more more more from people- almost everyday. But my answer is always this- everybody else has more more more- and in my opinion too much. Whisper has only the best of the best – always. Simple, distilled, exclusive, and pure (made responsibly).
How do you select the artists that you collaborate with?
At first I reached out to all the artists that I had had long standing relationships with- individuals who were very near and dear to my heart. I had a deep understanding about what each artist was capable of- and how far I could push them to create something extraordinary. Now we are expanding and it is super exciting to meet new people and discover amazing talent. I get butterflies each time I begin a new dialogue with an artist.
What collaboration has been the most well-received so far?
I think that the Todd Hido edition and the Lina Noel editions have been the most popular. They are both so special and unique- and nearly sold out. Only a tiny few remain in each of those two editions on our Vault.
9216_b - An exclusive print from Todd Hido’s cinematic book of photography, “Excerpts from Silver Meadows.” The photograph depicts a snowy road and tree in the Silver Meadows area of Kent, Ohio, where Hido grew up. The landscape is captured with the meditative tone Hido is so celebrated for, lending it the haunting familiarity of a memory or dream. Each print comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.
Arches Ring - This gorgeous, handcrafted ring was custom-designed for Whisper by Lina Noel. With a mixture of metals called Osby – a combination of bronze, brass and an alloy that lends the shine of gold and does not tarnish. Noel created this piece using only sculpture tools and no drills. For the two nuggets, one large and one small, Noel took inspiration from the tiny boulders she spotted in the Grand Canyon.
Do you own any pieces from the site? If so, which ones?
I am lucky enough to be surrounded by at least one of each edition (and love wearing all the jewelry!). If I didn’t want each edition for myself- I would never ever create it with the artist to begin with! But the truth is most of the large scale framed photographs are on a constant revolving schedule- they live here at Whisper Headquarters, but also travel far and wide to be exhibited all over the country. In fact, all the pieces are being installed in our new pop up store nicknamed the Whisper “Lighthouse” in the newly revitalized SEE/CHANGE South Street Seaport in conjunction with the Dossier Outpost. This is to celebrate our seasonal program called Whisper’s Summer of Salt + Sea. We are diving into all things Ocean related including an exclusive Clark Little wave photograph, a Shark tooth necklace by Sara Beltran, a custom line of surfboards by Vital Force, and many many more.
If there’s one artist you could collaborate with, who would it be?
I feel so lucky to be collaborating with the artists we are already working with. If you would have asked me this question a few months ago I would have said Ralph Gibson- but we just released our first edition together and I am over the moon because of it. I have such a great deal of respect for him and his work- working with him was definitely a dream come true. I also love Raymond Meier, Nadav Kander, Roe Ethridge, and Jim Goldberg. So maybe there will be something from them in the near future.
Can you describe the Whisper Editions client?
Wow- I think that each on of my clients is super unique, but I will say one thing they all have in common- they have a deep seeded desire to break out from the mold. They want the best of the best and are curious about the world they live in. They know how to create a beautiful life from themselves and those they love and they care about what they surround themselves with and what they adorn their body with- both male and female. They respect and admire good design- and they are extremely in the know.
Why the expansion into Canada?
It is absolutely logical and would be a mistake not to. There is such a huge amount of talent in Canada, some of the best book printing presses, incredible natural resources, unbelievable landscapes and wildly talented photographers shooting them, and some of the most exciting young designers available.
Can you give us a hint about any upcoming collaborations?
Pottery. Your heard it here first. Hand made……and super cool- works of art that are utilitarian (and affordable) and all curated by the illustrious Pilar Viladas (the grand-dame of design and one of Whisper’s new guest curators at large). I can’t wait to show you.