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Your guide to…. Four & Sons by editor Marta Roca

Posted by Grace Wang on Monday, February 12 2018

Bald dogs, rescue dogs, skater dogs: the furry muses in their latest issue

Four&Sons won Best Photography at The Stack Awards last year, and it’s not just for the practical difficulty that comes with shooting their subjects. For the magazine on dogs and culture, getting a furry friend to sit still for a photograph poses a frustrating obstacle, but they manage to not only bypass it — they relish in these restrictions to create an editorially inventive publication.

Their eighth issue wants to challenge the conventions of beauty, and focus their lens on dogs that are “least likely to succeed.” From bald beauties to rescue puppers and those adorned with the cone of shame, editor Marta Roca talks us through the defining features of the issue.

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Bald is Beautiful: Why are some breeds so polarising?
Hairless dogs always cause a stir. Reactions can range from wonder and ‘looking-from-a-distance-sort-of-awe’ to amusement and downright disgust. Why do we find some breeds so polarising? What’s considered beautiful? Klaus Dyba’s work (below) both asks and answers these questions.

“Bald dogs are ugly for most people,” he says. “You need to see behind it. The real beauty is only to be seen in their personality and character.” Some breeds get a bad rap due to stereotypes, but Klaus’s portraits capture these oft-rebuffed dogs with pride, dignity, and a certain pop-star allure. Owners of hairless breeds also fear they’ll be seen as freaks because of the way their dog looks. Klaus’s images are totally devoid of judgement, his tone is unapologetic, and his lighting is impeccable.

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Cones of Shame
It’s hard to describe the magic of photographer Winnie Au’s ‘neck collar’ project (below). It’s architecture, it’s high fashion, it’s cotton candy. Winnie has transformed the modern ‘neck cone’ (officially known as the ‘Elizabethan collar’) from a face prison into a thing of play. To make it happen, stylist Marie-Yan Morvan built collars from feathers, soft fabrics, airy fluff, and fake flowers. Each piece was modelled by a different dog, such as Kyrie the Weimaraner who fell asleep in her cone, and Lux the pit bull who couldn’t sit still. (They got there, in the end.) The series will turn into a calendar this year, with the proceeds donated to a charity that provides funding for dog surgeries.

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Marshall, the rescue dog, sketched in a hundred ways
The dog is the muse, that’s our motto. So in featuring Masha Shishova’s project, ‘100’ (below), the stars aligned. In a nutshell: when Masha was still in art school, she was asked to represent an animal in 100 different ways, using 100 different techniques. For certain artists, the challenge of working within constraints can open up boundless possibilities. Personally, I have always found a comforting beauty and freedom in the rhythm of repetition. Each sketch features Masha’s rescue, Marshall who, as she puts it, is a “real inspiration, the ideal model for a graphic artist”. The odd-ball quality of the linocuts and collages made them our instant favourites.

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When a dog is part of the conversation, human barriers disappear
Dogs are the greatest ‘interview-crashers’, in the best way. Talking to creative ‘dog people’ is often both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. (Full disclosure: we usually nurture fan-crushes for a long time.) In this issue, we get to peek into the worlds of NYC ballerina Ingrid Silva, London restaurateurs Sandia Chang and James Knappett, and Osaka-based furniture designer Tokuhiko Kise. This section is always peppered with surprises. Just when we think we’ve got the human/dog bond worked out, someone shares an insightful comment or a poignant story and we’re back at square one: humbled and inspired by each relationship.

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A tribute to Lords of Dogtown
Photographer Benn Wood describes himself as a “fashion, portrait, and dog-ographer”. His work often crosses into skateboarding (a culture he is a part of). When we discussed paying tribute to Lords of Dogtown (below), Benn found the best location (thank you St Kilda Skate Park) and a legit ‘skater/dog’ combo. The skater is Chris Scott (Scotty), a carpenter who designs beautiful timber furniture. Captain is his loyal sidekick. When Scotty skates, Captain goes berserk running after the board and howling with glee. (Especially if a ball is involved. Captain will also chase a lemon if you throw it far enough, thinking it’s a tennis ball.) There is so much joy in these images; we can almost hear Captain’s barks and Scotty grinding on the concrete.

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Pop Icons, from the Queen’s corgis to Brian Griffin
This column always makes us weep with happiness. (Especially as it hits our inboxes the week before the print deadline, when all hell breaks loose.) In this issue, we tackled pop culture’s ultimate four-legged badasses: from Cujo to Brian Griffin, via the Queen’s corgis and, of course, Snoopy. Writer Luke Ryan’s musings are a hilarious stream of dog consciousness most likely fuelled by copious amounts of Melbourne coffee. Illustrator Faye Moorhouse adds the icing with a frightening rabid-dog watercolour.

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