Joel Arbaje – You May Be Blue

Feature 016 • Jul 7th 2024

Its eye-catching cover and contents keeps you enthralled with vibrant portraits and masterful use of light and texture. The subjects, use of color, and layout all contribute to this visual feast. Dive into our full review below to explore how Joel Arbaje captivates and intrigues.

You May Be Blue by Joel Arbaje captures attention immediately with its striking cover: a blue-toned portrait against a bold red background. This retro-operating system frame on the cover hints at nostalgia but is left behind once you dive into the book.

Inside, Arbaje’s portraits are consistently illuminated with blue light against stark red backgrounds, creating a powerful contrast that highlights the diverse range of his subjects’ skin tones and ethnicities. The dynamic and engaging lighting brings out the beauty and individuality of each subject, making the book feel cohesive yet varied.

One of the most captivating aspects of You May Be Blue is Arbaje’s use of texture. Sharp grain, multiple exposures, halation, and textural modifiers all work together to add depth to the portraits, bringing out an almost tactile feel. These elements, interspersed throughout the book, infuse the images with a sense of movement and life.

Arbaje doesn’t rely solely on his portraits. Grain-filled gradients break up the visual intensity and add bursts of color, aiding a rhythm that maintains the viewer’s interest. The layouts vary from page to page, some bustling with energy while others offer moments of simplicity and focus. This variation adds to the book’s dynamism, showcasing the breadth of the project.

Despite its visual allure, the book leaves the reader curious. The book feels like a token from an intended gallery piece — engaging and colorful — but also incomplete. The absence of an artist’s statement or personal bio leaves one wondering about Arbaje’s intentions and the stories behind his diverse subjects. This omission might be deliberate, encouraging viewers to derive their interpretations, but it leaves a void for those seeking deeper understanding. It leaves you wanting more – not just more images – but more insight into the mind behind the lens.

You May Be Blue is a compelling collection showcasing Joel Arbaje’s talent in exploring light and texture. It invites repeated viewings, each time offering new discoveries.

You May Be Blue is available for purchase