Jamie Diamond & Sal Lahoud – Co-Founders, Ideation + Form

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Jamie Diamond & Sal Lahoud - Co-Founders, Ideation + Form

Jamie Diamond is a NY-based artist with a robust background in photography and film. She holds an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania where she has been teaching photography for over a decade, and currently serves as Head of the Undergraduate Photograhy department. A celebrated artist, Jamie’s work has graced numerous international exhibitions, from Osservatorio, Fondazione Prada in Italy and Prada Mode in Hong Kong to Mass MoCA in North Adams and The Bronx Museum. Diamond has been honored with the NYFA Fellowship Award in Photography and the Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship Award. Her work, which examines the dance between authenticity and projection, has garnered global attention and has been featured in the The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Vogue amongst others. Jamie’s extensive artistic and academic credentials position her ideally as a co-leader of IF Studio, where she brings a deep understanding of the intricate relationship between reality and representation, a central aspect of intelligent content creation.

Sal Lahoud, based in Los Angeles, is a technologist, designer, and filmmaker. He holds a B.Eng in Information Engineering from Imperial College in London, and pursued further education in Visual Design and Filmmaking at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Starting his career in finance with a focus on Media and Technology, Sal transitioned to creative leadership roles within the technology field. His innovative work as Creative Director at Pave and FCancer.org was recognized in esteemed publications like The New York Times, USA Today, WSJ, and the Huffington Post, and earned him the Points Of Light Award from the UK Prime Minister. Sal has an interest in the fusion of Artificial Intelligence and artistic expression. He completed specializations in Deep Learning from Deeplearning.ai and Machine Learning from Stanford University, before building several AI-based applications. With a keen passion for innovation and a unique blend of technical and creative insight, Sal helps keep IF Studio future-proof, as it constantly adapts to evolving landscapes.

AF: Hi Jamie & Sal! We are so excited to chat with the two of you today. To start this interview off, we would love to know more about your upbringings. Where are you both from and what are the arts communities like there?  

JD: I am originally from New York and since 2020, have settled in Bridgehampton on eastern Long Island with my family. The art scene here is steeped in culture and history and has a vibrant and thriving artistic community that I feel grateful to be part of, finding community especially in the art world is very needed. 

SL: Although I grew up and lived in many places, I’m from Lebanon and the U.K, where the arts communities could not be more different. The U.K is of course a global arts capital that still manages to produce very interesting artists across mediums. In Lebanon, which is reeling from multiple never-ending crises in the last two decades, people have no choice but to be creative. With how they live, how they build, how they create. That has created an extremely vibrant arts scene.

AF: How did your upbringing shape what you do in the arts today? 

JD: My upbringing was filled with creativity, thanks to my father’s influence as a fashion designer. Growing up with an eccentric parent instilled in me a profound understanding of what it means to embrace your individuality and passions. This has empowered me to pursue my work with confidence and determination

SL: I’ve had a truly multicultural upbringing, and was never in one place for too long. As difficult as that is for a child’s sense of identity, it did however give me the gift of tolerance, openness and the ability to connect with different cultures than “my own”

AF: What was your first ever job? What did you learn from this experience? 

JD: My first job was at an ice cream shop, where I had the opportunity of working alongside my childhood best friend. I learned the valuable lesson of joy, that when you’re passionate about your work, even the simplest tasks can bring fulfillment.

SL: My first job ever was on an electoral campaign, and I learned the importance of communication style in relaying ideas. Working in a team with diverse skill sets taught me how much I enjoy exchanging ideas with other people.

AF: How did the two of you meet? When did you realize you wanted to collaborate with each other? 

JD:Sal’s cousin introduced us many years ago in New York. Since then we have become very close friends collaborating in various capacities, our shared passion for storytelling and creativity has deepened our friendship.

SL: Interestingly enough, Jamie and I met through two common people: my cousin, as well as one of Jamie’s childhood friends. Through multiple never-ending conversations, we became very close friends and eventually collaborated on many creative projects.

AF: Together, you founded Ideation + Form, a full service studio for film, photography, and visual design. Tell us more about it and how it came to be! 

JD: We have worked together over the years on many different creative projects but the founding of the company happened organically. It came to be at a time when we were both doing independent work but had a shared interest in bringing our backgrounds together to create meaningful content in the commercial realm. 

Ideation + Form is a full-service studio for film, photography and visual design. We personally lead every project, drawing support from a collective of talent from diverse backgrounds, ensuring the studio combines the strengths of a large agency with the efficiency of a boutique operation. Moving beyond pure aesthetics, we first focus on the art of ideation, then craft our factory of ideas into visual stories that deeply resonate.

SL: I really enjoy working with Jamie and wanted to be on set more often than you do making narrative film projects. We both had our own freelance activities so we decided to fold everything into one studio where we’d do all of our commercial work in film, photography and design. 

AF: What has been one of your favorite projects to work on? Why? 

JD: Most recently we did a commercial photo and video project for a private aviation company, it was an ambitious and exciting project in Los Angeles and we put an impressive team together in a very short period of time and despite the many challenges we created beautiful work we are proud of. 

SL: My favorite project is a narrative short film project we wrote and made together in 2018 – 2019. The story was very meaningful to me on a personal level, and collaborating on that project will always be a treasured memory. 

AF: What does your daily routine look like, and what’s something you hope you can do more of in the coming months? 

JD: I have two young children so my routine is pretty contingent on them. We usually wake around 6:30AM, head downstairs at 7AM where I make a strong coffee and have a spoonful of honey. My goal is to feed the kids, pack their snacks and be out of the door by 8:20am. Once arriving back home, I exercise and stretch for an hour and then take a shower. My workday begins after that. 

SL: I live in Los Angeles and tend to wake up at sunrise around 6AM. My coffee filters through a Moka Pot while I get dressed, and by the time it’s ready I head to my home-studio to start the work day. I take a break for my daily exercise around 10 or 11, then grab or make lunch and head back to work until the late afternoon or later if there are deadlines. 

AF: As you know, Art Frankly is a community that cares about job transparency and supporting fellow art professionals. What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?  

JD: Staying true to what matters to you  is essential for finding fulfillment and purpose in what you do. Try to live everyday as the best version of yourself and surround yourself with people you admire.

SL: Listen to your inner voice above every other voice around you – innovation can feel quite lonely sometimes.

AF: How do you think the art world can become more transparent? 

JD: Whether we are artists, collectors, educators, gallery owners, or enthusiasts, transparency in the art world is critical for building trust and forging a more ethical culture. It begins with each of us leading by example, we can set a positive precedent for transparency within our own art community.

SL: All we can do as practitioners and artists is to be transparent and promote transparency through our work and collaborations.

AF:  What are you most excited for this year with Ideation + Form or in the art world as a whole?

JD: I am excited by all of the new tools available to us and how they will be integrated into our work. 

SL: Mostly, I’m excited about thinking through specific projects, it is what I enjoy most, and more specifically, learning to use all the new tools that are being created every day through technology. 

AF: Thank you, Jamie and Sal, for participating in Frank Talks, it has been our pleasure! To finish off, we’re curious: If you could own work by 5 different artists/craftspeople, who would be in your collection? 

JD: Hard Question. I would say, 

  1. Titus Kaphar, “ Behind the Myth of Benevolence”
  2. Sanford Bigger, “ Andromeda”
  3. Gillian Wearing, “Behind The Mask: Gillian Wearing’s Me as Cahun Holding a Mask of My Face” 
  4. Sophie Calle, “The Blind, The Most Beautiful Thing I ever Saw Was the Sea”
  5. Marcel Duchamp, “ Fountain” 

SL

  1. Francis Bacon
  2. Marcel Duchamp
  3. Egon Schiele
  4. Hussein Madi
  5. Ed Ruscha

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