Words by Sean Hennegan
Photos courtesy of Adam and Igal Perets / Maison Coterie
I could call Igal Perets a photographer.
Or a videographer. Maybe I should label him a designer, a director, or even a writer.
But truth be told, it’s easier to just call him an artist.
Igal Perets is a 19-year-old artist from Montreal. Igal operates an independent clothing brand, Maison Coterie, with his older brother. When he isn’t jotting down designs or handling online orders, he studies management at McGill University.
While his brother, Adam, takes care of the business end, Igal is the creative force behind Coterie. Designs, branding and visuals are all his personal projects. There’s a lot to be done, but Igal makes a point to do it on his own.
“I don’t want to just be focused on photos or focused on film. It’s a great time for artists to be multidisciplinary,” said Igal.
He wasn’t kidding when he said multidisciplinary. His first foray into the world of arts was completely different to the work he does now - performance arts are what Igal considers to be his “first draw”.
“I wanted to be an actor. I went to this acting school in New York for 2 summers. I realised that I had a huge fascination for people behind the camera. When I got back, I bought my first camera- it was a DSLR,” said Igal.
After a brief stint as an actor, Igal found his rightful place behind the lens. He became enamoured with capturing moments in time – videography and photography became dedicated hobbies, eventually maturing into a career when he started Maison Coterie.
I can’t confidently call Maison Coterie a brand. Sure, I did it 50 words into this article, but it isn’t just a bunch of cool clothing. It’s more of a collective, or as their website describes it, “An intimate and often exclusive group of people with a unifying common interest or purpose. Coterie hosts photography projects, interviews and editorials with creatives that catch their eyes. It’s a platform made to build a sense of community among artists.”
The brand is always centre stage, but it earns its place among the other artists. Igal creates intricate lookbooks to integrate his passion for visual arts.
“The aesthetics that you see are mostly hand-done. Whether it be actual handwriting or collage - ripping photos, putting them back together in certain ways- I like analog methods. I don’t like everything to be digital,” said Igal.
The purpose of a lookbook is to showcase a collection. At its root, It needs to show the clothes off and make them look good. But anyone can hire a few good-looking friends and ask them to wear your logo t-shirts, and there is no shortage of starving artist photographers in Montreal.
Coterie hosts photography projects, interviews and editorials creatives that catch their eyes. It’s a platform made to build a sense of community among artists.
He believes it can be so much more – an aesthetic, a mood. A layered, evocative, standalone art installation. Coterie’s collage-style lookbook is designed as more of an exhibit than a catalogue. Igal takes extra steps to make his lookbook shine.
“If I’m making a lookbook for Coterie, I’ll go to get my film photos developed, and I’ll ask them to print them out too. I’ll cut them up and I’ll rearrange them, and I’ll scan them. You’re making a whole new photo out of a couple other photos […]. Everything is connected and overlapping. It’s more of a full product,” said Igal.
Shooting, developing, cutting, over-cutting and starting again – it’s all part of the process. Igal’s process is meant to be raw. The beauty of his art is in its imperfections: the quirks and oddities are what make his design works uniquely his. Igal puts his trust in the medium, letting the physical qualities of the film give their input.
“You could have some sort of accident happen with film that just comes out, and it’s like a beautiful accident. I just love that part - I just love that about film. You only see it once it gets developed, there’s sort of an excitement to it. It just makes the whole process of shooting photos more fulfilling.”
“I wanted to be an actor. I went to this acting school in New York for 2 summers. I realised that I had a huge fascination for people behind the camera. When I got back, I bought my first camera- it was a DSLR.”
Film is considered an archaic medium for a reason. It has its flaws, it’s unreliable, it’s grainy and it’s hard to master. But to Igal, it has a certain authenticity that makes it even more desirable.
“There’s an irreplaceable quality and texture to it. It just feels real.”
It’s inspiring to him - his creative process is reliant on it. The concept should be as organic as the medium, says Igal.
“Yeah you could do it digitally, but there’s a sort of essence and a sort of creativity that sparks when you actually have it in your hands, for me.”
He clearly has a penchant for outdated artistic mediums. His newest videography project, a music video for rapper Lou Phelps’ single “Squeeze” was shot on Kodak Super 8 – an iconic variety of film stock originally produced in 1965.
“I like the organic feel of film and the mistakes. Because it’s so imperfect, you’re subconsciously paying more attention. There’s always something that can catch you off guard, whether it’s like a light flash, or a certain amount of grain […]. I think it’s just so much more tangible, it immerses you in whatever you’re watching,” said Igal.
Going with the flow and welcoming beautiful accidents is part of the Coterie ethos. Igal believes that it’s necessary to see each event as a point in the journey rather than a highway to an end result.
“The whole reason I got into photos was because I wanted to make films because I was in acting first. I just sort of hopped around. You don’t know what one key could open. If I never went to that acting school, I probably never would have been doing my brand. I probably never would’ve been shooting film. It’s sort of like a big path,” said Igal.
But in what concerns Igal’s career, passion and an open mind are only half the battle. The other half is pure, unadulterated blood sweat and tears. He cited his personal inspiration as one of his biggest motivators.
“He really came off the boat, started working, provided for his family. My dad is literally just passionate about working. No matter what the work is. I don’t know, it’s so weird I’ve never seen that before. Usually someone is about doing a certain thing for work, he’s just passionate about work. He just loves working, and that’s so cool. My dad is really a role model for me.”
Igal is striving to create new content with the same well-tested formula: Passion, dedication, hours of work and an open mind. It’s important to him that Maison Coterie’s doors stay wide open as he works hard on its development.
“I don’t know what my next action could do for me, creatively,” Said Perets.