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Artifacts: Exotic exposure 

Remember when I told you about local artist Jeff Claassen’s Kickstarter campaign, the Puzzle Painting? Well, it’s only fair to mention Santa Maria photographer Mark Velasquez’s crowdfunding project as well, this one happening on

Love him or hate him—in his conservative hometown, people have done plenty of both—Velasquez has become known for his bold, bright, sexy images of women in various stages of undress. Velasquez’s work has moved from staged, often humorous situations (see his wonderful Snow White and the Seven Paternity Tests) to, more recently, an emphasis on playing with light and motion in a series of gauzy, un-retouched shots. Velasquez’s distinctive style and colorful imagination have helped him create a world of his own even in the most limited settings. After all, some of his most stellar pieces have been done on a whim in his one-bedroom apartment. But now he’s looking to expand his horizons.

“Wanderlust: Surviving Europe” is the name of Velasquez’s current project, which, if successfully funded, would entail a photographic trip to Europe (along with his assistant Lola Agnosia) and the creation of the photography book Wanderlust. Velasquez’s goal is to raise $15,000 by June 15, and backers can get all sorts of fun goodies. Perks range from access to his travel blog (for donations of $5 or more); to the first 10 issues of Velasquez’s photo and art magazine, NSFW; to signed Polaroids from photo shoots; to an original graphite drawing and signed print (each option being $50).

For bigger backers, the goodies get pretty extravagant. For a donation of $500, you’ll get a private lighting demonstration. $1,000 gets you a professional photo shoot. And then there’s this: For $5,500, you can buy Velasquez’s personal travel journal.

And according to Velasquez’s page, those dollars will be stretched pretty far:

“Lola and I are both hard working, low-maintenance, and are used to roughing it and living simply, but we have many miles to cover,” he writes. “Most of the funding will go to actual travel costs as we move by plane, train, automobile, and occasionally boat across over 2,500 miles of the European landscape, from London to Paris, Berlin to Prague, and finally to Rome … [W]e are cutting costs in a variety of ways, from staying with friends along the way to blatant attempts at fasting, always limiting ourselves to only the bare essentials. The remaining funds will go into post-production of the book, including professional design, editing, and layout.”

To see Velasquez’s work, visit To donate, search the project on

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