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The Black Tape Project

Posted by Laurel on 08/01/2013

The Black Tape Project

Adhesive Art

Article by Mannie Pendexter

Joel Alvarez—known also as Venge—has been into all forms of art since he

can remember. The Miami based artist did some painting, some drawing, sculpting

and he even dabbled in break dancing. He says his interest in the arts were sparked

by comic book drawings, and as a teenager he began sketching detailed human

figures—that eventually evolved into graphic female figures—which dominated

most of his work.

Eventually, Joel transitioned from drawing curvaceous ladies to

photographing them. He, then, started experimenting and using black tape during

his shoots. Today, Joel has taken this approach a step further releasing a series of

photo sets using black tape—and only black tape—as wardrobe for his beautiful

models. Black Men mag was able to get the 30-year-old artist to collaborate with

them on a couple of exclusive shoots, and also sat down with the artist to talk a bit

about his life, inspirations, and his highly-revered Black Tape Project.

BLACK MEN: Were there any artists in your family that inspired you?

Joel “Venge” Alvarez: My father was a draftsman. He drew buildings and houses. I

loved the lines and the organization. I couldn't help it; I just had to create those

designs my way. I think that my past practices like the drawing of the female figure

plus the lines of architecture might have been my foundation for the approach in my


Talk to us about the Black Tape Project and how that came about. What was the

inspiration behind it all?

When I started photography, a model wanted to get taped up. She showed me a

drawing of two girls wearing what looked like thin leather strips. I wasn’t too hot

about the idea, but we did it. I think she looked like two Christmas hams wrapped in

rubber bands—not cute. I started seeing designs, parts of the body turned into

shapes and connecting lines between them. There were unlimited possibilities.

How do you come up with the designs you create with the black tape?

After months of handling tape, I started to see its weaknesses and strengths. How far

can I bend it? Where can I place it? So many ideas I can produce. The concept is

adding lines to complement the curves of the subject. The body is the inspiration. I

really don’t plan a design. The point is to go with the flow. Enhance the curves and

persuade the eyes to focus on the details.

When did you realize that you could take this project a step further and present

it to a larger audience?

About a year ago. The shows started getting bigger and more known. Miami

nightclubs started to show interest. Now, aside from a strong presence in Miami, we

have started to expand to the west coast with shows in Vegas, LA, and spots in

Europe like Ibiza, Spain and Cannes, France.

What are some of the things you're doing to promote your project?

To be completely honest, all I do is just post up photos of the latest project and the

calls and emails start coming in. Currently, I stopped posting photos to give myself

time to complete the current project.

What's next for Joel and the Black Tape Project?

So much to tell: Celebrity photo shoots to red carpet events, a two-week tour in

Australia, two weeks in the Caribbean, and then back to Europe in the summer.

However, I’m most excited about the concepts and the level the tape is reaching.

Do you plan on working on other types of art projects or transitioning to other


Definitely! The tape has inspired a lot of designs and more ideas, like fashion

designs, so I do see myself being involved in fashion. I will have some pieces this

year that are inspired by tattoos. Also, I’m pushing for several photo exhibitions

with some of my new concepts.