An acquaintance at Paisley Park ordered for Baltimore artist Steve Parke to get an assignment/audition to get Prince.
Parke needed to paint a style on the stage floor to its Lovesexy Tour. Parke had three hours to come up with a concept at Paisley prior to Prince left for France.
Parke got the gig. And he kept about painting — remaining on as art director and Prince’s own photographer for 14 decades.
Parke did everything from designing stage sets and functioning on movie shoots to photographing album designing and covers souvenir T-shirts. And he continued to dwell in Baltimore, spending about one week per month in Chanhassen.
This autumn, Parke, 53, printed “Picturing Prince.” Ostensibly a photograph book (a number of his movies are priceless, like Prince in furry bowling boots), the 240-page project also offers rare insights to Prince as a creative entity and individual being. With nearly every picture, Parke shares an anecdote regarding Prince’s songs, M.O. or character — or even a conversation they’d had.
Parke will probably be from the Twin Cities on Sept. 19 to get a Q&A session using ex-Prince keyboardist Morris Hayes at Barnes & Noble in Edina. First, the gregarious Parke answered a few queries to the Star Tribune.
Prince’s long-time photographer and art director only printed a book of his romantic candids, portraits and more.
On why he got along with Prince, a notoriously demanding control freak
“I did anything different. I wasn’t a musician. I wasn’t someone who he could declare to: ‘If you can not do this, I could do this,’ ” Parke said. “I’m a big music lover. I pretended to speak to him like a buddy. We spent a lot of time along late nights, he’d share music with me and I would share things.”
In addition, Parke felt Prince enjoyed his honesty.
“I learned not to say no to Prince but that I could tell him exactly what measures it might take [to do an idea] so he could decide if that’s a not or no.”
About the camera loving Prince but Prince not loving the camera
“He needed a love/hate relationship using the camera,” Parke clarified. “He understood what he needed to perform. He never really griped about it. Another thing, we had been shooting digital and helped him unwind. It was efficient. Makeup and Hair took three times more than the shoot. Digital provided less tension. He could make a decision.”
On questioning Prince’s wardrobe options
“No, no,” said Parke. “There were a couple that were suspicious to me” but the art director never prevailed.
“He could pull off appearances no one else can. He just took risks with everything. Using a digital camera, the worst-case scenario is he would delete the files”
On shooting candid photos
“It’s relative to that which candid way to him personally,” Parke said. “He dressed like this.”
As an example, the publication captures Prince obtaining his hair done by a stylist. That wasn’t staged. Or always flattering.
The photos of Prince from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum are “more informal,” Parke said. “They’re more reflective of him as a person. him because the persona that people came to know. There are a few shoots where he let down his guard.”
On photographing Prince playing basketball
Parke came down to Paisley’s loading dock where Prince was shooting one night about 4 a.m.. The photographer wasn’t always sure if his digital cameras were quickly enough to catch Prince in concert or on the move.
“I bet you can not catch me,” Prince explained to Parke.
What’s Reserve signing and Q&A for his “Picturing Prince.” He was Prince’s art director for 14 decades, ending in 2001.
“The [photograph] where he was static as well as the ball was shifting between his legs was ideal,” Parke said. “Then he belongs: ‘You got it’ ”
After Prince died last year, Parke submitted some stories and photos on Facebook. People responded it helped them deal with Prince’s departure. He encouraged him to collect a book.
In addition, Parke stated, Prince had earlier been putting some of Parke’s unpublished images on Instagram.
“I felt good about it,” Parke said.
On why he, not Prince’s real estate, possesses the photographs
“He never wrote up anything between us,” he explained. Thus, the photographer owns the photographs.
But Parke reported that since all the photographs were taken with digital cameras, Prince saw the pictures immediately and deleted whatever he didn’t like.
One of the most misunderstood thing about Prince
His work ethic, Parke stated.
“One time he stated : ‘People say I play audio. I’m functioning.’
“I don’t think people can envision how hard he’d worked. When he was doing rehearsals, he was 120 percent acting.”
One afternoon in the middle of a photo shoot, Prince requested Parke: “Why is it that people think that I had a nose job?”
Parke clarified in his early photos, Prince’s eyes were largely flat with the camera lens. More recent pictures were shot using a lower angle. So Prince requested Parke to shoot some photographs like the previous ones. And sure enough, Parke reportsthat the Purple One’s nose looked like his ” old nose”
After Parke’s kid was born, he was no longer willing to be on telephone. When he declined to meet a last-minute change in Prince’s schedule, the impetuous manager took him off salary and place him on retainer.
One day Prince explained to Parke: “You have to miss your child.” Indeed. That’s why he ceased and today works with different customers, including HBO, DC/Vertigo Comics along with Sheila E.
Said Parke: “If you’re working for Prince, you’re all”