This article was featured in issue #5 of Sinical. Credits: Photography by Damian Hevia. Opium collection by: Shitface Garay. Props: Eastwind Asian Antiques. Robe: C. Parker. Hair: Joli Carlin. Makeup: Mandy Holverson. Styling/Layout of issue #5 article: Becky Cash. Post production: Ken Fournelle.
I first met Damian Hevia at his "Absinthe Revealed 2" event at Avant Garden in Houston. The event featured a presentation on absinthe by Master Distiler of Lucid Absinthe, Ted Breaux. Hevia had several large prints of his absinthe photography displayed throughout the 2nd floor of the Avant Garden venue. In particular, there was an image of a glass of absinthe shot through a window pane that captured my attention. The image was beautiful and reminded me of a painting. I later met Damian and spoke with him about featuring his work in Sinical. He has since invited me to his home for drinks of absinthe and he has turned out to be a great guy who cares a lot about his work.
Damian Hevia grew up in Havana, Cuba. His father, Germán Hevia, knew Ernest Hemingway, but didn't care much for the writer. His father also got to play baseball with Fidel Castro. In 1960, Hevia was sent to live in the United States at age 9. When he reached his twenties he was offered an oppurtunity to play drums for a band called St. Elmo's Fire. St. Elmo's Fire was a successful rock band that Hevia played in for 6 years. The band toured extensively, and wrote several rock ballets performed with the Dallas, Chicago and Houston ballet companies. St. Elmo's Fire was so successful the band even had stock options. The band came to an end in 1979 and Hevia decided to switch his artistic focus to photography.
Hevia started off as a freelance photographic assisstant and become one of the two most requested assisstants in Houston. He opened his own studio in 1981 and rapidly established a list of clients, such as Coca-Cola/Minute-Maid Foods, Morris Aubry Architects and Federal Express. In 1989 a business relationship began with Tama drums and Ibanez guitars that would last more than a decade. Hevia shot principal concept photography and primary product shots for every Ibanez catalog from 1995-2009 as well as many for Tama drums.
In 2003, Hevia had his first taste of absinthe. After all the tales of writers and artists such as Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Van Gogh hallucinating after drinking absinthe, Hevia found the drink to just be a potent alcohol. He decided to explore the mystery and allure of the drink through photographic works. One of Hevia's close up shots of an absinthe louche took him four days of shooting and three bottles of absinthe to get perfect. He has recently expressed interest in exploring another spirit: rum.
Sabrina Sin has collaborated with Hevia on absinthe-themed and opium-themed photo shoots. To collaborate with alternative and pin-up models with these types of shoots is a new direction for Hevia. He regrets that when he was doing all that commercial work in the 90's that he neglected to do more editorial work for magazine publications. This is something he now wishes to correct.