How did you get started doing what you do?
Last Spring I was hired as a product photography intern at a local boutique concept store. My sole job was to photograph new product for e-commerce purposes. This is where I was able to pick up the camera and learn more about photography in a controlled studio setting. On occasion, there was room for play, too. I was able to dream up and share my ideas with a small team and next thing I knew, I was ideating, styling and shooting their seasonal advertisements (I was the intern!). Being able to mix both technical photographic skill and experimental play is what helped me develop a style. Repetition of editing shoe after shoe on a white background is what helped me develop my determination to keep learning new things about editing. What I didn’t expect was the added bonus of confidence that I could take with me after my time was up. The momentum I created for myself then is what carried me to where I am today.
How would you describe your creative style?
My creative style is bright, sweet, playful, patterned, organized and then messy, nostalgic. If I could categorize my work (and style) into an art history period it would be Pop Art. I find my style is most effective when I don’t over-think what I am trying to create. No idea should be forced. My creative style will always be intuitive and based on a feeling. I think that is what working with your hands is all about.
However, being formally trained as a designer it can be hard for me to let go and allow my artistic intuition be my guide. Artists are paid for their vision, bringing alive their own sensitivities through the production of a work of art, whereas designers are contracted to solve visual problems. This idea has always puzzled me in relation to what I do. I like to think that I can only benefit from a shared visual and creative sensibility between the two fields.
What’s your inspiration?
I am inspired by images, a constant stream of images. Pinterest is great for that. I will see an image, have a reaction to it and am able to store it for reference. I also love seeing what other creatives are getting up to, how they are using a product, an object, an idea. It allows me to push my boundaries and challenge myself. Instagram is great for that.
I am inspired by the downright weird and nostalgic, like the Jello section or cereal aisle at the grocery store, the sheet cake refrigerator at Costco, or how snuffing out a candle smells exactly like the memory of eating birthday cake. It’s cliché but inspiration is everywhere and I am fascinated by how we as people have the ability to interpret what we see and feel in an infinite amount of ways. Some of my best ideas have come to me mid-shower, or whilst unable to fall asleep at night when I can’t turn my brain off. Ironically, when there is no pen and paper handy.
What is art to you?
Art, to me, will always be something you create with your body. Art starts out by simply using one’s hands. Art should move you, too. That’s why there are so many different forms of art, not to mention opinions. The difficult (and perhaps most frustrating) part is when you don’t understand the art that is before you: like the time I stood in the middle of a room lined with blank unprimed canvases at my local art gallery. The memory still makes me laugh. Art is subjective, what works for me may not work for you, vice versa.
How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
When I have an idea and am concentrating on the essence of the idea rather than the details, I can finish a piece (style, photograph, edit) in an hour give or take. This is also dependent on how complicated the idea is. I have found that when I am searching for perfection, my work will take forever and I will never be happy with the final outcome. I don’t think I am alone in that idea! Given that I am starting to explore the options of my work in print, I anticipate the process will take much longer as I adjust to the realities of CMYK.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
I would love for my work to allow me to collaborate with brands and businesses, big and small. Not to mention other creatives who possess a similar aesthetic and zest for product photography, styling, and editing.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
I would tell myself to not let fear be the reason you are motivated to do something. I would also tell myself to not compare myself to others. I am still telling myself these things. Most of the advice I should have told myself years ago I still struggle with. I think that’s just a part of being human. I am also still telling myself to take more risks, to say “hi” first, to worry less, to trust the process and the path you are on.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
“Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” – my dad.
Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Find a mentor and suck them dry. Be a sponge. Become passionately curious about everything. Strive to always keep learning and growing. Experiment. Collaborate. Share your ideas.
What are your thoughts on art school?
I think education is always an avenue one should explore with abandon. There are times where I question why I even bothered with my degree and there are times where I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to invest in my passions on a higher level. However, I noticed that when I graduated school I was far more curious about design than I was when I was studying it. There was never enough time to digest, I guess.
Real world experience will always take you further than a degree in my opinion. I also think the act of “obtaining an education” is changing. Enter start-ups! I would much rather learn from different guest speakers and educators practicing in their field rather than a professor. Especially in a field that is as progressive as design! Strange are the individuals who bounce from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s upon graduation. Have you read some of the entry-level job descriptions lately?
Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
I’d love to create an e-commerce component to my practice. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say “your work would make great wrapping paper.” Maybe it’s time I explore my tangible options. The #girlboss movement is really growing on me.
I’d also like to explore the fine art side to my work and be able to exhibit prints locally. I’ve always wondered at the idea of a projection-based exhibit, something purely digital. Either way, this might be a good way to test the success rate before launching an e-commerce store. Baby steps.
What’s your dream project?
I would love to collaborate with Shop Bando, Refinery29, Kate Spade, J Crew and Dylan’s Candy Bar (to name a few). I am always blown away by the art direction in their e-mail marketing. Aside from brands, I am also itching to collaborate more with like-minded creatives and bloggers I’ve discovered thanks to Instagram. I think it would be amazing to be a part of a mass project with my favorite Instagram admirers.
What art supplies do you use?
Nothing traditional, except maybe my Canon Rebel, coloured poster paper and blank canvases. My favorite medium is by far sunlight because I love crisp hard shadows and bright saturated colours. You don’t get much sunlight where I live in the fall and winter months so I had to invest in monolights, a few soft boxes and a transmitter to get the results I required. Is Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop considered an art supply?