DANIEL JOHNSTON: here is a photo book about the artist and musician Daniel Johnston. Photographer Jung Kim documented Johnston’s process, work, and life over the course of three years. We asked her some questions about how the work came to be, and how it turned into a book.
How did you choose Johnston as your subject?
I was a fan of Daniel’s art and music, and I really just wanted to work with him and photograph him. When that opportunity came at one of his shows in NYC, I knew I wanted to keep working with him because I couldn’t put my camera down and we instantly developed a great working rapport. About 3 years in and many rolls of film later, I thought it would be nice to share these photographs finally, especially with his fans. That is when the idea for a book came to light.
The project seems to be about trust. What was the collaboration process like?
It is, and somehow that came naturally to us since the first shoot. Daniel was comfortable with me being a fly on the wall and allowed me to document him without limits. I think it’s rare to have a subject so open and trusting, and he was always himself without self-consciousness or a front - all of which are reflected in his own work. He made it so easy for me to capture him truly and honestly that it wasn’t so much a “process” but more like two old friends sharing a lot of silence and space together.
Anything else about the book that you’d like to mention?
We wanted to make a book from cover to cover that felt intimate and quiet. We asked Daniel to handwrite the title “here” over and over on a piece of paper and he ended up doing that during Sunday church in his hometown. Having only the title stamped on the cover in Daniel’s handwriting really made this book feel complete for us.
Last year I started working on a new video segment for Run For Cover called Off The Radar. The series will focus on creative people and ask them to recommend 5 things that you should check out. I thought it would be interesting to start a series that isn’t directly linked to music and showcase some great up and coming creative individuals.
The point of this series is to put you on to something different that you may not know about, be it a book, an artist, or even just an interesting product. As a creative person I love being recommended new artists or projects, so I am really passionate about this series and I hope you guys will enjoy it.