Jessie Aspiras from Manila, Philippines is a 22 yrs old photographer graduated from the University of Santo Tomas - Fine Arts. Aspiras is currently working as a Graphic Designer in Dual Action Blender, an advertising agency.
Q. Can you explain your interest in visual arts? A. When I was a kid, I used to have this Pentax camera of my dads and whenever I heard the shutter, it was like music to my ear, I just loved the sound of it. I started to take photographs of random subjects… Later I stopped for a period of time because my dad kept the camera from me. I felt like I was just wasting the film. But that did not mean stopping exploring arts. I remember seeing my grandfather drawing once and I realized how good he was while helping me with all my grade school projects. I was so amazed and felt the same thing when my brother joined drawing contests in our school. I was really curious about their talents and I felt like trying as well because maybe I had that kind of talent too. My brother, my grandpa and even some of my uncles are into arts; this pushed me to start drawing sketches, painting, then made me take fine arts in college, where I did some designs for the fashion industry. Later on I went into graphics and eventually tried photography.
Q. Who are the artists you admire and why? A. I admire Leonardo da Vinci; he is not just one of the greatest in arts but he’s also good in other things such as music, architecture, science, writing and etc. He just has everything. He has a perfect hand when it comes to drawings and paintings with really great style. You’ll know right away that a piece is Da Vinci’s. He’s incomparable. Another artist that I admire is Michael Kutsche. I’ve been a fan of his works and especially of the characters he created for Alice in Wonderland. I mean where does he get all the ideas? He’s just really amazing, a great talent.
Q. What does photography mean to you? A, Photography for me is not about manipulation and mostly the way people live their lives. Photoshop helps making those moments even more significant. It’s all about capturing the soul of the subject, its inner beauty whether it is still life, nature, portrait and etc.
Q. What were your subjects on the most important project you had done until today? A. Different places and people…
Q. What were your inspirations? A. People and nature; I’m just really inspired by the beauty this planets offers us.
Q. What are the subjects you chose for your latest works? A. Different amazing places here in Philippines…
Q. Is there a story behind your works? A. Some of my projects do, the Sunrise album for example. I was depressed when I took those shots and I also didn’t have enough sleep cause I was nor feeling well. I waited for the sunrise that day and it gave me hope… Every time you fail in life, you always have tomorrow to correct your mistakes, improve yourself to be better, a better person, a better artist.
Q. Can you talk about any professional experience? A. I’ve encountered lots of different people in advertising. Some will praise you and some will pull you down. It is important to believe in yourself and keep your creative ideas flowing no matter what people will say about you.
Q. Do you have a favorite piece among your works? A. My Camotes Islands project; it’s just unforgettable to me and the place is just amazing.
Q. Can you talk about your design and animation projects? A. Well I do t-shirt design, web design and graphic design when requested and some for my work. I also did the album artwork of my brother’s SORA series who’s a known DJ here in the Philippines.
Q. How do you explain your interest for advertising? A. Well, at first I was clueless about the way life goes in the world of advertising but when my professors, way back in college, started telling me stories about their experiences, I got really interested. I wanted be like them. All they do is think of ideas, share their creative juices, go for shootings and having fun but in the same time making money. From that moment on, I told myself that I want that kind of world. It is stressful but really fun.
Q. Can you define Lomography for us? A. Lomography is a type of photography that uses film cameras created by Lomographic Association like Holga & Diana. Pictures taken from Lomos are defined as vignette with its soft, a bit blurry and faded effect on its edges. Nowadays, it’s also called “art” as it can capture random subjects than can be turned out into a very eye-catching photo well which I think people mostly post on their tumbler accounts.
Q. What equipment & techniques do you use? A. I use my Nikon DSLR, tripod, external flash and my devotion for photography of course. My dedication is my technique.
Q. What is the motivation behind your choice of material? A. I am just inspired with all everything that is around me; the essence of one thing come out when once captured, most people do not notice how beautiful that thing can be.
Q. Are you working on new projects currently? A. None for now because my work is taking almost all my time but I have plans to take shots in Hong Kong, Macau & China this year.
Q. What are your professional ambitions and your projects for 2011? A. To be a professional photographer of National Geographic and the creative director of a known advertising agency! Well my project for 2011 is to take more shots of undiscovered places here in the Philippines, and yes the purpose is to promote my home country!
Q. How do you hope Pelime can help with this? A. Pelime is a very resourceful website for creative people and it can help young artists like me to be more inspired, dedicated, motivated and be discovered.
Tim Tadder is a photographer whose imagery has been used in campaigns by brands such as Coke Zero, Gatorade, Powerade, Sears, Craftsman, Adidas, Bud Light, Budweiser, Miller Lite, Newcastle, AT&T, McDonald’s, Marlboro and Duracell.
His passion for photography began when he was very young, and was fostered by the time he spent living in the Ecuadorean Andes. He earned his MA in Photojournalism from Ohio University.
C. Kirk is an urban contemporary painter concentrating on figurative art. For more than a decade, he rambled across the country consuming legendary amounts of booze, drugs, sex, misadventure, and jail food. In 2005 he sobered up, settled down, married and turned his insatiable appetite toward becoming a successful artist. After stampeding the Dallas art scene, kirk’s art quickly became a sought after commodity by local collectors, visitors, and those just passing through.
Since then, C. Kirk has turned his focus toward a broader global audience. His work has been featured in publications (both in print and online) worldwide. The art of C. Kirk hangs in corporate and private collections across the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. He lives and works in Texas.
Q. We would like to know how everything started for you… What triggered your interest in art? In painting? A. My mother began to teach me to draw characters from my comic books probably when I was around 5 years old. I drew until I was probably 13 and then suddenly stopped. I guess art became less important because I was too busy seeking out pleasure, excitement and escape from reality. I had a brief stent in art school in 2000, but soon dropped out and didn’t pick up a pencil for at least 4 or 5 years afterward. In this time I worked every kind of job you could think of and even underwent pro wrestling training. I traveled the country for a year or so. I probably either stayed or passed through every state in America. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but it was during this time on the road that picked up a pencil and began to fill sketchbooks full of distasteful, psychotic, autobiographical illustrations. Toward the end of my nation wide spree, I began to develop an interest in fine art. Like I said, I have no I idea what happened…I just remember that I was living in a furniture warehouse in Hickory North Carolina and decided that I was going to do everything in my power to become a successful fine artist.
Q. Are there any contemporary painters you admire? A. There are so many contemporary painters that I admire that my list could become incredibly long. I have collaborated with a few artists who admire including THH70 and George Morton Clark. I’m also due to collaborate with the Canadian Stencil artist Indigo sometime this summer. I’m a fan of Guy Denning and many of the British figurative artists working today. The Berlin based painter Jaybo Monk is a huge inspiration for me, and a pretty nice guy to boot. I actually helped pick many of the artists for an upcoming group exhibit witch will be held at Seven Minus Seven in the US Virgin Islands toward the end of April. It was cool to be included in this process because many of the artist including Indigo, Jaybo Monk, and George Morton Clark, are some of my favorite contemporary painters working today.
Q. Are there any other artists that interest you? A. Sure. Jenny Saville is a phenome. I’d give my left nut to be able to paint like that women.
Q. How do you choose your subjects? A. A lot of the subjects I paint or draw are people that are close to me. My wife and my son both have been portrayed in my work on more than one occasion. I did two portraits of Indigo since late 2010. I did a portrait of my friend and mentor THH70 last year that turned out to be one of our collaborative pieces. I stay pretty busy nowadays so I don’t really get out much for social calls, so many of the subjects I draw are from various publications…basically everything from Vogue to old French nudie magazines.
Q. What are your inspirations? A. I have a few inspirations for sure. One would be for my name and my work to wind up in museum collections and textbooks someday. I think it would be great to be remembered and put in that sort of league.
Q. Does ‘time’ and ‘space’ mean anything to you? A. Time and space do mean something to me. Time for sure because that is something I have very little of today. Between having a wife, young son, and being self-employed, I stay pretty busy. I recently thought how nice it would be to have an assistant, but then realized that I would micromanage things way too much and really wouldn’t trust anyone else to handle things for me. Space is easy. Space and depth is what I use to visually create works.
Q. Is there a story behind your work? A. Sometimes there is. Other times my work is based on observation. What I think really tells the story in my paintings is the different uses of media, technique, texture, line, ect… Many of my works are based strictly on a character defect or human experience. I don’t like to tell people what they should get from viewing my work. I like for them to walk away with their own experience and hopefully identify with some aspect of the piece. I think that is what great art does for people.
Q. What materials do you use? A. I use a slew of different materials. I use oil, acrylic, spray paint, charcoal, chalk, prisma, tape, and paper. I guess that’s primarily what I have used to create my current body of work.
Q. Are there specific techniques that you prefer? A. I find many of the traditional techniques to be very helpful and fulfilling. One that I started to use last year would be to either paint your surface first to create a mid tone or to work off of Darker toned papers. When using white paper or primed canvas, I still generally create a mid tone very quickly. For me, having a mid tone is easier when building a composition. Occasionally I’ll create my mid tone later in the work using thinned out paint and rubbing areas with a rag to lighten them up. Another technique that I like to use is one I call “The take away” method. Basically I just rub out areas of the paint/charcoal to create highlights or sometimes abstraction.
Q. Have you ever collaborated with other painters? A. Yes. Like I mentioned above, I have collaborated with THH70 on several occasions and last year did a piece with London based artist George Morton Clark.
Q. How about your first exhibition? Did you face any challenges? A. My main challenge early on was my ego. My work began to sell very quickly when I began showing in Dallas. There were some occasions when my art would sell out during a show. I was so driven but still very GREEN, that when a gallery owner didn’t sell my work, I would become angry. Nowadays, I realize that sometimes art doesn’t always sell. Sometimes as an artist, you go through ruts or slow periods.
Q. Do you have a favorite piece among your works? A. Last year definitely. “Manone” was the star of my 2010 body of work. There were some other good pieces, but “Manone” topped the all in my opinion. From my current collection I can’t pick favorite piece. I put a lot of effort into not putting out any filler this year. I wanted every piece to be able to stand on it’s own as a top quality piece of art. I don’t believe there is one star of the collection this year.
Q. You documentation pieces quite impressive! What pushed you to actually do this? A. Thank you. Vimby.com did a video interview over a couple of my 2009 pieces that received an amazing number of hits. Later THH70 began filming me during the creation of my 2010 body of work. I enjoyed the documentation, but didn’t necessarily like how THH70 edited the videos. I wanted to film/edit the videos myself to have complete creative control. Also, I don’t do live paintings anymore, so I guess I just wanted to find a way to allow people to see how my pieces were created in the most entertaining way that I could.
Q. Did you prepare them yourself? A. Yes.
Q. What materials were used while filming? A. I used a Cannon Power Shot SD3500 IS. Also, some of the photographs were taken with a Cannon Ultrasonic thanks to Clay Jones of Seven Minus Seven
Q. Are you working on new projects currently? A. Actually for the last 3 or 4 weeks since releasing my new work, I’ve been doing interviews, sending in info/jpegs for features in magazines and blogs, gathering and preparing info for business collaborations, shipping art to buyers, etc… I haven’t been able to paint or draw since releasing the 2011 collection. I’m not complaining though, because things will eventually slow down and then I’ll be complaining because there’s nothing going on.
Q. What are your professional ambitions and your projects for 2011? A. I have a few goals and plans for this year. I want to get started on phase two of my 2011 work. Right now I have a very limited number of paintings available. If I don’t get to work on more, things are going to get pretty slow pretty fast! I want to independently release some limited edition prints this year. Hopefully the first run will be successful and I can release a print once every month or two. I hope that my collaborations with 5 pieces gallery in Switzerland will be a successful one. I have also recently started a partnership with a company in Austria called Baloome.com. They will be offering a selection of my works as T shirts and digital prints on canvas. I hope offering my works in capacity will be successful as well. I am also looking for more galleries around the world where I might find opportunities to exhibit my available works. One of the most important things for me is to keep moving.
Q. How do you hope Pelime can help with this? A. I hope that my membership and participation on Pelime can be beneficial to everyone I work with. Thanks again for the invite.
Michelle Pearson Cooper is an artist whose drawings and bronze castings have been exhibited publicly in London, Palm Beach and Marrakech, as well as being held privately by individuals such as HRH the King of Bahrain, Bruce Oldfield, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, Mahdi Al Tajir and Tom Stoppard.
Kaeko Shabana is a photographer and fine artist based in Osaka, Japan. Her shoots, a mixture between dream and reality, carry the spectator on a journey through visual poetry. She has a preference for analogue cameras as she believes in the specific, single frame imprinted in the film, and does not want her image to be disposable. Her subjects tend to be women and animals such as horses and owls.
Pamela Michelle Johnson attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, and graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and an art minor with honors. After graduation, she continued to pursue ceramics, painting and figure drawing independently while working for four years as an engineer in the construction industry. In 2003, she was awarded an artist in residency at The Institute of Ceramic Studies at Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park in Shigaraki, Japan. This experience was influential in her development as an artist and decisions regarding her career path.
Shortly after her return from Japan, Johnson decided to seek new direction in her life and to focus on art as a career. She uprooted from her native California, left her career in engineering, and made a new home in Chicago. There she found a thriving emerging artist culture that provided her with opportunities to continue to develop her own work within a community of other working artists. She became a member at the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art to work on her figure drawing in open workshops, and began exhibiting her work in galleries and art festivals. Her body of work continues to evolve through her most recent American Still-Life series.
Q. Can you define your perception of art for us? A. Art is very hard to define and extremely subjective. For me art is a form of communication. It is a tool to explain and begin a dialog about the world around us. It is an expression of thought and emotion.
Q. What triggered your interest in painting? A. I can’t really explain why I paint. I just know that I am happiest when I am making things. I love having a vision in my head and after hard work and focus, finally seeing it actualized into a reality.
Q. Your paintings are quite interesting. Can you tell us how and what made you go into ‘food arts’? A. Throughout art history food has been portrayed in still life paintings. At the time that I started this series of work, I was not seeing paintings that accurately portrayed current American culture. As classical art imagery, food seemed like an ideal subject matter to explore and comment on American culture. With this body of work I wanted to update the conventional notion of a still life. I wanted to create work that presented a picture of current mainstream American culture. Sadly our culture is dominated by mass consumption and mass production. Highly processed, artificially flavored, junk food seemed appropriate symbols of the bounty that is inherent in American culture and the transgression of that bounty to overindulgence and gluttonous excess.
Q. Can you remember your first painting? A. Not really. I have seen pictures of myself as a toddler messing around with paint. So I guess I have been making art longer than I can remember.
Q. What is the motivation behind your choice of subject? A. It is very easy when someone is immersed in a culture since childhood to never step back and examine that way of life. Inherent to painting, an image is placed on a wall with the purpose of invoking reflection. My goal is for a moment for the viewer to remove themselves from the culture that surrounds them and look at it critically.
Q. What are your inspirations? A. I find inspiration everywhere. I look at all types and styles of art. I also find inspiration in observing and trying to make sense of what is going on in the world around me.
Q. Are there any other ‘food artists’ that inspire you? A. I find inspiration in all types of art. But within the category of food artists, I have always been a fan of Wayne Thiebaud. Recently I came across Emily Eveleth’s work and was blow away with her luscious brushwork. I also find Will Cotton’s dreamy candy landscapes and Cindy Wright’s meat paintings to be superb.
Q. Is there a story behind your work? A. One of the very first paintings from this body of work was Burgers I, a six-foot towering pile of hamburgers. I had the idea for the painting in the back of my mind for a while and was trying to determine if it would be a great painting or just kind of gross. I had just begun exploring the idea of painting junk food and was still figuring out how best to present my ideas. Then one day I randomly got a coupon in the mail from the Burger King around the corner from my house for ten burgers for five dollars. So I took it as a sign that this idea was something that I really should do. I tend to be most creative late at night. So late one Sunday night, I went to Burger King armed with my coupon and that night began my series of larger than life piles of junk food paintings.
Q. Do you paint other subjects? A. Right now I am primarily focused on mass-produced, mass-consumed, junk food as a subject matter. In the past, I have done some abstract landscape work and some figurative work. Every once in a while, I explore new subjects.
Q. Can you talk about any professional experience? A. I took a very indirect route to becoming an artist. My degree is actually in civil engineering. I worked as an engineer for several years before I decided to pursue a career as an artist. Now my primary focus is creating and exhibiting my paintings.
Q. Any collaboration or exhibitions? A. Currently, I am preparing for a group show at Lemberg Gallery in Ferndale, MI. That exhibit opens in May. In November, I have a solo show in Chicago at the Illinois Institute of Art’s Gallery 180.
Q. Do you have a favorite piece among your works? A. That is always a hard question and an ever-changing answer. I am usually the most excited about the latest piece that I have just finished. It is still new, fresh and exciting in my mind.
Q. What equipment & techniques do you use? A. I use very traditional oil painting materials. I do not use much in the way of mediums. Primarily, just oil paint on stretched canvas.
Q. Are you working on new projects currently? A. I always have at least one painting in progress. There have been a few new ideas floating around in my head for a while now, so I have been exploring some of those. I am still very much in the exploration and development of those ideas. So it is way too soon to talk about it.
Q. What are your professional ambitions and your projects for 2011 and how do you hope Pelime can help with this? A. Pelime seems to be a great community of talented individuals. I look forward to being inspired by others work.
Matt is a documentary and portrait photographer whose work bears a strong international influence. He’s lived and worked in Spain, South America and South-east Asia throughout his life, and has also spent time in Brazil, Cuba and Peru as part of his studies, earning a degree in Hispanic studies from the University of Manchester.
After graduating, he spent five years teaching Spanish and French to students in the UK and Hong Kong. It was then that he decided to devote himself fully to his lifelong passion - photography. Based in London, he has taken photographs in West End theaters, both of stage productions and behind the scenes action; his work can be found displayed in the Old Vic.
Last October, he held his first solo show, Nicaragua: Open Wound, in Canning House. Other work includes Death in the Afternoon, a series of photos of bullfighting. He also took part in 31thirtyone, a series of 31 photographic portraits taken across 31 days. The project garnered the involvement of Kevin Spacey, Sam Mendes and Richard E. Grant, and the auction proceeds were donated to Crohns & Colitis UK.
Q. What prompted you to give up teaching an pursue photography full-time? A. Although teaching stimulated me cerebrally and creatively, it left very little time for me to pursue my passion, which has always been photography. I had always fancied the idea of earning a living from a hobby and something that I inherently enjoyed every part of. I am a creative soul at heart, and thrive off the buzz of taking photos and finding special moments to capture.
Q. Was it a difficult transition? A. It was a massive leap of faith to go from steady, full-time, regularly paid and secure work to chasing my dream in the creative industry, and at a time of huge austerity too! In retrospect, quite a mad choice, but not one that I regret. I figured that if I didn’t make it I could always go back to teaching, which so far I have not had to do. It takes time to build up regular clients though and it has quite often been a test of patience, as well as book-keeping.
Q. How do you decide which projects to undertake? A. At first I didn’t decide and took whatever opportunities came my way. This is the only way to set out and the best way to gain experience of working with a variety of people and in a variety of situations as quickly as possible. Of late I have made my own projects if the ones I want have not appeared. This was the real impetus behind my latest portrait project 31thirtyone, which featured 31 portraits of actors and directors taken in as many days. As I had total creative freedom in it, I really enjoyed seeing it evolve and expand, and in the end it was very successful, being featured a couple of times in The Independent, as well as The Evening Standard and other national professional photography magazines. I also raised in excess of £12,000 in aid of the nominated charity for the project.
Q. What is it about portraits that interests you in particular? A. I enjoy the challenge of trying to find that inner silence or something different or quirky about the person who I am photographing. During 31thirtyone, I was in a different location with unpredictable lighting scenarios for every shoot, so technically it was hard to plan for, but a great challenge. I enjoy building up a relationship with the person on the other side of the lens and trying to figure out how to coax out a certain characteristic of their personality. Quite often this can be fairly hard as there are actually very few people who can feel totally at ease with a camera pointed at them. Finding a way around this interests me - that and getting a graphically strong image.
Q. Do you think you have a particular style, and if so, what informs it? A. In this latest project my style was to use natural or available light only, in an attempt to get as raw and organic a photo as possible. My reasoning behind this was to try and portray the sitters that I was photographing (well-known faces such as Kevin Spacey, Jeff Goldblum, Michelle Ryan) with their guard down and in as natural a way as possible. I was interested in them, not a character or the personality that they are built up to be. I would like to think that I am quite unobtrusive in my style of photographing, in an attempt to draw out an unforced look. I believe that if your sitter feels comfortable with you as a person without the lens, then there is more chance of getting the shot you want out of it.
Q. Your first solo show was a series of portraits of Nicaragua, entitled Open Wound. Can you tell us more about this project? A. This was a series of photographs that I took when I visited Nicaragua in early 2009 with a charity called the Peace & Hope Trust. I was there volunteering with the charity, whose aim during that particular stay was to build a bakery and assist families that live and work on a rubbish tip in the Atlantic coastal town of Bluefields. They wanted photos of their work, and for me it was a privilege to help them out - speaking Spanish was also very handy to their work. In terms of the images that I took and exhibited, they featured the type of reportage work that I have always primarily enjoyed taking, and that I would love to do more of. It is important to put everything else into perspective every now and then, but also to be able to share stories with others through still images and to provoke contemplation is an integral part of our mission as photographers.
Q. You’ve worked frequently with West-end theatres in London. What is it you enjoy about working there? A. Entering the backstage world, that is privy to few, and being able to take photographs is a huge privilege for a start. I also enjoy the whole process of putting on a production in theatre and, having worked behind the scenes, I can appreciate the different levels and stages of this. It is the moments that happen offstage, in the corridors, dressing rooms and quiet times that are the ones that the cast and crew remember most, but that the public are rarely able to witness. I find it absolutely fascinating to observe these and, if possible, record them. I like this approach to working and have learned the importance of knowing and researching all the strata of a particular project.
Q. What projects are you currently working on? A. I have a few personal projects that are ongoing, but I am also planning the next 31thirtyone, which will feature portraits of well-known musicians. It will have the same format as before in that I aim to take 31 portraits in as many days, and will then feature these portraits in an exhibition. I will hold a silent auction of these prints again and, alongside further print sales, attempt to raise money for charity. This year I am raising money in aid of The African Workshop, based in Mali, which helps local street children to learn, play music and socialise in a secure environment, keeping them away for the perils of child labour, poverty and crime. I’m very excited about it, and can’t wait to see who I can get on board!
Q. How do you hope Pelime can help with these? A. Well, with such a creative network, I hope to find some other like-minded individuals who may be interested in getting involved with this innovative and exciting project. Introductions can be difficult to come by, which is why I am really looking forward to getting into Pelime and seeing what is out there!
Born in Chelmsko, Poland, Justyna Neryng spent much of her childhood playing with her father’s cameras and dark room while roaming the forests of Chelmsko on the Czech boarder. As an adult, a mother and an immigrant to Britain, her photography has flourished into a substantial body of portraiture. Perhaps the most evocative of her works are her exquisitely emotive self-portraits that seem to carry the dark spirit of the forest from her childhood as well as potently baring the scares of modern womanhood. They show vulnerability and intimate eroticism as well as a deep sense of isolation and alienation.
It is these portraits that have been most published and exhibited in both in her polish homeland and in the UK. Justyna produces currently her works in her adopted hometown Brighton, where she lives with her daughter.
Q. Can you explain what triggered your interest in photography? A. I guess my father would be the most important figure in my life that made me realize great things about art. Later on, in my early 20’s, after experiencing a personal tragedy of loosing loved ones but gaining a new loved one at the same time, my daughter Nell, I devoted myself to my daughter and my photography.
Q. What do you consider to be your greatest achievements? A. I can say that my greatest achievement is to be in a position to do what I truly love.
Q. Are there any particular artists you admire and why? A. Yes, there are few artists I admire very much such as Bill Henson for his darkness, Gottfried Helnwein for his children and theater photography. I am also inspired by Bettina Rheims, Peter Lindbergh, Chadwick Tyler and Francesca Woodmann.
Q. What does photography mean to you? A. I will quote Charles Bukowski here. “An intellectual is a man who says a simple thing in a difficult way, an artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way”
Q. It seems that you subjects are mainly People. Can you explain what is it that you are looking for to show, expose through your shoots? A. There is only one thing I am trying to show: the truthness of another human being.
Q. Is there a narrative behind your work? A. I can say that there is not really a narrative behind my work, in literal sense anyway. But there is a sense of trying to make some sort of psychological map and that certainly with my self-portraits.
Q. What are your inspirations? A. Artists like Frida and Albrecht Durer.
Q. What is it that you are looking for in your subjects? How do you know that the subjects you choose are the ones that interest you? A. I never know what I am actually looking for in my subjects unless it is a self-portrait but I do know that there are and always will be something that will interest me in them.
Q. Are there any particular preparations you do before you start shooting? A. No, not really. I do not really make specific preparations before starting.
Q. How do you work on the background of your photographs? A. I try to light the background correctly when I take the shot and organize it in photo shop if I believe it is needed.
Q. Can you explain the story behind your project called ‘Self-Portrait’? A. It is really hard to explain, I would never call my self-portraits a ‘project’, to me it is more like a documentary. And again, it is due to my personal tragedies.
Q. Can you talk about any professional experience? A. I don’t really have any professional experience as yet.
Q. You works are very strong. Do you have a favorite piece among your works? Is there a reason for that? A. Yes, I did a set of self-portraits called “Woman” shots with Minolta, exposing the ‘real me’ to the world in such a true way. I also love all my work that I did with my lovely daughter Nell.
Q. Have you ever collaborated with some other artists? How was the experience? A. No not really, I usually work alone. But I do get to be an assistant to my partner Tobias Slater-Hunt.
Q. What equipment & techniques do you use? A. I use film cameras such as Rolleiflex and Mamiya 645, I also use a digital camera Lumix G2 and an Epson Pro 3800 printer.
Q. What is the specific reason behind your choice of material? A. Shooting digitally is much cheaper and quicker for me, shooting films gives me a lot better quality of the images but cost me more.
Q. Are you working on new projects currently? A. Yes, I am working on a project that will involve other people, let say group self-portrait. I have been interested in contemporary dance, stage and performers for the past few months and hoping to get it all done by the end of this summer. Fingers crossed!
Q. What are your professional ambitions and your projects for 2011? A. Self-portraiture and children’s portraiture are my following projects.
Q. How do you hope Pelime can help with this? A. Exposure might help me gain some founding or grants for my work. At the very least I would hope it would introduce my work to a wider audience and lead to people that might like to collaborate with me.
Anita Kunz is an artist whose work has been published in magazines such as Time, Sports illustrated, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, GQ, the Atlantic Monthly, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, as well as being used by Sony Music, Random House and The New York Times.
Her work has received coverage in Graphis and Novumgebrauchsgrafik magazines in Switzerland, Communication Arts and Step by Step in the US, Idea, Illustration and Creation in Japan, Applied Arts and Nuvo in Canada and the Design Journal in South Korea. Between 1988 and 1990 she was commissioned by Rolling Stone to produce a monthly History of Rock ‘n’ Roll illustrated end paper.
Anita’s work has also been exhibited in the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts, the Teatrio Cultural Association in Rome, Canada House in London, the Foreign Press Office in New York, the Creation Gallery in Tokyo, the Govinda Gallery in Washington D.C. and the Art Institute of Boston, as well as being held in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the Canadian Archives, the Musée Militaire de France in Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. Her solo show at the Library of Congress in 2003 marked the first time a woman had ever been granted the honour.
Anita’s work has earned her widespread acclaim. In 2000, she was invited to speak at the New Yorker Festival, and in 2007, she gave a short presentation at the TED conference in Monterey, California. Between 2000 and 2003, she served on the board of directors of the Illustration conference, and has also served as chair for the Society of Illustrators Museum. In 1997, she received the Les Usherwood Lifetime Achievement Award from the Advertising and Design Club of Canada. In 2009, she was commissioned by Google to produce imagery for Google Chrome, along with Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Dale Chihuly and Vivienne Westwood.
Anita has also received an honourary doctorate from the Ontario College of Art and Design, and is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts. She was recently appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada, the highest honour bestowed upon Canadian civilians, by her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada. The National Post newspaper has also named Anita as one of the 50 most influential women in Canada.
Q. Who or what has inspired your illustration style? A. I’ve been influenced by so many amazing artists over the years, but the ones I’ve loved most are the ones who are truly unique, that is to say those who have unique visual voices and use those voices to comment on social and politically oriented subject matter. I love the idea of an artist being involved in a larger cultural conversation.
Q. You have done many covers for the New Yorker. What is it about the magazine that brings you back? A. I love the New Yorker! It’s one of the few magazines I read cover to cover. Plus, it’s really the only magazine any more that has illustration as part of its brand. Each and every cover is illustrated, and they are always interested in work that reflects what’s going on in the world at any given time. Plus the cover editor Francoise Mouly is a very hands-off editor. She respects the artists and allows us to have autonomy with the images.
Q. You were the first woman to have a solo show at the Library of Congress. Can you tell us more about this? A. Yes, I was the first Canadian too! I was invited to have a show of my work that was politically oriented. It was a huge honour, especially because many of the artists they usually showcase are already gone! So I was glad to have the show there, and gladder still to still be alive to enjoy it!
Q. You produced a series called 'Unexplained Mysterious Elvis Sightings’. What motivated you to approach him as a subject? A. I had the great privilege of working with the iconic art director Fred Woodward for many years. When he was at Rolling Stone, he commissioned me to do a lot of fun assignments, some serious, some funny, and some just about rock and roll. At that time (after Elvis’s death) there were many supposed sightings of him at Burger Kings, gas stations, etc. by such venerable publications as The National Enquirer. So we thought we’d do a spoof of these supposed sightings, and create other historic Elvis sightings. It was one of the most fun assignments I’ve ever worked on. Fred was always amazing to work for and any time we collaborated such as this the results were always memorable.
Q. You have taught and lectured at the Smithsonian, the Illustration Academy in Sarasota, Florida and Syracuse University. What is your take on the next generations of artists that you’ve worked with? A. Well there are incredible changes going on right now. I often feel as though my students are far more technologically proficient than I am! I think this new information world is as transformative as was the industrial age; computers change everything. I’m amazed at what my students are able to accomplish in some of the programs.
Ultimately though the computer is still a tool, and all young artists must think of themselves in the same way they always did - as contributing artists in a societal context.
Q. You were commissioned by Rolling Stone to produce a History of Rock 'n’ Roll illustrated end paper. can you tell us more about that? A. That was another initiative by Fred Woodward. Chris Payne and I took turns doing the back page. We just let our imaginations run wild and tried to come up with as many funny and pointed images we could. It was satire, based on some of the odd behaviours of the rock stars. Again there was a lot of freedom and I remember it being an awful lot of fun.
Q. Which work are you most proud of and why? A. Well, I’m doing a lot of personal gallery work these days. It’s strange not working to any brief, so I’m not censored in any way. But it’s difficult too because I’m very hard on myself and I’m difficult to please! I try and make meaningful imagery that has to do with anthropology, science, gender, human behaviour and the culture in general.
Q. Which work has proved the most difficult and why? A. I’ve always had trouble making images having to do with business. I just can’t wrap my head around some of the subjects, and frankly I’m not that interested in business. Any time I have to do a picture of a man in a business suit, I just freeze!
Q. What do you hope to achieve in the coming year? A. I hope to still be illustrating interesting subject matter, and plan to continue to do as much personal work as my schedule will allow.
Q. How do you hope Pelime can help with this? A. Well I think that we are moving from closed paradigms to ones that have more open, and having to do with collaborations.
And certainly the web is proving to be invaluable in getting one’s work out into the public, so I think Pelime can be instrumental in getting people’s work out there, and creating a lush environment where obvious and also unlikely collaborations can occur.