FOCAL POINT surveys the landscape of emerging photographers and selects three talented, driven, and noteworthy artists to highlight each quarter. Each FOCAL POINT photographer receives mentoring from Crusade for Art to think about their work, their target audience, and how to best engage them. In this interview series, every FOCAL POINT photographer gets asked the same three questions, and their answers become a jumping off point for the mentorship.
Describe the arc of your photography career so far. (How you got to where you are now, pivotal experiences/accomplishments/influences, etc.)
I’d like to think I’m at the beginning of a glorious rainbow arc. Even though I’ve considered myself a photographer for over 15 years (and an artist for as long as I can remember), it’s only been recently that I’ve gained a little traction with a larger audience. I’ve never felt quite ready to market my work outside of smaller or local galleries. In recent years there have been a few stand out shows that gave me the confidence to market more. The first being the Light Factory’s 3rd annual in Charlotte, NC. They produced a lovely catalog and used one of my images for the cover design, which of course made me feel like a proud papa. At any rate, several solo/duo shows followed, including Newspace Center for Photography here in Portland which really brought me into the local scene and even garnered some unexpected press. I’ve always felt my biggest accomplishments though are when viewers buy work. Those purchases are not about the income but rather the fact that someone would trade their cash for something I've spent countless hours creating. Hopefully this means they were drawn to it so much they felt they either needed its permanence in their home or had someone in their life that just had to have it as a gift. Whatever the case may be, I'm grateful the work is out there breathing its own air, living mysteriously outside of my reach. It's quite thrilling.
As far as inspiration, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now without the guidance of many friends and mentors. Over the years I’ve been influenced by artists that I’m now proud to say have become my friends. Being influenced by friends is so much more rewarding than by strangers.
If you were exactly where you wanted to be in your fine art photography career, what would that look like?
I am exactly where I should be and truthfully, where I want to be. Of course I have high aspirations for the future, and the best way to get there is to be open to it. One of the largest obstacles artists face is fear. The same can be said for anything really -- what I mean is these obstacles are typically in our own heads. Whether we lack confidence, or inspiration, or knowledge, they all are based on fear. Fear of failure, fear of success (in whatever form that may be deemed), fear of falling short of my goals, fear of being uninspired, fear of rejection, fear of not having enough time, etc etc. So back to the question, in my art career I’d prefer to have no fear.
What are your goals for 2014?
I have actually accomplished, even exceeded, my personal goals for 2014. I had a successful exhibit in San Antonio in the beginning of year, which really catapulted the new work and generated a lot of sales. I’ve shown a few pieces in exciting exhibits including the Griffin Museums’ annual juried show and Candella Gallery’s UnBound 3 exhibit. This fall I have been invited to show along gallery artists Duane Monczewski, Beth Moon, Jennifer Schlesinger-Hanson and Takeshi Shikama at Verve Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s been a great year, and I just plan to keep up the momentum. I have a lot of new images in the hopper and my Chasing the Afterglow series is evolving into two separate portfolios. It’s been a nice organic evolution.