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Joanna Jinselli


LPS Spotlight: Joanna Jinselli

Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is Joanna Jinselli from the Seattle Pop-up:

Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.

I started exploring photography when I was about 9yrs old, taking images of my surroundings, typical street photography explorations. In high school, I immersed myself in all of the arts and my photographic focus shifted to environmental portraiture then in college my work was mostly either elaborate tableaus (to satisfy my set-building desires and to utilize my sculpture and crafts background), portraiture or figure studies often using various alternative processes shot on 2 ¼ or 4x5 film along with some digital work as well.  I was kind of all over the place (and still am) although my work has always been threaded together by my love for Semiotics/symbolism, whether it be obvious culturally understood/accepted or very subtle personal associations.  Also, I’ve always had a heavy emphasis on the process being as important as the final project, always trying to make sure that whatever process I use for a particular piece fits that image and isn’t just a gimmick. I’ve always strived to be as hands on as possible from start to finish (conception of the image down to the framing/final presentation of the piece), I guess I’m a bit of a control freak…

Since graduating, (I received my B. F. A. in Photography from the University of the Arts in 2009) my artistic work has had to adapt to my very minimal, near non-existent budget. I have several new series that are in various stages of completion, two of which, ‘The Gray Series’; a multi-media installation with an accompanied limited run of hand-bound books of the images and ‘CatS’, a painting with light feline figure study which will be transferred onto hand assembled light boxes are expected to be completed by the end of the year. Also, as I have been saving for film and other materials for these series I have been shooting some digital (as well as some film) single, stand alone works in order to force myself to be continually creating which I have complied into two portfolios on my website, Vignettes I & II.

How did you hear about the Crusade, and what were your initial impressions?

I learned about the Crusade from the Photo Center NW. Initially, I was a bit conflicted about submitting as I was trying to weigh the pros and cons of giving away my prints. Ultimately, I decided that the potential benefits would outweigh the cost. I knew that at the very least, I would be able to get a gallery owner who showcases emerging photographers to see my work, which I thought in itself was enough to submit, especially since there wasn’t a submission fee.

Were you excited to participate in the Local Photographer Showcase?  Why or why not?

Yes, I was excited to participate, as being selected as one of the five reassured me to continue my pursuit of my photographic fine art endeavors.

How did the event go for you?  Was it like you expected or different?  Better or worse?

I tried to keep from having any expectations. I wanted to go into the event with a blank slate as to not psych myself out. However, I was apprehensive about being down at Pike Place, I’m surprised we were able to last as long as we did…I think you have to be local to understand what the market is and isn’t.  I thought the event went much better after we changed locations, I feel that I made some solid connections with most of the people who chose my image. Overall I thought the event was a success.

What do you hope will come out of the experience for you - personally and professionally?  Do you think those are realistic expectations?

Professionally, I hope down the line, to gain at least one new collector of my work from this experience. I figure, I gave away 10 prints, that means in theory that my image will be displayed somewhere in the homes of those 10 or pass it along to someone they know. You never know who could potentially stumble upon these 10 prints and feel compelled to either purchase a photo of mine or give me an opportunity for some sort of exposure. I think that’s a realistic expectation or at least I hope it is, haha. I can say that since the pop-up event there has been an increased amount of traffic on my website.  I can’t say for sure that it’s because of the event or if it’s sheer coincidence but I feel that it’s a good sign…

As for personally, I hope that this experience continues to keep me open to the idea of alternative outlets as I feel that I may have been too narrow with my previous efforts to find an audience for my work.

Tell us about the image you gave away at the event and how to see more of your work.

I moved to Seattle three years ago and for the first two years out here my progress on new work was at a very slow pace; as I couldn’t afford to work they way I used to due to my financially crippling student loan debt. I was coming to terms with being an adult and taking care of my responsibilities. However, I realized that I really couldn’t call myself an artist if I didn’t have any new work to show. Back when I was in my early 20’s, I thought 30 was this far off number and that by the time I hit 30, I was going to be a successful artist, showing my work at galleries at a regular basis and being able to fully support myself through my artistic endeavors. However fast forward to now, I’m 26 going on 27 in about a week and I’m not where I thought I ought to be. Four years out of college and I barely had anything to show for it thus I decided one day to make art with the tools I had. It was a beautiful, picturesque day the sky was filled with these spectacular clouds. I felt like it had to be a sign, I needed to capture those clouds as I’ve always associated clouds with my hopes and aspirations and now as I grow older each day they represent my seemingly fading and fleeting dreams. The resulting photograph from that day was Soft and Far Away, the image I gave away at the pop-up event. However the image is not meant to be depressing but rather motivational because even though at times looking at clouds can be depressing when I think I’m not on the right track but I just can’t give up those dreams, I have to keep chasing them like those clouds.

More of my work is viewable on my website:



Successful in Seattle

Seattle was a fantastic way to end the west coast leg of the Crusade tour.  We had bright, sunshiny days (I’m told not to pack my bags to move West – the weather is not usually so clear) and a really supportive community.  Many thanks to Photo Center NW, Ann Pallesen and the Local Photographer Showcasers. I gave a talk at Photo Center on Tuesday night to an enthusiastic crowd.  I love having the opportunity to talk about engaging new audiences with art – that’s what this whole Crusade is about, after all – and speaking to a group of artists is especially exciting.  I love sharing ideas and helping artists think of innovative ways to build their audience and collector base.  As usual, I meant to film the talk, but alas. . . maybe in Chicago.

The next day we set out on the biggest Crusade adventure yet:  a pop-up event without a pre-determined location.  Fortunately, Lady Blue scored a sweet spot right in the thick of things at Pike Place Market.  There is an outdoor section of artist kiosks where vendors sell jewelry, tie dye shirts, leather things, etc., and parking there seemed like a great fit.  I asked the five local photographers to meet me at the Starbucks.  Ha!  They are everywhere.  The oldest is not the original, and the one I was standing out front of wasn’t even either.  Luckily Ann Pallesen (gallery director at Photo Center NW) was dialed in to the myriad Starbucks locations, and we were able to round up the photographers without too much trouble.

I have mentioned before that the vibe of each pop-up seems to reflect the personality of the city.  Los Angeles was bubbly and an absolute blast – people were practically doing cartwheels about the event, and we had trouble talking to all of the people who stopped to talk to us.  The people on the streets of San Francisco required more drawing out – they walked by quickly, heads down, earbuds in, ready to say, “no – I don’t have any money” at any moment.  Portland was like an episode of Portlandia, start to finish.  So when I first arrived in Seattle, I asked some of the locals what the stereotypical personality of a Seattlite was, and I got this answer across the board:  passive-aggressive.

I wasn't sure how this would manifest itself, but after the first few people manning the artist booths came up to enthusiastically ask what the bus was all about, we were the recipients of lots of icy stares.  Then when we busted out the art and started doing our Crusade thing, the stares turned into glares until one "friend of the artists" declared our event to be inconsiderate to the artists and detrimental to their sales.  First, we were approaching people on the street, not on their sidewalk.  And we were giving away photography, while they were selling anything but.

But it does bring up a concern a lot of people have - how am I encouraging people to collect art if I'm giving it away?  I wrote a long post about this and other criticisms, along with an explanation of the genesis of the project, but here's an excerpt relating to this particular question, which is worth saying again:

My goal is to create an exciting, engaging, transformative experience around art.  I hope people will interact with the pop-up and get a taste for the value art can add to their lives.  I want people to meet the artists who are out creating great work in their own community and make a connection to them and their work.  Hopefully this connection and introduction will get them over a threshold where they will begin to participate in arts programming in their city and will eventually lead to patronizing and collecting original art.

Despite how it may seem, I am realistic (idealistic and realistic) and realize that we are not going to convert every person who walks away with a photograph into a collector.  But this tour is an opportunity to start a conversation about art - not just with the pop-up participants, but also with larger numbers of people through press and social media.

Anyway, the "authorities" got involved, and after a nice chat with them, we decided (the other option being very unappealing) to move the operation to Cal Anderson Park, which was lovely. Three photographers and a very go-with-the-flow art critic (Jen Graves from The Stranger who wrote this article about the event) piled in Lady Blue and we were off to give a new neighborhood a taste of art.

In no time we were out of photos and five Seattle photographers had ten new collectors each. These five (David Adam EdelsteinJoanna Jinselli, Larry LarsenRebekah Rocha, Raychel Rogers) were energetic and fun and super excited to be involved - but not as excited as I was to have an opportunity to work with them.