The Day After
The day after, I still watch my step each morning as I make my way to the coffee shop, cautious not to crush the worms that also stroll slowly along the pavement with me. The ants line up along my windowsill as they always have done and the squirrel we named Nancy still stares at us through the window asking for almonds. The spider that has become my studio mate has worked through the night to embellish its beautiful web that adorns my window and the bees are abuzz on the patio, while the wind tickles the tree branches and blows in through the front door that I still leave open. The mosquitos relentlessly drink my blood, leaving bumps all along my legs and after five stagnant months there still seems to be no rain to soothe my homesick heart. My dog Waylon rolls over for cuddles and informs me that I am taking him for yet another walk and despite how different everything feels, the sun rises and falls day by day just the same as before.
Emily Dickinson wrote “In this short life that only lasts an hour, how much-how little, is within our power,” and while I want to believe this, the upside down world of today makes me question even Emily’s notion. I think of the past a lot, the past that I never experienced, the past that I always imagined I belonged to, the past that I only know through books and paintings and music. I search for comfort in Keats, in Whitman, in Jacqueline Du Pre’s Concerto In E minor, Op 85, in Vincent Van Gogh’s words to Theo, in J. R.R Tolkien’s reminder that “little by little one travels far.” I’m daily reaching into an escapism portal in my mind where I walk along a mossy cliff in Höfn, Iceland, reciting poems loudly to the sea and wondering if this loneliness will ever disperse. The day after, I am still pouring that with which remains within, onto a blank canvas attempting to fill spaces up with heart longings and sad callings, turning blank or somber moments into colors that I breathe.
IRK MAGAZINE, PARIS
SHAE DETAR 2020
Written by THOMAS WERNER EDITOR AT LARGE I
There is a reluctant beauty to the success Shae Detar has had as an image maker in fashion and the fine arts. During our conversation a relentlessly determined artist emerges, obsessively researched, protective of her vision, and dedicated to creating with the joy of a child. It is a mix that so many aspire to as they begin their career but lose to the pitfalls of commercial clients, the machinations of the art world, and art school critics or comments in an increasingly judgmental public space. Yet Shae has not only held onto her process in this environment, she has thrived in it, turned her back on it, and returned once again to the siren’s call of her roots and the acclaim that seemingly will not let her rest.
As a child Shae was home schooled, musical theater was a social and creative outlet, but as Shae noted, “It was creative, but not visual arts. I always made collages with magazines. I would take, i-D and The Face, and Japanese magazines found in the East Village (New York), cut them up, collage them, and then paint on them. I have no idea why I was getting into these magazines really early on, but I never thought of it as anything but playing.” Fast forward to Milan where Detar is working as a model and her flat mate, who was preparing to go to school in Florence, saw her collage filled journals and asked why she wasn’t going to art school. She promptly introduced Shae to the work of David Carson and the cutting edge indie magazine Ray Gun. Intrigued she enrolled at the School of Visual Arts where Carson taught. Said Shae, “You know, let’s just go,” because I was 19, you know? So, I went for two years, but everything I did I wanted to do by hand. I would make these big paintings that were very collaged. I look back at it now, and they’re terrible, but my mom still puts them up. I’m like, “Please take them down. They’re so awful.” I didn’t like working with text, fonts, and all of the things that you would do as a graphic designer. Clearly, I should have thought then, “Oh, I should go into fine arts.”, but my head just wasn’t in that space. I was just thinking, “Oh, I guess I’m just not a graphic designer.” So, I dropped out, and that was the end of school. Then I got married, and I didn’t know what to do. So, I sold vintage for six or seven years. And then my dog died.”
The trigger for change in our lives often comes from unexpected places and with the death of her dog, Detar quit everything realizing she had to decide what to do with her life. Though neither she nor her husband really know why, he suggested photography, and that was it, she began researching online and learned her craft. This ability to focus her attention and research deeply is a trait that has served her well throughout her career.
Shae was 30, cool, and making work that bloggers, the kings and queens of the internet at the time, loved. Blog agencies asked her to partner and she created campaigns for COACH among others, but deep down inside she didn’t want a career as a blogger nor the accruement that came along with it. Up to this point she had been making self portraits, but realized that she needed to take her work more seriously. Despite her fear of wasting her subject’s time she started photographing other people. The commercial world once again took notice and within a year the fashion company Aritzia asked her to do a billboard with her painted photos. “It was my first job, and I was really scared, because I had no idea how to do that. But I was like, “Alright.”, and that was really it.”
Though her career path sounds extraordinary, as with most it was not quite that simple. It took two and a half years of research, application, and failure to find processes that both satisfied Detar and were archival enough to share with galleries, collectors, and clients. She began working with analog photography, but the traditional path of colorizing photographs with oils placed her work in a historical context. So Shae stopped printing silver gelatin and explored an endless number of paper and paint combinations, looking for a way to paint photographs that was both practical and satisfying. The search was complicated by a desire to work large scale, which presents it’s own problems. Though the grain in a large analog print was beautiful the paint often ate away at the paper losing too much of the image. By comparison digital prints had always been too sharp for her taste, but the right combination of paint and paper followed by a light varnish took away that feel, with the resulting image cinematic in quality. Given her work in digital Photoshop has found a small role, but is hardly the predominant method for creating the final piece. Her technique is far more organic as failure and imperfection are built into Shae’s creative process, “Over the last year I had to accept what people are getting when they want handmade painted photos. They’re getting the imperfections of the whole process. Like, it’s not going to be a factory-made, “this is perfect,” So, I just had to take that pressure off myself.”
If the resulting methodology sounds a bit like her early days collaging magazines in the East Village, it is. “I try to keep this child-like mentality about it. When you watch children making art, they don’t overthink it. They’ll just make something that, “Look at this!” And then they’ll show you, and they’re so proud of it. I really, honestly try to keep that mentality. When I shoot, the planning is in preproduction, “Where’s my location? Who are my models?” That kind of thing. Once I get to the location I don’t want to think about what I’m going to do. I just want to do it. And then when I come home, I just edit through, print out tons of different things so I’m not afraid if I mess up, and that’s it. I try to just be like a little kid.” Given the preponderance of self aware images in art galleries and on Instagram there is a romantic notion to the way Shae creates that is reflected in the final piece. This extends to her model choices as well. Though her locations are well researched, looking for places that are “timeless and epic” but unrecognizable to her friends and colleagues, her casting is less structured as she doesn’t want to be influenced by who she is photographing. Though they are treated with respect her subjects are like a blank canvas as they become part of the set or scene. This allows her freedom to explore, embrace mistakes, and paint as she needs during the final stages of production. She is sure to let her models know this beforehand, “I just want you to know, please be okay with this, that you may end up not having a face. You might be yellow. You could be purple. At this point I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Given this you might be surprised to find her clients included Vogue Italia, Vogue Netherlands, Marie Claire Italia, Interview Magazine, I.D, Vice, Dazed, Grazia, The New Yorker, Elle UK, Marie Claire, NY Magazine, Forbes, Nylon, and Teen Vogue, among others. Her photographs have been exhibited internationally, and her work was included in ‘The Female Gaze’ exhibit with Vogue Italia in Milan.
It was on a panel with Vogue Italia editor Chiara Bardelli Nonino and a handful of other photographers Shae realized she was not a photographer in the sense that many are, “I’ll say this, for sure. I don’t love the shooting part. Which is one of the reasons that I was thinking about leaving photography to go to painting, I thought, “I’m clearly not a photographer, because I don’t even enjoy it.” When I come alive is when I think about my influences, the things that I’m reading, poetry, and music, when that’s seeping in—forming the image when I’m in my studio painting the photographs and deciding what to do. In my opinion, that is what sets my work apart from other people’s. If you see my images before they’re painted, they’re probably boring. What makes it interesting is what I do in mystudio, recreating the image out of watercolor or charcoal or whatever, and that part of it is very much what I’m reading, what I’m listening to.”
With that realization Shae quit photography turning her back on a career that many people dream of, and though she had never so much as drawn formally she applied to painting school. Convinced she would never go back to photography she sold her cameras and literally begged for one of the 8 spots in the studio, making a video promising to work harder than anyone else at the school. Accepted into the program, Detar stepped into an entirely different world. She admits being the worst student in the class, but they said, “You are literally the hardest-working student at our school.” As Shae recounts, “But I also was the one that was always crying.” It has been just over two years since she left the business, two years of total dedication, struggle, learning the formalities and history ofrepresentational painting. Then out of the blue Marie Claire Italia sent an email asking her to shoot seven pages for their fall 2019 issue with an accompanying exhibition in Milan and Der Spiegel. With that Shae was making photographs again, heading the Italy’s Dolomites for Marie Claire Italia and then to Milan to do a project for Grazia. We discussed whether her time at school might affect the way she sees photographically, that remains to be seen, but Shae offered this perspective, “What’s cool is now I’ve had two years—two-plus years off. It’s like, now I’m craving it again.” It is her first formal foray into fashion, and her entree back in to the world photography.
You might think this kind of attention would skew Detar’s perspective, but it is here that her time in painting school and the multiple artist’s biographies that she has read come into play. Shae realizes many of her favorite painters had little success when alive, with many only enjoying success in their hometowns. She explained, “That really takes the pressure off for me, it’s not even an issue, because I don’t have that kind of thinking, “I have to be a success.” I literally don’t care about that, so that helps. It frees you up to know that you’re just an artist, and that’s sometimes the path of the artists, is not always easy. It’s actually a really crazy decision, to be an artist, don’t you think?” She continues, ”Almost every person that I know that has a real authentic artist spirit, we’re questioning our work all the time. Sometimes you’re in this mania, and you’re like, “I love this! This is amazing! I can’t wait to show people!” And then other times, you feel like, “I hate everything.” Her peace with her personal process is one thing, other people’s doubt regarding her ability deliver is another thing entirely. Said Shae, “I’ve been getting that a lot lately. I just told my husband yesterday, “I love when these magazines don’t believe that I can take a painted photo and turn it into fashion.” I’m like, “You just totally pushed me into this. I’m going to succeed at this because you did that to me.”...”I love proving people wrong.”
It would be a mistake for anyone to underestimate the process of this dedicated, fiercely creative, childlike author of fine art and commercial images. Artist’s like Shae live for their craft, though it may frequently exist in advertisements and galleries, there is a bit of magic in its essence. Perhaps a touch more honest authenticity is exactly what we all need.
You can find Shae’s work at Shaedetar.com.
EDITOR AT LARGE THOMAS WERNER
i-D Magazine / in collaboration with chanel
PHOTOSTORY SARAH ROSELLE KHAN 02 MARCH 2017
the surreal romance of shae detar, New York-based artist Shae Detar’s enchanting photographs are transformed into a surreal, dream-like world through the addition of bold and colourful layers of paint.
Shae Acopian Detar is the New York-based self-trained artist whose hypnagogic images will draw you into another world - her own dream world realised through the mediums of photography and paint. Inspired by renaissance paintings, impressionism, post-impressionism, music and literature, Shae enhances her photographs with paint to create colour-drenched images that could easily befit the scenes within whichever Brontë or Dickinson novel she happens to be reading except here, there is no tragedy through heartbreak - romance is as natural and eternal as the crimson moss and dusty candy pink cliffs that grow out of the expansive land in Shae’s surreal utopia.
You paint over photographs and make fine art too, what's the process for each?
One involves more planning than the other. I have to find models, locations, develop film and spend a lot of money to make large prints of the photographs. When just strictly painting, all I need is paint, turpentine, brushes, a canvas and my imagination. Oh, and coffee and music ;)
I'm currently spending more and more time painting on a blank canvas. But I've spent the last 7 years working on mixed media photography, with a photograph as my base layer, printing it out large (5-7 ft) and then painting on top of that. Painting on photographs was my entry point into painting on it's own, which I've become obsessed with. But I love taking photographs and making them something else, and challenging myself to see something beyond the image printed out in front of me. I have a lot to say right now with paint, things that I can't say in the same way in a mixed media photograph…so I am focusing on mainly painting right now.
When did you first pursue them?
I began painting on photographs and also making collages around 12 yrs old in my journal. I never even thought to be an artist because I was an aspiring actor. I grew up doing musical theatre, TV commercials and doing theatre camp every summer and training to be a serious actor in NYC every single week. But I created in my journal all the time, it was really fun and just an instinct I had from early on.
How does a typical day in the studio go for you?
A typical day starts with me and my dog Waylon (a special needs rescue Shar Pei) getting coffee and going to the park for his first walk of the day. Then I head into the studio and if I am working on a commission, like I am right now, then I'm painting a large scale painted photo (5-7ft usually) and listening to either biographies, documentaries, podcasts or music. I break mid-day for more coffee, and then back to painting. I’m likely to be in the studio until nighttime. Then I read (currently reading John Keats biography, and just finished Charlotte Brontë's biography) or watch a film at home or go out with friends.
And a shoot day?
Shoot days are usually fun and very chill, but require more planning. I cast for women on Instagram usually and then once I have a group of women, we take either a van or SUV and I drive us to a beautiful location. We listen to music and chat on the ride there and get to know each other. Once we arrive at the location I take a lot of photos…improvising really, trying different things. Then we finish and if we have time, go to dinner and then drive back to the city. If I am doing a commercial job, like when I shot the cover of NY Magazine or something in that realm, then I am putting on a more leader type persona. I have to be the captain of the ship, because everyone is looking to you for direction.
While you’re working, is there anything in particular that allows you to really get in touch with your senses?
Music. Music really affects me when I am painting. Sometimes I am in this really hip hop mood, sometimes I'm only listening to classical and all I want to hear is film scores or Bach or Mozart…then other times it's the 60's and 70's and I'll have The Beach Boys on Repeat, or maybe it's a Bjork, Radiohead or Aphex Twin Kind of day. It really varies, but it definitely spills over into my work.
What effect does living in New York have on your practice?
I grew up in NYC and also in Pennsylvania so I have a deep love for both the city and being outside the city in nature. I am incredibly inspired by nature. NYC will always be home to be in some ways, but mostly because it's so familiar to me and I have family there. I love the energy and fast pace, with people rushing about doing their thing and all of the art that is there, and the small cafe's and I absolutely adore that there are so many different kinds of cultures there. It's so beautiful that for the most part, so many people from different countries and ethnic backgrounds all live in this city together. I find that very inspiring.
Who are some of your female icons?
Jane Austen, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keeffe, Emily Dickinson and Charlotte Brontë. They are each very different individuals, but they all had such passion for their craft and lived and breathed it. Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson were courageous enough to create novels and poetry in a time when people really discouraged women to think, to create or to have the audacity to have opinions, let alone on a public platform. They were ridiculed, judged and not only by men of their day but also by other women. Sharing their work with the world was something that took great strength and no doubt required one to walk through a lot of self-doubt and overcome fears, and to trust themselves and their intuitions more than the pressure of what other people thought of them and their work. I hold them in such high regard and I am so moved and inspired by their work and their fearlessness.
Frida Kahlo and Georgia O'Keeffe are equally as inspiring but their worlds were much different, and as women they were more free to express themselves - the culture and times were less discriminating towards women than in the 1800's. I love that Frida Kahlo didn't seek to be famous or be known, she just painted because she needed to, to get through the pain of her broken body and from not being able to have children due to her injuries. She once said, "I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration." Her art is honest and pure and her life and her work moves me tremendously. Georgia O'Keeffe was sort of similar in the sense that she didn't need a ton of fame and people gushing over her like so many people do in these modern times we live in.
You started to passionately pursue art in the last seven years, what are some words of wisdom you can impart on the key things you’ve learnt along the way?
I would say to anyone, young OR old who is entering the art world (of any kind) and pursuing dreams, to let their fire burn within them, work really hard, and don't be afraid to fail. Failing always teaches me so much and if I let it, it makes me stronger and better. I would also stress the importance of walking through those moments of fear. You will have many encounters with fear as an artist, it's inevitable because being an artist is all about walking into the unknown and bearing your soul and daring to IMAGINE. It's a courageous thing to be an artist…expect to be judged, possibly even misunderstood, but don't let that concern you - just keep creating and filter out everything else except what you need to keep your imagination ablaze. If you don't do something because you are afraid of it, you'll never know what kind of magic you missed out on.
C.S. Lewis said, and I always tell this to people, "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." Don't hesitate to become an artist because of your age! Grandma Moses was an artist who began painting around 78 years old and her paintings sell for millions, George Eliot published her first novel in her 40's…Mary Delany was 71 years old when she started her art career and her work is now in the British Museum. The list goes on and on.
One last thing, don't let the idea of “success” influence you. Success is relative. Do you know how many masters of art died obscure and poor? SO many. Their work gets discovered years and sometimes centuries later. It's not about how “successful” you are in your own lifetime, I think it's just important to enjoy making your work, and making it because you must. Being on this earth and being kind to people, animals and the planet - that is success! I love what Maya Angelou says about success so much. She said, "If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.”
artist shae detar’s fantastical female nudes
How this whimsical New York artist made it with the help of Instagram and a whole lotta hustle
Shae Detar started her career as a bit of a creative Goldilocks. She knew acting wasn't for her when she struggled to master the Shakespearean language. After a brief stint as a model, she decided to pursue art school at the School of Visual Arts. But computer-heavy graphic design wasn't the right fit either, as Shae longed to make things with her hands. Her love of collage, color, and tactile forms of expression led her to a world of whimsy and dream-like art, adopting an antiquated hand-painted technique to create photography focused on animals, nature, and the female form. Shae chats to i-D about women's bodies, hustling in New York City, and trying not to fuck up her first commissioned job.
When did the blurring of photography and painting occur to you?
When I was a teenager, I started taking magazines and cutting them up into collages and then I'd paint things on them. I never thought of it as art and I definitely had no intention of being an artist because I was convinced I would be an actor my whole life.
Where does your affinity for the female form come from?
I grew up looking through mostly Japanese and British fashion magazines and admiring all the makeup and styling. Combine that with my theatre and acting background, and if you put all of that into a blender, you get some form of art that is colorful, stylized and cinematic or theatrical. I take pictures of images that pop into my head, and for whatever reason, the subjects have always been women. Shooting nudes, I did make a very conscious decision to portray the female nude in a way where women didn't feel like a sexualized object. I am so used to the media feeding us objectified, sexualized imagery of what it is that they think a female body means to people, and I'm clearly not alone in desiring to portray women's bodies in a more powerful way than that.
Tell us about the billboard you did for Aritzia.
Aritiza found me on Instagram a few years ago. Actually, that Aritzia billboard was only the second professional job I ever did on this art journey. The first was an online editorial for Aritzia and about six months later they hired me for the billboard campaign. The guy who hired me was hilarious; he must have been getting pressure from the owner of the company, and became nervous about hiring someone as new as I was at the time. He kept repeating to me at random times, "If you fuck this up I could lose my job." I basically approached that campaign with the "fake it 'til you make it" mindset and tried not to let his stress affect my creativity. I came up with two ideas for them, they picked one and I set off to make it happen. It was all really quick, exciting and surreal and they loved what I handed in. I proved to myself that I could take on a project of that size and succeed at it; nothing seemed too daunting after that.
When was your first exhibit and which have been pivotal for you?
Gallerist and curator Andi Potamkin gave me my first experience in a gallery. Andi is this amazingly genuine, passionate and inspiring woman (and a total babe) who really believed in me early on. She and NYC gallery owner Steven Kasher put together an art show comprised of five female photographers in Chelsea, and I was one of those five females in the show. The show was pivotal for me in many ways and the amount of press we got from it was really helpful to my career. It opened up a lot of doors.
Is it still a struggle and hustle working as a female artist in New York City or are you at a comfortable point in your career?
It's definitely a hustle and a struggle at times, but I try to remember that anything worth doing is a struggle at some point, right? And it's usually through the times we struggle that we really grow and gain strength. I think having to hustle is just part of the equation to anything you really want to achieve in this life. I give art everything I've got; I'll never stop hustling.
How important have platforms such as Instagram been to you and your work?
Instagram was paramount to my career. It got my work out into the world and people began to share my painted images on their blogs and Instagram feeds. I've had galleries and curators find my work and put me in their shows and brands have found me and hired me for jobs. If you are an artist, it's an incredibly helpful platform
Artist Interview: Shae DeTar
10/26/2015 12:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017
Artist, Shae DeTar, speaks with Arthena about her journey making art, experiementing and her obsession with color
How did you get into making art?
I started making painted photo collages as a hobby as a young teenager. I can remember being 12 or 13 when I started, but back then I was just using magazine images to create the collages. It wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I picked up a camera and began taking photos and then painting on the images. Painting on my own photos was instantly my passion, and it felt so natural, after having spent so much time painting on other people’s photos as a teenager.
What were some of your early experiments with photography?
Experimenting is all I do! I don’t really think my methods have changed much since the beginning, I’ve always approached photography as an experiment. My composition and my confidence and leadership on set has changed, I’ve grown a lot in those areas, but I still hold experimentation in very high regard. There is no way that I can do what I do, without being experimental, having an open mind and being playful.
I love some of your mixed media photograph-paintings. I’m curious to hear how you started combining mediums and what’s your process.
I don’t know where it came from, because I started as a teenager and I never thought of it as art, I just did it as a hobby. It wasn’t until a roommate of mine in Milan saw my collaged journals and told me I should go to art school. When I picked up a camera 6 years ago, the first print I made, I began painting on it. I began posting the images on my blog and people seemed to like it, so I felt encouraged to keep going with it. My process is simple really, I think of something I want photograph, then photograph it and then come home with the images and just begin printing. I usually make 2 prints so that I free my mind up from fear of making mistakes. If you have one print, you can be far too precious with it...and the beauty is when you let yourself go and are free to experiment. I like to sit down to my painting desk and just create in the moment. I don’t mind limitations, and quite often I have many of them when I am hired for jobs, but I have to feel free within those limitations. I have to let myself create the way a child does. Children just pick up a crayon and begin drawing, and they fully consumed in that moment. They aren’t second guessing everything, and judging it all the way through...if you watch kids, they are just consumed in the moment and that’s what I try to do with my work. I’m not afraid of trying something, because it might just be the best thing I’ve ever made, but I won’t know if I don’t just let myself try it.
Color seems to play a very important role in your photos. A lot of the settings in your work are in nature, but you often break past the rules of nature with your use of color, creating an unworldly environment. I’d love to hear your views on your use of color and also the human body.
Color is my muse. I’m obsessed with color, it’s what drives my images, generally. I love nature, but I also do alot within studio settings, and I’ve found that color carries me through any environment I am photographing. My favorite artists’ work are drenched in color, so it comes as no surprise...Van Gogh, Matisse, Klimt, Schielle, Picasso, etc.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Paintings from the past usually and music. If I’m blank I usually go to a museum or go to my library of books and just sort of admire the old masters! They are so inspiring. Music guides me as well...certain songs or albums can really get my creativity flowing.
Opening tonight at Steven Kasher Gallery, “Pheromone Hotbox” presents the work of five young female photographers whose practices revolve around depicting other women: Aneta Bartos, Amanda Charchian, Shae DeTar, Olivia Locher, and Marianna Rothen. Discovered over the last year and a half by Kasher and his partner Andi Potamkin, with whom he runs the gallery’s smaller offshoot Kasher|Potamkin, the artists embody an invigorating post-Girls feminist attitude toward women creating art about women. Images are electric in the way that they channel the complicated and arousing current between women who are physically and emotionally close.
In earlier projects, Charchian named this abstract, sensuous meeting space a “pheromone hotbox,” and lent the idea to the show. “I saw their work as an antidote to the Terry Richardson-esque style of demeaning women,” Kasher says. “And it seemed to me very different from [a similar show] 15 years ago, [in which] young women represented other young women as beset upon, embattled, challenged, insecure, and confused.” Styles range from Bartos’s muggy, voyeuristic nudes, to DeTar’s nature-inspired shots overlaid with paint, to Locher’s playful setups riffing on everything from stereotypical ‘How-tos’ to off-kilter state laws. “In this new generation of images, the women are victorious…They celebrate the body and sexuality as if the devouring male gaze is not problematic,” Kasher continues. “I cannot think of more timely works than these, as they take the narcissistic, porn-pervaded, image-overloaded culture of our time and make of it something beautiful, liberating, and even empowering.”
BASED: New York via Pennsylvania
FIRST CAMERA: My artist brother Greg bought me a Mamiya Rz 67 Twin Reflex. It’s still my baby and I’ve shot nearly everything with it, until very recently.
EARLY EXPERIMENTS: I found photography later in life. The first year I started experimenting with photography, I shot a lot of self-portraits, mainly out of fear of wasting people’s time sitting for me. The first image I remember making that I really liked is a self-portrait—I heavily painted myself lying down with lace shadows on my face. I tinted my body blue and painted yellow flowers all around my body. It’s sort of a haunting but peaceful image.
DREAM SUBJECT AND LOCATION: Dream location is Iceland! I am desperate to go there. My dream subject is Bjork. As an artist, she is so inspiring and creatively free. I would love to collaborate with her. I actually tried writing her manager a few months ago saying I would love to collaborate, but I never heard back. But I always say, you never know if you don’t try, so I put it out into the universe and hey, who knows, maybe one day it’ll happen if the time is right.
GOING THE DISTANCE: I feel like most of my shoots are sort of crazy, or I guess just one big adventure. I’m usually climbing mountains, rocks, hills, swimming in rivers with currents, or trekking deep in the middle of flower fields with rattlesnakes, and usually with a bunch of women getting nude or wearing costumes. We must be a sight to see if you happen to be in a car driving by us. I’ve dropped my camera climbing on multiple occasions; I have had to get my camera seriously fixed about four times from my climbing and falling.
ORIGINALITY: I hand paint most everything I work on, so most of my work is hands-on. I photograph an image and then I take it home and I spend time molding it into a new creation. I rarely stick with the original image I shot. I love to take the viewer out of direct reality, creating a moment in a world that maybe doesn’t exist.
WHAT’S NEXT: I have shows in London and Paris, and I am working on a series of much bigger work, blowing my images up and painting on them from a larger scale than I usually do. Also, I wrote a screenplay for a short film a few years ago and a treatment for an art video, but I put them on the back burner because I wanted to focus completely on fine art. But this last year, I’ve been thinking about going back to those scripts and seeing what might happen if I tried making them.