artist

artist, Ohio, Painter

Priya Rama

Priya Rama’s work and story really resonated with me. I get migraines and have my whole life. When I was a little girl, I was often torn, because I knew that certain activities would give me headaches. Mine are genetic, my maternal grandmother used to shut herself in her bedroom for days on end. Like Priya, my migraines have changed a lot over the years. Until I was in my 20’s, I didn’t know what I was experiencing were actually migraines. Or that there is medication to help! Now for Priya Rama:

I have had migraines since I was a little girl. They continue to change as I get older. Every migraine is different from the other. I often experience this unbelievable tiredness and I don't know why I'm feeling that tired. I just want to sit and not do anything. That is usually a day before a migraine. I'm not always good at recognizing, "Oh, I'm about to get a migraine." The days I don't have migraines, I overcompensate and I do so much, because my migraines are so frequent. I get two to three a week.

Two to three migraines a week! Wow. Are you on any medication?

Oh yeah. All kinds of meds. We moved to Cincinnati from Texas about 10 years ago. After moving to Cincinnati my migraines worsened. That's when I realized that weather is a big trigger for me which I'd never paid attention to before. The changing weather in Cincinnati, the constant barometric pressure changes, all lead to migraines.

Yeah. This year, this spring has been terrible for me. I get migraines once a month maybe. But early this summer I was getting three a week.

I didn't connect the dots to weather until we moved here. It doesn't always end up in a migraine, it can quite often be just a very tight head. Like it's being squeezed. It’s constant pressure and tightness. Just an overall discomfort, really.

I hear you, I understand.

When I was commuting to Ohio State two, three times a week, I was a full time student and I was teaching. The [combination of the] commute and being a wife and mother, it was all just too much. I was always medicating. I had too many migraines. I always had a list of things to do. I had assignments to grade or assignments to complete. It was just too much really. So I decided to take a year's break and reevaluate and see, “Do I really want to do this?” Continue with this.

Because along with migraines comes this constant guilt, right? Guilt of canceling appointments, or guilt of not being able to do your job. Or not being around for people. I said, “This is not worth it.” So I decided to take a year's break and during that break one particular migraine was really vivid and vibrant, and I decided to paint it. That's where this whole thing started. Painting that felt so very comfortable and so natural.

...

Painting these has not necessarily cured the migraines, but what it's done has been to allow me to let go of all the anger and frustration that I was holding onto. I didn't even realize how angry I was! There's a constant canceling of plans or you wake up and you feel this pain, and you're like, again, really?! You're just dealing with this constant anger. So painting has allowed me to be completely at peace with having migraines and accept their presence in my life.

Now a migraine comes, I'm like okay, and I just deal with it. Not that having the pain is enjoyable or anything. Some days it really brings you down. But it is what it is. I don't know any other life, that's just all I've known.

...

I've been doing this now for three, three and a half years. The more I paint the more vibrant the images are becoming.

Yes. That's interesting. Something like training a muscle. You only started painting your migraine visions about three years ago?

I've always painted though... I trained to be a graphic designer and typographer. So I was doing that, working in advertising.

When I was in Texas, I was an elementary school teacher. I taught fourth grade. Art and design took a back seat. When we moved here I thought it was a great opportunity to combine teaching and this love for art and design. So I thought I'd do art education. I did my masters here at the University of Cincinnati, and then started my doctoral work at OSU. So that's how that journey kind of happened.

So you've always been artistic, always painted.

I've always painted. But much more traditional subjects. I really didn't think too much about this imagery I was seeing because I've always known it. I didn't think it was something very unusual or that not everybody sees that kind of imagery. I'm a visual learner. I understand the world in visual terms. I thought that's how everybody is.

...

So when I started doing this and people were responding to my work...I actually met people who say some of my paintings are exactly like some of the visions they see. That fascinates me. Different bodies, different brains, somewhat similar condition and we see similar things, you know?

Yes! Some of your paintings I can look at and think, “Wow, that's a lot of pain.” In others, I can see maybe that's one where you're doing okay with it that day. Where you found a calm place or just, ‘Okay, this is happening.’ I can definitely see in [the paintings] the type of migraine, which is crazy to me.

For me, that is interesting. A lot of people say, "Oh, that looks like a painful one." I haven't really thought of the images as painful or not. It's just an image for me. Yes the image comes out of this process [or pain] but to me it's amazing that I see this imagery. [The image is] not in my eyes, it's more inside my brain. My vision will get sort of blurry and diffused [with a migraine] but all this imagery is inside my head. It's more like the top of my head. So I close my eyes, kind of look up and then it starts to emerge. Then I can travel through it, sort of float through it, and frame what I'm looking at. It's really interesting. It's almost like a slow motion movie.


This has been fantastic. It's taken me a long time to arrive at this point to find that one thing that truly grabs me. All along I thought I'd been doing things I love and enjoy but this feels completely like home.


As I'm floating through it some things can come forward, some things recede. So for me I don't look at the pain, it's just I'm focusing so much on what's going on inside my head. The textures and the details of the colors. I'm just trying to capture it.

...

When you're painting what you're seeing, do you finish a whole painting?

No...I work, as you can see [gestures to many half painted canvases leaning against the wall], I work on multiple things at once. So I'll travel through back and forth. So these are all in progress.

Is it a combination of visions, or are you able to go back?

I'm able to go back because I have a photographic memory of all my visions.

That's really wild!

Going back years. Otherwise my memory is pretty bad. When it comes to these visions I can recall. It's almost like I can go back to that vision, almost that moment. Not necessarily the migraine experience, but just the whole visual symphony that's playing out. It's like a file folder system in my head. I can pull out a drawer and there are slides and I can look at these images and go back to that moment.

I work on different [pieces] because things have to dry. Once I start painting, it's weird. As calming and meditative as it is, it's also a big urgency to capture what I'm seeing. To get it on canvas quickly and to capture the feeling. So I have to work on multiple things and allow things to dry between layers so I can go and add to it.


For me, painting is a quiet process. It's me and my thoughts and ... you know? Just being part of that moment of experiencing it.

You don't realize you're not talking to anybody, you're sort of lost in your thoughts.


This is what the beginning stages of my process look like: I'll start with a blank [canvas], I put a background color on and then I do layers. Quite often I use black for the background because it gives the depth, the shadow that I'm looking for. Once I do that then I layer [sheer washes of color that build the feeling of depth]. Then I start building all the details.

So every little dot and every little thing that you see there has been placed there by me. It's just an ongoing process and I can spend hours and hours just building, building.

….

Because my studio is at home I'm able to work at any hour that I want. And just be comfortable. And I can get in and out of bed and work.

Does that happen a lot?

Oh yeah.

Is that because the migraines are there and you can't sleep?

Yeah. Because I'll come and I'll start to paint but then sometimes it's so painful that I don't want to be here. So at least get the process started and then go back to bed. Then the image continues and I'm just sort of compelled to come back and paint again, to try to capture it. Having the studio at home really allows me the flexibility.

You sell your work mainly at art fairs?

Yes, and I'm in a few galleries. Hayley Gallery in Columbus, Ohio… and I'm in Purple Paisley in Covington, Kentucky.

What was that process like, getting into galleries?

Basically you approach them, show your work, talk about what you do. I include images of my work in emails or I take my work to show them. I've only applied to art fairs and galleries which have a jury process. It's more choosy in who they have in the gallery [or fair]. I want to be amongst good company.

[When I approach galleries with my paintings,] I look at the work they carry already. The artists they have. Because I'm not a traditionalist, you can see, and I don't even do traditional subjects. I have to find galleries that show modern, contemporary and abstract art really.

...

Hayley Gallery, the owner saw me in the Greater Columbus Art Festival last year and thought I would be a good fit. She said, "Hey come on over with your work and we'll see." I've been there a year, and she’s very supportive.

Okay. So it’s been a combination. Some people have approached you and you've approached some people.

Yeah. This year my hope is to go to two other galleries outside the tristate area. Maybe Chicago. I'm trying to find the balance between having enough inventory to do art fairs and to have work at home. When you take work to a gallery it stays with them. It's no longer available for you.

Find Priya:

Priya Rama

Instagram

National Headache Foundation Blog

Priya will appear on CBS Sunday Morning With Jane Pauley on November 3rd. Topic of the day is migraines.

artist, illustrator, printmaker, California

Lili Arnold

You studied printmaking in college?

Yes. It was almost by accident. As a junior I transferred to UC Santa Cruz. I was originally trying to do pre-med...but once I started taking classes like calculus and physics I was like, "Oh my gosh. I can't wrap my mind around any of this. This is not good." So I started rethinking my future and what I was going to major in...

I think my art education at UCSC allowed me to appreciate printmaking and start to figure out what I liked and what my style might be. I was always really drawn to pattern and folk art. I feel like most college art programs are focused more on conceptual art. So not necessarily something that's aesthetically pleasing but more focus on the message behind it. And I get that, some of the best art in the world is inspired by tragedy or something very personal. [Conceptual art] can have so much meaning, but I found my style in more folk art type things...

[After college] I did graphic design for four or five years. I got to a point where I was feeling creatively stifled because all the work I was doing was for someone else. I never had any real creative say in the final product ... I just executed the project that was given to me. I was craving some type of creative fulfillment. So I started doing art in my free time. On the weekends and whenever I could squeeze in a little project. ...I would do a little watercolor or I would paint a flower pot, all kinds of random stuff. I came across my old block printing tools and I thought, "Oh, I remember doing this. This was really fun…"

My first block print as an adult was a little sperm whale. Once I started I couldn't stop. After the sperm whale I did a whole little ocean series. Then a friend who worked at a store downtown reached out to me. She had seen them and asked if I would be interested in doing a First Friday. The first Friday of every month in Santa Cruz, a bunch of shops and galleries will host new artists with a collection of work... It's a really fun community arts event. So I had a First Friday. And I felt a lot of love from people in our community. It encouraged me that much more, so I just kept on creating…

When you went from your full-time graphic design position to what you are doing now, what did that transition look like? Are you printmaking full-time?

I am printmaking about 70% of the time, the rest of my time is filled with order fulfillment, commissioned pieces/illustrations, designing bandanas/packaging/branding for my products, and the last element is art shows & pop-ups. The transition from graphic designer to what I’m doing now was pretty scary at first. I was used to a steady 9-5, so managing myself and my own creativity took some time to harness and organize.

[When I quit my 9-5,] I kept some freelance graphic design clients and just did my art and printmaking on the side. Slowly the balance shifted more toward the printmaking end of things, once business started to pick up. Now I pretty much avoid graphic design whenever I can unless it incorporates handmade illustration, painting, or printing of some kind…

I've been obsessed with botanical illustration and scientific illustration. I like Ernst Haeckel ... He did a lot of ocean scientific illustrations. I get a lot of inspiration from doing research and ordering old books that have botanical illustrations. Also just getting out in nature...

I got the idea to do a protea and I think that might have been the first flower other than cactus flowers that I had done. So that kind of got me thinking about other types of flowers and I think that probably is what lead me to actually do this print [of Dahlias]. Now I'm feeling even more inspired to do different types of flowers from all over the world really. There's just so much beauty in the leaves and the petals and the whole structure of the plants.

So your cacti will morph into more flowers?

I think so. That's kind of what I'm feeling right now. 'Cause I did a lot of cactus.

I did, I don't know, a dozen at least, maybe around two dozen cactus and I loved every single one of them. I feel like [in the creative process] there's a natural desire to evolve and change and progress. So I feel like I've explored cacti ... and that has lead me to this next body of work. I have so many ideas for different flowers I wanna do, this could go on for awhile. But who knows?

Being an artist of any kind, it's hard to plan. It's like you have to listen to whatever's driving you and whatever ideas might pop into your head. Kinda just have to roll with it.

I feel like too much planning starts to feel cycling. Running my Instagram page, for example. I do enjoy it, but then there are times where if I plan it out too much...or if I start to schedule too much or start to pressure myself to keep up when I don't necessarily feel like it... I've gotten to the point where I just want to do whatever feels right and not worry if [Instagram’s] algorithm is going to put me below someone. It's probably not very business savvy...

I feel like for me to keep doing what I'm doing I really need to fully enjoy it and embrace the creative aspect of it. That's the most rewarding part of it.

These are all the flower pieces that I cut out after I carve the whole block. I'll carve [a block] in one piece and then I use an x-acto knife to cut out the pieces so I can color everything separately. That was one thing I never learned in school, was printing with multiple colors. Traditionally you carve multiple blocks [one for each color] and then you register each block.

[Explaining what it means to ‘register’ in printmaking.] So you'll print one color first for all the pieces of paper that you're doing. Once that color is done, you have to register [or line up] the next block[s] and the paper perfectly to print the second color [third color, etc] on top of it. It's always intimidated me. It's really hard to do without a printing press because printing by hand, there's so much inconsistency. I also use deckle edged paper. So you can see it would be really hard to register this paper, each piece is slightly different and like what part of the deckle edge do you really choose to be the part to align?

Had you seen other printmakers do this method before? Or did you have a light bulb moment one day?

I hadn't seen anyone do this before. I kind of did it out of desperation. The first few were very ... there was a lack of expertise for sure. The way the pieces fit together didn't really work. It was definitely challenging. But I've started to design the compositions with this idea in mind, that, "Oh, I'm gonna have to cut these out. So how can I make this easy?"

I just try to problem solve as I go 'cause there's a lot of factors to worry about....

That's how I work. A lot of trial and error. And googling. I have made many mistakes carving in blocks before. I did some googling and there's this stuff called Bondo which is used for car repair. It’s car dent filler. I read online that a printmaker used that to patch up mistakes made on their blocks. I ended up trying that because I had made a poster for a band ... I had to print 150 posters and somewhere on the poster it said 2017 and the seven was backwards… So I ended up using Bondo and patching the seven and carving the opposite side of it. And it worked!

Now I know if I really mess up on something that there is a chance it can be salvaged. In the past I just would abandon and walk. Sometimes it's like 15 hours of carving and it's tragic!

Find Lili:

Lili Arnold Studios

Instagram
Make sure to check out the videos she posts of mixing inks, it’s incredibly satisfying ;)

artist, Indiana, Painter

Sabrina Zhou

You went to art school in China…

Two art schools in China and one in Canada. All different majors. The first one was Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. I was majoring in watercolor. Then I met my husband and moved to the art school that he was in. That was in Sichuan, the southwest of China. This is where pandas come from. So first I did fine arts [watercolor] and then interior design. Then went to Canada and there I did fine arts…

What made you come to America?

I knew I was going to leave Calgary, it’s just too cold there. It’s like half a year in winter. We have to walk in tunnels and all of that. I didn’t think I would come to America until I visited a friend here. [We went to school together in Canada.] He was a New York street artist [at the time.]
…He was good and he inspired me. I just followed his steps…

So you started off on the east coast in Connecticut…

For seven years. Long time.…There was an old storage place they turned into artist lofts and rented them only to artists. So the rent was much cheaper than the market. You got to live with all sorts of artists; painters, singers, poets, writers, etc.  And then parties and talks... It was fun.
…I had a booth at the mall in Connecticut for Christmas and I was doing about 10 portraits a day… I came here to Indiana and had a booth at the mall for one year, in 2013.  I was playing video games on the computer the day before Christmas. People were not interested…

I focused solely on portraits for years and eventually hated it. Mostly I worked from photographs. People had all kinds of photographs. [laughter] Some of them where really hard to work with! And they asked funny questions; you can do this? You can do that? Can you put this head on that body? All sorts of questions…

When you do still lives. Do you set them all up and draw from life?

Yes…That’s part of the fun.

Setting everything up?

Yes. I rarely did oil in college because it’s so different than watercolor. With oils, you can mix all the colors together. You can be a pastel artist and oil painter, but watercolor and oil are so different. Different procedures.

[Pastels are] a smaller medium but once you get the hang of it, it’s so much fun. I could just sit here for hours doing my little feathering. It’s very controllable and the colors are so vivid. It is the pure pigment here. Paints can change color over time, but pastels stay there. …  [Pastels do fade in the sun a little bit,] especially the cheap ones. But that’s it. It can be very expensive. This tiny little stick cost $3 and you need so many different colors. Since you are working with the straight color you can’t blend it like you do with paint to get the color you need.
At this stage I don’t blend the pastels but the first few stages I do.

How do you blend pastels?

My finger. Someone told me you can rub the oil in your hand into the painting. So far I haven’t seen any problems with that. I use paper towels for the background because it is a big area. It is very different than when you rub with your finger. You can get a much smoother result with your finger.

When I do landscapes. People keep asking me where is this…where is that? It’s here, [points to head and laughs] it’s not real.

 

This landscape is all made up from your head?

Well this one I got the inspiration from Cool Creek Park. We walk over there with our dog. There is an area of birch trees. I added this mountain behind it. For the color variation. Indianapolis is so flat! I like that deep blue-purple color in the back and the trees against it. I like the effect. I can also show a little bit of pink, reddish color here and there. To compliment the green. So that part is coming out of my mind wherever I feel it’s necessary.
...
A good thing to do when you finish a painting is to put it aside for a few months. When you come back to it you find a lot of problems you want to fix. When you are just staring at it you are like, “[groans] Okay. I think it’s done.”
...
All those things that we learned in China, I don’t know any different until after years of being here. We learned the Russian system of art, called social realism. It’s more realistic. That’s why I was going so tight. All these details! I was considered to have a bad sense of color when I was in school. And I grew with that because when you get really into details you forget the fresh thing you had when you first looked at those still lives. You get into shape and volumes more than colors. So I thought, “Ok, I can’t see colors, I am so bad.” It’s a good thing I switched to oil because I work faster with a wider brush…I want to be John Singer Sargent. And I like that style better. I start to say “Oh, now I see more colors!” You can really relax and get loose. I see more colors and I like that. So when I go back to my pastel, I feel I work the color better. Even when I am doing detailed work like this, I see more colors. I benefit from that.  

John Singer Sargent, he’s a great portrait artist. I saw a painting of his with two ladies sitting in a garden with a table. The lady’s hand was painted really thick but loose brush work.  When you get close it’s just piles of paint up there, but when you step back, it’s a perfectly done hand. He is that awesome…
If you take the time and get into details, I can make it. But he was madly good, his strokes look so impatient, [whoosh of air and wide hand gesture] but everything is already there. So good.

It's interesting that you would admire Sargent, a more impressionistic painter, because your pastel work is very tight. You can get really up close to them and really appreciate them. But, your oil paintings are looser, more impressionistic.

Right. I’m trying to hide my tiny little brushes away from myself. So I just grab the bigger ones. All the tiny ones are there where I can’t reach them. So I am trying to use this bigger brush to get into the little detail and it’s become more vivid that way. It’s not as tight. With pastels I can’t [get bigger], they are already this shape.

HD_SabrinaZhou_0102_.jpg

Last year, I was in a show in Columbus, Ohio. I sold a painting that was not done. It was still wet! I didn’t have enough paintings to fill out the booth. This guy came in and said, “I just love that.”
I said, “You can order that. Once I am done with it I can ship it to you.”
He said, “No. I want it just like that.”

That’s pretty incredible. Did you sell it to him?

Yes! He took it. It needed to be varnished, but it was still wet…  He is not interested in me finishing the painting. That’s nice sometimes, the work doesn’t have to be really completed as you want. Some of the looseness in the first few stages appeal to people.

artist, Craft, California

Tim Bessell

How long have you lived in La Jolla?

I was born in Wichita, Kansas. My family moved down here when I was two years old. I’ve been here ever since. Right up the street. I like to joke my umbilical cord isn’t very long.

How did you get in to making surfboards?

On my 13th birthday, my brother and my best friend gave me a stripped down long board. They had all these old beat up surf boards that they stripped down, took off all the fiberglass. That was it. I made that board and it came out pretty decent. So my neighbor gave me a board that had turned out really bad. I stripped it down, took off the fiberglass and shaped another one. I sold that one. I was in high school, only 13 or 14, when I started. It’s hard to turn down work when people are paying you! 

It takes you about an hour to shape a surfboard?

Well, it depends. This model, I have it down. I can do it really easily and fast, but a longboard takes maybe two or three hours. It all depends. Whether the foam is cooperating that day. 

Most surfboards are made off machines. I still like to do it the hand-crafted way. 

Does it make any difference in performance? Do people notice a difference board to board? Hand making them must allow you to make them in more sizes.

I can make anything any size, any shape. 

Where do you get your foam? It is already in a rough surfboard shape.

They have molds. They start with a liquid foam and they pour it into a mold. There’s probably hundreds of different molds for different styles [and sizes] of surfboards. 

After a foam board core is shaped, what are the rest of the steps of making a surfboard?

So there’s this fiberglass cloth, it’s like any kind of cloth made out of fiberglass, you lay that, you dress, the bottom of the board. You cut the fiberglass and wrap it around. Then you take this resin, which starts off as a liquid and turns into a solid with a catalyst. You squeegee that on. Then you flip the board over and repeat the lamination on the top side. Lamination resin never really dries. It always stays tacky. That’s so it won’t de-laminate from the board. After the whole board is laminated, you take a different kind of resin, which has surfacing agent in it, and paint that over the bottom [of the board]. Sand that down and that’s your basic high performance surfboard. 

If you want something with art [on the top face of the surfboard], you have to laminate that into the board. That has a third layer of resin, called a gloss coat. You polish that out like a car, that’s how you get it so shiny. Most of the high performance shortboards are just sanded finish. They’re light. 

You could actually use the art boards? They are meant to be used?

Yea! My idea was to put my best work with Andy’s artwork…With the Warhol boards, those had to be approved by the Andy Warhol Foundation.

What gave you the idea to put Andy Warhol’s art on surfboards?

Ok, I’ll tell you how it happened. So my friend and protege, Ben Blank, he told me about this website Fab. Have you seen Fab? This was three years ago, so Fab was a little different than what it is now. He was going, “Tim, you need to put your surfboard on Fab.” And I’m going, “I just don’t see it.” Well one day I saw Warhol skateboards. I thought, “Ooooh, that’s it! I could be the surfboard guy. They’re giving licenses to skateboard guys, I’ll see if they’ll give me licenses.” And they did. Now we’re in our third year [using Warhol’s art]. 

When did you start making your own art?

My whole life. 

What’s your preferred medium?

I don’t know. I just like making stuff.

As long as it involves your hands.

Yea, exactly. 

When was your last show?

August, in New York. We sold out. We’ll be in New York again next summer.

What influences your personal art? 

[Some people who influence me] are Andy Warhol, Duchamp, Picasso. 

What subjects are you drawn to?

Duality.

How often do you surf?

I try to surf everyday.

Any quick advice for first time surfers?

Start on a longboard and work your way down.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

artist, Craft, photographer

Giles Clement

How did you get into creating tintypes?

"It was kind of a progression from my earlier work. [I was shooting] a lot of large format film stuff. I [began using] film when I first started photography. I started with 35mm [film] and then quickly switched over to digital. I used digital in my professional work. I worked for newspapers and stuff like that. At one newspaper I was working for I found a bunch of old 35mm and medium format cameras [they had stored] in their basement… I started doing assignments with old Mamiyas and old Nikons and stuff like that. That’s how I got back into film. Once you shoot with medium format, 35mm is no longer that fun. And once you shoot 4x5, medium format is pretty boring. And once you shoot 8x10… 

"So I was shooting 8x10 and I hit a point where I couldn’t afford the film anymore. I thought if I could make my own film, it would be cheaper. I looked into doing that. [While researching that] I had seen some photos shot as tintype that I really liked. I liked the aesthetic of it. Part of the reason I shoot film is because it’s a very fallible medium. You can fuck it up pretty easily and tintype is 20 times more fuck up-able. Tintype appealed to me. I got the chemicals and stuff for tintypes on a whim. Once I started shooting it, it got really addictive. You get instant gratification, you shoot the photo and then you see what you got. It’s like shooting polaroid. It’s a rush. A year later I was broke and figured I needed to start making money with this. I guess that’s the long story of how I got into tintypes."

Did you consciously make the decision to become a traveling tintypist?

"No I didn’t! It kind of just happened. I was borrowing a friend’s apartment in Columbus, Ohio for three months when I first started doing it… It was the middle of summer. The apartment I was staying in was like an oven. So I decided to go to the east coast and live somewhere there. I found a room share in Camden, Maine on Craigslist. It’s way up on the coast, a tiny little coastal town. I went there for a month and a half. I was doing tintypes and goofing around. I had my other photography business going as well, just to pay the bills… [After Camden] I went through Detroit, came back through Columbus and then to Wisconsin. I lived in Wisconsin for six weeks or so. Then continued to doodle across the country. I ended up in Portland. I was planning to keep going, but I was working on a project. I was photographing Centenarians, one in each state, with tintype. That was part of my travel, but not a huge component of it. Just something I was working on. So I ended up in Portland. My friends there [encouraged me to stay] and open a studio. So I stayed and opened a studio. And I spent the next year just losing hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Not taking tintypes of anyone in Portland… 

"I got lucky… I got a call from somebody planning a music event down in Texas. They [asked if I would come down] and do tintypes for the event… I said, “Yes, absolutely.” I shut down [my studio] in Portland, got rid of everything that I had, packed up my car and went out there with no real plan. I had that one gig, shooting at Willie Nelson’s ranch down in Texas. So I shot that and then started finding other stuff. A year and half later, I’m still on the road doing it. I didn’t set out to do it, but I’m kind of glad I did." 

 
 
 
 
 
 

What is your favorite subject to photograph?

"I don’t know. I like collaborating with other people. I really enjoy the process of working together. You get a few creative people in the room and you don’t even need a [pre-conceived] idea. Someone will have a spark and you just go back and forth from there. I have some ideas for photos that are my own but I don’t know if coming up with concepts for photos is my strong point. I think what I’m good at and what I really enjoy is working with somebody and collaborating. To the point where you don’t know who’s idea it was anymore. You’re just bullshitting until something happens. I’m good at execution. [Everything that has to do with ‘making’ the photograph. The chemical and the technical aspects. Sometimes I don’t even get that right.] I certainly enjoy and really like some of the photos that have happened that way. [The ones] where the time has flown by, its three hours later, and at the end you get just one or maybe a couple images that you really like…

"I’ve got a few favorite images over the years that have happened like that."

What was the first tintype that you made? 

"The first tintype I did was at three or four in the morning. My friend was doing sleep studies on people. She was the only person awake that late. I [had just received] the chemicals [for tintyping] and mixed everything up. It totally didn’t work. You can kind of see an image, but not really. That was my first tintype."