ARTIST OF THE WEEK



Where are you based?
London, for the past three months. Before that, Toronto.

Describe your creative work.
I work in three different mediums: photography, collage, and typography. The typographic work I do is usually hand-rendered, often based on the writing of authors or musicians I like, and serves more as a way of getting ideas to manifest. My collage work is both a way of thinking but also an end in itself, and I find the methodology of laying things out on paper helps me not only to think about other work but also to begin to explain why I make things in the first place. It's a really satisfying process. The photography I do ranges from studio and outdoor work with people, to architectural, object and landscape, but all of it uses portraiture as a base. Since getting into photographing people, I've realized that I can't dissociate objects with their source or places with their inhabitants, and so I tend to treat everything I photograph as a portrait; it's just that often, the person is absent. All three of these serve and enliven each other. I think having a multidisciplinary practice is incredibly helpful and necessary. At least for me.

The subjects in your portraits appear relaxed, does it come naturally to you to work with sitters?
No, and that's part of the reason I began doing it. I had access to a studio with pretty good lights and not a lot of experience with photographing people, I was in the midst of a thesis that was imploding on me, and I started taking pictures of my friends. It snowballed into something much more encompassing that totally took over my life. But I'd say that I am really comfortable working with people now, albeit not naturally. It's funny that you say the people in my portraits look relaxed… one of the things I try to do, when photographing people, is create a climate of conversation and relaxation, so it's good to hear that they look at ease. I really like people, and the whole point of the work is to try to establish, visually, the connection that I have with the person.

Is there anyone or anything that inspires your work?
Yes. Stephen Shore's photography, especially the series' American Surfaces and Uncommon Places, has been a huge, huge, huge influence on me, both in terms of imagery but also methodology. Likewise, the films of Wim Wenders. I think both of them have such a kind, searching, but also sad worldview. It's so inspiring.

Tell us more about your collage work.
For me, collage is at the centre of what I do. I've been doing it seriously for so long—coming up on six years—that I can't really approach other work without using it as a way of starting. So, the entire time I was working on learning studio portraiture I was doing the series Fig. 1-99, and that abstraction made thinking about the relatively more stable and coherent world of portraiture that much easier to approach. The act of arranging things delicately on a page is mirrored in everything else I do, from the way I both frame a shot and the way I direct my models, to the way I lay out a page. Right now, all I've been working on is collage, and it's been very satisfying. It's the only practice that I have where I actively think of things in terms of how they'll appear as a completed series rather than as an ongoing thing, and so much of what I do with them ends up relating to my photography. There must be something in me that makes me take so much pleasure in destroying old magazines in order to turn them into small blocks of colour or abstraction. I'm not sure what it is, but I certainly am grateful it's there.

What's next for you?
At the beginning of the month a few friends and I put a down payment on a studio, so I've been spending a lot of time there. It's really liberating, not having the constraints of being at home anymore (dim light, nowhere to photograph people, limited space). So I'm in the beginning stages of a few new projects. One is called There Must Be More to Life Than This, and it's a series of collages breaking down and then rebuilding single images. I've begun making prints of existing portraits I've shot and turning them into collages. Trying to get back into shooting portraits, but it's been mega hard finding people interested in being photographed here, for some reason—if you're a model in London and want to work with me, holler!

Anyone you would like to plug?
Yes, a few people—Andrew Wilson's hyper-precise pen-and-ink drawings are the best. Just the best. Roxana Azar is making the most interesting photographs I've seen in a long time (they're so weird and perfect) and I want to be her friend. Brendan Ko, likewise. Those three make me want to get outside of my comfort zone and start making really strange, otherworldly work.