Tuesday, October 30, 2007

This is from http://lisacongdon.typepad.com/

An interview with Paul of http://flickr.com/photos/wowzzaa/sets/72157594262804047

(it's kinda long)

i heart paul
Hello friends,

About once a month I am going to be posting interviews and images by people who inspire me by living an undividedly creative life.

My first interview is with Paul Octavious, who I met through Flickr about a year and a half ago. One thing that was clear about Paul when I "met" him, was that he was not bored. In fact, he was one of those people who was constantly working (with apparent genuine delight) to translate his vision of the world for others to experience--which is, in my opinion, part of what makes someone creative. Trained as a graphic designer in college, Paul has taken his innate sense of design, balance and color to his photography, which he's only been playing with seriously for a couple of years (goes to show you: when you got it, you got it). Paul is currently a photographer for Threadless.com where he gets to live out his creativity for pay, and lives most of his time in Connecticut, where he grew up. When I had my show in New York this Spring, Paul took the train from CT to NYC to be there for my opening. It was awesome. He was as amazing in person as he was online. I have a feeling that if Paul and I lived in the same town, we'd be bosom buddies, wreaking creative havoc all over town together. Paul took some time out to talk to me recently about what he does and what keeps him going.

Lisa: Paul, when I first “met” you online, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. You live an extremely creative life. Everyday you are making life into art. Where do you think that comes from?

Paul: I think it comes from my mom. Growing up my mom was a stay at home mom, and while we were at school she would be cleaning, cooking and making art projects off a show on PBS. She would show us and would would try to duplicate her. I mean, she would pump out things like a Christmas ornament that would would have to scrub with a Brillo pad to take the color off the glass, so we could see through it. Inside the ornament would go a school photo. I think that's where my “..well, why not” spirit comes from. Creativity is endless.

Lisa: Your photographs and your processing of them are impeccable. Did you go to school for photography or are you mostly self-taught? Talk a little bit about how you got the skills you have.

Paul: I went to school for graphic design. The two worked hand in hand with processing. Both graphic design and photography use the same programs to edit. A lot of the editing is trial and error. Most of the time when I achieve a certain look its was birth from a mistake. I just keep rolling with it until something else comes along. Recently, every-time I come up with a new hue or coloring style to a photo, I give it the name of the subject in photos. My most recent style is named "Butch".

Lisa: Butch, huh? Cool. You also manage to capture light in a way I don’t often see. It’s incredible. What do you look for to determine the right lighting for your photographs?

Paul: I look for a unique way the light is hitting the subject. Tree light is one of my favorite lights. Trees always have gaps of light peering through. its just awesome. I like light that leaves shadows on portions of the subject I'm shooting.

Lisa: Did you start with Digital or were you a 35 mm SLR person before you went digital?

Paul: I started to take photography seriously when I bought my first Digital Rebel and a Flickr account. That was almost 2 years ago.

Lisa: What other forms of art besides photography do you enjoy?

Paul: Well, I was trained to be a graphic designer, which is my first love. I love print design and typography. I am such a font whore...it's ridiculous.

Lisa: A fellow font whore!! Fantastic. So, your photo projects are really unique. I’m interested to know where you came up with the idea for the coffee grounds and the cloud projects.

Paul: Well, Recycled Grounds came from an idea I saw another Flickr member do. This was when I was doing my 365 Self Portrait Project and trying to pump out a self portrait everyday. Any inspiration I could grab from anywhere, I was willing to just take in. At the time, I’d been looking for something to apply to my skin to change my appearance. She did a close-up of her face with coffee beans on it. I thought how sweet is that! So I tried it the next day with coffee grounds. And though it was messy, it worked! So I showed it to my mom and asked if I could try it on her. By the end of the month I photographed my little cousin in grounds, then my brother and sister and my dad. I can’t wait expand this idea soon. When working on a project it just snowballs into something...and I kinda like it like that.

Lisa: What about Puffin Clouds?

Paul: Puffin Clouds was all my puppy's fault. She got hold of my sisters cotton ball bag and it was everywhere throughout the house. I picked a piece of the ripped cotton ball up and said to my self, "Damn, this looks like a cloud...what can i do with it?”

Lisa: Let's talk for a moment about your portraits. They are my favorites. They are not only technically wonderful, but they evoke enormous feeling. What are your tricks for capturing such amazing portraits?

Paul: Oh thanks! Basically, I talk to the subject and make them feel comfortable. Also I just shoot for the eyes.. everything else is just extra. With my Grandpa Jud shots its a bit different. He’s a older quite gentleman he walks around the house sits, drinks some coffee, moves again to a comfortable spot and watches some westerns. A very chill life he leads. So when he’s doing his routine he’s in such repose that he doesn’t realize sometimes I'm taking a shot. I think thats why most of his shots evoke such a strong emotion. I like to think of him as my muse.

Lisa: Flickr has played a huge role in my creative process. Talk about the role of Flickr in your creative endeavors and your career as an artist.

Paul: Flickr has led me to meet so many creative amazingly great people like yourself. From connections or ideas and even collaborations with other artist. The comments I receive from people feed the the fire in my work, and makes me want to do more.

Lisa: Aw, thanks back. So, your family. They have played a large role as subjects in your photographs. How do they feel about this?

Paul: My parents are my #1 fans. I think they enjoy the reaction people get off of some of my work. I know my mom comes on my Flickr and reads comments and enjoys it. I enjoy watching her read the comments left by the nice people.

Lisa: I hate it when people ask me this question, and I have a feeling I know what you are going to say, but I am going to ask it anyway. Where do you get most of your ideas? When and how do they come to you? How do you keep yourself living the way you do?

Paul: I get my ideas from anything really. Today I got an idea from a pun about a fish...a light bulb went off in my head. Now as I type this the execution of the idea is all I can think about. To keep living the way all I do is I keep thinking positive and when in a slump.. Remember your problems aren’t that bad. Whenever I think my problem is bad now, I look up and think...okay, there are freaking stars in the sky! My problem is so small right at this very moment compared to that.

Lisa: Yes!! Ideas come from anything! That's exactly it. And I can relate to the obsession with an idea. So this leads me to my final question...What makes you the happiest?

Paul: Me in my backyard with A 22oz of Fat Tire Beer laying on the grass looking at the sky...camera pointing up getting an idea for a cloud shot.

Lisa: Yes, that does sound amazing. Perhaps someday soon we can do that together. Until then, happy shooting, Paul.

Paul: Thanks, Lisa!

No comments: