Amy Sherald speaks with Marc Payot
I was delighted to read a brief conversation between the extraordinary Amy Sherald and my friend Marc Payot this morning. The conversation revolves around Ms. Sherald's process and her understanding…
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Where are you from?
New York City.
Where were you born and educated?
I was born in New Hampshire, USA. I have lived all over America and studied design at a few art schools in the USA, but I am a college dropout.
Why did you dropout colleges? You didn’t like the process of education at all?
It was a different time than now- I had a good portfolio and a job lined up at the time. I was very self motivated and I learned as much on my own as I did in school. With Art school, it is of course more about the work you have done and not the grades you get that will get you places.
How have you become photographer? Are you a designer too?
I am a painter mostly, and I approach photography more like painting, I suppose. I like to look at it more like abstract, subjective art. My day job is working in design. I direct commercials and films too.
Why do love living in New York? Why not other cities, cause you said that you lived all over America.
I live in NYC at the moment but I may not for very much longer. With the way the world is now, being so connected all the time, the reasons for living in a place Iike NYC are falling away. Some days it is fantastic place to live, other times it is just difficult and maddening.
What inspires you (films, music, books, authors)?
It could be anything, not just ‘art’ that inspires me. Living in New York City, there is almost too much music, films, books and art that catch your attention. Lately I find I have to push all that aside before I am inspired. I almost always listen to music while I am working though.
Who were your teachers?
I only took a few photography classes in college, so my ‘teachers’ were all of the great photographers and artists I would discover in books and museums.
How do you work? What camera do you use?
Some of my projects are fairly straightforward photojournalistic-type work, some of my other ideas are very much based in the digital end of things. I use the computer heavily to correct, composite and transform imagery. I think the computer is a more important tool than my camera is. I use all kinds of Cameras, from cheap point-and-shoot ones to medium format cameras, my favorite is my Plaubel Makina 67.
How the idea of “Twin Infinitives” came to you? Do you have your own conception?
“Twin Infinitives” are pairings of strange or abstract photographs of mine. It is a digital, interactive exhibition. The original pictures were small abstract compositions I used to paste together as ideas for my paintings. Later, I worked with a programmer to create an application for my website that would randomly pair 2 images together. I most often like what the computer ‘decides’ to do better than what I would choose myself. This led to building the computer into the artwork itself, which is a framed, living ‘picture’ that resides in a gallery. Viewers can watch the images change every minute or so during the show. If someone likes a particular combination, they can ‘capture’ it and buy it. It will be a one of a kind print, as no combination ever appears twice during the exhibition.
What exactly do you like in art?
The things you can never quite explain, or figure out completely, only feel.
What do love most? Design? Photography?
I love Art the most of all, and design and Photography when they reach that level.
Can you give examples of your inspiration. What phographers do like most? Can you give names and explain why you like them?
My favorite Photographers are still the ones I discovered in college, the ones I come back to over time… Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank. Wolfgang Tillmans, to name a few. The scope of their careers is very big, you can’t classify their work easily. They have an intangible quality to their work that threads through whatever types of projects they are working on. I loved Francesca Woodman’s work deeply when I first saw it 20 years ago. It is interesting to see it getting very popular now. My favorite contemporary photographer is probably Tierney Gearon. I saw her ‘Explosure’ series and I got very jealous, which is good.
What do you like to shoot: landscapes, portraits.. and why
Well I like to take pictures of anything… but there seem to be very few people in my pictures at the moment. I never think of taking a ‘landscape’ photo or anything like that. I like to think that all my pictures are little stories.
What do you think, is there any formula of success in art or design?
Certainly not, there is no guaranteed formula for success in anything in life.
Can you give some advices for photographers or designers, who just started their career?
Experiment, but concentrate only on the things that you love, that excite you. That is what gets harder the farther along you go.
What do you like in design?
How did you get into a gallery? Do you sell your pictures?
It is a result of a relationship I have had for a long time. Yes, I have sold paintings in the past, now I am selling a few of my photographs for the first time.