Thursday, March 15, 2007

Art Space Talk: April Tillman

I recently interviewed artist April Tillman. I observed April's work during the Collector and Press Preview at the Scope fair in New York. Her work was represented by Gallery 10G (
April studied photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. While at SVA, she studied under Chris Verene and Elinor Carucci, among others. Upon graduation, April began working for legendary National Geographic / Magnum photographer, Steve McCurry, before striking out on her own.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "I discovered my passion for photography after finding a vintage camera in the top of my mother’s closet one summer. I was just a teenager looking for an outlet. At the time, I had no idea it held the key to my future, but I realize very quickly that I was hooked on the art of image making."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "I don't believe society has influenced my work very much. I work from a more introspective, personal place and consequently my work is more about evoking a mood rather than a social or cultural statement.

Q. Can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

A. "I work in a very intuitive way. I try not to force things and love to be surprised."

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

A. "My most important exhibition was 'Gone Again' at Gallery 10G. I could really see the passion Jill Gerstenblatt, the owner, has for her artists and their work. it was inspiring to see such devotion and someone really selling art like that. I've been to openings and worked in galleries before but I'd never seen someone so hands-on involved. She even had me speak impromptu on each piece in the show."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "Not exactly in that I will repeat the same action every time I do something. I do what feels right at the time. having said that though, music does usually play a role. Lately I've been listening to Allison Krauss because her voice is so relaxing and helps me to focus. It also takes me back to my georgia bluegrass roots. I think I'm going to put some on now!"

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "I have a BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. It's a great school because you are learning from working professionals who are very current and whose knowledge in based in the now, not a decade ago. Due to the ever changing trends in photography, as well as the advancement of digital technology, it's critical that many instructors are up to date. I feel that SVA provided a good balance of technical and creative."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "This probably seems like a cliched response but I've never felt like I chose photography. It chose me. I didn't go out seeking to become an artist or a photographer. I have always just followed my intuition and so far, it's worked out pretty well."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. " , "

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Try to get as much experience in as many areas that interest you as possible, and if you can, travel! I've found that varied life experiences not only enhance your life itself but also your creativity."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "The toughest part has always been that I photograph everything. I have a William Eggleston approach to photography. during college, I was met with some resistance. Although many instructors thought I took nice photographs, I was often told that I need to narrow my focus. I think that took years to figure out and I had to really follow my own way, which was very frustrating and depressing at times. Fear too, of course, always plays a role in most artists' creative journey, mine notwithstanding."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "It compels me."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "It's NYC; that pretty much says it all. You have everything here."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "Not in my art but certainly in my life. I have noticed that during the bush administration music has gotten a lot better. People are no longer responding to bubble gum pop (thank god) but are looking for more genuine music. I believe the same can be said for art in general. At times are crisis, war, and hardship, art thrives. All you have to do is look in the past to see that."
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with April Tillman. Feel free to critique or discuss her work.
Take care, Stay true
Brian Sherwin

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