An Artist Empowered by the Human Experience
I would like to introduce you to Stephanie Warren an inspiring artist, activist, plant-lover, photographer, and painter. Stephanie grew up in a military family and was born in Ankorage, Alaska. She attended high school in Sacramento, CA and currently resides in Austin, TX,
I met Stephanie through Instagram. She liked one of my Instagram posts so I contacted her to thank her. I had checked out her photos previously and really loved the energy I felt when I looked at them. She definitely has a natural ability to capture the mood of each moment which you'll see in her photos. Her work is colorful, powerful, but there is this gentleness to them. It could be the light, colors, or just her way of seeing. She has a journalistic approach telling a story within each of her photographs. She also is a painter and you'll see the bright colors mirrored in her painting as well.
"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion” - Albert Camus
For photography, I love candid shots. I love taking fleeting moments of life and at the risk of being completely cliché, capturing them. Memorializing them, in a sense, no matter how mundane or insignificant those moments may seem. For my paintings and charcoals, there is less of a solidified approach. Whatever feels good at the moment, I do. My favorite body part are eyes, so draw those quite often and I suppose the emotions that are conveyed through the eyes that I draw reflect what I am feeling at the moment. With that, I’m in the process of conceptualizing a series of charcoal portraits, playing with different themes.
Stephanie attended H.S. in Sacramento, CA and was kind of a band nerd. She played cello, violin, clarinet, alto saxophone, and obo. Although she had this great musical talent and loved the arts she never saw it as a career option. She felt the pressure of going towards a career that would make her money instead of what she loved because of the color of her skin.
In 2004, Stephanie moved to Austin and studied the culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu. She started working at a Houston's which is now Bartlett's and quickly realized it just wasn't for her. She also attended Texas State where she was she was studying Art History with a minor in Studio.
Currently Stephanie spends a lot of her time volunteering by doing community outreach, policy, taking photos for The Austin Justice Coalition where she is the Creative Director. The Austin Justice Coalition is an organization that promotes racial equality. This topic is something that Stephanie feels very passionately about and you can see that in some of the photos below. Stephanie also volunteers for Soulciti as stated on their website is a grassroots phenomenon to disseminate news and entertainment information of interest to African Americans. Stephanie believes that all human experiences are the same and for her she is human first and then black.
Tell me about your photography/art background?
Started drawing as early as I can remember. Doodling mostly when I am bored. Enjoyed art classes in school and took art class when it was available. It was fun and easy to do. From elementary school to college to professional, I kept at it working on different medias, such as pencil, paint to computers.
I’ve always been a creative person. I’ve always doodled and had a camera around me. Although art never really seemed like a viable career path, art has always been apart of my life. In regards to education, I’m definitely on the self-taught end of the spectrum. Throughout the years I have taken many art classes for stress relief but never as a main focus and while I minored in Art History (which required me to take so many hours of Studio Art classes) I’ve only recently began exploring different techniques and learning to express myself via different styles.
What inspires you as an artist? What inspires me most to create art is Life. In all of its complexities. Through failures and victories, ups and downs, etc. To show that no matter what socioeconomic status, “race,” belief system, we are all dealing with the underlying acceptance of existence. We are more similar than we are different. I suppose, I want to do my part to make those differences we focus on less important.
Honestly, my biggest inspiration are people who have the courage to be exactly who they are and live their lives exactly how they want. That ranges from famous people to random people I see on the street. I love me some outliers, lol. As for famous people? Albert Camus, Angela Davis, Friedrich Nietzsche, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar, Dave Brubeck, etc.
What are your goals as an artist? My main goal is to constantly grow. I can’t say that there is an end goal. I just want to keep exploring myself and my capabilities. I’m in the process of really delving into the art scene so I am saying ‘Yes’ to any opportunities. Some of my pieces will be up at local coffee shops and as for shows, if you know of any, my answer is yes!
“It’s your world, why would you fake it?” - Beach House
Clean, Sophisticated, Yet Shocking.
Jason Saffer is a photographer and friend I met working in Denver. What is interesting to me is how many of the great photographers and artists I know crossed paths in Denver around the same time period approximately 8-10 years ago. Jason and I worked together at Wolf Camera in downtown Denver which was the old Robert Waxman. We didn't love it there but that is part of the journey of getting by is doing what it takes to pay the bills so you can take photos and create art.
Although I've known Jason since that time I wasn't introduced to his photography until I did my previous blog post on Derik Penny who said that Jason was one of his inspirations. Through that post I was able to discover Jason Saffer's photography. I must say I was impressed especially by the image below. The composition is absolutely perfect and the moment is there. You find yourself trying to figure out the story of the two subjects in the photo. Where is this woman going? This is a classic because you can't tell when it was taken. Was it shot in 1910 or 2010? His lines are clean and light is evenly distributed yet the contrast and the tonal range are on point.
Tell me about your photography/art background?
I have my B.A. From Rochester Institute of Technology in Photographic Illustration. I guess that is their fancy way of saying photography degree. I have traveled the country living all over and shooting and assisting along my journey. Recently I have returned to the east coast and completed a Masters degree in library and information sciences. I still shoot constantly and travel as often as possible, but have realized in my travels and through cataloging my personal collection, that I truly loved organizing and preserving these items. The path I followed took over 20 years to get me where I finally want to be in my photographic career, but it all started with those first negatives and my questions of storage, recall, and preservation.
What kind of subjects do you shoot/or what are you currently working on?
Historically I am drawn to landscape, city-scape, and abstracted subjects. I prefer these because I can do them on my own time, without having to depend on models flaking out at the last minute, which throughout the years is more common than the model showing up (my models anyway). I have never given up on shooting people, as I have experienced that this style of shooting is difficult to master and takes constant practice. I have for the past couple of years left my comfort zone of shooting on my own and attempted to better my skills in working with people in front of my camera. For me, just having a pretty person in an environment isn't enough. Thousands of photographers make great pictures that fall into this category and they all, for me, become the same image. For me there is no substance to the portrait. Even when shooting a fashion image, to try to steer clear of the pretty girl in a bikini cliché, I try to find something that connects the viewer, or at the very least, myself, to a story or thought deeper than that of just a pretty person in a pretty environment
"I have many projects going, some for the past 12 years, some for just a few months now. My projects rarely, rather never seem to have an end point. I pick a lot of open ideas that can allow for growth within the projects, especially with my abstracts and landscape shots." - Jason Saffer
What inspires you as a photographer/artist?
I used to read quite a bit, and I would find that many ideas came about while reading. However, in my adult life, I have lost the freedom to read what and how I used to, so I've naturally adapted to finding my inspiration through feelings. Through response mostly. Response to a conversation, to a song, to the walk I just went on, or to the environment where I may find myself.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I have slowed down on viewing specific artists' works and following their careers. I have found hundreds of photographers and artists that have influenced my love of everything visual. I am addicted to imagery, as I assume we all are, non-photographers and artists as well. The world we live in is highly addicted and dependent upon the visual. It is hard to be alive and not be inspired or even annoyed at times at all the imagery forced upon us.
I mean, I could name a ton of people but we've all seen there works, and for different reasons I choose different artists. Duane Michaels won me over early on with his wit, intelligence, and story telling abilities. Sebastiao Salgado also tells a great story, but utilizes different visual tools than Duane. Then there is my favorite printer of all time, Joel Peter-Witkin. His work may be viewed as shock value on the surface, however it takes on all aspects of life, death, art history, gender roles, etc. Plus, his prints are absolutely amazing to see in person. There are so many other shooters and artists of all styles and mediums that impress me. But in the end, I try to create my own pieces with my touch to them. I am aware most everything has been done before, so I do it my way.
I find that I do some of my best work when motivated to go out and travel with another photographer. Plan a weekend trip,or don't plan at all. Get in your car, and just drive, when one of you feels like going in a certain direction, just shout it out and change directions. Uncertainty is a big influence as well.
What are your goals as a photographer?
My goals...just to experiment and become the best I can within the areas of photography that I can be. Making a perfect print might be my goal with one process, where another process I may go strictly for emotional response from the viewer. I have goals and then I don't have goals, I like to see where things lead.
Check out more of Jason's photography at www.jsafferphotography.com
Each artist that I introduce I would like to inspire just one person.
Jessica Oleksy is passionate about photography and creative people. Through this blog she will introduce you to the people that inspire her.