Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Exhibiting Your Work: Packaging and Shipping

Shipping your work to a gallery for an exhibition can be stressful. No one wants the frame to break or damage to occur to their piece during transportation. Here at The Kiernan Gallery we have found certain methods of packing to be far superior to others and would like share some of our best shipping tips with you.

-       Plexi, Not Glass!
Yes, I know that this is not exactly part of shipping, but there has yet to be a show without at least once piece damaged upon arrival. The most common issue is broken glass. Using Plexiglas will completely solve this issue. Many professional framers have great Plexiglas that is indistinguishable from standard UV protection glass.

If you are using glass, the best way to avoid damage is to place the shipping label on the thin side of the box. FedEx and UPS stack their boxes with shipping labels facing up. Placing the label is on the thin side guarantees that nothing will be stacked on top of it. If you are using a mailing service that packages for you, ask them to place the label on that side of the box.

-       Tape: Less Is More
Please do NOT use excessive tape. Winding a whole roll of tape around your photograph is not going to make it any more secure. It will, however, ensure that we will have to cut apart your packing materials, and it increases the chances that we will inadvertently scratch the frame with scissors or a box cutter. A few pieces of good packing tape, much like wrapping a gift, are all that are needed.

-       Foam Is Fantastic!
Of course, you needn’t worry about tape at all if you pack your work with foam. Egg crate foam (or similar) is a great: It is a good shock absorber, it molds to fit the exact contours of your piece, it doesn’t require any tape, and it doesn’t add much weight. Since we can then reuse your shipping material, you get it back at the end of a show.

-       Paperwork
Please remember to send return shipping with your artwork. If your work sells during the exhibition, UPS and FedEx labels can always be cancelled. If we are printing and framing your work, please send a PDF of your shipping label. Ask us for an invoice if you are using the postal service.

In addition to return shipping, please include the contributor’s form that we emailed you. If you want to make sure it won’t be lost, tape it to the Plexiglas over the image; taping it to the back of the piece might cause damage when it is removed. Without the contributor’s form, we have no way of knowing your printing process/media, price, or contact information. This information is needed to for the exhibition label and to tell prospective buyers.

Also, sending a few business cards with your work is always a great idea. We hand them out to visitors who have expressed interest in your work, and keep at least one in our exhibition file.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

iSpy: Camera Phone Photography Winners (pt. II)

Samantha Fielding
Director’s Choice

            Samantha Fielding’s fascination with visual imagery as a child prompted her to pursue photography as a career. Serving as an assistant to many celebrated portrait and fashion photographers, she has developed a striking aesthetic of her own.

                                                                    Director's Choice Army Girl

            A self-proclaimed “traditionalist”, Samantha admits that she was slower than most to get on board with the digital aspects of modern photography. As she is “not the world’s best” at post-processing in Photoshop, the easy-to-use photo manipulation apps for the iPhone quickly changed her outlook on digital photo editing. Her favorite apps at the moment are Fotoforge2, Photostudio, iDarkroom, and Pro HDR. With these she creates art that she could have previously only imagined; things that she “was not savvy enough to do” in Photoshop. 

               In addition to the abundance of photo editing apps, the main draw of camera phones is their accessibility. How often are we without our cell phones these days? As she says herself, it’s “always in my hand!” Even though her regular camera is always with her too, its bulky size and shape make it much more difficult to grab at a moment’s notice.

            Her winning image, Test of a 50’s Army Girl is an image from a carefully planned shoot. Like many portrait and fashion photographers, Samantha uses a traditional camera in her professional work, but she has found a use for her iPhone in this context as well: to show models, “what the final image might look like.” And with a whole editing studio at her fingertips, these test shots can be transformed into fantastic images in their own right. While portraits are generally edited to accentuate the model or the fashion on display, the images on Samantha’s iPhone can be manipulated into different worlds entirely. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

iSpy: Camera Phone Photography Award Winners (pt. I)

          The Kiernan Gallery is pleased to announce the winners of iSpy: Camera Phone Photography: Karen Divine (Juror’s Choice) and Samantha Fielding (Director’s Choice). We asked Karen and Samantha a few questions about their work to gain some insight into how the camera phone’s technology and availability influence them both. Today we present a profile of Karen. Be sure to check back on Wednesday to read about Samantha!

Karen Divine
Juror’s Choice

            In general, camera phone photography does not convey professionalism to many people. Using a camera phone is seen as amateur; a technology that simply makes it easier to take snapshots when out with friends or on vacation. However, many artists have started to embrace the unique “lo-fi” nature of these images and, using professional-quality apps to manipulate these images, have created amazing works of art. When Life Becomes Your Art, Karen Divine’s winning image, is a perfect example of this. Using only her iPhone’s camera and her favorite photography apps, she has created an incredible composite image entirely on her cell phone.

                                                      When Life Becomes Your Art

            While that might seem unbelievable, Karen is extraordinarily skilled at using the tools and programs at her fingertips, first learning image manipulation through Photoshop. “Photoshop liberated me. It actually allowed me to completely let my imagination rule, knowing I could change my mind and move freely through the image until I landed on something that inspired me.”    

            With the iPhone, Karen appreciates the fact that it is always with her allowing her to shoot “easily and spontaneously.” Likewise, there is no need to be tethered to a computer to unleash her creative side, thanks to a variety of fantastic photo-manipulation apps that allow “endless possibilities to develop one’s own unique style.” 

            This has helped many artists such as Karen find new inspiration and creativity in ways that are unprecedented. “[One] can tap into that creative spirit at any time throughout the day and for even a brief ten minutes, delve into its visual playground.” Her preferred apps are Hipstamatic, Juxtaposer, Montage, Perfectphoto, Photocopier, and Scratchcam, though she has about fifty on her phone. These apps also allow her to create effects different from what is possible in Photoshop. In her own words:

Prior to the iPhone, I had been compositing images in Photoshop for thirteen years so compositing on the iPhone was an easy transition, albeit a bit more tedious than Photoshop, requiring more steps to adjust layers and opacity, in addition to the fact that after the second layer is placed, it’s flattened…not much forgiveness, rather like painting with watercolors. However, it can create textures in fresh new ways. The iPhone required me to learn to make precise decisions and to think about forms and placements in a whole new way.

            Photoshop does still have a place in Karen’s arsenal, just not with any of the images she’s created on her phone. “No post processing in Photoshop is appropriate if you are submitting work on iPhone sites or for submissions to iPhone competitions. However, I have created composites in Photoshop using my iPhone characters as in Mapping the Collective Unconscious.

                                                      Mapping the Collective Unconscious

            Even though her winning image is not part of a larger body of work, Karen does tend to work in series, sometimes gaining inspiration from her own completed work. In When Life Becomes Your Art, “the character on the ledge is similar to a story and book I created called Strange Things are Happening in Barbara Hepworth’s Bed.”

                                         Creates from series Strange Things are Happening in Barbara Hepworth's Bed

                                                                    Putting on an Opera from series Strange Things 

            The illustrative, ethereal nature of her work also hints at her study of painting and drawing years ago and lends itself nicely to storytelling, which is exactly what she strives to do:

Images that tell a story are important to me, images that are suggestive, a reflection of one’s inner turmoil and dreams, a personal documentary, images where the boundaries are somewhat obscure. I want to look at an image and be forced to look again and again. A teacher once said that my images were like an Italo Calvino story or like J. Winterson’s work and after reading them, I can only hope that my version of storytelling comes even close to that.
                                      Dancing Shoes from series Strange Things 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Russell Joslin

The deadline for Both Sides of the Lens: Self-portraiture closed on Friday. We received many wonderful images from artists all around the world. Juror Russell Joslin has his work cut out for him. This week, I interviewed Russell on his work and processes.

Tell me a bit about your process creating a self-portrait. What goes through your mind when making an image?

I suppose the things that usually go through my mind are technical things – trying to avoid mistakes and thinking about the framing, exposure, depth of field, and so on. That, and the thoughts of the day and thoughts surrounding the intent of the images I'm shooting.

                                                    Self-portrait as a Stain, 2008

Could you walk us through the process of a planned shoot and the process of a spontaneous shoot?

An example of a planned image would be Umberto R. In an ongoing series I'm doing that is essentially about the nature of loneliness, I sometimes reference characters and attempt to make them my "own". In this case, the image is a nod to Vittorio De Sica's Umberto D. At about the same time I was thinking about referencing the lead character from this movie, I had also been thinking about using my dog in a self-portrait. I have a lot of snapshots of her, but wanted to use her in a photograph that I would ultimately count amongst my better works. The dog in the film looks a lot like mine, so the connection was easy to make, and I planned the photograph from there.

                                 Umberto R, 2008

Though I'm in the process of planning a new series that will challenge my usual way of working, I would say that the majority of my work in the past has leaned toward a more spontaneous approach. That said, I often have a sketch in advance of shooting or have ideas about how I might want to compose an image. There are also locations I know well and return to often, so even if I don't have a specific plan or idea, I'm familiar with my surroundings. There are other times, however, where I'll shoot in places that I'm completely unfamiliar with. An example of this would be Uncle, a photograph I made on a meandering trip alone through the Pacific Northwest, where I stopped every so often to shoot. When I encountered the wall, I knew I had to photograph it somehow. I was intrigued by its surface and how the initials scratched into it read to me as a sort of "secret code". I shot several different variations of it, and this is the one that ended up being my favorite.

                                         Uncle, 2009

As an artist, your body of work is primarily self-portraiture. How does that influence you as a juror for this exhibition?

Doing what I do and seeing things how I see them is so embedded in me that it’s impossible to quantify or simplify how it influences me as a juror or otherwise. I think having years of practice as a photographer and editor has brought about more refinement in what I do, and in the case of selecting and editing work it allows me to better trust my instincts.

                                         The Beautiful Confusion, 2009
                                         Too Soon or Too Late, 2010

As editor and publisher of SHOTS, you must view an extraordinary amount of work on a daily basis. How has this influenced you as an artist?

I do indeed look at a lot of work—not just for SHOTS, but also for my personal curiosity, enjoyment, and research. I find there's a lot that can be learned by looking at the work of others. Obviously, I can learn from someone’s visual and technical approaches, but I have also learned that it can deepen an understanding about myself. In other words, when I find that I’m really connecting with a photograph or with a particular photographer's work, there's something within me that is the cause for that connection, and arriving at an idea of what that is can deepen an understanding of myself. Generally though, I think looking at a lot of work deepens my appreciation for the medium and sharpens my instincts as an editor and photographer. Maybe it's no different than an answer than anyone of any profession would give – you learn by those around you and by those who are good at what they do. If you love what you do and have that fire in your belly that makes you want to get better and evolve in your work, it seems only natural that you seek-out and observe what others around you are doing and how they do it.

                                         Simply the Other Side, 2012

Stay tuned for the results of Both Sides of the Lens: Self-portraiture!