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Profile: Bill Baker, Photographer

I am Here- An Austin Photographic Retrospective

This summer Austin features one of its own in a solo photographic exhibit of the current body of work of Bill Baker.  The Smokin from Shootin Studio emerged onto the SoCo scene within the past year and represents an iconic series of progressive Austin images in digital.

From classic urban architecture and figurative study to natural scenery, Bill Baker’s work represents a world where futuristic hope springs out of the wreckage of industrialized technology.  Described as “a way out” and “a train to everywhere” these images stand as portraits of the future eternal in a time when doubt reigns as the zeitgeist of the day. 

It would be difficult for me to report objectively about this newly minted progressive archetype of an artist without coming clean:  he’s my brother.  But in my defense I feel that I stand not only as his biggest fan but probably his biggest critic.  We are hard on each other for a reason.  Caring always requires that.

Bill Baker is a force. Not just your ordinary man about town with a mission but a forward thinking rattler.  He touches base with the people, artists of every type, and he understands at a very basic level what drives current expression in one of the most progressive cities on the planet.    His images portray every inch of that.

Since the very time of our upbringing in a home filled with artifacts of human creativity, art absolutely everywhere, he embodied a way of seeing things for what they were and not getting caught up in social protocol of how they should be.  He calls it straight.  If it was a lemon, he’ll label it a lemon.  If it was a priceless paramount in time and space, you’ll hear it.  His body language will shoot straight out and there will be this wince that comes out of his left eye.  You get the feeling when you see an image he has created that it is part of a piece of truth.

As an artist, Bill Baker is sincere – painfully so.  Progressive culture needed of shot of Bill in the arm.  We need someone with pointed vision to steer us clear of the fungus and the glam.

Here comes my own honesty…

One day, I received a call from Bill and it went something like this, “You know, Beck.  I’m ready to shoot.  What do I need?”  Threw me back against a couch! Wait, wait, wait a minute Bill.  I OWN that.  It’s MY sport. You don’t just change family labeling at the slightest little whim.  There’s a pecking order here!  I’m the artist.

I’m the one- for years slid off her clothes at the slightest adrenaline thought in front of my Nikon F and a timed shutter.  I printed those silver halide images by hand under my stairwell using the kitchen sink with fixer.  I’m the one who dragged that Hasselblad 500C handheld through Southern Mexico for three months and threw up an exhibition in a law office by hanging wire from the ceiling rafters.  I’m the one who searched mountaineering supplies like a rabid cat for a watertight bag so that I could throw my Nikon D200 in a kayak and capture abstract water and light reflections at dusk!  I was a little bit put off!

It’s funny how time skews all things into familiarity.  Bill grew persistent and manic about his practice of photography, technical even. 

Within one year he carried around at any given time the Canon G10, Holga toy camera, Canon RXT converted to infrared, Canon RXS, my old Hasselblad 500c (with a digital back in negotiation) and one of the Fuji instant cameras, all digital.  There was no stopping him.

In his own words, which are golden, he states:

“The G10 is what I carry every day now.  It’s the best. I have the Hasselblad but have achieved nothing out of that soul…yet.  It will become part of my workflow soon and likely, once I have the digital back it will be everything and all of what I carry on a daily basis.

I poked a hole in a body cap and put it on my best camera and walked around for a week taking digital pinhole images.  I dream of having a Holga lens fitted to my Hasselblad with a digital back.  How cool would that be…  I love the experimental relationship that I have with my cameras.  I am constantly trying to incorporate the soul of film into my digital work.  There’s a film hole there that I am trying to fill without actually loading film.  But truthfully I need the immediacy of the digital format. If I could put a digital back on a Brownie, I would.  Having the opportunity to put a digital back on my Hasselblad would be priceless. 

I use Adobe Lightroom for post-processing but have not yet used Photoshop.  I haven’t found a need for Photoshop in my workflow because it would tempt me to make more changes to my images than I think I should.  I want to stay as pure as I can.  I missed the whole film thing but have so much respect for it that I want my images to be as real as possible.  But real is relative when you’re talking about photography.  You have to manipulate the image just enough to convey the moment or the feeling without running astray of reality.  But sometimes I run amok and it feels good.

I know what my sister is trying to tell me.  I dare you.

When I think back now the days of photographic passion and intrigue that revolved around the silver halide of my youth, it brings me a sly grin.  I remember thinking that it would be impossible for me to share this with anyone that would truly understand, not really. 

I realize now that he was there all along.  We share it and it exists between us.

Bill’s work can be seen at http://www.smokinfromshootin.com

 

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Featured Photography Profiles

Profile: James Philip Pegg – Artist

::: Artist Name::: James Philip Pegg

::: Media::: Illustrator, painting, art photography.

::: Website:::

http://philpegg.multiply.com/

http://gallery.passion4art.com/members/artnacogdoches/homepage.html

::: 1 ::: When did you first realize you were an artist? Did you draw as a kid? Color outside the lines?

Being the son of an artist, I had my drawing table next to my dad’s. I think that I was four years old then. Later, on at my tenth birthday, I was given my first camera and that started me in photography.

::: 2 ::: Could you tell us some more about your art and how your life has influenced your art? Where did you get your art training?

Someone once said, "A life’s journey begins and ends with a single breathe bound by the limitations of each man’s intellect, while expanded by the scope of their imagination and compassion. During this journey, accomplishments are judged as either fleeting moments or lasting imprints. Nonetheless, no one escapes the angst of his or her future – no one has been promised his or her tomorrow."

Fortunately, I learned early in life that happiness is found in the complexity of life’s journey; that champions conquer through perseverance and passion they pose the unanswerable questions, and understand others through empathy.

With a little flexibility in our thought processes, we have the power to make the journey one of little regret and much reward. Thus, there is no reason why one’s life should not leave an imprint.

::: 3 :::Does your work have a narrative? Do you use yourself as the subject for your work? Why is that? What are you trying to express with your art?

My inspiration comes from nature itself. I am enamoured with nature, and that admiration has only increased as I age. If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing comes together.

::: 4 ::: What famous artists have influenced you, and how?

My favourite people in the arts are: Victor Hugo, C.S Lewis, (writers). John Waterhouse, Erik James Pegg, Carl Larsson, John Hitsman (painters), Isadora Duncan (dancer), Two of my faviourite ballets are The Red Shoes, and The Tales Of Hoffmann. Rod Mckuen (poet), Fritz Henle , Andriete Le Secq & Julia Margaret Cameron (photographers). Music, I Love it!, Aysegul Yesilnil, Lila Downs, Gloria Estefan, Carmine D’amico, Bebel Gilberto, Fernando Ortega, Eliane Elias, Norah Jones, Stan Getz , and the list goes on.

::: 5 ::: What other interests do you have (besides painting and computer art)?

I love the sea and anything to do with the sea. Sailing, traveling, and nature.

::: 6 ::: How have you handled the business side of being an artist

Like most artists, the business side of being an artist is my least favorite thing to do.

I let my galleries,and publishers handle the business side.

::: 7 ::: What hardware (computer, scanner, printer, etc) do you use?

MacBook, plus a 20"monitor, a Wacom pen and tablet, Canon scanner & printer.

What software?

Photoshop CS, Comic Life Deluxe, Corel Painter X, and a old fashion Drawing board.

::: 8 ::: Has the Internet helped your career as an artist? Do you participate in many Internet groups or galleries?If so, which ones drawn the most responses?

James Philip Pegg on Deviant Art: http://philpegg.deviantart.com/

James Philip Pegg on Photo Net: http://photo.net/photos/philpegg

::: 9 ::: What’s the best and worst parts of being a full time, working artist?

The best part of being a full time artist, is choosing my own projects, making my own schedule and being totally in control of my life, and enjoying doing what I like. The worst part is keeping my mind and spirit fresh, 90 % of my art is created in my head and 10 % is in the finish work.

::: 10 ::: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

My advice for any young person would be that they should practice, practice, practice; just as with any skill practice makes perfect and the harder you work to brush up on your skill the more it will pay off in your work. Art is a pleasurable act and that sensation will fuel you with creativity and dedication late into the night. It is hard work to be an artist and it helps a great deal if you surround yourself with stimulating, like-minded people who are supportive and sharing.Have business cards, and a website as soon as you can to promote your art.