We are happy to present the next in the series of artist interviews here on Pixels At An Exhibition. This time, Kimberly Post Rowe.
KB: Please tell us a little about yourself – where you live, if you hail from Earth, anything like that. Whatever you feel like sharing that isn’t covered in the questions below.
KPR: I’ve been living in Raymond, Maine, a vacation destination and haven for artists just north of Portland, for 12 years. I have a 15 year-old daughter and an 11 year-old son, both of whom are very creative but in much different ways, and am married to a professional musician and Apple geek.
I just began a new job as the service learning coordinator for a local private college and I run a non-profit called Five Seeds, which offers stress reduction training programs primarily for students and educators. Additionally, I teach and practice Vinyasa yoga.
Among other things, I think of myself as an aquaphile and I love the ocean more than I can even begin to express. A lot of my outdoor adventuring involves water in some way, from swimming, kayaking, and canoeing, to sailing, SUP-ing, and just plain beaching it. I have also been playing music since the age of 3 and at one time actually tried to “make it” as a singer-songwriter. Now I play for pleasure and occasionally teach when called upon.
KB: How long have you been shooting pictures with your iPhone?
KPR: Less than two years. I enjoyed the point-and-shoot quality of my first iPhone (the 3Gs) the way most mothers do, snapping pictures of my kids and food, until the day I bought my first photo app in the spring of 2010. My son remembers it well: he came home from school to find his mother completely transformed into a Hipsta-addict. Yep I started with the popular and inflexible app Hipstamatic, but it immediately showed me the potential of my iPhone, not just as a camera but as an image-editing device. Suddenly everything I looked at was a potential image waiting to be captured and manipulated.
KB: How often do you work on your art?
KPR: I try to do something every day. I’m creative in a lot of ways though, so if I’m not playing with an image or crawling under mushrooms for the perfect shot, I might be writing, cooking, gardening, or making music.
KB: How did you discover apps?
KPR: I can’t remember exactly, but I know I read about Hipstamatic and purchased it right away. During my darkroom years I played a lot with toy cameras so it seemed like a no-brainer for me. When I started posting my images on flickr, I was astounded to see just how many photo apps people were using and quickly built up a sizable collection.
KB: When did you get serious about it, and what was the turning point for you?
KPR: I got serious about it as soon as I discovered photo apps. I had been using Photoshop since the beginning, working with layers and algorithms to create images that looked old, grunged, and toy camera-like, so I very enthusiastically took to iPhoneography once I discovered I could do the same thing 24/7, no matter where I was. It was a pretty liberating concept to realize that my camera and my editing tools were now 100% mobile.
KB: What do you like to shoot? When? How does your whole creative process work? And how has it evolved?
KPR: I am a naturalist so it stands to reason that I like to capture the natural world. I am attracted to dead things that truly aren’t dead because they contain spores and seeds, representations of hope and the potential of new life. Even when photographing growing things, I still tend to focus on the developing seed heads, pistils, and stamens.
So the most important part of my creative process is the initial observation. I will use the native camera, Top Camera, ClassicToy, or Hipstamatic to shoot. Sometimes I will pluck the subject out of its natural environment and lay it on the snow if it is winter, hold it up to the sky if the light is right, or bring it home to my light box (built out of my old studio’s light table, back when I needed it for negatives).
If I’m going to app an image then layers are crucial. This can be a slow process because (as far as I know) no apps handle more than two layers at a time. I’m building a library of my own textures and will typically use Iris to apply them to an image.
Quite frankly, my work has evolved because of social media. The ongoing conversations on numerous blogs and gallery sites are inspirational and continuously push me to better my work. I tend toward introversion, but this constant virtual connection has pulled
me out of my shell, with the added benefit of pushing me into the exhibiting world, a place I haven’t been in since my 20s.
KB: Do you work in any other creative mediums, i.e., painting, music, writing, etc.?
KPR: I do. I’m an out-of-practice classically-trained pianist (with some voice, guitar, flute, and tin whistle chops) and I sporadically release ambient/relaxation audio recordings and multimedia pieces. I went through a period when I was writing a song every other week but my visual side seems to have taken over for now. I also love to cook and bake, am a foodie in the slow food/eat local/organic sense, and have a large organic garden and a gourmet kitchen. I’m a published author too but my writing is more cerebral. I’m very interested in how people learn and tend to write mainly about best teaching practices.
KB: Do you spend time online looking at the work of other iphoneographic artists?
KPR: Absolutely! There is nothing more inspiring to me than seeing how other artists are using this medium.
KB: Do you study other art forms?
KPR: I think “study” might be too strong a word, but I have always wanted to be a painter and enjoy seeing what others are doing/have done in this medium. I am also attracted to printmaking, particularly wood and linocuts, and bookmaking, and have studied these more formally in the past.
KB: Have you done a lot of traditional photography? If so, are you still using your camera as well as your iPhone?
KPR: I actually have a BFA in fine art photography and a large collection of film cameras, including an old wood and brass 4×5, a handful of Brownies, a Polaroid Land Camera, a Rollei 6008, and my homemade 4×5 pinhole (in addition to at least three 35mm cameras). I only own one DSLR: a Nikon D7000. I am definitely NOT using my other cameras as much as they deserve.
KB: Where do you stand on the “Is iPhoneography photography or a whole new medium” debate?
KPR: I think it means different things to different folks, since some people are street photogs, some are digital collage artists, and some (like me) refer to themselves as photo artists. I do think that the smart device aspect does nudge it closer to the “whole new medium,” though, and I think that iPhoneography as a movement is going to be more about this than photography as we know it. I see iPhoneography as a medium that embraces multiple genres.
KB: Who are some artists – in any medium – you admire
or have influenced you?
KPR: The environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy is probably my biggest source of inspiration. I HIGHLY recommend watching Rivers and Tides, a documentary about this brilliant man that follows him over the course of a year and is really quite riveting. As far as photography goes, there is a photog artist from Croatia who really inspires me. His website is www.uzengia.com and I think all of his work is amazing. I also recently discovered the work of painter Darren Waterston (http://www.darrenwaterston.com). I wish I could paint like him! I’m planning on playing on my iPad with his work in mind.
KB: What is your basic app kit, or Camera Bag, as Marty
Yawnick calls it. How has your use of apps evolved over time?
KPR: I have almost 90 photo apps but really only use a dozen regularly. I shoot with either the native camera app, Top Camera, ClassicToy, or Hipstamatic. I app mostly with Iris, PS Express, VintageScene, Lo-Mob, Film Lab, Retouch, and Mirage. I might
also put an image through Pixlromatic, Snapseed, PhotoCopier, or ScratchCam.
I have gotten more bold with apps over the last year. Some of my best images happen after I let go of expectations and keep pushing further. When I first started, one or two adjustments would be it for me. Now I take an image through multiple processes, sometimes applying layer after layer until I’m happy with the result.
KB: Are there any apps you would like to see developed/invented?
KPR: I’d like to see an app that allows me to work in multiple layers the way Photoshop does.
KB: When you feel you have reached a creative stalemate, and believe your work is not cutting it anymore, do you have any tricks for breueing out of artist’s block?
KPR: I look at what others are doing. Going to a museum or gallery, checking out the exhibits at local colleges, or spending 1/2 a day on flickr can work wonders.
KB: What features would you like to see implemented at the Pixels website?
KPR: One of the things that keeps me from more actively following every artist is that they aren’t all listed in the categories. Plus it gets tedious sometimes continuously scrolling down the page to see recent submissions. I’d like to see smaller versions of the day’s accepted images displayed on one page so I can click to view and comment. That way I have a better chance of seeing everything.
KB: A last word perhaps?
KPR: I came to Pixels early on in my iphoneography journey and I’ve really appreciated the curated format it offers. The first time I submitted, you contacted me and made a small suggestion for improving one of my images. I think it’s a special person who will take the time to offer constructive feedback and advice. Thank you so much, Knox, for being such a supporter of the medium and its artists. I am honored to be interviewed by you.
KB: Thank you, Kimberly.
You can see Kimberly’s striking contributions to Pixels: The Art Of The iPhone by clicking here.