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Posts from the ‘Interviews’ Category

Elementals: Deborah Samuel

“There are no forms in nature. Nature is a vast, chaotic collection of shapes. You, as an artist, create configurations out of chaos. You make a formal statement where there was none, to begin with. All art is a combination of an external event and an internal event.” —Ansel Adams 

I am excited and pleased to share with you that my mentor and friend, Deborah Samuel, has a new book out this fall, her fourth book, entitled, Elementals, which encapsulates a ten year journey and exploration, using iPhone technology to capture her imagery, in an endeavor to find home.

A decade of travel from Africa to the United States and Canada to mysterious Ireland gave rise to Elementals, an intimate look at our world’s fundamental gravity. It is also a reflection on the wonders of life’s fragility, transience, and persistence of beauty.

“Over time, Elementals became a free-form poem to the enduring beauty of the elements everywhere – earth, air, fire, and water and the transforming power of light. It is an ode to the solitude of wide-open spaces, the fluidity of shifting winds, and the monsoons’ breathtaking phenomena — environmental, atmospheric, and climatic. These elements are not just material substances. They are fundamental spiritual essences, bringing meaning and illumination to life.” —Deborah Samuel 

After ten years, Samuel did indeed find home — everywhere. Elementals’ photographs are Samuel’s tangible memory of something too precious to ignore and too perfect to forget. 

“Only Nature can inspire this kind of awe and reverence when we allow our eyes to open. Samuel has a distinct sense of capturing this radical truth in all her evocative photographs. In every image, she presents a facet of the profound beauty that inspired our ancestors and reminded them of the great living divinity – the wonder of oneness in every aspect of life. She reminds us of the true power of what our hearts beat for – to discover purpose and meaning, witness spirit everywhere, and know the continuity of the cosmos. Through her lens, we’re invited to see that beauty is all around us, and in an increasingly uncertain world, to know hope is alive and calling us home.” —Colette Baron Reid

“The prints of the images in Elementals are magical. Viewing them is a visceral experience beyond an appreciation of a photographic image or its subject. Somewhere in the genes of these images is Ansel Adams. He lurks there as the classical and majestic now combined with colors so lush, a sensuality that verges on the extravagant but pulled just back, so one has the thrill of being on the edge of excess. However, there is something else, and its existence begins to explain why we’re staring at the image long after our own sunset snapshot has ceased to intrigue. Samuel’s photographs instruct — that we all share a mystical connection to nature, pantheistic perhaps, and this longing apparent because we’re always photographing, painting, or otherwise enthralled by it. Samuel’s photographs of nature are of us.” —Kelvin Brown

Shared below are a few of the beautiful images contained in Samuel’s new book, Elementals. I have my copy of this beautiful book, which I love. To order Elementals, visit here. To view more of Samuel’s work, visit her website here.

Interview, A. Kidd, Writer

Interview with A. Kidd, Writer

Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing A. Kidd, a writer who lives in Michigan with her husband and daughter. She recently wrote and published a book entitled, The Healing Star.  You can learn more about A. Kidd here.

KATHEIRNE CARVER: You recently wrote The Healing Star, a novel, for young readers.  Can you provide a glimpse of what your novel is about, which includes a dog?

A. KIDD: Stars with healing powers are falling from the sky. Feisty 4th grader Julia is trying to catch one to save her grandmother’s life. Grammu, who Julia calls her cosmic twin, has the invisibly illness and will eventually completely disappear. The town itself is feeling hopeless because of this mysterious disease. A great read during the pandemic about how to find hope during difficult times. Julia’s faithful sidekick is a farting beagle with extra-long ears named Petie who accompanies her on her journey to find the mysterious ladder to the stars. 

KATHERINE CARVER: How did your journey lead you to becoming a writer?

A. KIDD: I actually started telling stories around age four, before I could even write. My mom wrote them down for me while I drew the pictures. In high school I actually wrote my first picture book in Spanish class. Imagine trying to write in a language you aren’t actually fluent in! In college, I participated in performance poetry, which really helped me learn how to tell a story. I enjoyed the immediate feedback as well. I studied journalism, which taught me research skills. I also liked interviewing people and getting to know their stories. But one day I covered a poetry open mic and realized I wanted to be part of it, not writing about the event. I went to graduate school to be a children’s librarian.  It was inspiring being around all those books! Then one day I took a leap of faith and wrote my own book!

KATHERINE CARVER: What artists/writers inspire you?

I’m inspired by authors Sharon Creech, Francesca Lia Block, and Jandy Nelson for their use of lyrical and poetic language. They each have a unique writing style. I’m impressed by their ability to create relatable characters and intriguing stories while also captivating readers with their words.

KATHERINE CARVER: Do you have any rituals and/or practice that you implement while writing?

A. KIDD: I start with research first, because it’s less intimidating and can help spark ideas. I also reread the previous chapter before moving to the next chapter, to reorient myself to the story. Sometimes I actually stop in the middle of a sentence so that it will be easier to begin again the next day. I also believe in working in time blocks where you reward yourself at the end of a session with a short break or treat.

KATHERINE CARVER: Do you have any favorite, go-to books for inspiration?

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield helps remind me that I’m a professional writer, no matter what stage I’m at. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg is comforting to read, because it shares writing tips in the form of poems. It’s essentially sharing craft while teaching it. Wired for Story by Lisa Cron shows you how to write in a way that will connect with readers down to their very core. 

KATHERINE CARVER: How do you not let fear hinder you from beginning a new endeavor?

A. KIDD: Fear is always with me, like a little bird on my shoulder. I let it talk, but I don’t let it stop me from pursuing my dreams. I use the same tactics I mentioned above to trick myself into starting something new or continuing the work. Since I now have a three-year-old daughter, I don’t have the luxury of giving fear my time.  If I give into fear, I’ve lost not only a day’s work, but also money spent on a babysitter, and time I could have spent with my daughter. Also, I get a little braver with each task I accomplish. Deciding for myself that my book was finished and sending it out into the world has given me more confidence than ever. There is power in making your own choices and not asking for permission.

KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated daily?  

A. KIDD: I’m motivated by my life’s dream to be a children’s author. I feel like we all have a purpose in life, and I feel most fulfilled when I’m on my path, even on the hard days. I’m even more motivated by my young daughter. I want to create stories for her that will help her find her way in this complex world. With everything going on these days, I feel it is my responsibility to share my gifts and talents and try to make the world a little brighter. 

KATHERINE CARVER: How has becoming a mom impacted your creativity and writing?

A. KIDD: Being a mom creates both challenges and opportunities. Finding time to write and not feeling guilty about it is difficult. However, I want to show my daughter that mothers have their own aspirations too, and that it is important for everyone to contribute to society and do what they’re good at and what makes them happy. And honestly, I’ve never felt more creative. My daughter inspires me every day as she grows and learns about the world. I’m grateful to be there to witness it. It’s easier to get into the mindset of a child when you’re raising one. And I feel like sometimes she’s teaching me about life more than I’m teaching her. The story ideas just naturally flow from our day-to-day interactions.

KATHERINE CARVER: What is your favorite quote and why is this your favorite quote?

A. KIDD: I once heard children’s author Rachel Vail speak at a conference. She wrote a wonderful middle grade book called Justin Case about a boy who worries a lot. I can totally relate! She said, “Being brave is not the opposite of worry.” I never used to think of myself as brave since I didn’t like to do risky activities like skydiving or bungee jumping. But when I wanted to become a better writer, I got on a plane and went to a big national conference in Los Angeles all by myself without knowing anyone. I was scared, but I didn’t let it stop me from going. You don’t have to take every risk to be brave. You don’t have to be worry-free to be brave. I think true bravery is doing something you want to do even though it scares you. I always ask myself if something I’m afraid of is something I actually want to do. If the answer is no, then I don’t do it. But if the answer is yes, then I push myself to try.

KATHERINE CARVER: What are you currently working on now?

A. KIDD: I have a few projects in the works. One is a young adult dystopian science-fiction book about the fate of the environment told in dual perspectives. Another is a picture book that retells a Japanese myth but with a twist at the end.

KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for living a creative life?

A. KIDD: Society will make you think that what you’re doing isn’t useful and that you should get a “real” job. But there is nothing more real or useful or needed in the world than art. Take small steps if you must, but attempt to incorporate some form of creativity into your daily life. A quote I love is by renowned poet Mary Oliver. She says, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I try to ask myself that question every day and so should you.

KATHERINE CARVER: Where can people find your book? 

 To purchase:;; and

For signed copies, email:

Author page:

Interview: Hugo Coffee Roasters

Interview with Claudia McMullin, Owner, Hugo Coffee Roasters


Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Claudia McMullin, owner of Hugo Coffee Roasters, located in Park City, Utah.  What makes this company unique is its commitment to dog rescue.  I also love the names of the coffees, which are dog inspired, which you can read more about in our interview below!  Additionally, you can learn more about Hugo Coffee here.


KATHERINE CARVER: My husband and I recently learned of Hugo Coffee, and we love your mission supporting rescue dogs.  How and when did Hugo Coffee come into existence?

CLAUDIA MCMULLIN: Hugo Coffee originated as a coffee shop in the Park City, Utah, Visitor Information Center in 2013.  By 2014 we realized that, in order to serve our customers the highest quality blends with consistency and trust in our supply chain, it was important to develop our own roasting capabilities.  Hugo Coffee Roasters was developed and currently provides a line of premium coffees, cold brew and espresso, which is sold in our retail shop and to numerous Utah wholesale customers, including grocery stores, restaurants, and corporations. 

Hugo Coffee was founded by in 2015 and is named after my handsome rescue dog, Hugo.  In a former life, I was the Executive Director of the animal rescue now known as Nuzzles & Co.  Animal rescue is in my DNA and that of my brand!   Hugo Coffee gives 8-10% of proceeds (not profit — meaning I give regardless of whether my company makes money) of all sales of its retail products to animal rescues.

Hugo Coffee’s Mission Statement: Hugo Coffee’s mission is to save dogs by roasting superior fair trade, organic coffee.

Hugo Coffee’s Vision Statement: Hugo Coffee’s vision is to become the go-to coffee for animal lovers nationwide.

Hugo Coffee’s Values and Promise: Hugo Coffee is a friendly, playful, caring company with a focus on community – “Coffee with a Paws.”  Every time you drink a cup of Hugo Coffee, you are saving dogs too.  So, enjoy a cup, save a pup, and turn your daily ritual into an act of kindness.

Our key messages are Dog Rescue and Superior Coffee.  Our company motto is: “At Hugo Coffee we love two things: coffee and dogs … and not necessarily in that order.”  Our hashtags include: #drinkcoffeesavedogs and #drinkhugobehappy.



KATHERINE CARVER: How did Hugo, the namesake of your business, come into your life?

CLAUDIA MCMULLIN: I am a foster failure of baby Hugo at three weeks old.  Hugo came from a backyard breeder who tried to sell all of his puppies at three weeks of age and, when nobody bought Hugo, he dumped him at the local shelter.  Hugo was immediately rescued by the rescue I was soon to lead, Friends of Animals Utah was the name at the time, which is now presently known as Nuzzles & Co.  Hugo needed immediate fostering, and I volunteered.  After bottle feeding that sweet pea (Hugo) I could never give him up.



KATHERINE CARVER: How did you become involved in dog rescue?

CLAUDIA MCMULLIN: I had always had rescue dogs my whole life and was always crazy for dogs (and all animals).  I had been an attorney for a long time and really, really wanted NOT to be one anymore when I heard from a friend that my “dream job” had just become available –  being the Executive Director of an animal rescue.  So I applied, and got the gig!


KATHERINE CARVER: What dog rescue organizations do you support?

CLAUDIA MCMULLIN: We currently support Nuzzles & Co., Best Friends Animal Society, Paws for Life, and Canines with a Cause.  However, I will support any animal rescue.



KATHERINE CARVER: Can you tell us a little bit about the products you offer for sale?

CLAUDIA MCMULLIN: You bet!  Hugo Coffee offers a range of specially roasted coffees designed specifically and intentionally to appeal to a broad palette.  Each roast is created by Master Roaster, John Lynn.  John selects the importer, country of origin, and the farm from which to purchase the organic fair-trade green beans (note that although our beans are organically grown, they are not always organic-certified due to size of our small farm suppliers).  He then skillfully creates the consistent roasts and flavor notes of each Hugo signature roasts.  Each “recipe” is taught to all junior roasters and consistently reviewed for consistent quality assurance.

Each roast is intentionally named with a nod towards dogs.  Specifically, from darkest to lightest roast, Hugo Coffee offers Black Paw (French Roast); Bonafido (Med-Dark Roast); Rollover Breakfast Blend (Medium Roast); Howler Espresso (Medium Roast); and New Trick (Light Roast).  In addition, Hugo Coffee offers Downward Dog Decaf (Medium Roast); Dog Daze Cold Brew (Med-Dark Roast); and our Rotating Roasters’ Choice.

Hugo Coffee’s roasts are comprised of beans from various countries in various proportions and with various flavor notes as set forth immediately below:

  • Black Paw® (French Roast): South American origin with flavor notes of burnt sugar, dark chocolate, and spice.
  • Bonafido® (Med-Dark Roast): South American origin with flavor notes of bakers chocolate and dark fruit.
  • Rollover Breakfast Blend® (Medium Roast): Peruvian origin with flavor notes of maple, milk chocolate, and nuts.
  • Howler Espresso (Medium Roast): South American origin with flavor notes of chocolate, sweet dates, and toffee.
  • New Trick® (Light Roast): Central American origin with flavor notes of nuts, floral, and sweet.
  • Roasters Choice (Light Roast): Rotating single source bean from various countries and small farms selected by Master Roaster every 4-6 weeks.
  • Downward Dog Decaf® (Medium Roast): blend of beans from various and changing countries with flavor notes of banana bread, caramel, and cocoa.
  • Dog Daze Cold Brew® (Medium-Dark Roast): Central African origin with flavor notes of chocolate, nut, and spice.



KATHERINE CARVER: Where can people purchase your coffee, especially with the Holidays quickly approaching?

CLAUDIA MCMULLIN: You can purchase our coffee locally in Utah, at various grocery chains including, Whole Foods.  You can also purchase our coffeeonline at or via

In addition to coffee, we also have this great holiday gift box which includes a bag of Bonafido or Rollover and a box of organic dog treats.  Oh, and our artisan hand made mugs are pretty sweet, too!



KATHERINE CARVER: Where can people find Hugo Coffee online?

CLAUDIA MCMULLIN: You can find Hugo Coffee via the following links:; Amazon; Instagram; and Facebook.


*All images are courtesy of Hugo Coffee.

Interview: Lydia Sohn, Writer and Minister

Interview with Lydia Sohn, Writer and Minister

Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Lydia Sohn, a writer, minister, and speaker who lives in San Diego, California with her husband and young son.  I fell in love with Lydia’s blog last fall, when I discovered her wonderful blog chalked full of wisdom, that I look forward to reading each week.  Below, Lydia shares her thoughts on creativity!  You can learn more about Lydia here.


KATHERINE CARVER: How did your journey lead you to becoming a minister and writer?

LYDIA SOHN: It all happened very naturally.  Neither were careers I considered for myself, even up until my college years.  Looking back, of course, it makes complete sense because spirituality and writing were always sources of great joy for me.  And then I experienced a lot of resistance towards the ministry once I did have an inkling that might be the path for me.  I grew up in a fairly conservative church with only male ministers around me.  I didn’t even think women could be ministers for most of my life, much less young women! 

Writing as a profession came with less resistance but there was still a lot of self-doubt.  I thought one had to be a bookish introvert with certain literary tastes to be a “real writer” but I eventually discovered that to be false as I began to write regularly and for the public.  With both of these careers, one step simply followed the next and the outcomes unraveled organically. 


KATHERINE CARVER: What artists/writers inspire you?

LYDIA SOHN: Julia Cameron was really the first artist/writer to release the writer within me through her books, The Right to Write and The Artist’s Way.  Prior to reading those books, I relied upon a lot of external validation to legitimate my craft.  Those books empowered me to write simply because I wanted to and for no other reason than that.  She suggests these powerful exercises that help the artist with every person emerge. 

Before Julia Cameron though, my writing style had been greatly influenced by Lauren Winner and Anne Lammott because both of them are spiritual authors who activated a latent desire and potential within me to articulate my own spiritual journey. 

More recently, I have been so greatly nourished by Elizabeth Gilbert and her ideas about creativity.  Much of her ideas about creativity are in her book, Big Magic, but she also riffs on these ideas a lot in her talks, interviews and podcast.  She’s similar to Julia Cameron in that she believes that what we long to write about pre-exists so it’s not something we have to think up but rather, listen closely and download.  I find this idea to be incredibly liberating because it takes the pressure off of us to produce amazing ideas.  We just need to follow our curiosity, observe where it takes us and then document it. 



KATHERINE CARVER: Do you have any rituals and/or practice that you implement while writing?

LYDIA SOHN: Yes, I rely greatly on time-blocking to get all of my writing done.  I am a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique.  I discovered it when I was juggling a lot of different projects and it’s the only thing that has enabled me to keep writing and a full-time job while at the same time, raise a small child.


KATHERINE CARVER: Do you have any favorite, go-to books for inspiration?

LYDIA SOHN: I definitely have a canon of books that have changed my life and return to whenever I want to be re-grounded.  Included in this canon are Eckart Tolle’s The Power of Now and Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak.  A book that radically helped my marriage is Alison Armstrong’s The Queen’s Code.  Another book that was a godsend is Intuitive Eating.  I struggled with an eating disorder after I graduated from college and that book put my debilitating struggle to an end.  It also transformed my entire worldview and moral philosophy.  You have to read the book to know what I’m talking about. 



KATHERINE CARVER: How do you not let fear hinder you from beginning a new endeavor?

LYDIA SOHN: I have so much fear and so much doubt when I’m about to begin a new endeavor!  What soothes my anxiety is a belief that what will be will be.  Another Elizabeth Gilbert idea I love is that we as artists and designers of our own lives must do what we can on our ends but we have to let God (or the universe, whatever metaphysical reality that resonates with you) take care of the rest.  The way she puts it is, “our labor is the contribution to the miracle.”  In that way, I do my due diligence by being faithful to my responsibilities and then let God take over the rest.  If it’s meant to be, it will unravel accordingly.  If it’s not meant to be, doors will close fairly quickly.  God is so good to me in giving me really helpful signs to guide me and show me which endeavors I’m supposed to pursue and which I’m endeavors I’m supposed to let go of. 


KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated daily? 

LYDIA SOHN: What inspires me to keep going is a sense of deep joy and fulfillment I derive from my work.  I do the work I do now—ministry and writing—because it fulfills me so much and I feel that they are the perfect channels for expressing my interests and strengths.  There is perfect alignment with my internal desires and my external work so it’s easy to just keep going.  My work becomes a grind when there’s misalignment in some way or I’m over-working.  Whenever I notice myself avoiding or resenting my work, I take those as clues to look closer to see where I’m misaligned with a certain project or whether I just need some more rest.



KATHERINE CARVER: How has becoming a mom impacted your creativity, writing, and ministering?

LYDIA SOHN: Parenting is the most awe-inspiring and at the same time, challenging experience of my life.  This experience then, inevitably provides abundant material for me to reflect, write and preach about.  It has been said by many parents that our love for our children gives us a clarifying lens through which to understand God’s love for us a little more.  This has most certainly been the case for me.  Whereas before parenting, I spent most of my life striving to earn God’s love and favor, I soon realized after I had my son that God’s love and favor have been with me from the very beginning, and is non-negotiable.  In that way then, my life is no longer a test with loaded temptations but rather, a generous gift for me to enjoy. 

Being a working mom has also helped me to create better boundaries.  I am much better at saying “no” to projects or commitments I’m not fully passionate about because if I’m not protective of my time, I will wear myself down and subsequently, hurt my family.

And finally, because I’m a type-A kind of personality who derives a lot of satisfaction from work and productivity, parenting has forced me to slow down and trust in the process of life; to focus less on producing and focus more on being present.  I know I only get one chance to parent each phase of my son’s life and I won’t ever be able to rewind time so this reminds me to be here fully. 



KATHERINE CARVER: You help people cultivate their authentic selves.  What advice do you have for others trying to do this?

LYDIA SOHN: Oh my goodness, I teach an entire workshop series on this so it’s hard for me to encapsulate it here now.  In a nutshell, the theme is: march to the beat of your own drum.  Stop measuring your value and worth based on others and social expectations.  Follow your joy and align with your own values, not others’.  And if you don’t know what those are because you’re so disconnected from your true self, observe what lights you up and fulfills you and start doing them.  Take small steps and slowly, those small steps will open up an entire path for you.  I’m going to release some workbooks that give step-by-step instructions on how to do all of this so subscribe to if you want to be in the know about those workbooks. 


KATHERINE CARVER: You have some of the most thoughtful blog posts, which I find to be especially helpful.  How do your blog ideas come to you?

LYDIA SOHN: They come to me in exactly the same way that Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Cameron describe.  I don’t sit down and think them up.  They come to me at the most random and odd times, like when I’m driving or at 5 a.m. in the morning.  They are, of course, ideas I’m experiencing in my own life so those ideas are not external to me but the way those ideas coalesce together and show themselves to me feel like a process that’s external to me. 



KATHERINE CARVER: One of my favorite blog posts you have written was on the topic of surrender.  How has a practice of surrender impacted you personally?

LYDIA SOHN: If I didn’t practice surrendering in my life, my whole life would be a major struggle.  I love to control my life and its outcomes.  Part of this is a sign of healthy self-confidence because I really do see myself as the agent and artist of my own life, which I believe God has bestowed upon all humans to craft as they wish.  At the same time, I have to hold this truth in balance with the other truth that there are some things in life we can’t control.  Along with that, God’s ways and perspectives are so much greater than our own so I continually remind myself to trust that my life will unfold according to God’s timing and ways rather than my own.  As frustrated as I get, it is ultimately marvelous that there’s something so much bigger than us with a greater wisdom and perspective who always guides us. 


KATHERINE CARVER: What is your favorite quote and why is this your favorite quote?

LYDIA SOHN: I just love Marianne Williamson’s famous words, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” Of course, the entire paragraph from which this sentence comes from is amazing but this little sentence is the one that always stays with me.  One’s inner light is a theme in almost all religious traditions, including my own, Christianity, and Jesus says something similar to Marianne when he says, “You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-16).

The reason why I derive so much comfort from these words is because I struggle a lot with the “who am I” kind of thinking.  Who am I to be doing what I love and pursuing my dreams when there are so many people struggling and suffering out there?  This kind of thinking probably derives from my conservative Christian background that glamorizes suffering and sacrificing your dreams and comfort for the sake of others.  Intellectually, I know that this is all crap and that life doesn’t actually work like that yet of course, it’s a long process to let go of entrenched beliefs one was raised with. 


KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for living a creative life? 

LYDIA SOHN: Follow your joy.  If you don’t consider yourself a creative person or don’t know where to start, I would recommend beginning with small projects so as to not overwhelm or intimidate you.  Try the Pomodoro Technique.  So if you want to write, just do it 25 minutes a day on a random subject like what your kitchen looks like in the morning.  If you want to dance and have stopped, just do it a few minutes each day or once a week.  As hard as it may be, try to detach yourself from what others think of your work.  It’s natural that we should want to refine our crafts but don’t let others’ perception of your work determine whether or not you pursue it.  If it gives you joy, then that’s the whole point, the only point. 



All images are courtesy of Lydia Sohn.

You can read more interviews here.

Interview: Delphine Crépin, Photographer

Interview with Delphine Crépin, Photographer











Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Delphine Crépin, a France-based photographer and film director, who recently has created a photography series, entitled, Waste, a compilation of images utilizing a collage method incorporating dogs and spaces.  According to Crépin, “The idea [Waste] came to me while sorting through my photographs.  Today the notion of photography as a documentary has been totally rethought.  We take, we throw, and we move on to the next thing, hoping that it is better.  By creating this series, I saw something of a revival of these clichés.”  Crépin hopes the viewer observes an image juxtaposition, which raises the question — has the dog been left alone for a minute or has the dog been abandoned?  A selection of Delphine Crépin’s work is displayed below.  Her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions.  Please visit Delphine Crépin website to view more of her wonderful work.


KATHERINE CARVER: What were your beginnings as a photographer and when did you realize it would become your chosen form of expression?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: I’ve always been attracted to the camera.  Being able to freeze a moment forever intrigues me and reassures me.  As a child, I loved leafing through photo albums of family, giving me the ability to live these past moments.  In fact, sometimes, I realize that these albums derive my memories.  Most of all, the fear of forgetting pushes me to photograph the present.  I started reading about the subject and I discovered the work of Jeff Wall, who really gave me the push to continue.


KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: Not officially in a school; however, I personally have studied photography on my own – my house is filled with books, essays, films, documentaries, and photographs.


copyright 2016 Delphine Crepin


KATHERINE CARVER: How do you describe your style?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: Both documentary and fiction – a quest for identity.


KATHERINE CARVER: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating photographs was absolutely something that you had to do?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: I first realized I wanted to create photographs during the collaboration on the InvU project, where I created a portrait series of disfigured people.  At that time, photography as a medium made sense to me.  Photography allowed me to convey a message and touch a large number of people from different universes.


copyright 2016 Delphine Crepin


KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin photographing dogs, as you have several series focusing on dogs, including your work entitled, Waste?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: I have always loved animals, especially dogs.  I started photographing dogs by chance.  A few years ago, without asking, while I was preparing my studio for a shoot, my dog, Dogabert, came to the front of the camera.  He sat still, in front of the camera, unwilling to move.  I needed to do some light testing anyway, so I took advantage of this serendipity.  I put a coat on my dog’s back and started photographing him.  The lighting and the intensity in my dog’s eyes pierced me.  I try, through my photographs, to give dogs a voice.


KATHERINE CARVER: How have your own dog(s)/animal(s) influenced your work?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: Dagobert, my dog, is simply my source of inspiration.  He leads me to reflect on subjects that are far from me; and he has opened the doors to another world, not so far from our own.  Importantly, Dogobert has allowed me to see with a less human, unprejudiced outlook.


copyright 2016 Delphine Crepin


KATHERINE CARVER: Where did the idea derive from for your work entitled, Waste?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: WASTE is both a recent series and a reprint of forgotten photographs.  The idea came to me while sorting through my photographs.  Today the notion of photography as a documentary has been totally rethought.  We take, we throw, and we move on to the next thing, hoping that it is better.  By creating this series, I saw something of a revival of these clichés.


KATHERINE CARVER: In your series, Waste, how did you decide to implement an image within an image approach, so to speak?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: The collage seems interesting to me in the sense that the two subjects – the dogs and the open spaces share commonalities.  In the unconscious of people, the dog is not discernable from the human and the places that surround the dog and human.  In contrast, when the dog is shown waiting in front of a building, waiting in front of a shop, or waiting in the middle of natural space, illustrates the attachment of the dog to his master – wherever the dog is he waits for his master.  The juxtaposition of these images and the choice of the title “WASTE” (déchet in French) seemed an important indicator of reuse.


KATHERINE CARVER: What do you hope viewers take away after viewing your work entitled, Waste?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: Here the viewer observes an image juxtaposition; by this association, I hope that it raises the question: has the dog been deposited there for a minute or has the dog been cowardly abandoned?  I try to make the viewer react in relation to the place given to the animals and the message that these images convey.  The collage leads the viewer in another direction and tries to find a meaning.  I hope that the viewer interprets a larger impact collectively via the collage rather than separately.


copyright 2016 Delphine Crepin


KATHERINE CARVER: Where do you show/exhibit your work?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: My work has been exhibited in variousmuseums and galleries such as: Au Palais des Papes d’Avignon; à l’Historial de la Grande Guerre de Péronne; à la Galerie Jean-François Cazeau à Paris; au Pôle international de la Préhistoire; and à la maison de la Culture d’Amiens.  My work has also appeared in various magazines and on the Internet.


KATHERINE CARVER: What does ‘being creative’ mean to you?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: Surprising oneself and constantly challenging oneself.


KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most challenging aspect of being a photographer?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: Succeeding in making a living.


copyright 2016 Delphine Crepin


KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keep you motivated?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: The satisfaction of creating something that makes me believe that my job improves the daily lives of people.  I like to think that art is the only thing that allows us to dream.  Ultimately, photography, for me, is a part of my identity.


KATHERINE CARVER: What types of patterns, rituals, and routines do you have while making your photographs?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: When I come home from a shoot, I cannot wait to see the results.  But I refuse to look at the images that day; instead, I wait at least a day to review the images.  Over time, I realized that we must let the images and ideas rest.  One must let one’s mind forget and create a memory.


copyright 2016 Delphine Crepin


KATHERINE CARVER: What are you working on now?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: I continue to work on my series at the animal shelter, to help encourage adoption.  And, in parallel, I am working on a photographic inventory of community portraits.  I focus on people in a group and how they differentiate themselves as an individual from the group.  I focus mainly on groups of people who do not have a place in society.  In the hour when individualism is the key word of our society, I focus on the people who have chosen to be part of an unusual group.


KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire your work?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: Jeff Wall and Genevieve Cadieux for the moment posed, freeze-frame; Wim Wenders for the side portrait of nature; Alec Soth and August Sanders for the documentary; Diane Arbus for the portrait; William Wegman for his painting and portrait of Man Ray; and David Hockney as a painter, photographer, and complete artist.


copyright 2016 Delphine Crepin


KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: Be yourself and persist.


KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view your work?

DELPHINE CRÉPIN: On my website; my instagram; and you can contact me via email at


All images are courtesy of Delphine Crépin.

You can read more interviews here.

Interview: Jessica Marie, Painter

Interview with Jessica Marie, Painter










Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Jessica Marie, a full-time Minneapolis-based painter, who reached out recently.  Jessica creates wonderful custom paintings, and she has been creating paintings for the past twenty years and she paints in both a realistic and modern aesthetics.  I really like Jessica’s artist philosophy, which is discussed in more detail below.  She states, “If you work hard and are persistent with creating, inspiration will always come along with the process.  The more you work, the more inspiration you will have.”  Please visit Jessica Marie’s website to view more of her work, which is not only limited to animals.


KATHERINE CARVER: What were your beginnings as a painter and when did you realize it would become your chosen form of expression?

JESSICA MARIE: I’ve always had a strong interest in art since I was very young.  I enjoyed experimenting with a lot of different materials.  I started oil painting when I was 13-years-old.  I realized in high school that I wanted to go to art school to pursue a professional career with my art.


KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?

JESSICA MARIE: Yes, I attended Syracuse University in New York for Graduate Studies in painting, and I received a BFA in Painting from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Minnesota.




KATHERINE CARVER: How do you describe your style?

JESSICA MARIE: For my dog portraits, I work in two different styles: My Modern, Expressive style features bright colors and texture that make a one-of-a-kind painting.  This is a loose and painterly style showing the actual brushstrokes on the canvas.  I use oil paints in many layers with small charcoal drawing elements giving it a very unique modern look.

My Realistic, Detailed style features natural light, color, and space that make a striking, unique painting.  This style has a lot of  blended layers, textured brushstrokes, and small details.  I use oil paints in a neutral color and gradually add layers of brighter color and detail that give it a one-of-a-kind realistic and painterly look. 

 I can also work in other styles upon request, from realistic to abstract.  I really enjoy the uniqueness of each style to create a custom painting that my art collector’s will love and cherish in their homes for years to come.


KATHERINE CARVER: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating paintings was absolutely something that you had to do?

JESSICA MARIE:  I naturally gravitated to painting since I was a child.  I’ve always had a strong passion for creating things.  It took many years to develop my painting skills and personal styles.  I work full-time as a professional artist, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.  Art is my life’s passion, and I enjoy creating paintings that make people happy.




KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin painting animals?

JESSICA MARIE: I’m a huge animal lover.  I really enjoy capturing the uniqueness of an animal’s personality.  Each one is so different and special.  It’s wonderful to be able to express this through my art.  People love their pets, and a painting can capture the expression and personality in a way that a photograph isn’t able to.  It’s a great way to pay tribute to our beloved pets.


KATHERINE CARVER: How have your own dogs/animals influenced your artwork?

JESSICA MARIE: I grew up with five chow chow dogs, along with cats and hamsters.  I’m currently a proud pet parent of a beautiful 17-year-old Siamese cat that loves spending time in my art studio.  I’d love to also have a dog again, but at the moment my Siamese cat demands she has to be the one and only in the household!  I started creating drawings and paintings of my pets when I was young, and I still create artwork based on my cat.




KATHERINE CARVER: Where do you show/exhibit your work?

JESSICA MARIE: I exhibit my artwork locally in Minneapolis and nationally at various art galleries.  I currently have paintings on exhibit in New York, Kansas, and Florida.  I was just recently notified that I won the First Place Juror Award for an international exhibition at FSU Museum of Fine Arts in Florida.  I have an upcoming solo exhibition in Minneapolis in Spring 2017.


KATHERINE CARVER: What does “being creative,” mean to you?

JESSICA MARIE: Being creative is about exploring and discovering new ideas and techniques.  It’s about finding new ways to present your ideas and thoughts visually.  This leads to a newfound perspective of my art, life, and experiences.


KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist?

JESSICA MARIE: I think the most challenging aspect as an artist is to keep yourself motivated and push forward with or without immediate inspiration.  If you work hard and are persistent with creating, inspiration will always come along with the process.  The more you work, the more inspiration you will have.




KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated?  

JESSICA MARIE: I really enjoy working on my art daily.  If I’m having difficulty with motivation, then I like to experiment with different materials and discover new ideas through the painting process.  There’s always something new to be discovered and it helps keep me motivated.


KATHERINE CARVER: What kind of patterns, rituals, and routines do you have while making your art?

JESSICA MARIE: I keep a to-do list of what I need to work on each day.  It includes prepping canvas, painting, varnishing and marketing work.  Sometimes I have multiple projects I’m working on, so it helps to keep everything organized and to meet my deadlines.  I enjoy listening to art podcasts and music to keep me energized while painting in the studio.


KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire your work?

JESSICA MARIE: Some artists that inspire my work are Seurat, Matisse, Modigliani, Klimt, de Kooning, Dorothea Tanning, and Alice Neel.




KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

JESSICA MARIE: Practice.  Practice.  Practice.  Create a studio schedule and stick to it.  Don’t seek perfection.  Keep experimenting, exploring ideas and techniques.  You will eventually find your own voice and style.


KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view and purchase your art works?

JESSICA MARIE: You can find more info, photos, and videos of my Custom Pet Portraits on my website.

I can paint any animal and breed.  I have a variety of canvas sizes to choose from.  All I need are some of your favorite photos and your background preference.  I can also work from multiple photographs to combine multiple pets in one painting.  I’m happy to help you choose the photo that will work best and make suggestions for colors, compositions, and backgrounds to create a special one of a kind painting of your pet.  If you are interested in a custom painting or have any questions, please email me at


Below are a few videos of Jessica Marie’s work.


All images contained in this interview are courtesy of Jessica Marie.

You can read additional interviews here.

Interview: Lauren Sheldon, Photographer

Interview with Lauren Sheldon, Photographer










Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Lauren Sheldon, a London-based photographer, who is working on Rescue Me, a project where Sheldon explores the benefits of dog rescue by visiting the homes of the adopters.  Sheldon says, “I capture a glimpse of the lives of both them and their dogs in their environments.  The project reflects a true representation of my time with these families.”  Additionally, as part of the project, Sheldon records the conversations she has with the adopters to capture the touching stories of the dogs included in Rescue Me.  A selection of Lauren Sheldon’s work is displayed below.  Please visit Lauren Sheldon’s website to view more of her wonderful work.


KATHERINE CARVER: What were your beginnings as a photographer and when did you realize it would become your chosen form of expression?

LAUREN SHELDON: During my last few years at school, I found myself gravitating towards the darkroom.  Photography was relatively new to the curriculum, at that time, and not a lot of money had been spent on the facilities.  I will always remember developing my very own print – from the enlarger to the three dip trays.  Consuming the very apparent smell of the chemicals whilst standing alone in a small cold room, filled with only the small glow of red light illuminating from the make shift red bulb that hung precariously on the wall, is when I knew photography was going to be the career for me.




KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?

LAUREN SHELDON: I have an ‘A’ level Art, and went to college to do my Art Foundation Course.  I then decided I wanted to study photography as a degree so I converted my bedroom at my parents’ house into a darkroom, and created a portfolio that I took to the Universities for interviews.  I was lucky enough to be accepted at Manchester Metropolitan University where I completed a degree in Photography and Imaging.


KATHERINE CARVER: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating photographs was absolutely something that you had to do?

LAUREN SHELDON: It was during a project I completed at University.  The assignment was to produce an image that could be used for a 48 sheet poster for a mock Levi advertising campaign to convey the longevity and durability of Levi’s product.  So I took a series of photos of a family friend, Jean, who was 80, wearing my Levi jeans and jacket.  She had incredibly beautiful eyes, and a wrinkly face full of character, making the photos eye-catching and engaging.  I realized that making images to represent an idea or a message could be a very powerful.




KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin your project entitled, “Rescue Me?”

LAUREN SHELDON: As a child I was a little scared of dogs and, before I got my own dog, I had none or little knowledge about them really, and so when it came to choosing a dog it made the idea of rescuing one a scary option.  I’m embarrassed to say that I had the typical misconceptions about dogs that were in shelters — that they were all going to have behavioral problems, possible aggression issues, and I just didn’t feel like I was up for the job.  I was much more comfortable with the idea of nurturing a dog from a puppy.  In my opinion, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  In my experience, dogs in shelters are no different to any other dog, they have just had a less fortunate life than others and, if anything, are more loving and grateful and, during this project, I have seen this first hand.


KATHERINE CARVER: What is the goal of your project, “Rescue Me?”

LAUREN SHELDON: The intent of the project is to explore the benefits of rescuing.  I hope I can use my work as a tool to get the message across about how rewarding adopting a dog can be; and to raise awareness because the more knowledge that can be put out there, the more chance these dogs have of receiving a second chance.




KATHERINE CARVER: How did you decide to incorporate oral narratives into your project, “Rescue Me?”

LAUREN SHELDON: I photo documented a glimpse of the dogs’ lives, but to hear the adopters’ stories, in their own words, made the project complete, and probably more important than the photographs themselves in many ways.


KATHERINE CARVER: How has your own dog(s) influenced your work?

LAUREN SHELDON: Since getting my own dog, Sid, three years ago, my photography has been almost solely focused on Sid and dogs in general.  I’ve met many dog owners and dogs through Sid, and my love for them has grown and grown.  I hoped that combining my love for both photography and dogs, I would be able to help, if only in a small way, to raise awareness for the cause.




KATHERINE CARVER: What does “being creative” mean to you?

LAUREN SHELDON: Thinking of an idea and seeing it develop.


KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most challenging aspect of being a photographer?

LAUREN SHELDON: Individuality.  It’s been a long time since I have worried about it.  I realized that there are so many photographers that we are bound to be simultaneously compared and inspired by them.  For me, it’s the ideas behind the work that makes it individual.




KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated?

LAUREN SHELDON: I want to keep telling stories and I strive to improve.


KATHERINE CARVER: What are the most rewarding and satisfying part about being and artist and creating art?

LAUREN SHELDON: For a project like Rescue Me, the most rewarding part would be to know that my work has made a small difference; and it is extremely rewarding knowing that just one dog gets adopted because of it.




KATHERINE CARVER: What are you working on now?

LAUREN SHELDON: I am currently working on the book for Rescue Me, which I am hoping to get published soon.


KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire your work?

LAUREN SHELDON: Martin Parr and Sally Mann will always be my two most inspirational photographers.  I was introduced to Mann’s work whilst studying for my degree.  Grayson Perry’s wittily satirical view on the world is a reminder that I shouldn’t worry about success, but to just enjoy it and live it.




KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

LAUREN SHELDON: Know yourself.  Don’t worry about being cool and on trend.  “Coolness is a strait-jacket for creativity.”  Also, it is important to always put in the hours.


KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view your work?

LAUREN SHELDON: My website is:  and I am on Instagram @watchdabirdie1.


All images contained in this interview are courtesy of Lauren Sheldon.

You can read additional interviews here.

Interview: Josh Bryant, Photographer

Interview with Josh Bryant, Photographer

josh bryant









Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Josh Bryant, a London-based photographer who observes the bond between man and dog, as well as the similarities of the two, which Bryant explores in his series entitled, “Companions.”  According to Bryant, “I believe when individuals look for a dog as a pet, at some level, largely subconsciously, one will look for something that mirrors something about oneself.  Someone’s choice of dog therefore could reveal hidden personality traits that would not immediately become apparent when an individual is observed or whilst listening to them speak.”  Bryant says, “with confidence of the dog at their side, people offer you a glimpse into their lives that they would not normally allow; making private become public, where once they would feel vulnerable and uncomfortable.”  A selection of Josh Bryant’s work is displayed below.  Please visit Josh Bryant’s website to view more of his wonderful work.


KATHERINE CARVER: What were your beginnings as a photographer and when did you realize it would become your chosen form of expression?

JOSH BRYANT: Photography was a big part of my childhood.  My dad would frequently be taking photos or documenting the family via videos with the use of the camcorder.  Sometime around secondary school, I got really into photography, while using my camera as an excuse to go on adventures or take photos of live music to gain access to gigs.  I think after school, I knew there was not much reason for me to try to do anything else, it seemed the only thing that suited me at the time.


KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?

JOSH BRYANT: Yes, I studied an Art foundation followed by a degree in photography, which I earned at the Norwich University of the Arts.



KATHERINE CARVER: How do you describe your style?

JOSH BRYANT: Elegant, yet informative and truthful.


KATHERINE CARVER: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating photographs was absolutely something that you had to do?

JOSH BRYANT: Though I have been taking photos for most of my life, I don’t think it really felt right until a couple of years back.  I purchased a Hasselblad 500 c/m and completely fell in love with it.  This camera uses medium format film, which forces the user to slow down and actually makes one think about the image one is taking.  I felt this encouraged me to take my subject matter far more seriously, along side the notion of having a physical negative of the image made the whole process feel far more organic and rewarding.




KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin creating your series entitled, “Companions?”

JOSH BRYANT: I wanted to recreate a project that struck close to home.  Dogs have been a main focal point throughout my family.  My grandmother was a corgi breeder and a judge at Crufts, while my auntie is a life-long dog trainer.  I wanted to discover whether these people, and people alike, share the same interest and love for dogs I do, while also examining how their relationship with their animals work.


KATHERINE CARVER: How do you believe dogs and their humans are connected?

JOSH BRYANT: As I documented in my “Companions” series, I believe all dog owners are subconsciously drawn towards different types of dogs depending on their lifestyle and character.  I believe we tend to match ourselves with pets that we feel we share something in common with.




KATHERINE CARVER: How have your own dogs/animals influenced your artwork?

JOSH BRYANT: Since birth, I was living alongside a wildlife Heritage Foundation in South-East England, which bread endangered cats, both large and small.  While growing up, my sister and I rode horses and of course we always owned a family dog.  Photography soon brought me to London in search for work; however, I believe you never escape your childhood roots and I felt myself combining my love for photography and animals, especially dogs.


KATHERINE CARVER: What does “being creative” mean to you?

JOSH BRYANT: I believe everyone has their own personal way to output creatively however it may suit him/her.  For me, it’s about seeing an idea and acting upon it with determination, faith, energy, and passion to bring forth, that which does not exist into something that does.




 KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most challenging aspect of being a photographer?

JOSH BRYANT: For me personally, right now, the most challenging aspect is the competitiveness, especially being in a city like London.  You have to eat, live, and sleep photography, or you will fall behind.  That being said, I never forget the reason I fell in love with photography, and to make sure I don’t drift away from that.


KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated?

JOSH BRYANT: I guess as humans we always want to feel that sense of accomplishment and worthiness.  I’m always striving to improve my work and myself.  When I was younger, I was largely motivated because I wanted to impress my grandparents and parents; however, as I have become older, I work harder for myself.




KATHERINE CARVER: What are the most rewarding and satisfying part about being an artists and creating art?

JOSH BRYANT: I would have to say the most rewarding aspect is the making process, bringing your idea to life.


KATHERINE CARVER: What kind of patterns, rituals, and routines do you have while making your art?

JOSH BRYANT: I don’t particularly have any specific routines or rituals.  Although, I do surround myself with images on a daily basis, and the Internet is such a great tool for this.  




 KATHERINE CARVER: What are you working on now?

JOSH BRYANT: I am currently working on two personal projects: a documentary project capturing the variety of different hairdressers in London; and the other project involves house plants, however it is still in the very early stages.  


 KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire your work?

JOSH BRYANT: Alec Soth – I love the large-scale projects he undertakes, creating stories behind every image.  Additionally, my favorite animal photographer is Tim Flach.




KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

JOSH BRYANT: Find what you enjoy doing and get extremely good at it.  Keep creating even if you think the idea isn’t going anywhere and stay happy.


KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view and purchase your art works?

JOSH BRYANT: You can visit my website; and instagram users can follow @joshbryantphoto.


Please note that all of the images contained in this blog post are courtesy of Josh Bryant.

You can read additional interviews here.

Interview with Ty Foster, Photographer

Interview with Ty Foster, Photographer











Ty Foster is a Connecticut born photographer who formerly worked in the insurance industry, and later changed directions and begun photographing anything he could, finally settling on animals as his subject.  Ty Foster’s publisher recently reached out to me concerning Ty Foster’s recent book, LICK, comprising photographs of dogs in mid lick!  You can view a behind the scenes video in conjunction with the book, LICK, here.  A selection of Ty Foster’s work is displayed below.  Please visit Ty Foster’s website to view more of his work.


KATHERINE CARVER: What were your beginnings as a photographer and when did you realize it would be your chosen form of expression?

TY FOSTER: I wasn’t a kid who grew up with a camera.  I photographed my friends mountain biking and doing jumps and things, but I never took it seriously.  It wasn’t until I studied abroad in England that I really started to engage and take photography more seriously.  From then on, every year I started photographing more, reading more, refining my images until I decided to quit my full-time job and pursued it as a career.




KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?

TY FOSTER: I graduated with a degree in marketing and a minor in graphic design; however, I never took any photography courses and related courses that involved photography.


KATHERINE CARVER: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating photographs was absolutely something that you had to do?

TY FOSTER: I think it was something that evolved out of a set of certain circumstances.  I worked at a job I did not enjoy for three years and, during that time, photography was my escape and it just evolved into something I really became passionate about.



KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin photographing dogs?

TY FOSTER: I am not really sure what it was that actually triggered me into wanting to focus on photographing animals.  I’ve always been really passionate about animals and animal welfare so I am sure that had something to do with it.


KATHERINE CARVER: How has your dog inspired your work?

TY FOSTER: I don’t think there is an animal photographer or dog photographer alive that hasn’t had an animal or a dog himself/herself.  I think everyone has a muse that’s close to him or her that has inspired him or her at some point.  All the animals in my life have certainly been inspirations, and fortunately enough they’re all extremely patient.  Tech, our Rhodesian Ridgeback, has actually learned to count the shutter clicks and when he’s heard about seven to eight clicks, he comes trotting over for a treat.




KATHERINE CARVER: Where did the idea come from for your work and new book entitled, LICK?

TY FOSTER: It wasn’t planned at all.  I was working on a shoot for a client at the time and I grabbed some peanut butter as a last resort to keep the dog in the studio a little bit longer.  As soon as we gave him peanut butter, he wouldn’t stop licking and we got these wonderful, ridiculous portraits.  I knew immediately that I had to try this with different breeds and different ages to see what reactions and emotions we could capture.  




KATHERINE CARVER: How did your new book, LICK, get published?

TY FOSTER: The LICK series went viral, so to speak, and various blogs picked it up and, before I knew it, LICK spread all over the internet.  Jen Bilik, the founder of Knock Knock, sent me an email and asked if I would be interested in making a book.  Obviously, I was extremely excited and honored to be asked!




KATHERINE CARVER: What does “being creative,” mean to you?

TY FOSTER: Getting excited about the work you are putting out into the world.  With all aspects of life, there are those who do things to impress others, and then there are those who do things to impress themselves.  Thinking of ideas and watching them grow from a sketch or doodle on a piece of paper to a print is such a rewarding process.


KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most challenging aspect of being a photographer?

TY FOSTER: I think staying creative and inspired.  Actually taking a photograph represents such a small percentage being a photographer.  There are many different things to juggle from finances, to marketing, to the day-to-day tasks.  It’s a real challenge juggling all the responsibilities of running an actual business.




KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated?

TY FOSTER: Being passionate about what you do, regardless of what you do in life, even if it is something you absolutely love to do, there are always going to be good days and bad.  I believe understanding what your true interests in life are, and then weaving them into a career will certainly help keep you motivated.


KATHERINE CARVER: What kind of patterns, rituals, and routines do you have while making your work?

TY FOSTER: When ideas pop into my head I’ll jot them down and let my subconscious crunch on it for a while.  Then, I’ll think of another part of the idea and soon I’ll have a fully formed idea.  Not everything I write down initially turns into an idea either and I think that’s the exciting part, determining which idea(s) I want to run with.




KATHERINE CARVER: What are you working on now?

TY FOSTER: Currently, I am working on a sequel to LICK and I have a few non-dog related projects that are still in the idea phase.


KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire your work?

TY FOSTER: Oh, this is a tough one, especially since I pull from so many different sources.  Nick Brandt’s work is phenomenal, Ralph Steadman, Zaria Forman, Elliott Erwitt, Dan Winters … the list could go on and on.


KATHERINE CARVER: What advice can you provide for aspiring photographers and artists?

TY FOSTER: Be true to yourself and photograph things that excite you!  There are many people already photographing what’s in style or what’s trending now, and there will always be people who are mimicking the latest trends.  Find your style or your niche and be true to it and push yourself.  Also, find a mentor or someone who look up to and reach out to them.  A mentor is priceless.




KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view and purchase your recent book, LICK?

TY FOSTER: The LICK book is available online at both Amazon and through the publisher.

*All images contained in this interview are courtesy of Ty Foster.

You can read additional interviews here.

Interview with Jennifer Williams, Cuddle Clones

Interview with Jennifer Williams, Cuddle Clones

J. Williams 2










Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Williams, Founder and CEO (Chief Cloning Officer) of Cuddle Clones, a startup company that creates soft and adorable plush versions of furry family members along with other customized pet products.  Jennifer earned her undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Business from the University of Puget Sound and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from the University of Louisville.   Jennifer spent ten years consulting before utilizing her entrepreneurial skills and founding her company, Cuddle Clones.  Jennifer lives with her husband, Danny, and two fur children, Izzy and Annie.  A selection of Jennifer’s company’s work is shown below.  Please visit Cuddle Clones’ website to learn more!


KATHERINE CARVER: When did you start your company creating custom Cuddle Clones?

JENNIFER WILLIAMS: Cuddle Clones really started gaining some traction while I was enrolled in the entrepreneurship MBA program at the University of Louisville in 2009.  In the program, we had to present our top two business ideas, and Cuddle Clones was one of mine.  My team really liked the idea so we proceeded to the next steps of performing an industry analysis and creating a formal business plan.  During the rest of the program, we presented at several business plan competitions and won approximately $50,000 in funding.  After school ended, my one remaining business partner and I spent two years refining our product to the standard of what we had envisioned.  We finally launched the Cuddle Clones official website in May 2013.  The plush Cuddle Clone was our flagship product but we now also offer 3D-printed sandstone figurines and ornaments of your pet, as well as several memorial products.



KATHERINE CARVER: What inspired you to begin your company creating custom Cuddle Clones?

JENNIFER WILLIAMS: I had a harlequin Great Dane named Rufus, who was white with very unique black patches all over and two different colored eyes.  I remember one day thinking that I could never find a plush animal like him on the shelf in a store and thought it would be neat to have a custom stuffed animal version of him.


KATHERINE CARVER: How did you practically go about starting your company creating Cuddle Clones?

JENNIFER WILLIAMS: Starting the company was a pretty difficult process and still is!  We tried for a few years to have prototypes made that were of the quality and cuteness that we had in our heads.  We had several prototypes made in the USA and China.  The ones in the USA were actually pretty bad in quality and also cost a fortune.  We had some good prototypes from companies in China but none of the companies wanted to be our manufacturer because their business model involves making thousands of units of the same plush animal, not “one-of-a-kind.”  We considered all of our options, and finally decided that we would have to start our own workshop.  We chose China because of the availability of materials, the talent of the plush designers, and the fact that we could produce Cuddle Clones hopefully at a price that was not prohibitive to the customers.  Even if we had found a good manufacturer in the USA, the retail price would have been cost prohibitive, over $1,000 for a Cuddle Clone.



KATHERINE CARVER: What is the process from start to finish, including the time involved, to create a custom Cuddle Clone?

JENNIFER WILLIAMS: First, a customer places an order on our website.  We ask some questions about their pet, including name, species, breed, and approximate weight.  Then, they upload up to 10 photographs of their pet.  We recommend all angles and face close-ups, but we try to work with whatever the customer has.  Then it’s on to the selection and customization options.  The main customization option is selecting the Cuddle Clone’s position – for a dog, they can choose standing, sitting or lying down.  Ear position, tail position, and whether the mouth is closed or open with a tongue are additional customization options.  The customer can provide us with any additional details and characteristics about their pet that we are to incorporate into his/her Cuddle Clone.  Once an order is placed, we process the information and follow-up with the customer if anything is missing or we need additional information.  The order information is translated into Chinese for the designers and airbrushers.  Every Cuddle Clone is made from scratch by hand.  A plush designer starts by creating the custom pattern for the particular pet. Cutting and sewing are the next steps.  A handwork person and an airbrusher put finishing touches on the plush replica.  We have different quality control procedures in place at different points of the process.  Once approved, a Cuddle Clone is either shipped directly to the customer from our workshop or to us first in Louisville, Kentucky and then back out to the customer.


KATHERINE CARVER: How do you find and hire designers and artists to create Cuddle Clones?

 JENNIFER WILLIAMS: This was one of the early challenges.  I was told that “plush left the USA in the 80’s,” so when we were originally looking for plush designers in the USA, we only found a few and they wanted at least $1,000 for just one pattern.  We were able to work with our great network in China to hire our first few plush designers there and now we have 16 plush designers.  A plush designer usually gains experience through an apprenticeship – there are rarely schools for plush design.  We have regular training programs in place so that our less experienced designers can learn from our folks that have been making plush designs for years.



KATHERINE CARVER: Why do most people have a customized Cuddle Clone made?

JENNIFER WILLIAMS: I think the number one reason people buy a Cuddle Clone is to have a huggable way to remember a loved pet that may or may not have gone over the rainbow bridge.  Whether the person is purchasing one for themselves or a friend, Cuddle Clones provide some comfort to a pet owner who has lost a beloved member of the family.  There are several other reasons why people get a Cuddle Clone made – the full, somewhat amusing list, can be found here.  Among the more serious reasons are students heading off to college that have to leave the family pet behind or military personnel who are deployed and want their pet to hold while they are away.


KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most rewarding part of your job as an entrepreneur and CEO of your Cuddle Clone business?

JENNIFER WILLIAMS: I do love that I get to look at cute pets all day!  I really like that I have built Cuddle Clones from scratch and that we seem to be doing a-ok so far.  Our customers are very emotional and while we cannot satisfy everyone, there is nothing better than to receive that email or social media post with pictures of a customer’s Cuddle Clone thanking us for what we do and how we have helped them.  From day one of forming our company, we have donated a portion of our sales to charities as well – we like helping individual pets on IndieGoGo as well as different nonprofit organizations throughout the world.  You can read about all of our donations here



KATHERINE CARVER: What does “being creative,” mean to you?

JENNIFER WILLIAMS: For me, it’s having a vision and being able to get the right people to execute that vision.  I was an actuary in my former career, and for those who don’t know what that is, it’s heavy in math and light in creativity.  I always had that entrepreneurial bug and probably have about 30 business ideas.  Cuddle Clones was definitely one of the ideas that I thought about the most.  While I myself am not a true ‘artist.’ I can envision a business or product that I believe will be successful in the marketplace, even when others think I am crazy.


KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated? 

JENNIFER WILLIAMS: I believe that we are nowhere near hitting our potential of what Cuddle Clones can become.  Not many people know about us, so we definitely want to increase awareness.  We would like to be known as the place to go, not only for great unique products but a place to go for a community around the rainbow bridge and when your pet passes away.  My employees keep me going for sure – they work extremely hard every day to make this happen and I need to be there for them.  My own dog, Izzy, keeps me motivated for sure as well!



KATHERINE CARVER: What future projects are you working on with Cuddle Clones? 

JENNIFER WILLIAMS: We have several projects in the pipeline for Cuddle Clones.  We are always on the lookout for new, unique products to add to our mix.  We have seen growth in our custom sandstone figurines and ornaments products.  We have also been recently promoting our plush creation product, plush replacement product and golf club covers.  We introduced two products this week – wood-burned memorials and memorial brass urns.  All of these items can be found on our products page here.  We have a full section of our website in the works focusing on the rainbow bridge.  We also are working on establishing some bigger partnerships in 2016.


KATHERINE CARVER: How can people learn more about Cuddle Clones?

JENNIFER WILLIAMS: Interested folks can visit our website to learn more about placing an order or our other products.  Our photo gallery is definitely a fun place to go to see all the beloved pets that we have created.  Our blog features different pets each week as well as nonprofit organizations to which we’ve donated and individual pets that we have helped.  We also are pretty active on our social media pages, including Facebook and Instagram.  We regularly run contests and promotions through our email list and our social media.  In fact, all Biscuit’s Space readers can use this coupon code, KCARVER, to receive 15% off their purchase, through December 31, 2015!


*All images contained in this interview are courtesy of Jennifer Williams.

You can read additional interviews here.