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Posts from the ‘Interviews’ Category

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 delphinecrepin@me.com.

 

All images are courtesy of Delphine Crépin.

You can read more interviews here.

Interview: Jessica Marie, Painter

Interview with Jessica Marie, Painter

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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 hello@sweetmurmur.com.

 

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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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:  www.watchdabirdie.co.uk  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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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 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.

 

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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.  

 

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 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.

 

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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

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.  

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

Interview with Mahny Djahanguiri, Doga Expert and Author

Interview with Mahny Djahanguiri, Doga Expert and Author

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Recently, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Mahny Djahanguiri, Europe’s leading Doga expert and author of the recent book entitled, DOGA – Yoga for you and your dog.   Mahny resides and teaches yoga and Doga in London, England.  She has also appeared on a famous television show, Made in Chelsea, where, soon after, Doga received significant press.  According to Mahny, “I believe dogs are natural healers.  Doga is a symbiotic, organic bonding exercise for canine and human – the two go hand-in-hand or rather, hand-in-paw!”  Mahny also stated that, “Our dogs are so totally attached to us; therefore, whenever we change mood, body language, posture, and breath, for example, our dogs immediately feel that transformation on a metaphysical energetic level and transform with us.”  This is a fascinating interview, especially for those of you who are dog and yoga lovers!  Please visit Mahny Djahanguiri’s website to learn more about Doga.  (Further, you can view videos of Doga here.)

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What is Doga?

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: Doga is yoga for you and your dog, which applies the ancient tools and principles of yoga, deepening your “natural bond” with nature.  Doga is a symbiotic, organic yoga practice you can share with your dog, much like mummy and baby yoga.  The dog aids as a weight or, if heavier, aids as a yoga bolster.

It actually feels reassuring for both the human and the dog to have our dog sit on our lap, on our hip, or folding over a large dog whilst performing traditional yoga.

People often think I teach doggie yoga; however, it is impossible, and it is also extremely harmful to stretch or twist your dog.  Doga is human yoga that encourages each dog’s participation.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What are the origins of Doga?

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: Doga was founded several years ago by a U.S. yoga teacher named Suzy Teitelmam.  She noticed whenever she was on her yoga mat, her poodles liked to join in.  She developed yoga poses that involves lifting her dogs into poses and using their weight as an extra challenge but also simultaneously creating a fun experience.

 

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KATHERINE CARVER: How does a dog actually practice Doga?

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: The dogs don’t actually do much – they don’t do human yoga poses – but they absorb our energy.  They don’t practice they just feel your vibration and energy freely without judgment.  So as we practice our yoga, they are invited to lie on our yoga mat while we dedicate our attention on our physical yoga practice.  When the time is right, you can try to incorporate your dog into your yoga practice.  Small dogs generally act as weights; and large dogs become a support – much like a yoga block.  Throughout the practice we focus on breathing and transferring that breath onto our dog.   Our dogs are so totally attached to us; therefore, whenever we change mood, body language, posture, and breath, for example, our dogs immediately feel that transformation on a metaphysical energetic level and transform with us.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: In your experience, do most dogs, of various sizes and breeds, participate and enjoy Doga?

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: All dogs are welcome in Doga.  And, surprisingly enough, it’s the larger size dogs that usually settle on the yoga mat first.  Smaller dogs often struggle with “separation anxiety” oftentimes the human is being overprotective due to the size of their dog – instead of allowing a small dog to act out a “large dog” attitude, i.e., not using leads.

So, I find that breeds such as Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, and Pomeranians are more unsettled as compared to other larger breeds such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Labradors, Terriers, and Pugs, for example.  It can take up to two Doga sessions to transform the human and the dog into a calm, safe, and relaxed state of being.

From my observations, dogs absolutely love and enjoy peace and tranquility.  A calm serene environment is where they can be lazy, begin stretching, and rolling over on their backs in a supine/surrender position.

Additionally, we apply touch, massage, breath control, and chanting on our dogs and they are extremely receptive to touch and sound vibration.

 

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KATHERINE CARVER: How did you discover and come to practice Doga?

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: I’ve been an ashtanga yoga practitioner and teacher for the past fifteen years.  Doga began while working as a yoga therapist at a children’s shelter for traumatized, neglected, and abused children.  My clients ranged in ages from three to fifteen years old.  At the children’s shelter, I witnessed everything I needed to see to learn about “attachment theory.”  These kids, due to their awful circumstances, were craving more attention than the average “healthy child.”   In the child’s mind, any attention was good even if it was abusive.  Their loyalty towards the parent/the abuser was heart wrenching.  (This reminded me so much of the dog mentality.)

At the children’s shelter, the children’s central nervous systems were totally out of whack, as they struggled each day to survive due to neglect, etc.  Furthermore, the children’s spine and brain couldn’t develop properly due to lack of care, food, health, and emotional well-being.  Their brains were accustomed to solely functioning on adrenaline.

In my work at the children’s shelter, I used intense yogic breathing to help soothe my central nervous system, which in effect, calmed the children’s nervous systems as well.  When the children became calm, I oftentimes incorporated massage, various breathing techniques, and sound vibration.

Doga evolved from the methods and techniques I had been applying during my tenure at the children’s shelter.  The children’s “triggers” were similar to dogs’ “triggers.”  It was all about survival and hierarchy of the pack.  There was always the “ring leader” or pack leader.  Once everyone found their place in the pack, things settled.  Slowly, I began to gain respect and trust of the children at the shelter and I became the leader of the gang though my own stillness, wisdom, and courage.  I gained respect, and the children all seemed to calm down and “copy” my breathing.  This same process happens in Doga, too.  It’s phenomenal.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: How has your life changed since practicing and teaching Doga?

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: I cannot imagine my life without my dogs and yoga.  To be able to combine the two and make a living from it, writing the first book about Doga, and becoming an expert and author of Doga, is a dream come true.  It was always my mission to work with “the innocent.”  It has become my mission to work with children and dogs applying yoga to help them restore faith in humanity.

I want to open a yoga center, hopefully in the United States, that provides yoga/Doga for rescue animals and children with emotional, neurological, and biophysical issues.  I’d like to explore how a rescue dog can potentially help a child with autism and vice versa.  Yoga will be among one of the tools I’d like to use as well as art, massage, and music therapy.  I believe dogs are natural healers.  Doga is a symbiotic, organic bonding exercise for canine and human – the two go hand-in-hand or rather hand-in-paw!

 

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KATHERINE CARVER: How has you and Robbie’s (your dog/dogi) relationship changed and developed since practicing Doga together?

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI:  Our relationship has changed.  Robbie, pictured above, copies and embraces everything I do.  He has become my working partner and my canine Freudian companion.   I miss him when I’m not around him.  We have such a trusting relationship, that I can take him wherever I go.

We work together on so many cases – from blind autistic clients to rescue dogs that are in the process of being rehoused, for example.  Robbie knows when it’s time to go to work.  Sometimes I feel a little guilty because I think I might overwork him.

In our open Doga classes, I let Robbie have fun; and I try to give him as much playtime as possible when we’re out walking together.  He loves jogging with me.  In fact, he’s such a fast runner he out takes me.  I think Robbie appreciates the fact that I get him involved in my work.  We’ve had many television performances and demonstrations together.  The traveling seems to unsettle him; and Robbie does not like the “performance” and “show time” aspects of giving Doga demonstrations to large audiences.  I’m aware that he is a dog — and not a prop.  Therefore, I never want my dog to become a show dog.   I believe it’s cruel to take advantage of our dogs for superficial purposes.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What are some positive benefits for humans practicing Doga?

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: Doga is a bonding experience.  Having your dog in your yoga practice helps you deepen the natural organic relationship that already exists inside you – similar to mummy and baby yoga.   You bond with the beloved and feel relaxed and at ease.  This practice helps with treating anxiety disorders, depression, panic attacks, asthma, high blood pressure, heart diseases, allergies, and all other stress related diseases, etc.  Doga even helps people undergoing chemotherapy.

 

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KATHERINE CARVER: What are some positive benefits for dogs practicing Doga?

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: I can’t stress how important Doga is for both the human and canine.  Doga is a ground breaking, revolutionary yoga therapy.  Doga decreases stress levels in canines and helps with “attachment issues.”  Doga also helps with each dog’s sleep and digestion since Doga replenishes the parasympathetic nervous system in dogs as well.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What is most rewarding about practicing and teaching Doga? 

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: To see people smile or cry at the end of a session – kissing their dogs and talking to them.  I also enjoy observing all of the dogs lying fast asleep on our yoga mats.  This all brings a tear to my and Robbie’s eyes.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What artists/persons inspire your Doga work?

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: All of my yoga teachers from past and present are all inspirations to me.  To whom I’m most humbly grateful towards is my Guru, the late Shri K Pathabi Jois; Richard Freeman; Tim Miller; Dalai Lama; and my mother.  Also, Michael Jackson’s music inspires me to do good in this world.  I also am influenced and inspired by Mozart, Bach, Chopin, Arcade Fire, James Bay, and Derek Paravacini.  There are so many artists that inspire me to carry on.

 

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

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: To me, “being creative” means connecting with the divine or divinity and allowing the source energy to flow through you without resistance.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus for writing your recent book, Doga – Yoga for You and Your dog?

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: My dog and I were on a  famous television show entitled, Made in Chelsea.  Although we were only in it for 30 seconds, 6 million people viewed it.   It received hype and we had features in all the main British tabloid press.  My editor, Trevor Davies, called me one day after our Made In Chelsea television appearance and he asked me, “how would you like to write a book about Doga?”  I remember I was standing in the middle of Robbie’s favorite park standing next to my mum.  I then turned to mum and said, “Mum – they just offered me a book proposal!”  I was ecstatic.   It meant the world to me having a very well-known book publisher wanting to take the whole ‘Doga thing’ seriously.  After fifteen years of teaching yoga, I finally received some professional recognition, which felt very rewarding.

 

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KATHERINE CARVER: Can you tell us more about your recent book, Doga – Yoga for You and Your dog?

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: Doga – Yoga for You and Your dog contains twelve chapters, and it is a yoga book for humans who want to involve their dog into their yoga practice.  The first two chapters describe the relationship between the yogi and dogi and how to put the yoga into the Doga.   It covers the ethical and moral codes of conduct based on the 8 limbs of ashtanga yoga founded by Patanjali who lived in 800 B.C.  

The third chapter discusses breathing, followed by over one hundred pages of individual Doga poses to vinyasa flow yoga sequences.  The poses gradually become more challenging for the practitioner, not the dog.  Each Doga pose is accompanied by text outlining the benefit for the human and the dog.  The remaining chapters are dedicated to canine massage and Vedic chanting that helps quiets the human and the dog’s parasympathetic nervous system.

 

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KATHERINE CARVER: Do you think that Doga classes will become even more prevalent in the near future?  There appears to be quite a large Doga following presently.

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: Indeed!  I think there will soon be a Doga pandemic “outbreak” worldwide.  I’ve had hundreds of yoga teachers, vets, trainers, and behaviorist asking when I will begin the Dogsmahny TM teachers training.  I’m happy to say the first teachers training will begin next March 2016 in London.

I want to see Doga being incorporated in every therapeutic aspect — incorporated into schools, shelters, clinics, and hospitals, etc.  We need to learn so much more about the animal kingdom and what connects us to nature.

I’m also delighted to announce my first YouTube channel Dogamahny which you can now subscribe to.  So you now can practice Doga at home with Robbie and I, especially if you live outside of the London area.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view and purchase your book and learn more about Doga and your work?

MAHNY DJAHANGUIRI: My YouTube Channel, Dogamahny Yoga for You and Your Dog, launched recently on November 2, 2015.

You can purchase my book, Doga – Yoga for You and Your dog, from Amazon or visit your local bookstore.  My book is available at Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, WHSmith, and many other bookstores throughout the world.  The U.S. and Canadian book release was June 5, 2015, Hamlyn.

Hopefully well be touring the United States within the next year giving demos and talks and book signing events.

All images contained in this interview are courtesy of Mahny DjahanguiriOctopus Publishing; Brite Space Partners; and Sweat Studios.

You can read additional interviews here.

Interview with Hilda Grahnat, Co-Founder, Pet People Magazine

Interview with Hilda Grahnat, Co-Founder, Pet People Magazine

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Recently, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Hilda Grahnat, co-founder of Pet People Magazine, an independent print publication, which offers a peek into the lives of people and their furry family members.  Hilda possesses a photography and graphic design background along with a passion for animals.  Pet People Magazine is based in Sweden, but it will be traveling to various cities for each subsequent issue, while featuring new geographic areas and animals focusing on the human-pet relationship.  According to Hilda, “The relationship between pets and their people is something unique and it’s really wonderful to get to observe that firsthand through this project.”

 

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

HILDA GRAHNAT: I became interested in photography in high school, around the time when DSLRs were becoming affordable and almost every young girl I knew had one or wanted one.  I took a summer job in a local photo store and at the end of the summer, I  bought my first (discounted) DSLR.  I took photos of anything and everything and shared them online; I wanted to document and share my world view.  I started a blog as an incentive to take more photos in my daily life, and with increased readership I started receiving commission requests, and that made me start to think about making it my job.  But it wasn’t until I had studied graphic design for a few years, that I realized that taking photos came more naturally to me — I was doing it so subconsciously.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: How did your fascination with animals come about?

HILDA GRAHNAT: I’ve always been an animal lover.  If my father and brother hadn’t been allergic to fur, I’m sure my family would have had a cat or two, as we all love cats.  But instead I befriend every cat I meet on the street, whether it’s in my own neighborhood, where I’ve adjusted the path of my evening walk, to the streets where the cuddliest cats live, or sneaking treats to restaurant cats when traveling abroad.  I’m fascinated by how animals have as much personality as humans, with habits, quirks, favorites, and fears.  The relationship between pets and their people is something unique and it’s really wonderful to get to observe that firsthand through this project.

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KATHERINE CARVER: What impetus that inspired you to begin Pet People Magazine with Linnea Paulsson?

HILDA GRAHNAT: We had wanted to work together for a long time, and we’d talked about doing a pet related project as we are both true ‘pet people’ at heart.  So we merged our mutual love for pets and print into Pet People!

 

KATHERINE CARVER: How did you bring your vision of Pet People Magazine, a printed publication, to fruition?

HILDA GRAHNAT: Our motto (coined by Linnea’s boyfriend Erik) is ‘make it ‘til you make it’ — we were curious to learn more about the independent magazine world and wanted to be a part of it, so we did!  We knew nothing about making a magazine and distributing it before we created Pet People, but we learned through just doing it.  We have financed, photographed, designed, printed, distributed, and promoted it all by ourselves.

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KATHERINE CARVER: How often will you create print editions for Pet People Magazine?

HILDA GRAHNAT: Twice a year is our goal.  Right now we are gearing up to make Issue 02.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most challenging aspect of working on this publication?

HILDA GRAHNAT: Finding good printing options, actually.  We want to print locally and environmentally consciously, while still maintaining an affordable price, which seems to be a difficult combination to find.  We also took a risk by financing the first issue by ourselves.  Other than that, nothing in this project feels challenging but rather adventurous!

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

HILDA GRAHNAT: Creativity for me is that urge to “make something” that you just can’t resist.  I’m not good at making something out of nothing — I use what’s there to create something new.  Photography is a way for me to be involved in things I am interested in and passionate about, and to share that with others through photos.

 

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

HILDA GRAHNAT: I am driven by a wish to tell stories through my photos, about people or their handiwork, or places or shapes and objects and everything else I like.  A lot of what I choose to photograph are things that I feel go unnoticed or are becoming obsolete and I want to preserve them in the present and for the future.  I feel like I’m a part of a big creative community online, receiving feedback, and finding people who like what I do and sharing similar interests, which keeps me going.

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KATHERINE CARVER: What are the most rewarding and satisfying parts about creating your work?

HILDA GRAHNAT: Working with people who share the same passion and vision, and making projects happen from start to finish as a team.  I love when I get to be involved in the whole process, from idea through editing and designing to the final result.  In personal projects, I love to work on my own and find satisfaction in creating a series or diptych that flows really well.  Light/shadow, lines/shapes and composition are what get me going.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire you?

HILDA GRAHNAT: As a child of the digital world, I’m more often inspired by single images than artists’ bodies of work.  I use Instagram as my daily source of inspiration, and follow people from different creative fields, like: @cgbp@heyraygun;@arielealasko;@carissagallo@jimmymarble@osmaharvilahti; @salvalopez@helen_levi;  @atelier_bingo;  @jokemichaels@a.oshea@teklan; and @elo_____

 

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KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a print publication?

HILDA GRAHNAT: What are you waiting for?  Just do it!

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What is next for Pet People Magazine?

HILDA GRAHNAT: For our next issue we plan to venture outside Sweden, but we don’t want to give away too much just yet.  (We will post a call on our Instagram and Facebook as soon as we’ve decided, so interested pet people should follow us!)  You can expect more heartwarming and funny stories and photos of cute pets being cuddled and coddled by their people, while you also get a glimpse of homes and city life in our next featured city.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: How can people learn more about you and Pet People Magazine?

HILDA GRAHNAT: We share outtakes, photos from behind the scenes, news, press articles, and other fun stuff on our Instagram @petpeoplemag and on Facebook .  On our website, www.petpeople.se you can read more about us, find local stockists worldwide and order the magazine directly from our shop.

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All images contained in this interview are courtesy of Hilda Grahnat.

You can read additional interviews here.

Interview with Hiroshi Takagi, Photographer

Interview with Hiroshi Takagi

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Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Hiroshi Takagi, a Japanese photographer who recently published a book entitled, Dogs Talk to Uswhich examines how humans and dogs communicate without a common language, using his dog named Taro as the subject of the book.  This is a fascinating topic to explore visually.  Please visit Hiroshi Tagagi’s website to view more of his work!

 

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

HIROSHI TAKAGI: The main reason I became interested in photography is because my family owned a photo studio; and because we had cameras at home, around the age of fourteen, I started taking monochrome photos as well as developing my film.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?

HIROSHI TAKAGI: In school, I studied photography.

 

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KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin photographing your dog, Taro?

HIROSHI TAKAGI: Dogs and humans have no common language.  Unfortunately, dogs don’t talk like humans do.  We (humans) can still hear their “voice” though, which means that we are familiar with their language.  Their facial expression, their gaze, their sounds, and their actions are a type of language.  When one catches their beloved dog’s “talk” inside this “non-language” it’s really a lot of fun.  Therefore, I want to try to decipher dogs language from their facial expressions and actions, and probe their every request, while looking for consent in our own feelings, in order to get closer and coexist together.

 

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KATHERINE CARVER: Where did the idea come from for your work and book entitled, Dogs Talk to Us?

HIROSHI TAKAGI: As I am a photographer, it must have been my dog, Taros, destiny to become my subject.  Initially, I had no plan of making a book only from these dog photographs, but they caught the eye of an editor that I encountered, and he was the one who decided to publish the book.  Long before publishing was even discussed, and ever since around the time Taro was born, I had been taking photos of him continuously, without any deadlines.  I think this approach helped his relaxed facial expressions.

 

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KATHERINE CARVER: What do you hope readers/viewers will take away from your book entitled, Dogs Talk to Us?

HIROSHI TAKAGI: Following the life of one dog, this book creates a collection of “dog language” in one volume.  These photographs are full of abundant joy of a dog that is skillful in communicating.  I hope that the readers will put their ears closer to the dogs near them, interact with them, and make their own dog dictionaries.

 

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

HIROSHI TAKAGI: Taking photographs is my lifework.  It is a means of dialog with others for me, and everything that appears before me is a possible subject.  I don’t have a preference whether the subject is a person, a thing or a dog; it is psychological and instinctive, perhaps an animal-like sensation that I have.  Rather than the risqué part of humans, I think that essentially I may even be closer to the animal way of communicating.

 

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

HIROSHI TAKAGI: It is inevitable that we get into misunderstandings with other species.  No matter how much we try, it is a fact that we cannot change the way dogs communicate into words, nor can we really understand “dog language.”  Even more so, we (humans) are the ones who depend on language, but it appears that dogs still understand “human language” much more than we understand their language.  However, I believe that this interaction is a trigger for creating a language that helps us communicate with those different from us. 

 

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

HIROSHI TAKAGI:  You can view my work here; and you can purchase my book here.  

 

Please note that all of the images contained in this blog post are courtesy of Hiroshi Takagi.

You can read additional interviews here.

Interview with Heidi Lender, Photographer

Interview with Heidi Lender, Photographer

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Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Heidi Lender, a Connecticut born photographer who currently resides in Uruguay.  Heidi was formally a fashion writer, editor, and photo stylist for various fashion magazines, while traveling to places such as New York, London, and Paris.  She then changed directions and studied yoga in India and became a yoga teacher and owner of a yoga studio in San Francisco.  However, in 2009, Heidi’s life changed forever when she purchased her first DSLR camera and began creating images like the ones from her project entitled, Once Upon.  A selection of Heidi Lender’s work is displayed below.  Please visit Heidi Lender’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?

HEIDI LENDER: I bought my first dslr camera in 2009, while I was teaching yoga in a studio I owned in San Francisco.  Though I had taken photos regularly most of my life, this was the year it clicked.  Who knows why these things happen.  I joined Flickr, gave myself an intense photo education and I was hooked within no time, almost obsessed.  Suddenly, all the roads I had taken up to this point in my life made sense, and met in the making of images.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?

HEIDI LENDER: No, I majored in apparel and textile management in college, and went on to work in the publishing industry straight away – as an editor, features writer, and stylist.  No art background whatsoever.

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KATHERINE CARVER: How do you describe your style?

HEIDI LENDER: Stylized, personal, and balanced.

 

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

HEIDI LENDER: Within the Flickr community, I joined groups to help me learn.  One was called “Bench Monday,” which had a weekly assignment.  After half a year of submitting to this group, I was committed to my camera.  Making images daily became almost as important to me as my yoga practice.

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KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin creating self-portraits, which include your dog, Bubba, in your work entitled, “Once Upon”?

HEIDI LENDER: See above: The “Bench Monday” group!

 

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

HEIDI LENDER: I’m represented by three galleries in the U.S.: Richard Levy Gallery in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Guthrie Contemporary in New Orleans, and Wallspace Gallery in Santa Barbara.  From time to time, I’m also part of group shows.

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

HEIDI LENDER: Expressing myself in ways other than thinking and talking, which might be anything from how I choose my clothes, the way I decorate my house, make my bed, write a letter to writing essays, making images, drawing, and collaging, etc…

 

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

HEIDI LENDER: Timing.  I wish I were more patient.  I think I’d make better work.

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

HEIDI LENDER: As you mentioned above, once you realize that you HAVE to take pictures, it’s not hard to keep going.  Because you HAVE to.  Because it feeds you.  And if you don’t do it, you feel empty.  Hungy.  Of course, I have bad or down days, or long dry periods of not making any substantial work, but my iphone is just about attached to my hand, so I am always practicing and recording and honing my eye.

 

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

HEIDI LENDER: Freedom.  Freedom of expression.  And being inspired and hopefully inspiring back, effecting, touching, and motivating someone somewhere.

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

HEIDI LENDER: I make it a point to post to instagram every morning.  And I look at a lot of images all the time, on the internet and in books.  I’m a mad photo book junkie.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What are you working on now?

HEIDI LENDER: A new idea is incubating, something that is evolving from my iphone work.  It is too early to discuss.

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KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire your work?

HEIDI LENDER: Irving Penn is my hero, and I’m all giggly girl for Wes Anderson.  I love vintage fashion photos – they probably inform a lot of how I interpret what I see…color, composition, and style.

 

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

HEIDI LENDER: Keep practicing.  And showing up.  Your work will evolve and grow even if you can’t see it happening.  I promise!!

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

HEIDI LENDER: My projects are on my site: heidilender.com.  The about page lists the galleries that sell my work.  And my instagram photos (@heidilender) are all for sale through me.

 

Please note that all of the images contained in this blog post are courtesy of Heidi Lender.

You can read additional interviews here.