Project Educate Interviews: PorcelainPoet :
PorcelainPoet is a well recognized photographer around the halls of deviantART; her stunning, and sometimes shocking images are meticulously crafted and brought to life, then shared with us here for all of us to enjoy as well.
She was gracious enough to offer me the opportunity to ask her a few questions on her craft.
1) What was your first camera, and what did you foresee yourself doing with it? Did you imagine that you would be a nature photographer, or a portrait photographer, or was it an easy transition to creating darker work for you?
PorcelainPoet - I think my first camera was a Kodak point and shoot. Something as small as maybe 5.0 megapixels. I just knew I wanted to start doing portraits with it. And I didn't have any models yet, so I used myself. I was doing daily self portrait sessions for my first year or so of photography exploration. At that time I was 15 years old and like many teenagers, I was very depressed and in a dark place mentally and emotionally. So I think there was always an air of darkness about my photos from the beginning that just sort of naturally found its way into whatever I was photographing.
2) Though you seem to spend a fair amount of time creating fashionable and scary art work, do you have any other hobbies besides? Do you have a lighter side that is portrayed in other aspects of your life that you indulge in?
PorcelainPoet - I enjoy the fairly simple pleasures in life. I like to spend some evenings watching a good horror movie, with a cup of tea and a cookie in hand. Or reading a book from the fantasy or sci-fi genres. I'm a very reclusive person by nature and so I don't usually take part in many social events. I'm more interested in activities that involve getting away from civilization and enjoying nature. I like exploring and experiencing new things. If I could travel 24/7, that's probably what I would do.
3) Would you say you are comfortable working within the darker environment of art, or does it make you feel like you're stepping over a boundary, professionally and publicly? (If it does, or did, how did you deal with the stigma of blood over your head, so to speak).
PorcelainPoet - I'm very comfortable working within the horror genre. However, there are still times when I worry about what the public reaction will be when I share my art. It gets especially difficult when you are trying to sell your artistic talent as a service to potential clients. If I wanted to, I could just post my horror work everywhere and choose not to worry about it. But regardless of what you do, people are always going to judge. And if you want to be hired as an artist, you have to try and appeal in the right way to your potential client. Of course it greatly depends on what kind of photography service you're trying to sell. But in this case, I find that what sells is the stuff that I feel is the least interesting to shoot. Couples, weddings, families, etc. Of course most people are willing to let me throw in a little bit of my own creativity towards their shoot. But in the end, the goal is to please the client. Even if that means I have to shoot something that's not really in line with my style of choice. If getting paid work is something that people are trying to do, the only advice I can give is that you have to decide where and when to post your horror art. If you're selling horror art as your artistic service, then hell, I say go all in! If you're not worried about clients, but you're worried about negative attention in the public eye (peers/family/friends).. try and choose the right audiences. Some websites/galleries/events cater more to horror, where as others are just not the best place to share it. In the end, shooting dark subject matter is like taking an artistic vacation for me. It's probably my most favorite genre to shoot. I think that if you enjoy exploring the dark side as an artist, then you should keep doing it and don't stop just because some people don't like it. Sometimes you might have to censor yourself, sometimes you might have to keep it on the down low. But always be proud of it because there will be a right place and a right time where people will be able to appreciate it.
4) You use a lot of female models when you work. Was this a choice you specifically made, or have you worked with males as well. Which is your favorite to work with? Are there many differences in perspective when you work with both sexes?
PorcelainPoet - This is more so something that's just naturally happened over the years. I would love to photograph more male models, but I've found that I'm more picky about the aesthetics I look for in male features. So that being said, I think I prefer to work with female models. Feminine beauty is something that I feel is more easy for me to work with. I think it has more options as far as where you can go with concepts and looks. However if a model is capable of pulling off an androgynous appearance, I don't care what their gender is. I'm quite fond of androgyny and gender bending. And though I do explore feminine themes, the concepts of my photographs are not usually intended to relate back to the gender of the model. I do have some concepts in mind at the moment for male models specifically, but it's just a matter of casting the right person(s).
5) Do you find it hard to be a photographer, whether you're shooting light or dark, with the ever-growing base of photographers that the internet has acquired in the past twenty years? Is it hard to be original and fresh?
YPorcelainPoet - es. To both questions. I get frustrated on a semi regular basis and I have to constantly remind myself not to compare myself to others. I suspect that most artists do this, regardless of their caliber. But artists are often self critical, obsessive compulsive perfectionists. So the issues are not just about originality, copy cats and theft.. but also about coming across other artists who are so good in your eyes that you feel like giving up completely. There is competition, cruelty, favoritism and the toughest kind of criticism. And these are things you have to face every day as an artist. Especially if you mainly present yourself on the internet. All I can say about that is that if you love what you do, you have to keep doing it. Even when you feel like it's a hopelessly lost cause. Believe me, I've been there.
6) Where do you go to find inspiration for your work? Do you incorporate many of your ideas in to your own work or do you generally use models inspiration to achieve what you desire to see?
PorcelainPoet - Lately I have been a big fan of gathering up ideas from whoever is involved in my photo shoots. And then from there we usually devise a final plan as to where to go with the concept. Of course some of my shoots are mainly based off of my own ideas. Sometimes if my mood or emotions are intense enough, I can come up with a concept directly from that. I find a lot of inspiration from entertainment, media and the art world. But the important thing is to find inspiration, let it brew in your mind and then invent something completely new with it. Make it your own.
7) Is there a specific genre of music that you find inspires you more than another? A favorite song that has helped you create a masterpiece?
PorcelainPoet - My music tastes are so eclectic, that I don't know if I can really narrow it down to a genre. But I love electronic music, dark music and anything with soul and feeling to it. If it's on the radio, tv or being listened to by the masses, I probably don't like it. I can always name Nine Inch Nails however. Trent Reznor was especially a big inspiration to me when I first started doing photography. I was a troubled teenager and his intensity and anger was exactly what I needed to get the creativity flowing. I used to listen to the songs on his album, “The Fragile” on repeat when I was in high school.
8) Do you have any tips, tricks, pointers or advice for people delving in to the genre for the first time? Any words of wisdom that would help a new, aspiring ghoul become more comfortable with the misconceptions surrounding the genre?
PorcelainPoet - I guess the most important thing I could say, is that you should make sure you are having fun. If you are a beginner at creating dark/horror/macabre art, there are a couple of things you should try not to worry about. Number one, don't worry about it looking perfect. There are countless options as to how to create horror. There are so many different stories you can tell and yes, most of them have been told before. The classics are there to inspire you. Draw from them. Experiment and learn by doing. Number two, don't worry about what people are going to think or say when they see it. And if you aren't ready to share it, you don't have to. But if you are proud of the art you make and you want to share it, don't have too many expectations about the response you want to get. I'm pretty sure everyone who has ever involved themselves in creating horror, has at some point experienced negative and unpleasant feedback. It's going to happen. It's up to you how to respond. But most importantly remember that if somebody doesn't like what you do, don't take it personally. Just because you want to make art that is bloody or creepy or nightmarish, doesn't make you a bad person. People might say absurd things to try and make you feel like there is something wrong with you. They're just not comfortable with exploring the dark side. If anything, I think horror artists are more in touch with reality than people would have you think. It's a way of expressing how you feel and it's healthy! I fully endorse it.
Welcome to Horror/Macabre Photography Week!
A Brief History of Horror
Project Educate: Suggesting Horror/Macabre Daily Deviations!
Project Educate: An Interview with Anathema-Photography!
Project Educate: Variations of Sinister