I love art… any art, in any form. I need more walls, well and a bigger bank account, just to keep up with the amount of art I have and want to purchase. So, as I live in a city apartment and don’t have unlimited funds, I’ve decided to feed my addiction to art by interviewing other artists.
Ladies and Gents, drum roll please… introducing “Meet the Artist.”
Each month, I’ll be introducing you to a new artist. Get to know them, check out their galleries and fall in love with their work as much as I have.
To christen this new feature, please allow me to introduce you to Janna Bissett of lilacpopphotography on Etsy. Not only is she just the sweetest person around, I absolutely love her work. The pops of color, the gritty, urban feel; love, love, love.
So, without further adieu, meet Janna…
[Q]- How did you get started as a photographer?
[Janna]- I am a classically trained artist with a BFA in Photography from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I started out at Western Michigan University in the Graphic Design program before taking my first photography class and realizing that I have always viewed the world as if through a photo lens. I switched majors and also universities. I can remember as a child looking at parts of my room and closing one eye and playing around with focus. I would switch back and forth between the foreground and background. I never had a good camera growing up, just a simple point and shoot film camera, and I used to get frustrated with not being able to focus where I wanted to. When I got my first SLR camera it’s almost as if the world just opened up to me. I’ve always been such a visual person and for the first time I could capture what I was seeing and share it with others.
[Q] – Why is photography important to you?
[Janna] - I like to capture images of things that are either overlooked or viewed as ugly or worthless and make them appreciated and beautiful. I really love to shoot urban stuff like alleys in Detroit and abandoned buildings. I find the history, textures, and colors fascinating. Taking the photographs is only half of the creative process. Afterwards I can’t wait to start to manipulate them a bit. I feel like I am putting my artistic mark on the photograph–not to say that a straight photograph isn’t art because it most certainly is. But personally I am a hands on person and also a painter so the digital part of it is how I feel I can add that part of me to the photograph.
[Q]- What did you do to gain so much knowledge in this area?
[Janna]- I actually didn’t do very well in my first photography class! I always loved photography but never had a really great camera until I took my first class at Western Michigan University. But by then I knew I wasn’t going to be staying at WMU and would soon be transferring to U of M so I’m afraid I didn’t put my full effort into the class. However I did fall head over heels in love with photography. The darkroom was like magic to me. When I transferred to U of M I switched my major and took just about every photography class available until I graduated. After I graduated I had a hard time finding a job. I really wanted to become a fashion photographer but there wasn’t a lot of that in Detroit. I also didn’t have a medium format camera at the time (this was before digital really took over). I ended up assisting a wedding photographer and really learned a lot from him. After that I got my own medium format camera and a digital slr after that.
[Q]- Do you have a favorite photograph?
[Janna]- Hmmm good question. I love Joyce Tenneson’s work. This photograph shows the influence on my work: http://www.joycetenneson.com/polaroid/polaroid_images_03.html Especially in reference to this one of mine: http://www.etsy.com/listing/37601107/sisters-fine-art-photograph-on-metallic I also love all of Annie Leibovitz’s work.
[Q]- What do you enjoy photographing the most?
[Janna]- I love to shoot alleys, old buildings, mountains of garbage, people, and moments.
[Q]- In your opinion, what makes photography an art?
[Janna]- Anyone can pick up a camera and call themselves a photographer. But it’s about capturing that just right moment and having an artistic eye. I think people throw that word around a lot: “eye.” Having the “eye” for it means being able to balance lights and darks, composition (and balancing that as well) all while getting the exposure correct and getting the shot just at the right moment. It’s so much more of a complicated process than just setting your camera to “auto” and shooting.
[Q]- What motivates you to do what you do?
[Janna]- It is almost like a hunger with me to create. I am inspired by everything around me. The culture and awesome energy that is happening in Detroit right now motivates me for sure! I put my art on hold for a long time after I got married and had kids. I was still shooting real estate and portraits but I wasn’t sharing my creative side with anyone. I felt like I wasn’t ready. Then something just snapped about a year and a half ago and with the encouragement of my friends and family I decided it was time to share what I do. I had my first solo photography exhibit last winter and it was so rewarding to hear everyone’s opinions and appreciation of what I do! Ever since then I have been hitting the business side hard. Now that both of my kids are in school full time I have the time and the energy to go at it full time. It’s such an exciting time for me right now. I also am a jewelry designer and have another shop on etsy (lilacpop.etsy.com) so I have been very busy but I love it!
Many thanks to Janna for being so willing to be the first interviewee. (wow is that a word?? It looks funny.) Be sure to check out Janna’s work and Etsy shops; you’re sure to be amazed.