Friday, November 20, 2009

Interview with RUSSELL JOSLIN

I don't know if you've noticed, but there's a Renaissance going on. A group of fantastic artists are out there RIGHT NOW gracing and redefining the art world. Among these band of artists are the gifted, Joslin Family.....

There is JESSICA JOSLIN, the bewitching sculptress of skeletal darklings .. her husband JARED JOSLIN , the noted awe inspiring (no really) painter, for whom I was lucky enough to sit as inspiration for his fan dancer piece ..

And brother to both, one of my favorite photographers , Russell Joslin.

Russell is also the editor/ publisher of the ALWAYS remarkable black and white photography journal, SHOTS magazine. I was so excited he agreed to answer of few of my questions.

I so admire the breadth of Russell's knowledge and his dreamy, often dark style of imagery.

(Russell Joslin)

Tea: Beginnings, especially in a creative life are moving and inspiring...
What first made photography your main passion as an artist?

RJ: I think it was when I first began to look at photography as a language. It was something I came to understand gradually. I aspired to be a writer in my early 20’s, but also studied graphic design, intaglio printmaking, and photography in college. At some point along the way, I realized that most all my prints were derivative of photographs I had made, and that my photography was starting to visually communicate what I was saying with my writing, only more effectively. So ultimately I turned my full attention to photography.

TEA: Yes, I've come across several photographers recently stating that writing was their first love. I can see the unique kindredship ( between photography & writing).

Was taking over the reins of SHOTS magazine a seminal moment of commitment to photography or a natural progression long after you knew what you wanted?

RJ: I would say the latter… I was committed to my personal work in photography years before I took over SHOTS, but I would say that editing and publishing SHOTS has deepened my commitment to the medium in general. I’m immersed in it, and it’s a part of my daily life, whether from the magazine side or the personal side.

TEA: What role if any does nature play in your self portraiture? Do you metaphorically belong there?

RJ: Many of my self-portraits over the years are done in natural environments, so yes, it certainly plays a role. Part of this is for practical reasons—I live near forested areas, and they are good places to shoot outdoors and generally allow me to work in solitude, which I prefer. (Less the times a random stranger happens across me in the woods and wonders what the hell it is I’m doing!) I also often find these places visually seductive. Aside from that, the forest is a symbol of the subconscious, which is of interest to me. I love the dream world and that which relates to it, so I would say that especially in the context of my work, I do feel I belong there…

TEA: I feel as if i'm somewhat intruding (in a good way) when seeing your portraits. I especially admire the talent you have for achieving intimacy in your images... and I also love the way you turn simple gestures into something, more.

RJ: Thank you for the compliment. I most often photograph people I know, and who know my work, so I feel that brings a sense of intimacy to the portraits.

TEA: Having conducted many interviews over the years for your magazine, which to date surprised and/or inspired you the most ? ( In which issue?)

RJ: You’re putting me on the spot! That’s a tough question to answer. I’ve done about 70 interviews now for the pages of SHOTS, and it’s truly one of the pleasures of my job. As a photographer, it’s an honor be in a position where I can interview photographers that I admire. I learn something from each of them, and hope that my readers do as well. But I don’t want to dodge your question, so I’d have to say that the most inspiring interviews have been the ones with deeply established photographers who have consistently worked in the medium for decades and who were so generous with their answers and wisdom concerning their work. People like Rimma Gerlovina...

( Rimma Gerlovina below)
...and Valeriy Gerlovin (no. 89), George Krause (no. 83), and Jane Evelyn Atwood (no. 92) come to mind.

( Jane Evelyn Atwood below)

TEA: I'm a big fan Rimma Gerlovina too ( being primarily a conceptual photographer). She is also a writer, referred to by some as a visual poet. I see your work in a similar way..

For those who aren't yet familiar with SHOTS, what is it about visually ? Is it a pretty open journal stylistically?

Does it support any particular movement?

RJ: I always find it hard to categorize or summarize. I don’t see it as supporting a movement per se. I try to keep it open, but that’s not to say that I don’t think it has an identity. Because I’m the sole editor, it’s certainly a reflection of my own tastes and leanings, but I try to remain open to all types of work too. It’s always fun and challenging—I love what I do. I’ve always been fascinated by looking at photographs, curious to understand something about the person who created them.

TEA: So, what's in store for the near future ? I know you travel a bit to act as juror and/ or curator for some interesting shows...

(Russell photoNOLA 2008 below)

RJ: I do curate a few shows here and there—most recently was one for the New Orleans Photo Alliance called the “Spirit World” that was, from all indications, well received. I often review at photo festivals too—next up will be Fotofest in Houston next spring. Other than that, I’m presently hard at work on the next issue of SHOTS, and after that will turn my attention back to my personal photography work. Publishing quarterly presents a nice rhythm that allows me some time for my own work in between issues.

TEA: You seem so perfectly suited for " Spirit World". From what I was able to see online, it looked like I missed a good one .. And in New Orleans no less!

Well, there's so much to learn not only from the truly engaging images but the amazing people you choose to bring to your readers. This coming annual PORTFOLIO issue is going to be great! Always some of the most ambitious work to be seen..

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions ( i.e. allow me geek out just a little).
It was a real honor, Mr. Joslin.

Hopefully I'll see you in Texas this Spring for Fotofest ...

Thanks, Darla, the pleasure was mine.

I'll hope to see you too!


SHOTS is reader-supported quarterly journal of fine art photography in its 23rd year of publication. Be sure to order your subscription, HERE .

As stated above, SHOTS offers insiteful interviews, also, regular calls for emerging and established photographers.

( Russell Joslin)