Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Artist of the Week

Thomas Graff

For the photographer the world, and all of its broad and ever changing figures and scenes, is a canvas. What is modern and edgy or classic and refined lies squarely in the eye and mind of the photographer. Yet, their still is an overwhelming sense that there is an interaction between the subject and the artist. It is as if the photographer is giving a stage to the subject to tell their story. This is most apparent in portraits, but landscapes and still life all possess tales.

Local photographer Thomas Graff is fascinated by form and fashion, and is about to dedicated his professional life to photography. Currently in his final year at NIU, Thomas is already displaying flashes edgy originality while maintaining a strong sense for the classic nature of fashion photography. His works can currently be seen at The House Cafe in Dekalb as part of a group show for the NIU art group "Ars Nova".

Recently, Thomas was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Last month your show at The House Cafe in DeKalb, Form & Photography, took a new look at photography, developing, and fashion. What can you tell us about that show? What was your process like for the pieces that were on display?
Thomas Graff (TG): The work displays a new way of looking at traditional darkroom photography. It incorporates both painting and photography by using chemicals in the darkroom to splash developer on paper, fabric, and canvas to create the feeling of a painting by using photography. Although my initial intention was to mainly deal with painting and the use of photography, the process ended up creating interestingly new forms and therefor felt the show was demonstrating these "Forms and Photography."

The process started last Spring and has evolved from only using photo paper to now using canvas and fabric. Overall, it has been completely enjoyable and I am excited to continue working this way.

OA: What is it about fashion and form that you find so appealing as a photographer?
TG: I am fascinated by fashion photography because it is more than just photographing any subject. Fashion deals with people and culture and must be carefully set up in order to be successful. As the photographer, possibilities are endless. Having the control of setting up a photo shoot with live models and using different kinds of lighting is more than just pushing a button on a camera. I love the challenge it brings.

Dealing with different forms of photography co-insides with fashion because clothing comes in many unique forms. Using fashion imagery on the clothing creates a good combination for what I am doing.

OA: You have also traveled a bit. Do you feel it is important for photographers to expirence different cultures and environments? Have you found a favorite place to photograph?
TG: I love to travel. I recently got back from a four and a half month study in Salzburg, Austria and found that being abroad is inspiring and life changing. I definitely think that it is important for a photographer to step outside of his/her boundaries (whether that be traveling to an exotic location, or finding a new environment in his/her hometown) because new experiences can change a perspective for a photographer. During my semester abroad I took a trip to Morrocco, Africa and found that being in a culture that was so totally different from my American culture took my breath away. I couldn't stop photographing there. The people were beautiful, the weather was incredible, and the colors were completely unique. It is the best place I have photographed thus far.

OA: How do you decide if an image should be in black & white vs. color?
TG: I personally think that traditional black and white has such a great quality to it. Although all of the works from the Form and Photography show were black and white, I am experimenting with using color in this process. For the show though, I felt it was important to use black and white because it instantly displayed that the works were traditional darkroom prints. The process I am using is very different and many people didn't understand how it was done, so it may have been more confusing by using color.

OA: What has your expirence been like at NIU? How did you decide on their program?
TG: I have been very fortunate with my experience at NIU because I have been able to challenge myself and get involved in a number of different things. I decided on their program because my mom got her Master's Degree from NIU and I found the University to be affordable and in good location to my home town.

OA: What's next for Thomas Graff?
TG: I just finished displaying my work in a week long art show at The Holmes Student Center at NIU. It is an undergraduate photography show and includes work from about 8 other artists. I am excited to be studying abroad this summer in Australia and after I am expecting to graduate in Fall of 2009. After graduation I aim to travel more and become a fashion photographer.

Bonus Questions:
OA: What type of music do you enjoy, and who are a few of your favorites?
TG: I love many kinds of music. Besides doing photography, I sing and play saxophone in a 50's and 60's Rock and Roll band called "The Affects." I also sing in a duo acoustic band with my friend Rachel. Music is a huge part of my life. My favorite musician is John Mayer because he is an outstanding blues guitarist and his words are very meaningful.

OA: What was the last great book you have read?
TG: "You are What You Eat" by Dr. Gillian McKeith. This book will change anybody's life.

For more information on Thomas Graff please visit his website.


Anonymous said...

Tom, youre amazing! I'm so glad to see that you're using your talent and creativity to do something great!

Love, Eiler

Jeannine said...

YEAH BROTHER!!! Keep on rockin' on. :-) Schwester xoxo

Anonymous said...

dude, keep up the AWESOME work!
It's amazing to see how far you have come in the past years..."your the best twin anyone could ask for"........

inVinceble said...

This is the start of something big, something really illustrious. Thomas, your career as a photographer is taking off like a shooting star!!

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