Monday, August 6, 2012

Julia Kozerski

For Light Leaked's first post, I wanted to have a conversation with one my friends and inspirations, Julia Kozerski. Light Leaked's intent is to have content that is informative about photographic creation, both conceptually and in business, and to make connections between photographers. Julia and I have never met in person, but have shared our thoughts about life as photographers and made a real impact on each other. I think that our friendship is a metaphor for the future of Light Leaked. 

To view more of Julia's work, visit her website:
Ashley Kauschinger: As an emerging photographer, how do you keep yourself motivated to continue to create strong work?

Julia Kozerski: Well. . . it's not always easy to stay motivated while you are "emerging." When you don't have a gallery representing you or a museum knocking down your door to acquire your pieces, the business of making work can sometimes be frustrating. At times you may even give up. Luckily, it's all part of the process. It's about asking questions and working towards answers. I've "thrown in the towel" many times, but always reemerged after a break. My work is inspired by life and I'll probably be making creative works (whether photographic or not) until the day I die. The way I stay motivated is to keep asking questions. I ask questions of myself and don't think about what an audience would think (at least not until later in the process.) Whatever motivates you to work is what you need to do. In order to accomplish anything in this business, you have to be sincere. I've learned the hard way that failure to stay true to yourself, your vision, and your questions will only lead to failure. Oh, and failure. . . deal with it! I was recently warned by my professors that I should prepare to make a lot of bad art in my time. The important thing is to keep moving forward, keep questioning.

AK: For the series Half, how did you begin to create this work and how did you maintain your vulnerability throughout? 

JK: "Half" was never meant to be seen by anyone besides me. When I began my transformation, I wanted to keep a record of my physical changes. I was in college at the time and started by introducing the detail shots of my skin to class critiques. As time passed my body changed dramatically, my emotional state shifted and I knew that that, too, needed to be documented. After awhile, and with the help and guidance of classmates, professors, and fellow photographers, I was able to comprehend the depth of my experience and understand that my images, while of me, were not "just" about me. The element of constant questioning is what aided me in staying true (vulnerable) throughout. During the creation of the images, I was living my life. I was making adjustments to my daily routine and things were changing rapidly. Until I began to assemble the series, I had no real grasp on what I had been through or what I was speaking about visually. For me, I had been questioning what was happening (inside and out) and, it wasn't until the editing process, that I was able to truly understand. The entire experience, physical and photographic, has proven cathartic.

AK: Your work has been getting a lot of attention recently. Does this affect your working process or how you view the work, knowing that many people will see it? 

JK: There are two sides to receiving attention. On one hand, I spend A LOT of time responding to emails and phone calls - there is a lot of clerical work that goes behind-the-scenes. A lot of money is spent printing, framing, and shipping work as well. For an emerging artist, this can all be very stressful. I'll admit to times of asking myself if it's worth it. And then the flip side, when I get an email from someone saying that they saw my work somewhere and that they can relate. People all over the world, from all walks of life have taken time to contact me - it's an absolutely incredible feeling. I do often think about what it would be like to make work that people want to buy and hang in their homes. I wonder what it would be like to not have to struggle to balance a paying job and making my personal work. But then I think, too, about the conversations I've shared with others. About the personal stories and intimate details that strangers have shared with me. In many ways, the dialogue that is created by my imagery is my payment. Knowing that people will see my work has helped encourage me to push boundaries and to continue questioning everything.

AK: What is your process of self promotion? How much time do you think is spent promoting your work vs photographing and what sources do you utilize  (juried show, publications, etc)? How do you create a balance between making work and promoting it? 

JK: Yikes! Life as a fine artist is tough! When I was in school, I always had this grand idea that I would be an artist and I would be so amazing that a gallery would pick me up, that my works would be in high demand and I could spend all my time being creative. WRONG! I've quickly come to learn that, while I suppose that dream is possible, it is definitely not probable. If I had to guess, I'd say that 90% of my time is spent sitting behind the computer, in the line at FedEx, or on the phone. Maybe (and that's a big "maybe") the remaining 10% is spent making art. As any artist knows, promotion is key. If you're lucky enough to be represented by a major gallery, you probably have a sizable budget and don't have to worry so much but, as a poor, emerging photographer talk is cheap. . . like free. I am a HUGE fan of social media. I try to stay active on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. I'm also a huge advocate of websites (and keeping them updated and current.) I used to apply to more juried shows than I do now (mainly because applying to everything can become expensive) and, with time, I've learned to make more calculated decisions about what shows to apply to (like the lottery.) The bulk of my time is spent networking. I enjoy attending events like Filter PhotoFest, Review Santa Fe, etc. I look at artists and photographers online and in galleries. I bookmark or make a note of those that pique my interest and I research them more. Often times I will reach out to other artists. The name of the game is staying active and involved within the community. It didn't take long to learn that everyone knows everyone and that there is a lot of creativity and support being shared.
As for balance. . . you'll have to ask me later. I graduated from undergrad in early May and haven't yet gained solid footing. Going forward, a resolution I have is to create a schedule. As it is now, I go with the flow. When an email comes in, I stop everything to respond. What I hope is that if I lay out specific time each day for clerical work, etc. I will feel less overwhelmed by the 90% and more fully enjoy my 10% creative time.

AK: What are you working on now and what's next for you? 

JK: I've got a lot of questions and I'm making a lot of work! Right now I'm working on a video piece that I am particularly excited about. I've also started keeping a journal next to my bed because I often wake up from dreams about potential projects or images so I'm excited to start wading through and creating more!

Thank you Julia for giving insight into your working process! 
Please join Light Leaked every Monday for new content 

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