This week on Tuesday Tours I’m featuring photographer and visual storyteller William Zuback. I haven’t personally met William, but some of the posts on his blog really resonated with me. One of his offerings is about retaining innocence while creating art, and the struggles of self doubt and impeding expectations an artist has once the work is out in the world. He also alludes to struggles of conforming to a world in which he doesn’t fit in. He’s discovered that in his collaborations with his ‘sitters’ or models, he’s found a shared journey and it’s led to a series he calls the Identity project.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I’ve been making my living as a professional photographer for over 25 years. I started creating my fine art work in the late 1990’s for greater personal expression with my photography, in ways I couldn’t, working with clients. I’ve also started teaching a few photography classes at a couple local universities. Inspired by the classic album covers of the 1960’s and 70’s, I’ve been creating conceptual/staged photographs for exhibition since the late 1990’s. My work most often explores the theme of “Identity”. Whether I am photographing inanimate dolls, other inanimate objects, or people, the underlying narrative is the identity of ones self, group, society, or family. Since recommitting to using traditional photographic processes and a 4×5 view camera in 2013, I’m attempting to create images that achieve a singular visual impact. With the work of my nude portraits, linking the form and content of the craft and subject, I invoke beauty, strength, confidence, and introspection. My most recent work speaks more to the aesthetic qualities of the image and less about a specific ethical idea or concern.
How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
I’ve had my current space for about seven years. I turned one of our out buildings into a small 425 sq. ft. studio. It started out as just a functional and productive space to create my photographs but through the years it’s become an extension of me. I believe that since setting up this space, the level of creativity and the output of my work have increased. I find my space to be an incubator for my creativity. I have so many visual elements to be inspired by that I often spend time just sitting in there, formulating my idea’s. It’s also a space that fellow artists come to visit and share a drink and conversation.
Are there any kind of rituals you do before you start creating?
I don’t have any set rituals. My idea’s come to me at all different times of day and all different places. I guess if I have anything that comes close to resembling a ritual it would be that once I formulate my idea, I like to sit on it for a few weeks, thinking about it before I actually commit to creating the image in the studio. I find this allows time for the idea to breath and morph into a final product that is well thought out. I also enjoy using my iphone to play around taking little snapshots in the studio and other places. These images often help inspire a more elaborate idea and final photograph.
Is there anything you like to listen to while you’re working?
I listen to all genre’s of music. My favorite artists that I spin the most often are Alice Cooper, Cowboy Junkies, Otis Taylor, and Nina Simone. When I’m in the process of creating a photograph, the music usually reflects the mood/emotion of the work I’m trying to create. With working, teaching, creating art, spending time with my family, and supporting fellow artists, I don’t have much time for reading. These days, most of my reading consists of periodicals and poetry. But, I love reading fiction, maybe this summer will allow some down time for reading.
Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
I collect dolls so I have a whole studio filled with inspiration. I don’t really have a favorite — it changes depending on my mood. My dad passed away almost ten years ago, I keep his cane right by the door of the studio. I see it when I enter and leave, this would be the most cherished item I have in the studio.
What would you say is the most useful tool in your studio?
I would say that it’s my 4×5 view camera. I use this camera exclusively to create the images I exhibit.
If you had a couple hundred dollars to improve your space, what would you do?
I’d buy a new tripod.
What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
The space should be inviting to you, and not just a functional space. If you want to feel motivated to create, the space needs to be inspirational, creative, and an extension of yourself.
Any new exhibits you’re in or projects you’re working on?
My nude portrait work is an on-going project. Out of this work has come a side project in which the individuals I photograph also do a few photographs interacting with a dress I have in my studio. It’s turning into a great series that fits with my overall theme in my work of identity. I have a project I’m going to start soon, which will take me back to photographing inanimate objects. The project will also have an identity narrative. I currently have work in four different group exhibitions and a few more planned for summer and fall.
William’s work is represented by the Frank Juarez Gallery. To find out more about William visit his website or email him.
Thanks for sharing your space, William! Your work is captivating!