The Trillium Gallery Interview
Trillium > We all like to know how people came to their appreciation of the arts. How did you come to yours?
Chris Lord > When I grew up in Brighton, England there was a small museum/art gallery in town that was free to visit and in that museum were galleries of paintings that included a whole room full of work by several surrealists with many works by Rene Magritte. These attracted me and I would often go there to gaze at the peculiar art and I think that that started the whole thing off for me. There were also other rooms of skeletons, stuffed animals and a room full of art deco furniture which contained some things designed by Salvador Dali. All these strange things fascinated me and influenced the things I am drawn to even today.
Trillium> Inspiration is sometimes hard to find. What is your personal muse, and what do you recommend to those of us who sometimes find it has run away from home?
Chris Lord > I basically shoot everywhere I go. I would love to visit exotic locales and take wonderful images but I make do with whatever life throws in my path. Whatever looks like it might be interesting or I think I can use later. I have thousands of images of all sorts on my hard drives and a huge library of old slides from my film days. When I’m in the mood to create I just start to browse at random through the images and I always get inspired by something and off I go. Sometimes that image doesn’t work and I just start again. I also look at tons of photographs from other artists, in magazines or on the web, and often times see something that stirs an idea. I might remember I have an image that would work just like the one I see then I’ll be inspired to work on that one. Sometimes, however, when I search for an image another image will often grab my attention before I find it and it’s off to Photoshop with that one equally inspired. I find if I get an idea out of the blue it helps to write it down otherwise I will forget it. I have also, in the last two years, joined several photography meet up groups and go out to shoot with the other members. Just hanging with like-minded folks is great to keep the creative juices flowing. I find meet ups are terrific for visiting places you might not have gone to on your own and it’s great to compare images online afterwards. Everybody sees and shoots the same places with totally different eyes and the results are often an inspirational learning experience. I have met a lot of talented folk through local Facebook groups like “Show Me Your NYC” a group I went out with this past Sunday. We explored an abandoned complex of buildings which were once a Farm Colony for poor people which was great if rather spooky fun and provided a huge amount of great material to work on. Everyone has been posting their results for two days now and some folks are going without sleep to work on their pictures – now that’s being inspired!
Trillium > What is your favorite artwork? Why?
Chris Lord > I was, in the distant past, for many years a chef and people would ask me what was my favorite thing to cook – my answer was always food! With art it is much the same. My favorite is the one I am working on right now. In terms of other artists I still gravitate towards the surreal and works by Dali are probably my ultimate favorites but many others crowd his pedestal. Work that takes one outside of the norm and twists the brain a little always holds a special place in my heart. I once got to visit Dali’s museum in Figueres in Spain and it was one of the most unforgettable afternoons of my life. Another painter whose work I enjoy is Edward Hopper and I enjoy photographic artists who emulate his style. One of my all-time favorite photographers is Jerry Uelsmann who produced such wonderful surreal work long before it’s time. I am still amazed that he manages to produce all of his work in a darkroom without the convenience of Photoshop and modern digital software. An early inspiration in photography was the intense color work of Jay Maisel. I also tend to enjoy photography bordering on the psychedelic from the 1960s, a period that had a huge influence on me as I grew up through my teens in that era. But ask me if I have a favorite piece and I’ll have to say no. There is just so much incredible work out there to look at and enjoy to pick one piece would be impossible.
Trillium > Which of your pieces do you not like very much, but others seem to adore?
Chris Lord > I recently sold an image of the inside of the atrium in the GM building in Detroit which surprised me as I didn’t think it was that wonderful and I am often disappointed that images that I am excited about don’t become popular. So this is certainly an interesting question. I really can’t tell which of my works will do well until they do and it’s hard to guess what the public will like. I make work to please myself first, I think, and if I were to only do work that I thought would “sell” I would probably never sell anything!
Trillium > What do you say to people who tell you that you are wasting your time/life on art?
Chris Lord > The few that actually saw the images hiding on my hard drives in the past urged me to do “something” with them. Now, finally, I have come to the life of the starving artist rather late in life. Up until I retired from the real world just over two years ago I had no time to “waste” at all so I don’t think anyone can blame me now for spending my life “following my bliss.” While I always had, since the age of thirteen, a camera in my hand, built a darkroom for Cibachromes in my apartment in the early 80s and started using a computer to create art back in 1986, I truly only managed to do all that in the small amount of spare time I could muster having always held a very demanding real world job. Now that my days are full of “computer time” and I am very frequently out with camera in hand, I believe this to be the just reward of a life of hard labor and, quite frankly, I would rather be broke than go back to such a life !!
Trillium > Would you rather sell a million pieces of what you deem to be sub-par art and make loads of money, or sell those you feel are good work, sporadically, and be satisfied?
Chris Lord > I think it very unlikely that I would sell a million of anything and if it happened I would not be unhappy, however, I would certainly rather be known for producing work of quality and genuine credibility, now if I could sell a million of those I would be in heaven! Most artists, of course, are gone and really in heaven before they sell in any great numbers! Such is life.
Trillium > What advice would you like to offer other artists that might help them learn to better promote their work?
Chris Lord > Don’t give up! Just stick with it and keep doing what you love to do. Use the internet to its fullest. Unfortunately, at the time that all the technology empowers one to put one’s work out there and be seen it also does the same for tens of thousands of others so at times it can become disheartening. Find every opportunity the web offers to post work and get involved in the conversation. Join groups and build relationships and be very very patient.
Trillium > Anything else you would like to share with us?
Chris Lord > I would just like to say thank you for giving me this opportunity, I am very proud and honored to be interviewed by the Trillium Gallery. Cheers.