New year, fine art

I’ve been sat over my coffee for 30 minutes now (its cold but I’m drinking it anyway because Starbucks prices are enough to bankrupt me) and I can’t for the life in me think of how to start this without it being cliche, so here goes.

Its 2020, meaning New Years resolutions- I haven’t made one as such, more just decided to take control of my mental health and live with a “what happens, happens”mindset, which I fear could be dangerous, but I’ll see how long it lasts. The ending of 2019 was a difficult one for me. Everything I thought could go wrong in the last few months did. The one that was the last straw was my surgery being cancelled with no warning and me only finding out when I’d travelled 2 hours to get there with a bag full of post-surgery necessities. I say necessities, it was mostly candy and Doritos but after my last hospital stay, the food just doesn’t cut it, I’m a growing boy. So after a December of mental breakdowns, rash decisions and screaming into the void, I have decided that the rational thinking I did post-breakdown, is something I am going to lead with this new year. I can’t be dramatic this year- it solves absolutely nothing and just exhausts me.

With that in mind, I did something that at the beginning of 2019, despite being medicated for anxiety, would have seemed impossible. I went to a public place and took photos using balloons. What- the? I hear you asking. You read right though. Now, throughout my entire time doing photography, I have never taken photos in a public space whilst drawing attention to myself. Sure, I’ve taken photos of nature, but that’s different, everyone does that. The closest I got to drawing attention to myself was using my homemade camera because no one had any idea what I was holding and why I wasn’t using digital, which is fair enough I suppose, we live in a digital era, why on earth would you go old school.

Anyway, back to my anxiety-inducing photoshoot with balloons. I went to a public space, granted not suuuuper busy, but baby steps right we’re only a week into the new year, and took photos of a balloon in different locations with the aim to create triptychs of a somewhat spooky balloon (thank you IT) in various locations. Now, where it starts getting tricky is the weather- its winter, dark and windy- not overly helpful when trying to capture balloons. Its even more tricky when you go with three already full of helium and within the first couple of photos one of them pops. Then the ultimate challenge comes when you haven’t got 3 shots of one colour and it’s almost completely out of helium and will no longer float. However, unlike my previous 2019 mindset of basically throw a tantrum and completely quit trying, I persevered and managed to get 2 whole triptychs out of a 4 hour shoot. Not bad going. Usually this would distress me because how on EARTH do I only get that many, how is it not more? Am I not good enough? But that is old me speaking, it doesn’t matter the quantity, the outcome was perfect, even better than I had planned and I am damn well good enough, the elements were just trying their best to kick my ass.

Live and learn right? Next time I will hope for better weather (difficult in England) and I have now made this project one of my ongoing ones for 2020, you never know, maybe I’ll incorporate people at some point- although I do like the sinister vibe (thanks again IT) of a single lone balloon. I do wonder if there would be a way to have a singular balloon and it not look like a screen grab from a horror movie? Maybe I’ll know the answer but the end of the year.

final red

The above triptych is the spookiest (AGAIN, THANKS IT) and one I am proud of on so many levels. First is my perseverance of getting a rapidly deflating balloon look neat, but the second is one I feel I’m not “meant” to talk about, but I am all about transparency, is my use of photoshop. Anyone who knows me, knows that for the last 3 years at least, photoshop has been on my “do not use” list, other than adding watermarks, I don’t edit anything using it. However, whilst my balloons were failing, I knew I wanted each triptych to have a water feature in the middle panel and this was becoming more and more difficult and this series were the second I shot and water just wasn’t possible by the time I got to it, so I used a photo of a yellow ballon that I had shot earlier and completely changed the colour to red (cheating I know), but I mean thats what photo editing is for, right? I must admit, it felt amazing being able to completely change something too, this series is fine art, not documentary, so why shouldn’t I try new things and everyone else does it!

So, so far this year, I have battled anxiety to create one of possibly my favourite photo series and learnt new photoshop skills and we’re only 6 days in. Starting the year with a lot of positive thoughts.

Thanks for reading,

Alex

Life update 15/12/19

Its been a while. Honestly I forgot, I’ve been super focused on sending out my daily doodles (if you wanna receive them there’s still time, just sign up to my mailing list). Anyway, I thought on my first real day off in quite a while (working a day job alongside photography is a pain), I’d update yall on stuff thats going on.

My life really isn’t interesting so apologies already. As I said, I’m sending out daily positive doodles for the festive season as I know it can be difficult for people for many different reasons and it may be their only reason to smile that day. You can still sign up to receive them in the sidebar (or bottom of the page if you’re on mobile)

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one of the doodles sent.

Other than that, i’ve really only been working my ass off to be able to afford moving- its started going surprisingly well, so i’m ever so slightly concerned.

Another big bit of news is that on the 19th December, I am going to be getting surgery, so im out of action again this Christmas- its basically a new tradition. However, this means that after Wednesday, I won’t be sending anymore parcels for a couple of weeks, whilst I recover, unless I ever so nicely ask my mum or brother to mail them (who knows?). This also marks the beginning of a new photography project documenting my trans-ness. Probably the last very personal one I do as I’ll have nothing left to say about myself after this. I will continue my works about trans people, theres still a lot to fight for and to be said about the trans experience in general! I just won’t really have any new big milestones to make.

I hope you enjoyed this real quick update, told you i’m not interesting in the slightest.

Thanks for reading

Alex

 

Being a creative in school

I think the title is pretty straight to the point. Im gonna be talking about being a creative in school, whether thats high school, college or university- they are all challenging times for creatives. This ranges from feeling shame that you’re not following a stereotypical academic path, that we are encouraged to follow from the second we step foot into education, to feeling limited by education as to what we are allowed to create or what will get us the best grade.

I didn’t really start actively pursuing creative studies until I was in my last year of high school, it was just something I did in my spare time. I wanted to go into journalism my whole way through school- so I guess somewhat creative but not in the same way that I am today. Anyway, my last year of high school I took art as a GCSE class and found a whole new path that I wanted to go down. I’d still take literature and language in college just to keep my options open, but it wouldn’t really be my main focus. In school, it was weird, I was terrified of people judging my art, I’d keep it hidden and only my tutor would see it, god forbid if my parents had ever saw it, I would have cried. I stayed behind a lot after school to do the work I hadn’t done in class because I would rather muck about in class and then do my work when no one was near me. I was insecure. Oh how things would change. During my art course, I was introduced to actually using photography as an art medium other than just taking pretty snapshots on a weekend. I never knew galleries showcased photography or that it was really even considered art. So, that was the beginning of something.

In college, that is when my camera obsession began. I took film studies and photography (alongside English lit and lang, but they’re boring) and started really creating for the first time. My first year was a bit of a write-off to be honest. It was me constantly begging my tutor for his opinion, asking if my ideas were ok and still being terrified to show my work to anyone. It was the same for my second year up to Christmas when, through the holiday, I had a stern word with myself and decided, I didn’t constantly need a tutors approval for my work and that if I just spent more time thinking it through myself and actually creating, it would work out a lot better. My grades improved massively (not that grades really matter, but they did if I was to go to university I guess). So, lesson number one; Don’t seek constant approval from others. At this point of my creativeness, I was also dead set on specialising in music photography, so I didn’t fully take fine art seriously. I had my eyes set on a goal and I would be damned if I changed path- if only 17 year old me knew that after a year of uni, I would have totally moved on from that dream. Although, I still wouldn’t turn down a music photography gig, I’d just have to think about how to work it around my style. Through college I completely neglected most things non-photography related, it just wasn’t my top priority, I wanted to make sure I became an expert in my field and between research files and essays, I knew which I preferred doing.

After trying to convince myself I didn’t want to go to uni, I ended up there after college. I combined my knowledge of film and photography and studied “photography, video and digital imaging” so again, my options were open to create video and to refine my skills in adobe premiere, or to focus solely on photography.

University was tough, everyone around me seemed to be doing hyper-academic classes and it made me feel very mediocre studying something that didn’t involve exams. I didn’t feel like I deserved to call myself a university student. Lesson number two; Being creative doesn’t make you less deserving. In my first semester, I had new lecturers to suss out. What kind of photography did they like? What was their aesthetic? How do I do well in their classes?

My first year and second, I did good, but not great. My end goal was to get a first class degree. I’d come so far and I didn’t want anything less than that (to be honest a third would have sufficed, but I had to prove to myself that I wasn’t shit) I got so obsessed with grades and pleasing others that I didn’t feel like I was actually doing the projects I wanted. My best grade was a project that I didn’t particularly listen to any criticism about, I just did it. Lesson number three; For emphasis: Don’t seek constant approval from others. Lesson number Four; Grades don’t actually measure your success. First year grades don’t count so that was pretty chill and year 2 I promised myself I would stop seeking approval and do my own stuff- I managed this most of the time, but there was still always something in the back of my mind questioning whether a specific project was good enough for a specific lecturer and it made me spiral a lot.

Third year was the one where I finally stopped giving a damn about other people liking me and liking my work. Instead of shaking through a presentation, I took deep breaths and spoke concisely through my pitches, I had a clear head to be able to answer an questions that might have been asked and I had prepared answers to these before hand. Showing my work at the end, just before it got graded, felt easy, I was confident about my work for what felt like the first time. I hadn’t tailored it to anyone but myself and I knew exactly what I was doing. I had completed one of my major projects in the summer break, so there was no way I was changing them if someone said it wasn’t good enough. I’d done exactly what I wanted, with no critical input and it worked out for the better and it was one of my best grades and allowed more time for my other projects throughout the semester. In December of my third year I also had surgery, which I thought I should reschedule and not risk my last year, but I didn’t. Again, this was something I wanted to do, it was something I needed to do and I knew I’d be able to work around it. Almost everything this year was planned to the minute before the first semester started and it was all on my terms and I would make it work no matter what. My third year was my best graded year and allowed me to leave university with a first- my goal in the first place. But more than that, I left with confidence and a sense of self and determination. Lesson five; Be confident and determined.

I made lots of calculated decisions in the summer leading up to my last year that I wish that I had done the year before, I got rid of lots of people who were holding me back and I was selfish in putting my future career before anything else and it paid off. Lesson six; Being creative is about putting yourself first and not losing sight of the end goal.

 

I hope this helps any creatives in education.

You do you and don’t let anyone or anything hold you back. This is a time to experiment and flourish, its okay to make mistakes, the path to creativity is a scribble and although confusing and sometimes discouraging, it will work out in the end. There is no right or wrong way to be a creative, only your way.

 

Alex

Summer’s coming to an end

ITS SEPTEMBER!!

That means, spooky season is upon us. In fact I went into a store today and their halloween aisle was already set up and I had to refrain from buying all of the candy, gravestones and skeletons (I daren’t get any until October 1st otherwise I’ll end up with WAY too much stuff, actually, can you ever have too much spooky time stuff?) Anyway, tangent! that’s not what this post is about- again, October 1st I’ll talk about this a lot more, but I am afraid y’all will be sick of me if I get too excited now.

So, back onto topic, I swear there is a point to this post. Technically its not the end of summer yet, even though in the UK it definitely feels like it is- I’m already back in sweaters and complaining its cold- the weather just can’t win, damn climate change. I have been noticing though that my back garden, which is a blooming masterpiece (mind the pun) in the summer, has started to die back. This means autumn is quick approaching and also means that I can get some wonderful photos of decaying nature, which is exactly what I’ve done.

Of course, it wouldn’t be my photography, without the signature lgbt+ vibes/ film vibes. So I hope you enjoy the collection of super spur of the moment photos that I took. Read to the end for techniques and a quick summary of my favourite trip this Summer (or just appreciate the photos- its completely up to you!)

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Before I move onto my favourite trip, the technique I used for the photos involving rainbows, was the trusty CD and torch method. This is actually the first time i’ve managed to perfect it and I’m sure I can do even better if I had a second person to make the rainbows- its surprisingly hard to hold 3 things and take a photo when you only have 2 hands. If anyone tried this, please tag me in the photos and show me!

Now, onto mu favourite trip this summer. It was definitely the single camping trip I took. I completely forgot how much I enjoy camping until this. I visited the Lake District, Grasmere and Ambleside to be specific and gosh the scenery is so inspiring- I felt like I could write a whole novel, write amazing poetry and take the most amazing photos (the inspiration faded soon after I left, definitely need to spend more than a weekend there). I’ve attached the few photos I took, I am the WORST and didn’t take my camera, oops, it’s a good job my phone is great at capturing moments!

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Top 10 creators

This is going to be a very quick post, but I’ve realised I don’t seem to really post on my site which creators I love and who inspires me, so here goes, a list of my top 10! (with links cos what’s the point if I don’t give you access to their content)

  1. Anastasia Tasou She creates the most wonderful line art work. She’s really taught me how to not give a damn what others think of your work and to create things that you want to create. She also creates the cutest self help zines & will do custom tattoo designs.
  2. Travis Alabanza They’re a wonderful poet- their words are in my experimental video! They’re also currently touring with a theatre show called “burgerz” that (without giving too much away) is about the transphobia that they face.
  3. Neil Hilborn He’s another poet! He writes about mental health and every poem of his brings out she kind of intense emotion. You’ve probably already seen his work before, but he definitely deserves a place on this list!
  4. Fox Fisher Fox is a non binary creator, who creates videos with “my genderation” as well as their own solo political art. They are one of my main inspirations for any of my political projects- they’re truly a great person.
  5. Rinko Kawauchi Inspired 90% of my photographic aesthetic, from cool tones to very light and airy lighting and square format. I’m very thankful that I found her work, it truly resonates with me.
  6. Amber Ive followed Amber on instagram for a long time and for real whenever I see her work my jaw drops. Her witch vibe rooms and nature drawings are stunning and I definitely wish I could live inside her art!
  7. Ksenia Zim Is another creator who’s work makes my jaw DROP. I could only imagine in my wildest dreams being as good at embroidery as they are. Their Aurora Borealis embroidery is just amazing.
  8. Percy Moon Percy’s one of my closest friends and his art is stunning! Honestly if I had the funds I would definitely buy everything that he’s created!
  9. The obscure Collective This is the collective I was a part of for my end of year exhibition and everyone in this collective inspires me in a different way. We all achieved so much and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of classmates.
  10. Craftywhitemice My last person who inspires me is my mum! I love being around her when she’s creating things and she definitely reminds me where I get my creativity from!

 

The list could go on for ever, but I’ll stop here! Be sure to check out the people listed, they deserve so much appreciation

A new kind of professional.

How do you define professional? Is it someone with no tattoos and piercings, someone with no public personality and someone who always keeps up a perfect persona? If it is, get with the times!

Honestly, I don’t even think there is such thing as a “professional” anymore, just people, who due to capitalism, are more well-known than others. For example (lets stick with something I know and say creators), now, creators fall into many categories and sub categories, such as “famous”, “Professional”, “amateur”, “beginner” etc, but in reality, the “famous” people are just those with large followings and may in fact be less “professional” than those who fall into the professional category. Okay my heads beginning to spin with all this!

Essentially where I’m trying to get to with this, is that many people will tell you that sharing your thoughts and feelings, ups and downs on social media is deemed unprofessional. This may have been true many years ago, but now, in the age of technology, it is often a way to connect with your larger audience. People don’t want to follow people who are closed off, seemingly “perfect” as this isn’t a true representation of anyone on the planet. No one only has highs and whilst its seemingly an influencers talent to only show the pool parties, holidays and luxury foods, this, as pointed out by many articles, is just not real-life. However, I also do not think that we should shame these people for only showing their highs, just as we shouldn’t shame people for showing their highs and lows.

For me, and many other people, posting our struggles help combat the dark times we are going through. I personally, don’t tend to do it as often as I did, purely because my mind is in a much better place, however, if I was to mentally struggle again I would not want to be deemed “unprofessional” and “unemployable” for this. Many people praise mental health advocates for says x, y and z about mental health, the congratulate magazines for writing an article romanticising depression, but when someone who may be in the public eye shows the ugly sides of these mental illnesses, they are automatically deemed as unprofessionalism. From what I can gather, this is often because people never want to actually admit that these things happen to people, but on the flip side, there are people who are genuinely grateful that people share these experiences because it makes them feel less alone.

Lets use my own experiences for example, being a transgender male, I have struggled with many aspects of my identity, coming to terms with the fact I wasn’t cis and having very extreme lows due to dysphoria. I have documented this process throughout to where I am today, not for “attention”, but to hopefully make at least one person feel less alone in what they are experiencing and to normalise the feelings that trans people experience throughout their transition. Now, in the past, this could have been seen as unprofessional as sometimes, the experience isn’t happy and has been a source of great depression, sharing this would have been frowned upon. However, in 2019, this is helpful and the age of the internet is turning into a generation who can share their experiences, without fear that they are going to be viewed differently.

This is a shift from the last “unprofessional” debate that happened (and is still ongoing), of tattoos and piercings. As lots of people rightly think nowadays, “How on earth do tattoos and piercings mean that you cannot fulfil your job correctly”, there are still the odd person from previous generations of people who see them as strictly “unprofessional” and not suitable for work places. Thankfully, many places are becoming accustomed to allowing workers to have tattoos, piercing and dyed hair. So, when will people stop seeing mental health as an unprofessional trait to have- when in reality, it is not something that we choose. Why is talking about our own mental health experiences seen as unprofessional?

I’ll leave you here with one last thought: How is someone tweeting “Today I really want to die” seen as unprofessional, yet the President of the USA tweeting childish statements such as; “Truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain. He was terrible at DEBATE!” and “Dopey @Lord_Sugar I’m worth $8 billion and you’re worth peanuts…without my show nobody would even know who you are.” You would almost think as president, he would have some kind of standard to uphold, but apparently not. (I have chosen slightly less offensive tweets) And I mean do I even need to say it? Talking publicly about grabbing woman by the p*ssy is DEFINITELY unprofessional and for ever will be.

I’ll definitely stick to reading people live tweet their depressive episodes (and of course reach out) and tweet my own depressive episodes, than read/tweet completely absurd, offensive, childish drivel.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Alex

*it was a long one this time oops, full rant mode got me*

The exhibition

Gosh I bet you’re all SICK of me talking about this exhibition, but please, let me be excited and proud of everything I’ve accomplished!

The day was finally upon us, 14/06/19, the exhibition opened. Everything in place, my work had been up for multiple weeks (I had terrible visions of it somehow falling down or getting damaged before opening day), all that was needed now was the people who were interested in viewing photography.

4:30pm Celebratory drinks.

5:30pm The guests arrived.

I of course hung around my work, my ego needed to hear kind words being spoken about something I finally put into the real-world public realm rather than online. I was not disappointed like I feared I was going to be. Thankfully people actually took time out of their schedules to not only look at my work, but to meticulously read the captions that my wonderfully brave models had written about their trans experience and then reflect upon those words. I heard people asking “is that really how the world views trans people?” and unfortunately all I could think was “yes” and this made me realise that there is still so much awareness that can be done. It appears that within the trans community, these topics are often heard, the hatred seems to be amplified in our ears and we can’t escape it, whilst it is totally possible for cis people to turn a blind eye, cover their ears and pretend that they haven’t heard the unkind, targeted words. They may read the articles within the media of scare-mongering, but it does not affect them and they may not necessarily notice the people that are actually being affected by the words, therefore its easy to forget, however, when it is presented to them in an art/visual form, it is a lot harder to escape. It is happening and there needs to be more to make it stop.

Past the opening night, on 17/06/19 I had a very engaging conversation with an older man, whom I was wary around as I unfortunately haven’t had much luck with the older generation accepting the trans community as a whole, but he was very engaged with the work, had lots of respective questions and was thankful that I had brought light to something that he didn’t quite understand the ins and outs of before viewing the work, but understood that society needed to change further to support LGBT+ people. He left with different sources that he had asked me to direct him to and I felt so happy having a good experience and chat with someone who was genuinely understanding and friendly. It makes me feel as though my work is truly making some kind of difference even if it is just within the local community, for now.

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Exhibition opening dates

17/06/19- 21/06/19

10am-4pm

6 Green Terrace, Sunderland SR1 3PZ

 

2 weeks over

If you read my last post then you’ll know I visited my parter in New York for the past 2 weeks. You may also know that I have been endlessly applying for jobs there, so far unsuccessfully, but hopefully luck will strike and I’ll be in the state where my heart seems to belong.

Over the next few days, I will be suffering from jet lag but I will hopefully pick up motivation to post the photos I took- I kinda regret taking them on film now!

However, here’s a quick selection of the photos I took on my phone

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The flight
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NJ Renaissance faire
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NJ Renaissance faire
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View from the top of the intrepid
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Alices tea shop chapter 2
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The highline
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Hudson yards, NYC
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The highline
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Hudson yards, NYC
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The color factory
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NYC public library
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NYC public library
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NYC public library

I hope you enjoyed this quick selection of photos (I know they’re far from professional, phone cameras SUCK!)

I can’t wait to post my actual photos.

A new update will be coming very soon, lots of exciting things are happening right now.

Thankyou for reading this jet-lagged, exhausted post- I hope you enjoyed it.

 

  • Alex

Quick Exhibition update

I feel like I haven’t written anything in a while (that’s because I haven’t, oops), but I’m writing now and thats all that counts, right? Anyway, I have a real quick update and an uplifting message will pop up somewhere I hope!

So, as some of you may know, I’m currently working on my final year degree exhibition. Honestly I never thought I’d be so excited about this. I’m almost completely anxiety free about it, but that means something will definitely (probably) go wrong to send me into a meltdown, but for now I am the most content with my degree than I have been over the entire 3 years.

This year I have proven myself to be very persistent in perusing a more political stance within my photography, focusing mostly on trans people and the unfair media representation, so it only felt right to do this for my exhibition too. I mean if I’m finally leaving the university I might as well leave some final trans education for people to think about.

I think I am almost done the entire thing, other than the printing, final editing and captions but that will hopefully be easy enough. This year I have worked so hard and it’s all really paid off so far and even though I have next to no free time (hence why no blog post) I am truly feeling like I’m living up to my potential- although I’m not half looking forward to my well deserved holiday in May. Throughout everything I have done this year I have been SO stubborn with the end products of my projects because of my summer epiphany of always creating things for me, not the people around me and again, by some miracle it has worked.

Basically, for the positive message I am trying to communicate, creativity can be difficult, but with “hard work”- creativity shouldn’t feel like work, really, and a bit of stubbornness about your vision, you really do create your best things. This year I am thankful that I escaped a toxic environment and made it into a loving one that has really allowed me to flourish, so everyone- eliminate the toxicity that is holding you back! You are worth more than that!

This was a lil bit of a ramble, but a quick little update felt like a good idea, whilst I have the time!

Remember, you can contact me at: contact and I will more than happily get back to you/ you can find me on social media! I’ll get back to you straight away and if I don’t, please just keep bugging me, I don’t mind!

Hope to update y’all soon,

Alex