Friday, December 12, 2008

Alec Soth

MW
What inspired you to start taking photographs, and what is the primary inspiration for you to keep working in this field?


AS
As a kid, I lived in the country and spent a lot of time in the forest playing with my pretend friends. Outside of the forest I was shy and, as a teenager, a little lost. But in 10th grade I took an art class with a guy named Bill Hardy. Bill opened things up. I guess he made it okay to play with all of my old pretend friends again. At first I dabbled in painting, but soon found myself doing earthworks and found-art sculpture outdoors. I documented these creations photographically. Eventually the sculpture fell away and I just continued with the photography.

I keep working with photography because I love the process. To be honest, the medium really gets on my nerves. It is fragmentary and painfully mute. I’d be much more proud to say I was a novelist. But even if I could write novels, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.


MW
In your opinion and experience, how can emerging photographers evaluate themselves as ready to start promoting their works and seek broader exposure for their photographs? What is one vital action you would recommend photographers undertake to find their audience, be included in exhibitions, and gain professional representation?


AS
What I like about this question is that you acknowledge that emerging photographers often aren’t ready to start promoting themselves. I find it aggravating that so many young photographers busy themselves with self-promotion when they should just be taking pictures. Let’s use the analogy of the young novelist. When you are writing your first novel, you don’t try to get it published based on a single chapter. First you need to write the book. Too many photographers are shopping for galleries and publishers with unfinished portfolios.

It is a long process getting the first project together. And it often leads to failure. Not only does the novelist need to finish the first book, she might need to write two or three before she hits the target. But here is the thing – when the work is good, you will know it. And when you believe in the work, you can promote it. In the end, good work will find an audience.


MW
How did it come about that you achieved the status of successful, professional photographer? What steps were involved in reaching your level of success?


AS
I didn’t plan on making a living as a photographer. I wasn’t comfortable in the commercial arena and it just didn’t seem possible to make a living off of art. So I found jobs that didn’t require more than a 9 to 5 commitment. I pursued photography on my free time. After college, I did five or so projects over the course of ten years. I showed my work locally in Minnesota but knew I wasn’t ready for prime time. But eventually I found my groove and did a project I was really proud of. I started winning grants and prizes. One thing led to another and the work was eventually exposed to a broader audience.



West Point, New York, from The Last Days Of W


Priscilla, Los Angeles, California, from The Last Days Of W


Chula Vista, California, from The Last Days Of W


Bonnie (with a photograph of an angel), Port Gibson, Mississippi 2000, from Sleeping By The Mississippi


Venice, Louisiana 2002, from Sleeping By The Mississippi


Sacred Heart Hall, Green Island, Iowa 2002, from Sleeping By The Mississippi


Jane, from Fashion Magazine


Ashley & Kelly, from Fashion Magazine


Tricia and Curtis, 2005, from NIAGARA


Newspaper 2005, from NIAGARA


Gus's Pawn Shop 2004, from NIAGARA


The Seneca 2004, from NIAGARA

© all images Alec Soth

Monday, November 10, 2008

William Greiner

MW
What inspired you to start taking photographs, and what is the primary inspiration for you to keep working in this field?


WG
I started taking photographs when I was around 12 or 13 years old. I was into sports , mostly football, but I looked at the magazine Sports Illustrated quite a bit. I was a big fan of one of their staff photographers, Neil Leifer. He was like a super star to me. So when I first got a camera, mail order, it was this East European 35mm model with no light meter. I would spend hours out in front of my house photographing cars , as they flew down the street. There was something magical about the whole process , freezing objects, stopping time. I then did the whole high school newspaper , sports photographer thing and after I finished school, I got the chance to work in the National Football League. It was a great opportunity, but it only lasted a year and a half , when I lost my job to nepotism.

I decided to attend college, this was 1979, so I went to a small liberal arts college , North of Boston. While there, I befriended two kids from Memphis, TN. One of these kids , one day shows up in my dorm room with a copy of William Eggleston's Guide book. It turns out her dad was one of Bill's benefactors, helping to fund his career. I looked at this book and although I could not completely grasp its complexity or originality, I realized photography had the potential to be very personal and it did not have to function as journalism or "news".

On Spring break, we traveled to Memphis and I had a chance to spend time with Eggleston. This encounter was like a fork in the road and I pretty much abandoned photography as journalism. I know this is a long answer but its my answer! Photography for me now is an obsession, it is how I look at and react to the world.


MW
In your opinion and experience, how can emerging photographers evaluate themselves as ready to start promoting their works and seek broader exposure for their photographs? What is one vital action you would recommend photographers undertake to find their audience, be included in exhibitions, and gain professional representation?


WG
I think that a lot of young photographers are way too aggressive now in getting out there and showing ,often , immature work. In one sense, the internet has made this all too easy. I would like to see young photographers make more than one body of work , that is well thought out and executed, before jumping in the fray. The single best thing a photographer can do is to attend photo festivals , like Fotofest in Houston. These types of events are popping up all over the world now, so you don't necessarily have to travel far to have work seen and evaluated by a visually literate audience. I attend Fotofest about 15 years ago and made some great contacts. These folks will provide a great litmus test as to whether the work is refined and original enough to exhibit.


MW
How did it come about that you achieved the status of successful, professional photographer? What steps were involved in reaching your level of success?


WG
When I finally felt like I had something to show and say with my work, I went straight to the lion's den, that for me was the Museum of Modern Art in New York. At that time, you could just drop a portfolio off on Tuesday, if there was no interest , you just picked it up on Wednesday. So I was prepared for rejection, but what ended up happening was MOMA and specifically John Szarkowski liked the work. Szarkowski chose three images from a series and purchased them for the MOMA permanent collection. The work was included in a recent acquisitions show not long after that, so this was a great boost.

At that time, it was also fairly easy to make an appointment in a given city to show a photography curator work. Everywhere I went, I made it a point to visit curators and I was able to place my work in a lot of museum collections. I think that doing this is not so easy anymore? There is lots of competition and there are gate keepers at all these institutions.




Dub Arena LSU, Baton Rouge LA 2007, from the series Baton Rouge Blues


Baton Rouge Bayou, 12/2007, from the series Bayou's Edge


Mall of Louisiana, Baton Rouge LA 3/2008, from the series Bayou's Edge


Sugar & Spice, Baton Rouge, LA 11/2007, from the series Baton Rouge Blues


Elderly Couple at Dock, New York NY 10/2007, from the series Cruise


Security Guard, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans 2006, from the series 8 Days in Spring - New Orleans Jazzfest


Pink Trailer, Metairie, LA 2005, from the series Fallen Paradise


Blue Pipe and Rebar, Metairie, LA 2000, from the series Fallen Paradise

© all images William Greiner

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Zoe Strauss

MW
What inspired you to start taking photographs, and what is the primary inspiration for you to keep working in this field?


ZS
I began making photographs as a component of a large-scale installation I cooked up. It's a ten year project and I'm in the 8th year of it right now; I exhibit 231 photographs once a year, the first weekend in May, under Interstate 95 in South Philadelphia. The concept for the installation came first and the photographs came second, but as soon as I started making the photographs I knew I loved it and that's what I wanted to do, make photos. I love making the photos... I'm interested in the actual recording of moment and the interaction that precedes the photo. I'm interested in composing the photo, both in the frame and the cropping and clean up in photoshop. I love the editing process and the construction of different narratives by changing the sequencing and placement of the photos. Even though this major project will be over in 2 years, I'm going to work with photography for the rest of my life, just based on the pleasure I get from making photos.



MW
In your opinion and experience, how can emerging photographers evaluate themselves as ready to start promoting their works and seek broader exposure for their photographs? What is one vital action you would recommend photographers undertake to find their audience, be included in exhibitions, and gain professional representation?


ZS
I think there's a balance of contradictions in strong self-evaluation. People should question and be very critical of their own work while simultaneously being certain and confident of their ability to bring their work to a place where they feel it's ready to be shown. When someone feels confident in their work being ready to go out into the world, they should work their ass off to get it out there. There's not one action someone can take to be included in exhibitions or get representation, it's a long haul filled with people's opinions as the basis for how work is shown, so there's no way anyone can bank on having curators or gallery directors all show interest in one's work.

The most important thing to do in terms of seeking exposure for one's photographs is to figure out who is being addressed with the work . And then figure out which venues would allow those audiences to see the photos, and then work to get them there. Keep pressing and keep working and keep working.

That's not a super helpful answer, but it's true.


MW
How did it come about that you achieved the status of successful, professional photographer? What steps were involved in reaching your level of success?


ZS
I had a very straight forward, albeit incredible, movement into the art world. My work being recognized comes from a bunch of things, the first being that I work endlessly and am like a fucking wide open throttle freight train when it comes to my work. I am incredibly ambitious in terms of producing the strongest work I can. So here's how it happened... I began producing the I-95 installation and hen in 2002 I applied for a grant, a Leeway grant, which I got. From that grant, the Philadelphia Museum of Art became interested in my work and bought 8 of my photos. Then I applied for a Pew grant in 2005 and got that fellowship. One of the Pew panelists who juried in 2005 was a curator for the 2006 Whitney Biennial, which she then asked me to participate in. Coming out of the Whitney Biennial was an offer to have a show at Silverstein Photography and now I'm represented by them. Someone who saw that show introduced me to a publisher who then offered me a book deal... and around the same time that the book was coming about, I received a United States Artists grant. It was kind of one great thing after another.


Zoe Strauss, I-95 Detail


Zoe Strauss, I-95 Detail


Zoe Strauss, I-95 Detail


Zoe Strauss, I-95 Detail


Zoe Strauss, I-95 Detail


Zoe Strauss, I-95 Detail


Zoe Strauss, I-95 Detail


Zoe Strauss, I-95 Detail

© all images Zoe Strauss

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lori Nix

MW
What inspired you to start taking photographs, and what is the primary inspiration for you to keep working in this field?


LN
I came to photography through the back door. I really didn’t start taking photographs until I went to college. I was friends with the college newspaper editor and I needed a job. She taught me how to process film and print the black and white photographs needed for the weekly edition. I was the darkroom technician for two years, then tried my hand at being the photo editor. My main job responsibility consisted of taking photographs of sporting events, campus life, and breaking news stories. I learned pretty fast that I wasn’t a very good photojournalist. I much preferred being secluded in the darkroom, working with processes, and not interacting with the public. Since I’m not a “people person” per se, staying inside and building my own environments to photograph is the best way I can approach my photography.
I’m in love with process and technique and my way of working is very process oriented. I thrive on the daily challenges of creating a diorama and all the problems it presents. I think those continuous challenges are what keep me inspired and working in this field.


MW
In your opinion and experience, how can emerging photographers evaluate themselves as ready to start promoting their works and seek broader exposure for their photographs? What is one vital action you would recommend photographers undertake to find their audience, be included in exhibitions, and gain professional representation?


LN
My biggest piece of advice for any emerging photographer I meet is to attend a portfolio review such as Fotofest in Houston, Texas or PhotoLucida in Portland, Oregon to name a few. Yes, it’s costs a lot of money, but you are investing in your career. I can’t think of a better way of getting your work in front of so many photography professionals than the twenty minutes of undivided attention you get with a portfolio review. More important than this, are the connections you make with other photographers. You become friends, share information, and see how your work relates to theirs. I believe it is your friends who will help out your career the most with gallery connections, inclusions into exhibitions, and spreading your name around to their friends. I am indebted to a lot of my friends for getting my career to where it is today.


MW
How did it come about that you achieved the status of successful, professional photographer? What steps were involved in reaching your level of success?


LN
I honestly believe my success has been the result of a lot of hard work as well as simply being lucky. When I left school, I didn’t have any idea of how to get my career off the ground. I’ve taken the long, long, long approach by starting with juried shows, group exhibitions, and sending countless information packets that eventually found themselves back in my mailbox. Yet by trying again and again, I finally built up a little recognition, while continuing to hone my photographic craft. I applied for grants and artist residencies. The first national recognition came with a monograph published by Light Work in Syracuse, New York. This publication was sent to many university libraries, photography teachers and collectors. With the director Jeff Hoone’s help, I was given more visibility than I could imagine. After this publication, I attended several portfolio reviews and was picked up by a few commercial art galleries and was offered shows at several prominent non-profit art spaces. For now, the momentum continues. I know my art career will face ups and downs in the future. I’m trying to brace myself for these extremes.


Lori Nix, Vacuum Showroom (from The City)


Lori Nix, Tent Revival (from Accidentally Kansas)


Lori Nix, Wasps (from Insecta Magnifica)


Lori Nix, Great Hall (from The City)


Lori Nix, Natural History (from The City)


Lori Nix, Aquarium (from The City)


Lori Nix, Library (from The City)

© all images Lori Nix

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tim Hailand

MW
What inspired you to start taking photographs, and what is the primary inspiration for you to keep working in this field?


TH
I moved to NYC in 1983 to become a painter. I have made art since I was a little kid, was always making something. Used to take lots of polaroids in the late 80’s, early 90’s. I took a small pocket 35mm camera with me to Miami around 1995 and also a box of letters, there I created my first “word pieces” and it all just clicked (no pun intended) I think in a very visual manner, and a camera helps best facilitate my vision. My imagination is my main motivation – ideas come from everywhere – I’m just a conduit for them. I love photography as it is “real”, while at the same time a complete construction as is any art form.


MW
In your opinion and experience, how can emerging photographers evaluate themselves as ready to start promoting their works and seek broader exposure for their photographs? What is one vital action you would recommend photographers undertake to find their audience, be included in exhibitions, and gain professional representation?


TH
I attended art school, and have always been around other creative people. For myself, critical dialogue with smart people is essential to really figuring out what ones work is actually “about”. A strong basis of art/photography history, most importantly an awareness of the work of others that has come before you is very important. Otherwise there is no context for ones work.

That being said, I think one must always follow their own intuition and vision really do what they are inspired to do, photograph what you are most passionate about, and then hope that there is an audience for it – be true to yourself. There are no guarantees or sure way of doing anything – just work hard and manifest your visions through your work.


MW
How did it come about that you achieved the status of successful, professional photographer? What steps were involved in reaching your level of success?


TH
I’m not really a “professional photographer”, I’m an artist, I make things that I show in art galleries mainly. I don’t do “commercial” work. I have had to make my work when there seemed to be no audience for it. There are lots of people out there with cameras (especially these days with digital cameras which I never use) Hard work is the only way really, that and always pushing yourself to make better work. Figure out what makes your work special/unique and push in that direction.


Tim Hailand, Andreas Kronthaler in Milano in Berlin, 2008


Tim Hailand, Bernhard Schulte in Kaiserwerth in Rome, 2008


Tim Hailand, Fabrizio in Rome in Paris in Provincetown in London, 2007


Tim Hailand, Fran├žois Sagat in Paris in Las Vegas, 2007


Tim Hailand, Lori Bell in Miami in Berlin, 2008


Tim Hailand, Maciek Mika in Krakow in Berlin, 2007


Tim Hailand, Self Portrait in Pittsburgh in Prague, 2008

© all images Tim Hailand

Friday, August 15, 2008

Andrew Phelps

MW
What inspired you to start taking photographs, and what is the primary inspiration for you to keep working in this field?


AP
I was first attracted to the science of photography. As a teenager I used to love to feel the weight of that big F2 dangling from my hand, strolling the desert, looking for motifs that I had seen before and come to recognize as “good” photographs. If I looked through the viewfinder and saw something that I thought I had seen before, on a calendar, in a magazine, on a poster, then I new it had to be good and worthy of photographing. In contrast to now, I loved talking about f-stops, film speeds and lens focal lengths. Living in the Southwest, the landscape is such a powerful force yet loaded with preconceptions of what it should look like. I was constantly chasing these preconceptions in the summer and photographing wrestling matches for my high-school yearbook during the winter. The satisfaction came from finding the right solution to the problem; making the picture what was “expected.”

It wasn’t until my time at ASU, studying with people like Bill Jay, Bill Jenkins and Tamarra Kaida that everything changed, and in such a monumental way that I still, 16 years on, am content with the struggle of trying to get my mind around what I spend my time doing. I started the photo program so sure of myself because I had all the gear and a nice picture or two to show, but nothing can prepare you for the moment you see the works of Diane Arbus, Walker Evens, Robert Frank and co., and have someone like Bill Jenkins tell you, in one simple sentence, almost as if in passing, that there is a monumental difference between “subject matter” and “content”. If I got nothing out of my studies, or to put it better, if I could break it down to one essential moment, it would be the realization that a photograph is not a documentation of reality, and it is most definitely not about the “thing” in the viewfinder.

So, to answer the question, I was using my camera for years before I was motivated to start taking photographs. I got into it because I liked the safety in knowing that it was pure science – a technical craft that could be controlled and defined by the laws of physics. I have stayed interested because I still can’t tell you why a photograph is successful.


MW
In your opinion and experience, how can emerging photographers evaluate themselves as ready to start promoting their works and seek broader exposure for their photographs? What is one vital action you would recommend photographers undertake to find their audience, be included in exhibitions, and gain professional representation?


AP
I think it is very important to spend a lengthy amount of time with a body of work. Just how long is tough to say but I believe each photographer can feel it for themselves. For me it has always been an important step in any body of work to start eliminating photographs. Images that at one time you thought were your strongest. The difference involved with putting together a group of images over time, as opposed to chasing the single interesting photo, is the distance that you gain to the images. Adding the element of time, such as revisiting a series each week for a year or two, adding to the pile and paying attention to how the images relate to one another gives you distance from and insight into your work, and insight into one’s own work is a major challenge for photographers early on in their careers. Photography is constantly becoming quicker and quicker and there is a certain danger in confusing the emotions of making the image for what is actually in front of you later on the print. So often I look through photos that someone has asked me to critique or comment on and I am amazed that some of these people often have little understanding of their own work, and most importantly how to edit their own work. Build on a series long enough to the point that you toss out images that were once essential and you will be getting close to a tightly edited body of work.

In the pursuit of galleries, shows, publications and representation, the most important factor for me has been traveling. I have worked as a curator and member of the Galerie Fotohof for the last 15 years and I can say with absolute certainty that no one has ever gotten a show by walking through the door with a fancy leather portfolio under their arm, nor by sending a CD in the mail. In fact a CD in the mail is maybe the quickest road to the garbage can; too many steps involved to get to the work and there isn’t any work out there that looks good at 72 dpi. Almost everything good I have going for me as far as galleries and publishers is concerned is the direct result of traveling and meeting people. It is the traveling and going to openings and meeting people that lead to the real relationships, and there is so much high-quality work out there that the gallery owners and publishers have to make their decisions based on something other than just good work. Personal connection, in these days of superficial email based communication, is highly respected and valued. I would, and have in the recent past, suggest to younger photographers to take the money they would spend on a portfolio and buy a plane ticket to Paris Photo or Arles or Houston Photo Festival and meet people and find galleries and publishers that you think might be interested in your work. It happens so often that people show me their work and I have to ask them if they know what I do and what I am interested in, both as photographer and curator, because the work is something I can’t begin to offer something in return on, not because it is necessarily bad, but because it’s just so far from what I relate to. This only tells me that they haven’t defined the work for themselves either.


MW
How did it come about that you achieved the status of successful, professional photographer? What steps were involved in reaching your level of success?


AP
There must be some great quote to sum up the answer to this question. The only one which comes to mind, but I repeat it with reserve because I never quite got it myself, was from Nathan Lyons, who said, I think, “fame is a cup of warm spit”. Brilliant yet completely useless to me, maybe that’s the message in itself. Success in a field like art photography is so relative. Each of us measures it with a different ruler. For me success is when an image or a body of work come together in a way unlike I had hoped, and when I can step back and say to myself “interesting, but how about trying this…?” and then move on to the next work. The most successful work you will do is the work that leads you to the next body of work. Yes, I have reached a certain level of success, but so much of it is based on my fellow photographers, critics and art directors, and sometimes by those I have admired and been inspired by and their ability to recognize what I do and call it good. How shallow is that? By the time a certain image makes its way into the wider world beyond my studio, I am usually onto the next thing, and so the praise that may come is nice, but seems as valuable as, well, a cup of warm spit. Under the same token, the negative critique also slides off as easily. I value much more the words and thoughts of a handful of close friends than all of the art critics combined.

I am avoiding the actual question because the answer is rather boring, at least my take on it. It sounds so trite, but hard work and persistence will put you in the 98 percentile right away. The other 2% is probably timing. You may be producing a work that is exactly what you need to be doing at the time, but it might not fit into the current themes and trends. It is so easy to see right through a work which is made out of speculation.

Unfortunately, the above mentioned group of friends can’t pay my rent, so I keep up the fight as best I can, which means investing all of my time not spent behind the camera or in the lab to traveling, writing and trying to get my work out there. That may be the toughest part of all, getting the work out there. Whenever I feel tripped up by all of it, I think of the words a collector once told me: “you can’t keep a good work secret”. Success, either financially or in the form of respect from your peers, does make working and moving on to the next work easier, and that is what it is all about; making the next picture.




Andrew Phelps, from HIGLEY, 2007l


Andrew Phelps, from HIGLEY, 2007


Andrew Phelps, from HIGLEY, 2007


Andrew Phelps, from HIGLEY, 2007


Andrew Phelps, from HIGLEY, 2007


Andrew Phelps, from BAGHDAD SUITE, 2008


Andrew Phelps, from NATURE DE-LUXE, 2004

© all images, Andrew Phelps

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Richard Renaldi

MW
What inspired you to start taking photographs, and what is the primary inspiration for you to keep working in this field?


RR
I started to take photographs as a junior in high school. I was originally signed up to take Art but the class was full so I took photo instead. I instantly took to it and it was something that I felt I intuitively did well - and this gave me a certain confidence as I certainly was no different that most teenagers looking for a way to fit in and identify themselves in the larger world around them.
My photography teacher in high school was also very encouraging. I applied to art schools or schools with a photography curriculum and was accepted into the Department of Photography at NYU. I also worked after school at Magnum and then at a leftist photo co-operative called Impact Visuals in the 1990s. Being in these stimulating environments (especially Magnum) inspired me to get to work on my own projects and eventually led me to pursue a freelance career.
What keeps me inspired and working is simply that I love doing it. I really enjoy looking at people and places and making photographs of them. I feel anxious if I have not done any creative work for over a couple of weeks. That is part of the reason I think I am so productive/prolific. Unfortunately, I suspect that much of the art world generally prefers artists that do not create too much work as they need to keep and maintain the illusion of preciousness around art for the sake of commodity.


MW
In your opinion and experience, how can emerging photographers evaluate themselves as ready to start promoting their works and seek broader exposure for their photographs? What is one vital action you would recommend photographers undertake to find their audience, be included in exhibitions, and gain professional representation?


RR
This is difficult to answer as there are many avenues to pursue. I had the good fortune of meeting a few gallerists to whom I presented my work. Over the years I kept showing them new work. Some of the opportunities came from people that truly understood and appreciated my work - other ones came from a more calculated business position. Emerging photographers should start promoting themselves when they are confident about what they are doing creatively and can talk seriously and maturely about their work and other art as well. Some people are not good talkers though, so I think in the end the work needs to speak for itself. The vital action for photographers to take is really to focus most on creating strong and inspiring work. The rest honestly is a pretty mechanized set of things everyone knows to do to try to get noticed. Sometimes it works, but most often it unfortunately does not.

MW
How did it come about that you achieved the status of successful, professional photographer? What steps were involved in reaching your level of success?


RR
It depends on how you define success. As far as recognition goes - I was very fortunate to have had my work published by Aperture, a truly respected institution. I still think I am learning and growing as both an artist and a human being. As far as financial success: I think it is a struggle for most photographers at every level of the game. I am sure some of the heavy hitters still want and need a big sale, commission, ad job, or assignment. I really think this question is one of perspective; I look at other photographers who I see as being much more successful than I am. And I know that other photographers see me as a "successful" photographer. What I'd rather people think about me is that however much or little my work is noticed in the commercial realm, the work I created was successful from an aesthetic/artistic standpoint. That I made a photograph and someone looked at it and said that is something I find beautiful or desirable. That acknowledgment to me is what I think of as success.




Richard Renaldi, Steve and Esther Kirshenmann Farm, Medina, ND



Richard Renaldi, Burke, SD



Richard Renaldi, Curtis Maui, HI



Richard Renaldi, Alex, NY, NY

© all images Richard Renaldi

About this Blog

Two Way Lens is a project designed to inform and inspire emerging photographers wanting to focus their creative output in a way that enhances their chances of finding an audience, being included in exhibitions and ultimately achieving gallery representation. The journey from inspired artist to successful artist is one that is often difficult to negotiate and hard to control. On these pages, I will feature the experiences and opinions of other photographers who I have found inspiring, and hopefully the knowledge they have built in their own experiences will be valuable to all of us finding our own way to sharing our creativity with the wider world.