today I have yet another interview for you. The photographer Namsa Leuba has won several prizes and is published in many of the world’s best magazines for her great work. On her blog you can see many of these publications.
As you know I went to Vienna International School and was therefore in touch with many cultures starting at a very young age. I have always been interested in identity and in people in search of their roots. Furthermore I love colours and patterns. These two reasons made me notice Namsa Leuba’s work. I contacted her and she replied to my questions almost immediately.
Please read this interview and reflect upon the feelings that Namsa’s colourful photographs evoke.
A) Are you currently in NYC or Switzerland? What is it like to live and work in NYC compared to Switzerland? Would you like to stay in one or the other place in future? Is it better to have both as your basis (Switzerland and the USA)? Or rather move on and live in different places still?
I was born to a Guinean mother and an Helvetian father. I grew up on the shores of Neuchatel’s lake in Switzerland.
Now I am living in New York.
It is a such exciting city that I would love to stay here.
Below is a self-portrait of Namsa Leuba:
B) What are your childhood memories? Have some of these influenced your art/photography? If so, can you tell a story?
In 2011 I went to Guinea. This trip was an opportunity to reconnect with some of my roots. I have always wanted to explore and share this other culture that is part of me. And I knew that the best way to do so was to visit the village founded by my great grandfather. This pilgrimage to the land of some of my ancestors inevitably and immediately raised the sensitive question of “origin” or “origins”. Mine, that of my parents, of others (my subjects) and of my approach.
All I knew before the trip was that my mother is muslim and that my father is a protestant, although I’ve not been baptized. The religious aspect of my mother’s country became very prominent. I discovered an animist side to the Guinean culture which is based on people’s respect for it. I had been exposed to supernatural part of Guinea as since I was a child, I visited ‘marabouts’ (some type of witches) and this time around took part in many ceremonies and rituals. And for me it was important to do this work, because now I feel more aware of this situation, the existence of a parallel world, and the world of spirit. It was important for me to this work because it enabled me to be more aware of the intricacy and the existence of a parallel world, that of spirits.
C) When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
In 2004 I studied Design of Information in the Art School of La Chaux-de-Fonds (CH). When I was in my second degree, I realised that I wanted to improve in photography.
In 2011 I graduated from ECAL/ University of art and design in Lausanne, obtaining a BA in photography. During my studies I developed a curiosity, sensitivity and a particular focus towards the world around me. For the last two years my research has been focused on African identity through Western eyes.
D) Can you give insight into where you live? What is your home decoration like? What is a typical day like for you?
I am living in a typical New Yorker loft with flatmats. It is a mix of vintage and contemporary things.
E) Costumes are important in your works. Can you tell me how your models are dressed? Do you sew the fabrics or do you buy/borrow fashion for the shootings? Are there any fashion labels you cooperate with?
I went to many places to find the best fabrics to use and to choose the right people for my project Ya Kala Ben.
I created all the costumes by myself and I chose every thing that I used by myself.
In Africa when I was ready to shoot I could not waste time to avoid the sometimes violent reactions from people.
For the other fashion shoots I sometimes worked with Célia Lutangu. We have the same mind when we are together. She’s from Switzerland too.
F) Do you have your own studio or do you work in different locations? What camera(s) do you use?
It depends on the project. Sometimes I work in a studio sometimes not.
Most of the time I use a Mamyia R647 120mm and a Leica 35mm camera, analog camera.
G) Are there any people you would like to work with creatively? Any projects you would like to do in your creative life?
Yes, I would like to collaborate with many people whose work I enjoy. I hope this will be possible in future.
I have so many projects in my mind that I want to do. The only thing I hope is that I will have enough time.
Here are some of the photographs by Namsa Leuba:
Image credits: Namsa Leuba
Today’s interview is with Lucy Cheung. She has a whole universe of art and inspirations on the web, that she updates regularly. Find out more about this fascinating person by reading the interview.
A. You work very hard and do a lot of research. You post daily drawings. You have a website, a blog and a Tumblr site, besides Facebook and Etsy, crafts markets, drawing marathons,…. This complex online and offline world seems as though you are a very hard working woman. It seems that you are very motivated to create your art. Do you sleep at night or do you work night and day? Do you work so intensively that you think only about your art/dream about your art? What is the difference between your Tumblr blog and Crushed Evil?
There’s never enough hours in the day really! I try to work normal hours unless there’s a pressing deadline as I’m a zombie with not enough sleep. Art and creativity is just all-consuming, it’s hard to not be thinking about it 24/7. But this can get overwhelming sometimes and I have to force myself to take a break and do something else. The tumblr is more of an addendum to the main blog Crushevil, for images that don’t warrant a full blog post or a reminder of things I want to look into more thoroughly.
B. I noticed that you are fascinated by patterns. You say that you love bright colours. How important is the aesthetic look of the costumes for you? I think you are also drawn in by the stories of arranged weddings, of sadness in important moments of life as weddings, etc. Often the bright colours seem to hide the sadness of the underlying truth (women being forced into marriage to elder men, brutality towards ethnic minorities,….). Is this so? How about colours in your own work, do you think of stories when you create your creatures and masks and costumes, and if so are they rather sad? Or are they abstract and neutral for you?
Yeah, the aesthetic is very important, I can be quite controlling and restrictive on colour combinations and the materials I use which results in a particular look. I suppose the first thought of bright colours for most people is happy and cheerful but they can also be used to symbolise danger or for protection. I prefer to work letting my unconscious take control of what happens, so I don’t always have a specific idea in my head before I sit down to make something. It might be a shape I want to use or just a nice kind of paper I’ve found that I want to work around. Generally I think my work is more about mystery and a sort of unknown rather than a sadness. Maybe it’s more of a “quietness”.
C. You create drawing with mask-like bodies and hair in many parts of the bodies. Do these creatures have stories? Are they representative for a sort of “other world” or “ethnic minority in the art world”? Or do they have another meaning?
They definitely belong to another “other world”, at the moment they’re kind of just faces and bodies that I’ve been obsessed with drawing variations on for a while now. I think their actual stories are something I will explore in the future…
D. Your art is related to fascination with evil and dark worlds and ethnic minorities, different cultures and misbeliefs, beliefs, traditions.
Do you think this is partly so because of your personal story? Being a British born Chinese artist brings with it a search for identity in a world where you were immersed as a baby but that you maybe didn’t fully perceive as your own? Can you talk about your personal story in relation to the themes for your art?
There’s an underlying feeling of inbetween-ness that I can’t help because I don’t feel fully either British or Chinese which has probably contributed to my interest in all things that are “other”. There’s a lot of ritual in Chinese culture that didn’t make any sense to me growing up in the UK, but since beginning my blog I’ve discovered a lot of British folklore rituals that are just as mind boggling.
E. You sell you work far too cheaply on Etsy? Why so?
Haha, do you really think so? People should buy now before my prices go up! Pricing is really difficult for me, I think my prices are fair but not extortionate. I’m interested in sharing my work and I’m always up for doing trades.
F. What are your dreams professionally? Who would you like to work for or cooperate with? Who would be your favourite client? What cause would you support and with what means?
I would love to be able to quit my day job and concentrate on my art full time, do more projects, maybe something audio visual, animation or clothing. I’m obsessed with sewing clothes at the moment and am envisaging combining this with my drawing works somehow. I don’t have any dream clients, if anyone out there is on the same wavelength get in touch.
J. You love working with paper, why so?
It’s super versatile, fairly cheap, readily available and totally transformable. Magic material.
K. Who is your favourite artist?
Hmm that’s a tough question. I’ll say Henry Darger. I love his obsessiveness, singular vision and total devotion to his work.
Hello dear readers,
this weekend we went to our holiday home near Salzburg for the first time since our wedding in 2010.
When we were there we had the chance to meet my gallerist Rudolf Budja, whom I also hadn’t personally met for a while. We talked about possibly working on new projects together. So now I am motivated to create new works for the gallery.
In order to do so I am now making a list of the artworks that I still have here. I will send the list to the gallery.
While thinking about the next artworks I also remembered some works that I created but that haven’t yet been printed as moveable wallpapers like the one above from 2011. I’ll get this one done this week to start.
Have a great Wednesday,…
Have a great day!
Today is the third day in a row that I bring you an interview. This time I interviewed Kevin Boyd, a minimalistic designer from Durban who writes about himself that “he studied architecture but became scared of estate housing”. So his journey continued to advertising and graphics and interior design. It seems that he landed everywhere.
The genesis of this interview is that I read an article on the blog Poppytalk: http://www.kevinboyd.co.za/work/colour-cafe/ and had the idea to contact Kevin to see if he was willing to be interviewed about the project “Colour Cafe”. He replied immediately and we started an email conversation that actually led to another project which is close to his heart: Afro’s.
A. You mention a project that is close to your heart is Afro’s. Please let me know how this project came about, why the client chose you and what your intention is for this project.
The client was an existing client of mine that I had done other design work for. My intention is to maintain food quality and local design honesty no matter how much it grows.
Quote from About Afro’s (a document that Kevin sent to me to give further information about the project): “Afro’s is the brainchild of a food lover, a minimalist designer, a musical insurance broker and a well-travelled chef. It started with a chicken sauce that was too good not to share, and as the idea grew the Afro’s shape took form: a proudly local food offering that is mobile enough to serve the best chicken to any area of the city.”
B. You say that you create simple and uncluttered designs. You write very little about yourself in your About section and in the Work section on your website. Do you think simple design needs no explanation? Or is it because you don’t like writing?
I actually do enjoy writing, but I like images to speak for themselves. It also takes a lot more thought to say something in fewer words. Much like design I suppose.
C. Your work is all-round work. You do graphics, interior and furniture design. You say that you love nuances and details. Would you prefer to design “the whole thing” – from naming to graphics to interior? Or are you happy to do any part of the design and if so where do you feel you are best in the more graphic two dimensional work or in the designing of three dimensional objects and interiors?
I don’t like the idea of being a “jack of all trades” but I believe that something that is conceived and designed from beginning to end by one designer usually pans out more honest.
If I take all the elements in bite size chunks, and if I have enough time, I can still focus on the details. If I have to choose, I’m probably strongest on the 3D side.
D. What are your professional dreams? Any project you’d live to work on? Any client you’d love to work for?
Ultimately I’d like to develop a product line so that I can be my own client. Designing from scratch with each new client and each new brief is good fun, but it isn’t the best use of time.
E. What does a day in your life start with? What daily routine do you need to work best?
Breakfast. Favourite meal of the day. I go to bed dreaming about it. Then I try to look at a couple design blogs to avoid reading my email.
F. How does your design process work?
I spend a Lot of time thinking (designing in the head). I only start executing once I’ve got most things resolved in my mind. I’m probably guilty of not sketching enough. When I do, it feels good.
G. What inspires you? Are your inspirations more international or local?
I think I get inspired by very random everyday things. But it’s what I love about being a designer. You can “work” no matter where you are. Often results in the glazed-over look when in boring
conversation with someone. But then I get a lot of inspiration from blogs too. usually international. so there’s always a balance.
H. Where in the world do you feel your work is understood best? Is there a place you feel you would rather work other than South Africa, Durban?
It’s probably not south africa. I often see people looking a bit confused with what I’ve done. But that’s what Excites me about being here, and in Durban in particular. There’s the opportunity to stand out, grow and educate the public.
Photo credits: kevinboyd.co.za.