Sunday, October 2, 2011

Austin Young Interview

 I recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favourite visual artists, Austin Young. I have  shown his work on Gutter Candy before and was very excited about getting to chat to the man behind such great work.

1 - Looking at your work its obvious you are attracted to 'The Other', the strange, the different. Why do you think this is?

I did not 'fit in' when I was a kid. I remember one day deciding that if people were going to call me a freak, I might as well be one. I only felt comfortable with 'The Other.'

2 - Growing up what where you interests,what inspired you?

Andy Warhol . Interview Magazine. The Wizard of Oz. Marilyn Monroe. MTV. Diana Ross. Off The Wall by Michael Jackson . Stevie Wonder. Snow Skiing. Tennis. The Preppy Handbook. When B52's came out with Rock Lobster and it was a radio hit. it blew my mind. Punk Rock. there were a handful in Reno. There was an all girl band called The Wrecks who went to my high school. we would go see 7seconds, another local band. I became more interested in New Wave.

3 - Your photography and films are quite beautiful and your style is very 'Austin Young',its your own. Did it take you long to hone in on a personal style?

I feel it's something I'm always working on. I'm always trying to figure it out or make it better. My early work looks very similar to how it does now: simple portraits. I was living in New York when i started taking tons of portraits. i had been obsessed with Hollywood Glamor photography and 40's and 50's fashion photography when i was a kid. I read an interview with George Hurrell where he said he would use one light with an umbrella. and so that's what i did. I searched for ways to light people that would create the illusion of perfect skin. I also would collage the images and put them on different backgrounds. I had a darkroom in my storefront on Ludlow street in NYC. I'd spend all my time there searching for new ways to alter the images. I would bleach them and dye them.

  4 - Where did you grow up and what were you like as a child/teen?

I grew up in Reno, Nevada. my family were ranchers and engineers. Italian and English immigrants who had been in the area for generations. Some had come over from with the first pioneers in the mid 1800's. I feel very connected to my history there. I was terribly shy. and by the time i was a teen, a complete outcast. I was made fun of and called all sorts of things… 'Fag' 'Faggot' 'Queer' 'homo' etc. My Junior high and high school was not a safe space for me- it was pretty terrible. As an escape, I really entered into the world of pop-culture. I knew i wanted to create it. i wanted to work with Interview Magazine. Siouxsie Sioux. Debbie Harry. and the weird thing is…. it happened. 

5 - Drag Queens and crossdressers seem to be a big part of your work,Were you involved in the drag scene in anyway growing up or was this something you discovered through art?

There was not a drag scene in Reno that I knew about. It was very conservative small town with conservative values. It was still partially a cowboy town. I was a big fan of Boy George. and Leigh Bowery. I wanted to be like them. I was obsessed with how they had reinvented themselves and had become a completely fabulous fantasy characters. I loved John Waters and Divine. These people expressed themselves how they felt- now how society felt they should be. I'm sure this was a reaction against societies gender roles- in some cases a 'fuck you.' I think the way society views gender will become more fluid in the near future and that we will find a space where we celebrate who we are and not who we are supposed to be.

6 - Is there a paticular 'type' of model or subject you seek out to shoot or do you find it is subjects are inspired by you and seek you out?

 Mostly, I consider my work to be 'Portraiture' . Currently, geographically, a lot of the people I photograph are part of the LA scene or they are some kind of celebrity. In my last gallery show, 'YOUR FACE HERE- by Austin Young' i opened up the show to blank spaces on the walls marked by tape. Anyone who came could purchase an empty space and ruing the run of the show, my portrait studio was the gallery and by the end, all the spaces were filled. I'm open to being approached by models. I love androgenes and queens. I like to photograph all types of people.

7 - When working with your model is something you set out to capture on camera,besides the photography itself,a lot of your work seems to catch the esscene of the subject,is that intentional?

I consider my work to be mainly emotional. It is an emotional connection to the subject. I'm really trying to get into someone's head. the rest is surface and style.

8 - Is there anyone or anything in particular right now that is inspiring you and your work?

I'm still inspired by New Wave. and particularly New Wave/punk in Los Angeles around 1980. Hollywood Glamour from the 30's and 40's. Realism in films from the 70's. Andy Warhol. The current Los Angeles art scene. I get inspired by my friends and performances. Leigh Bowery. Squeaky Blonde and Fade-Dra are two artists I work with another current project, 'TRANIMAL' Tranimal is based on and the monster/muppet/glamour that Squeaky and Fade-Dra wear out in LA.

9 - Is there any location in the world or anyone that you would really like to shoot in the future?

 I would like to go almost everywhere! ! I've never been to Ireland. Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. China. Australia. Cuba. Russia. I'm particularly interested in Mexico. 

10 - What are you working on right now and where can people see more of your work?

 I'm finishing up the final episode of 'THE WORM' you can find most of this series on my youtube channel: AUSTINYOUNGFOREVER It's going to show at a gallery in Beverly Hills opening 11-11-11. I'm part of the art collective, Fallen Fruit : TRANIMAL is going to go on tour with Machine Project Gallery- first stop- Kansas. I'm working on a book of my photographs. I'm considering making it a downloadable book on Itunes. I would love to get it published in large format.

A HUGE Thank You to the wonderful Austin Young for the interview! Be sure to check out his work and the second a book is on the horizon I shall be sure to feature it here!

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