The Artist Talks bring you closer to Daylighted artists. Today, discover Nick Carver who shared his insights with us!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What would you like your audience to know about you so that they can better understand your art?
I’ve been pursuing photography for over 15 years and in that time my artistic style has changed immensely. Landscape photography has always and continues to be my primary passion, but my philosophy and style today stands in stark contrast to what it was a decade ago. Looking back 10 years, my approach revolved largely around the typical trends in landscape photography - max out the color palette, boost the contrast, and basically overwhelm the viewer’s senses with the most epic photo I can create. But once I realized that this style is not only overdone and unoriginal but flat out inartistic, I went through a massive turning point in my art. I returned to analog film after a 6-year hiatus, I began experimenting with new film formats, new films, and softer color palettes, I forced myself to break out of that cliché style and I set out on a journey to finding my true artistic voice. It was a lengthy and sometimes stressful transformation, but I feel I’ve reached a point where my artwork is a more true reflection of my creative self than it has ever been before.
How would you describe your photographing techniques?
My photography could be described as a blend of analog and digital techniques. I create the image initially on film using medium and large format cameras, some of which have changed little since they were first used in the 1850’s. After capturing the image and developing the film, I scan the negative at an ultra-high resolution so I can print at large sizes that would be impossible in a traditional darkroom. Once the film has been digitized, I take great care to not violate the integrity of the analog process by over-utilizing image editing software. I limit my computer work to tonal adjustments only and never alter the image beyond what I feel is true to my purist philosophy.
What inspires your work?
The deserts of the American Southwest and the coast of California have been the biggest sources of inspiration in my work, with the Mojave Desert of Southern California playing a particularly influential role. The open space, the history, and the overall “vibe” of the high desert calls to me in some way I can never rightfully verbalize. Lately, palm trees have been a prime source of inspiration, too. I’ve become almost obsessed with them to the point that very few other subjects interest me at this time. Normally I'd try to force myself out of such a singular mindset, but I've decided to let it run its course naturally until my interest fades on its own. Once it does, I will no doubt find another subject to obsess over.
The Palm Collection
Your work is distinctive by two features: the use of black and white in most of your photographs and the technical classical work you do on the photos to avoid digital manipulation. Why did you choose to highlight these 2 features in your art?
Digital manipulation has become excessive in most modern photography. It’s often used as a crutch to get an easy “wow” response from viewers. By boosting the saturation to 200% and applying all the latest digital filters, some photographers attempt to hide a mediocre composition or unoriginal concept behind flashy colors. But without the crutch of bright colors and digital manipulation, the real artistry of the image can show through. By choosing to avoid such crutches, I feel I can better focus on the true art of photography.
I also believe that a good work of art should accent a space without overpowering it. It should blend seamlessly into the greater whole of the environment in which it’s displayed. Flashy digital manipulation and trendy editing techniques might make for a great screensaver, but I don’t believe it makes lasting, tasteful art.
Tell us about the story behind your favorite piece or favorite serie of photographs.
My most recent project entitled “The Palms Collection” is a series of multiple-exposure photographs that studies the iconic silhouettes of palm trees. The idea for it came to me one night as I was trying to fall asleep. I envisioned the overlapping silhouettes of palm trees, disordered and numerous in black and white. I wanted the pictures to capture in some small way the beach culture of 1960’s Southern California and Hawaii, complete with a healthy dose of contrast and graininess to really dial in the mood. Although the compositions look random and chaotic at times, they are actually quite ordered and thought-out, requiring careful attention to the placement of each tree in each exposure. With most pieces featuring 3 exposures on a single piece of film, this overlapping of exposures must be artfully planned so as achieve a pleasing final composition.
How do you hope your art engages your audience? Are there any reflections or opinions you’ve heard about your artwork that surprises you?
The artworks that I admire most all have one thing in common: they create a feeling in me that is so deep and metaphysical that it is utterly impossible to articulate. They don’t convey any particular message or concept - nothing that I could put into words. But whatever that feeling is, it is transcendent.
Although I may never be able to articulate this sensation, I hope that my artwork can create this same effect in some of my viewers. It’s a tall order and it can be like throwing darts in the dark because I will never truly know if I’ve hit my target, but if I can create that sensation in just a tiny fraction of the people that view my work, that is the best reward I can hope for. And with my subject matter being exclusively of nature, I hope my artwork will give my viewers a deeper feeling of connectedness to the environment so as to instill a desire to protect the natural world.
The Palm Collection
What, in your opinion, is the most difficult part of the creative process?
The most difficult part of the creative process for me has been learning to trust my own instincts. I know what kinds of pictures get an enthusiastic “woah!” response from viewers - bright colors, fiery sunsets, epic compositions - but the artwork I want to create doesn’t fall into that typical mold. It can be difficult to stifle the urge to pick this low-hanging fruit and refrain from doing what I know is a guaranteed “winner.” When I envision a new piece or series, I have to trust that my creative process has not steered me wrong and that the artwork will be received positively even though it doesn’t fall into that category of “sure fire winners.” Every time I’ve trusted my instincts, creating the art that I want instead of the images I think everyone else wants, it has paid off in spades. The positive responses I receive are more sincere and they tend to come from people for which I have greater respect, but most importantly, I feel much deeper pride for the work.
Daylighted is a startup company located in San Francisco, CA, founded in 2013 by Alex Cammarano, Elisabeth Mouchy, and Alban Dumouilla. Daylighted provides a contemporary portfolio of thousands of images, videos and animated art. Daylighted plans to bring the artistic diaspora to even more spaces, beginning with high-end venues— because art should be everywhere.
Visit www.daylighted.com to browse collections, view featured artwork and to receive more information.