Today I am pleased to share an interview with visual artist Gil Rondan, creator of the Native Eye blog.
Greetings Gil! Thank you for joining me for an interview at Brainripples. It’s been so much fun to watch your photography evolve over the past year.Could you tell us what got you started with photography?
I started photography in the late 70’s. I was in school studying chemistry when I photographed my first image of a mixed liquid chemicals. I was so startled by what I saw. It was new to me. The colors are so striking. I have my attraction to colors ever since. My first film camera was a gift from my older brother. This was the time when I became more serious about learning the technical aspect of photography. I didn’t have any resources like books to teach me the ABC of photography.
I just have to teach myself I said. It was really a great learning experience. I learned so many simple tricks that even today I still use it in my work. In the mid 80’s I moved to Michigan and enrolled in photography class. My idea was to learn this art in a proper way if such a description applies. I started to read photography books and learn its history. I visited photo shows in galleries and museum. I analyzed the works of the masters. I gave myself a formal education in photography. To this day I still continue to learn the new tools of digital photography.
I have yet to travel to New York City myself, but your photography offers so many unique perspectives on NYC and its inhabitants that it’s really changed the preconceptions I had in mind a year ago. How do you find all the unique places, people, and events of NYC that are so common in your photography?
NYC is really a small place area wise but it’s a huge canvas for artist like me working on street photography. It is comprised of 5 boroughs separated by waterways. These places are accessible by foot and by subways. There are millions of people of unimaginable backgrounds. There are events every minute. Some of the photographs I took are purely accidental. I was there at the right time. Some events like the Halloween and Mermaid Parades are big shows. I am attracted to images that are imperfect and edgy. I find solace and reality on this form.
You seem to balance your work between people, places, and things – what subjects do you most enjoy working with for your photography?
I like to photograph all. When I see something unique and interesting I won’t allow it to pass my vision. My camera is ready. With people I tend to anticipate their next step. I like the instantaneous approach. Like the so called “candid shot”. It takes a quick second to take the shot. That way the motion is so unplanned and hence more real.
What goes through your mind as you capture an image? Do you spend a lot of time composing a shot, or do you just snap the shutter and wait to see what you have at the end of the day? Perhaps a little of both?
Perhaps a little of both. As a photographer I give myself a lot of freedom to be flexible. My motto is I am the driver here. I am in control of everything. This is my canvas. I will accept everything that appears into this canvas provided each one occupies its own intended space. Some of this adjustment could be done during the post production process in Photoshop or in the darkroom.
Do you have a preference of color photography or greyscale/black-and-white?
It is a tough query. I like to work on both. My emotions however are so linked to different colors that colors are integral part of my photography. I am so attracted to it. I use the intensity or hues to create spatial form. I find it so effective.
I know you also enjoy abstract painting. What attracts you to abstract? Do you work with any other artistic media?
Abstract painting is so unique to create. It is the working process that I relish most. It’s an absolute joy. I have no maps or sketches to start with however with every brush stroke I apply to the canvas I find myself discovering a new form a new shape a new direction. Abstract painting allows me to show multiple perspectives that I think anyone can relate to.
What inspired you to create the Native Eye blog and share your photographic work online? How has publishing Native Eye affected your work?
I believe it was the trend of blogging for sharing that made me create the Native Eye. I find blogging to be such a dynamic and useful tool in showing and sharing ideas. It’s concise and very easy to maintain.
Apart from your subjects, from where do you draw your inspiration?
My profound background and experience have taught me so much that it is indeed a well of inspiration and sensitivity for my work. My siblings and I were raised by financially inadequate but very responsible parents. As a kid I had to be creative to survive an arduous life.
Are there other artists, photographic or otherwise, who have influenced your art?
I like to consider Bunuel as influential to my work. He has a pedigree for the theme I find very appealing.
What are your goals as an artist?
My obligation is to share my craft. I plan to go back to Asia in a couple of years and intend to teach digital photography. I acquired a good amount knowledge in digital photography workflow that is a shame not to share it with others.
Are there any places on your “wish list” that you’d like to visit (and photograph)?
My number one on the list would be Bolivia in South America. The Bolivian’s exotic and beautiful look is so extraordinary. It is such an awesome place in the Andes.
Could you tell us a little about some of your current and upcoming artistic projects?
I am currently working on a new series of abstract paintings on paper. I have been working on this project for about a month now.
I know you’re a museum-goer – if you could visit any one museum in the world tomorrow, which would it be?
I like to see the monstrous- looking Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. I think it’s about the museum’s architecture that attracts me moreso than its collections.
What advice would you give to other independent artists?
Gil, thank you again for joining us at Brainripples. We wish you the best with your art and your adventures!
All images used in this post are copyright © 2006 Gil Rondan.