Interview with Craig Becker
This is the last week to come to the gallery to see Craig Becker's work in the exhibit "Of Spirit and Light" alongside the work of Joyce Tenneson. The feedback on the pieces has been incredible and we really hope you can make it in before the show closes on Saturday. Craig's work has received lots of recognition over the years and we are so pleased to show work at the gallery.
We recently presented Craig with some questions to learn more about his background and process and he graciously took the time to answer them for us and we are sharing them with you here today. We hope you enjoy learning more about the life and work of Craig Becker as much as we have!
Can you tell us about your technique? What are you trying to achieve with it? The surface effects and such a rich palette and patina...
All the elements of my work are photo-based combining my textural images with fragments of archival photos in a digital format. The images have multiple layers with varying levels of opacity and blending. This creates a sense of depth and the rich textures. Beyond the technical aspect, my creative process is intuitive and spontaneous. An analogy I often use is diving for pearls, going down into the subconscious hopefully surfacing with a gem. Those unknown areas are incredibly fertile ground for the creative process and self-discovery.
Your work has been included in many books and magazines over the years. Has there been a time in particular when you have been the most pleased about your inclusion?
In the last few years, I have been very fortunate to receive a great deal of recognition from the Scratch series. Being selected as one of Feature Shoots Emerging Photographers for 2017 brought my career to another level and gave me international exposure. In 2016, I was a Spotlight Artist in Musee Magazine. There was a stellar collection of photographers in that issue many of which I have admired for decades. It was very meaningful to see my work side-by-side with such accomplished photographers.
Can you share how you first became aware of artist Joyce Tenneson? Do you see similarities in your work?
I first came upon Joyce’s work in the late ’80’s on the cover of American Photo Magazine. The portraits had this spiritual quality that I had never seen before in a photograph. I have been following her work ever since with great admiration. I often thought my current work, in many ways, was the opposite of her images, white/black, female/male, her subjects seem to float and mine are weighted. Only recently, did I come to the realization that our portrait work simply represents different sides of the same coin and we they have a great deal in common. Regarding the floral work, at first, I didn’t see the connection beyond the obvious.That evolved quickly after viewing the images together and now seeing the work in the gallery, it works brilliantly! Hats off to Elizabeth Moss for having the vision for this exhibition.
A few years ago, I entered a national competition and Joyce was the juror. The award for first place was a portfolio review by Joyce. I was thrilled and so honored when she selected Scratch 17 as the top image. I assumed, I would send Joyce a selection of my images and receive an email back with a critique. When Joyce found out I lived in Maine and near Portland she suggest coming over to my home. She was giving a lecture at Portland Museum of Art. It was a surreal moment having Joyce sitting in my living flipping through my prints. She was so gracious, incredibly generous and gave me advice that can seen in this exhibition. And not in my wildest dreams could I imagine being in an exhibition with Joyce Tenneson. I am so grateful to Elizabeth for this incredible opportunity.
You work out of your studio in Maine. Can you tell us what your process is like and how often you get to spend in the studio?
My home and studio are one and the same. I can't remember a single day when I have been home where I didn’t put time into my work. Eat, breath, sleep (sometimes) and create! I live on a small quiet lake and that is tremendous asset in terms of my creative process. Also, I find Maine winters to be my most productive time of year. The stillness on the lake is magical especially when it is blanketed in a layer of snow.
When did you first discover you had a passion for photography? What was your path to the success you have found now? Was plan was intentional?
I started shooting when I was 14 years old and almost from the very beginning architecture captured my imagination. The graphic nature and visual balancing act resonated with me. In my mid-twenties, I decide to open an art gallery in part to show my work. Of course, I quickly discovered the gallery consumed all my time and photography took a backseat. After seven years, the gallery was sold and I decided to pursue a career as professional architectural photography. I purchased a large-format brass and mahogany view camera and went at it! Within a year, I found myself sitting in the offices at Hearst Publishing on 5th Ave in NYC speaking with the editor of Colonial Homes Magazine. They wanted to publish a 14 page spread featuring my work of Early American architecture. That was the beginning of a decade long relationship and launched my new career. My work was published in dozens of publication and numerous books. I look back at that time with great fondness. It was a dream come true. Having a restless creative spirit, I asked myself what is the "next". It was the late 90’s and digital photography was just taking off. I purchased an early version of Photoshop an instantly thought the creative potential was limitless. At this point, I was living in Maine and was fortunate to land a job at Portland Color, a leading digital imaging company in Portland. I was their fine art printer for many years. The skills I learned there is the foundation for the all work I do today. Regarding a plan, I have been making it up as I've gone along and still do. Dream on!
Thank you so much to Craig Becker for this glimpse into his world. We are so glad that he has continue to "Dream On"!
October 3, 2018