Suzan Mikiel Kennedy

We are happy to present another in the series of artist interviews here on Pixels: The Art Of The iPhone. This week, Suzan Mikiel Kennedy, who was also one of our first featured artists.

KB: Please tell us a little about yourself – where you live, if you hail from Earth, anything like that. Whatever you feel like sharing that isn’t covered in the questions below.

SMK: I grew up in Detroit.  Not the suburbs.  Detroit.  I attended Catholic schools in the nearest suburb- Grosse Pointe.  However I went to college in Detroit.  Wayne State University. Downtown Detroit.  After college I lived in Louisville, KY for a year, then headed to New York City and never looked back…until last month.  I’m moving to Los Angeles in a couple weeks.

KB: How long have you been shooting pictures with your iPhone?

SMK: I started cellular photography with a Motorola in 2006: http://photobucket.com/eyecell Several months later I got a new job and an iPhone. It must have been 2007ish. I didn’t actually start using apps until last year when I discovered flickr and, well, Pixels!

KB: How often do you work on your art?

SMK: Everyday. It’s a cold day in hell when I don’t take photos.  Either that or a day that I want to viscerally experience without the barrier of a camera to distance myself from the experience.  Sometimes you have to let your mind capture images and all the sensory elements that go along with them.

Body Language ©2010 Suzan Mikiel Kennedy

KB: When did you get serious about it, and what was the turning point for you?

SMK: I was really serious about my Motorola.  It took me awhile to get into my iPhone.  I was like, “what is this?? It’s a sucky regular camera but a fancy cellphone camera.” I didn’t know what to do.  I would post my weekend stuff on Facebook.  Nothing major.  Then I started using it on my commute on the Seven Train from Sunnyside, Queens to the city.  The 7 is such a visually inspiring experience for me, that I began to develop my street photography style.

KB: What do you like to shoot? When? How does your whole creative process work? And how has it evolved?

SMK: I got into cellular photography in general as a self-suggested therapeutic experience.  I had lost my son to cancer when he was almost six.  It became important to me to notice the beauty that surrounds us everyday.  The beauty in the ordinary, the outcasts, the light, the shadows, the reminders of life as it once was and will never be.

My favorite style of shooting is street photography.  I get so excited when I see somebody tha t inspires a photo.  New York City is a walking museum with so many works of art gracing our sidewalks!  I’m not big on using too many applications, and I rarely crop or straighten- maybe one out of 300.

KB: Do you work in any other creative mediums, i.e., painting, music, writing, etc.?

SMK: I’m an actress (hence moving to LA) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2618492/ I also like to write when I can sit down and stop squirming, as well as paint and draw.

KB: Do you spend time online looking at the work of other iphontographic artists?

SMK: I do look at other works, and am completely blown away by the talent and creativity that’s out there.  I am enamored by the fact that this is a worldwide community.

KB: Do you study other art forms?

SMK: Acting I’ve trained in a multitude of facets of theater for years.  I’ve also had a couple of official painting lessons recently.  I’m also an avid art museum visitor.  It’s one of the first mecca’s I make when I hit a new town.

KB: Have you done a lot of traditional photography? If so, are you still using your camera as well as your iPhone?

SMK: Did I mention I went to a small all girls Catholic school which is now closed?  I never took a formal photography course.  I do, however, have a Nikon D80 now, which, I will eventually teach myself how to use.  It’s so damn heavy compared to my iPhone though!!

KB: Who are some artists – in any medium – you admire or have influenced you?

SMK: I grew up loving: Gerhard Richter, Yoko Ono, Caillbot, Beatrice Wood, Marcel Duchamp, the Stettheimer Sisters, basically the entire Arensberg circle and the surrealist circle, for the most part, Giacometti, Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Boticelli, etc. I tend to like classics with a wee bit of anarchy. Did I mention that I went to Catholic schools?

It was after I developed my iPhoneography tastes that I discovered the vast and beautiful world of photographers such as: Robert Frank, Gary Winogrand, Helen Levitt, Diane Arbus, Aaron Siskind, and Wallace Bermana.

There are many, many artists from various museums and galleries who have moved and inspired me.  There is nothing as glorious as being in the same vicinity of an artist and his or her work.

KB: What is your basic app kit, or Camera Bag, as Marty Yawnick calls it. How has your use of apps evolved over time?

SMK: Camerabag, Mill, RetroCamera, Best Camera and Photogene.  I’m going to try Camera Plus as well.  I’m not a go-crazy-with-the apps person. I mostly use Camerabag. Once in awhile I’m go a little nutty if I’m working abstract.  However, now that I’m heading to LA, who knows.  My style might completely change.

KB: Are there any apps you don’t like?

SMK: Now Knox Bronson, I know that’s a loaded question.

KB: Are there any specific improvements you would like to see made to existing apps?

SMK: I need an app that is going to sensor detect subtle contrasts needed vs spew a big blotch a light in the middle of a photo.  Someone suggested Pro HDR.  I’ll give it a whirl.

KB: Are there any apps you would like to see developed/invented?

SMK: It might be fun to name film stock/ treatments and grains according to artists: To turn photos into instantaneous studio sessions sans lighting set ups would be glorious!

KB: When you feel you have reached a creative stalemate, and believe your work is not cutting it anymore, do you have any tricks for breaking out of artist’s block?

SMK: Hasn’t really happened yet.  If I have a bad day of photos, it’s because I’m in a crappy mood.  Basically, I mentally change the size of my lens.  Start looking at things in a different way.

KB: What features would you like to see implemented at the Pixels At An Exhibition website?

SMK: I can’t wait for the new site- for pictures to load faster and searches to be user friendly!

KB: A last word perhaps?

SMK: I’d like to thank the Academy… Oh, wait!  I’ll save that one for next year!

KB: Thank you, Suzan. Welcome to California and the city of dreams! New York’s loss is our gain!

You can see Suzan’s striking contributions to Pixels: The Art Of The iPhone by clicking here.

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