Interview #415: Austin Schermerhorn
19 year old photographer based in San Francisco, USA. “My work mainly deals with the unseen feelings and impressions, often of something greater and mysterious.”
q: You mention you are inspired by Romantic poets and paintings. How does it influence you and your creative process?
a: I draw a lot from the imagery and symbolism of Romantic poets, my favorites being Coleridge, Baudelaire, and Rimbaud. A lot of the origins of my photos come from a passage that stuck out to me, from Baudelaire’s description of a carrion and the eventual decay of his love, to Coleridge’s description of otherworldly music from an Aeolian harp: “And that simplest Lute/ Placed length-ways in the clasping casement, hark!/ How by the desultory breeze caressed/ Like some coy maid half yielding to her lover…”
As for the painters, I am inspired by Delacroix, Goya, and Géricault, and I try to pick up where they left off. I believe we are at another Industrial Revolution, this time technological, and that as a society, our spiritual and artistic needs are going left unchecked, as seen by the type of art the powers that be esteem. I feel we need a remedy for this, and this idea is always at the forefront of my mind when I make art.
q: What contemporary photographers are you into right now?
a: I feel the best photographers transcend photography itself and enter the realm of Art, which fortunately there are many today, albeit a little hard to find. My favorites, who I am forever thankful and inspired by are Robert Tepiak, Margaret Durow, Benjamin Goss, and Rebecca Cairns.
q: Do you like house plants?
a: I do! I love being surrounded by growing, living things whenever I sit down to make art or write. Also I hear green is the most inspiriting color for creative thinking, so there’s another bonus.
q: Photography equipment?
a: I shoot a Pentax Super Program and Olympus OM2 for 35mm SLRs, an Olympus XA2 as my camera on me at all times, and a Pentacon Six for medium format. I have been experimenting with large format with cameras from my school (specifically a Toyo 4x5 Field Camera) so I would like to use that more in the future, as well as go up to 8x10.
q: Upcoming projects or ideas?
a: An Idea I’m tossing around right now is a sort of mixture between Japanese/Chinese ink painting and photography. I want to make a sumi-e landscape, and superimpose a portrait of a person in the foreground, using darkroom techniques, so both art and photography are merged, and the landscape behind represents a sort of mental state of the person as well. I am really interested in the melting, foggy landscapes that are capable with ink painting, and the idea of a landscape conveying an emotion.
q: Any new music to recommend?
a: My good friends Adam Houmam and Ryan Daniel’s band ION recently released their debut album, which I was lucky enough to do the art and cover for. Check them out if you like ambient/psychadelic black metal, they’re also currently on tour in the Pacific Northwest, so if you’re in that area you should go see them. Myself, I’ve been listening to a lot of Suuns, Chelsea Wolfe, and Liars’ new album.