'Artists Can Change The World!'
Jeffrey Sklan is a fine art, creative portraiture, and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles. Music plays a significant role in his practice, and I encourage you to follow Jeffrey on Instagram to gain a complete understanding of the connection he makes between his images and songs. Jeffrey’s stunning images of flowers create visual poetry with magic, mystery, greater and deeper meaning. The choices are intentional, moving, and refer to artistic influences and significant events. ‘The Brush Off’ is a project of celebration and collaboration with visual artists.
Do you prefer to work in silence or does certain music inspire you? There is music playing at virtually every studio shoot, and many outdoor ones. Part of my early morning ritual before anyone gets to the studio is to play some very calming music and set a neutral and appreciative vibration, so that we may fully appreciate what a sitter is bringing. There might also be some incense or sage also. More than any of the visual arts, music allows me to recreate an emotional state and open a line of communication with the person before the camera. Many are apprehensive, and I always ask them their musical preferences. Hopefully, it is already in our library. If not, Pandora etc is put to use. With luck, her/ his taste jives with my own. When things are going well, a rhythm develops, withe the shutter keeping time between shots and acting as a metronome while poses freeze, then evolve. For the last year, I have posted a new (home) studio botanical every day. I list the music playing when the image was created. Sometimes, when the stars line up, a tune perfectly infuses the image, and I can hear it long after the print has been made and hung. We have an anthem of sorts in our studio, "Gimme Shelter". It gets played at every shoot at least once, for good luck or superstition. So many people associate it with their time being photographed that not a week a goes by where someone sends me a screen shoot or cell snap of it playing on the radio or iPod. They now come from all over the world. And it never fails to make me smile.
My next big and COVID- delayed project is a music-inspired series of portraits.
So, yes, music has a huge role: it inspires and catalyzes my creative flow.
Studio life can lead to isolation, how do you address this/ keep a balance? Being in the studio is anything but isolating for me. To the contrary, it is very liberating. When in a groove, which is almost always, it feels like the center of the universe. Time is suspended. I am more myself there than anywhere.
Describe a moment you had an epiphany concerning your creative life.
When my show ELEGY opened, I had real trepidation as it memorialized violent events. Further, I used only one type of flower to convey my feelings. In other words - a long shot. On opening day at photoLA, a woman bared her soul to me and relayed that her daughter had survived the Las Vegas shooting. Despite not being shot, her child was deeply traumatized by the episode. The lady bought the first Lily for Las Vegas print and said, "Maybe it will help her heal..."
It took every bit of self control to not cry when she hugged me before leaving.
Creative work, sincerely made, can heal people. I had always held that as a given. The epiphany was that something so deeply personal to me, that I had created purely from my heart, could also affect people that way.
Do you have a personal mantra or quote which serves to motivate you?
Chance favors a prepared mind. ( attributed to Pasteur, I heard it as a child and adopted it immediately.
Nature versus nurture- do you believe you have inherited abilities from creative parents, do you have creative siblings? Can you identify environmental factors or influences which led to your choices or directions? My parents were creative, alive people, although neither were in the arts. They appreciated music, theatre, cinema, ballet, design, etc. They encouraged my insatiable curiosity and plied me with books on every topic imaginable. I was a dreadful, indifferent student, prone to day dreaming and rushing through my lessons so I could then go out and play or go fishing. It actually never got better until I attended University, where I arrived with absolutely no idea how to study. I started shooting when I was about ten years old, but really only to document my world in South Florida. It was paradise. My mother was in fashion. She subscribed to Vogue and Harpers and when I was around 14 or so, the work in there really caught my eye. Avedon and Penn were at the height of their creative powers. Jean Loup Sieff and David Bailey were killing it in France and England. My preference for painters' art slowly gave way to photography. My eye just developed. I looked at things critically and was fortunate enough to have extraordinary eyesight. There was no choice in it, developing a visual aesthetic was as natural a progression as one could imagine. Detail a moment which was the highlight for you, thus far. The opening night of my first solo show on a beautiful Los Angeles summer night. I expected about a dozen people, mostly friends and family who couldn't get out of it gracefully. A few hundred arrived to support me that evening. Is there something you regard as essential to your preparation or process? Really, the only thing I need besides adequate time is an open, uncluttered mind. If you could time travel, what advice would you give the younger you, regarding pursuing your artmaking? Be patient, be your own man, and minimize entanglements.
How does your work respond to social trends?
My last three big projects all reflect bigger social themes, however subtly.
AloneAgainOr deals with with the internal consequences of quarantine and how to transcend the lock down while creating images that vary, from day to day, as much as the weather. It is a visual diary, with notes .
The Brush Off was my attempt to record a moment in recent Los Angeles history where painters were, once again, in high regard. About 150 sessions were completed. That series will resume again and directly reflects social trends, as the variety of outlook and talent levels amongst the painters shot was astounding. I cannot wait for it to resume.
ELEGY, as mentioned earlier, is squarely about social justice and raises poignant questions about violence perpetrated by strangers to the victims.
What do you hope to convey through your work?
What is spoken of here is my artistic journey. I hoped to convey it in a way that resonates with people and encourages them to examine their own lives to find the beauty therein. There is huge joy and thoughtfulness in my work. Hopefully, it is contagious.