Briefly describe the work do you do.
I capture images with a variety of cameras from a simple pinhole, vintage and plastic cameras to the iPhone. I then use the images in different ways. With film images I often print them in my wet darkroom using the alternative lith process or in the sun using the cyanotype process. I also use camera-less techniques such as lumen (putting plants directly on photographic paper in sunlight) or digital photograms of live plants. I scan many of these images and print them on rice paper and then embed them in wax for my encaustic pieces. The encaustic pieces consist of many layers of paper and wax. I enjoy patterns so I also experiment with encaustic pieces made up of mosaic-like tiles.
At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?
I took private classes from an artist in our small town when I was in high school but pursuing a career as an artist never occurred to me until I had graduated from college with a degree in psychology. When it came time to decide whether to go on to graduate school in my field, I chose to try something hands on first. After the first week in the Commercial and Industrial Photography Program, I knew I had found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I grew up in a small town by a lake in central Maine. Our family had a cottage on the lake and my fondest memories of my youth are swimming, fishing, boating and camping. Water has always been an important part of my life and now has a great influence in my photography. Water is constantly changing with the weather and seasons and I love it in all of its forms, be it fog, snow, ice, or a calm lake. I also began work as a daily news photographer where I never knew what I would be shooting from day to day. I loved the variety of aerial, industrial, landscape, portraits and disaster/breaking news assignments I had and I think it contributes to the wide diversity of subjects that interest me today. Wherever I am, I can find something that interests me and my camera.
What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?
I like to present the common and ordinary in a different way so I enjoy experimenting with alternative photographic processes like lumen prints, cyanotypes, lith printing and encaustic. I hope that my images will make people pause in their busy lives and see something they had not noticed before or see something familiar in a different way.
We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?
I simply love creating a new image or exploring a new process so it is not hard for me to get into the studio and work. Often the process is more important to me than the final image. I like having a loose concept as to what I want to create and then trying different processes to get there. Being fluid and being willing to go with the flow keeps my interest alive. Having a good workspace where I can spread out and have several projects going at the same time also helps with motivation as one project often feeds off another.
When artists living or non-living influence your work?
I grew up in Maine where I was exposed to the work of Andrew Wyeth. His attention to light and the quietness of his work appealed to me, even at a young age. Another inspiration was my husband’s great grandfather, Albert Lincoln Call, who was a photographer in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. His black and white and hand-colored images of the land and people of Maine are beautiful and a hundred years later still grace our home. Georgia O’Keefe influences my botanical images. I also find inspiration in many of the great photographers of the past, many of whom worked in historic processes that are considered alternative today. There are also several contemporary photographers who are working in alternative processes that inspire me, too many to mention.
When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?
I love road trips whether they are short day trips from my home or longer ones exploring different areas of the country. I love hiking in local parks and kayaking. I of course always have cameras with me. I enjoy visiting other artists’ studios. It does not matter what media they work in. I find it inspiring to see their space and how they work. I love movies and reading.
About Vicki Reed
Vicki Reed is a former newspaper photographer and magazine art editor who specializes in limited edition fine art photographs. She uses vintage, pinhole and plastic toy cameras to capture her images and custom prints them in her wet darkroom. She loves exploring alternative processes, including lith, hand coloring, and encaustic as well as numerous camera-less techniques such as lumen and cyanotype.
Born and raised in Maine, close to lakes, mountains and the ocean she developed a love of the natural landscape. Now living in Wisconsin, she continues to capture the landscape during hikes and kayak outings.
She has won numerous awards and has been widely published, including Tim Rudman’s, The World of Lith Printing, Fuzion Magazine (UK), and Fine Art Photo (Germany).
Ice Crystals, a video she captured on the shores of Lake Michigan was recently acquired by the National Geographic Channel and an image from her series, The Growing Season, has been purchased by the Racine Art Museum for their permanent collection. She is represented by the Unlimited Grain Gallery in Rotterdam, NL.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.