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Art & Life with Douglas Stockdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Douglas Stockdale.

Douglas, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
In retrospect, I think my artistic journey is an interesting and rewarding personal adventure. I studied industrial design at Michigan State University and after graduation, we moved to the Left Coast of Southern California. My artistic training is primarily self-directed, taking classes and workshops to fill in my curiosity gaps, such as drawing classes at Cal State Northridge or learning the particulars of the zone system (black & white analog film) photography in a series of workshops. I also completed an MBA as a result of wanting to strengthen my business acumen, which has grounded me in coaching others about the art business.

I realize that the most important aspect of being an artist is experimenting; to try new things, finding out what works and what might not. It’s a life that requires a lot of tenacity. Not everything one creates will be understood in the context of which an artist intended; as an artist, you have to take chances and try things that interest you. You can never tell where your muse will lead you, which can lead to an interesting mix of fun and angst.

As an artist, I currently lean heavily into the photographic medium as a primary source to develop projects that usually lead to self-published books and exhibitions. Occasionally I explore an idea with paint to utilize a different medium to change things up. Photographically I work with both analog (film) processes as well as a full range of digital methods; as an artist, I do not feel welded to a particular photographic medium. At one time I was processing my black and white film and making silver gelatin photographs in my wet darkroom and I now enjoy the use of a good color lab to process and scan my film in conjunction with printing my own archival pigment photographs.

Over the years I have developed a stronger interest in projects that explore the concepts of memory, family, and culture. I now have a nice collection of very expired roll film, both color, and black & white, to metaphorically investigate my subjects. Sometimes I obtain some unexpected visual results when processing the expired film, which delightfully adds a bit of serendipity to my projects. I can never be entirely sure what will come back from my processing lab. I think that these un-intended results are very similar to the memory process; I don’t always recall exactly the events that have occurred and this changes over time.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Perhaps like many artistic journeys, there have been both ups and downs with many opportunities to learn more about myself and what I want to try to accomplish as an artist. At one time I think I was a pretty driven person but over time realized that was not working very well for me. Created big highs as well as equally big lows. Now my personal philosophy is about trying to stay in the moment; you can’t change the past and I really don’t know what will happen in the future. Everything can change in 15 minutes.

Nevertheless, I still make plans to work on my personal mission, vision, and current projects; but you can only accomplish what you can today, right now. At the end of the day when I realize that not everything I planned for was accomplished, then I move those items on to the list for tomorrow. I find that I am usually very content with who I am and a result I sleep really well. So now I have a relatively smooth road and I seem to be better prepared to endure the occasional unexpected things that life can throw at me.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
My artistic practice is based on developing conceptual ideas that I nurture over time, usually juggling two or three at any moment. The outcome of each artist project is usually focused on a book publication and opportunities to exhibit the body of work. My interest in contemporary art and photography also led me to found the photobook review blog, The PhotoBook Journal, which I am the Editor and we have a small international team of book reviewers. We have been publishing contemporary photobook reviews for over ten years having recently completed an amazing milestone of the 500th book review. So probably no surprise that I am also a contemporary photobook collector and I am continually inspired by the artist and photographic books being published each year as our artist community finds new ways to narrative, conceptual ideas.

Currently, one of my artist projects in development is titled Memory Pods; an investigation of the aging process and in particular when events arise around failing memory, whether from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. My Memory Pods project is inspired by my personal experience assisting my mother and grandmother as they went through the various phases of Alzheimer’s diseases; watching as their memories completed faded away and now I am trying to envision what that terrifying experience might have been for them.

As a book artist, I have been published by Edizioni Punctum, a small indie publisher in Rome, Italy, and self-published three artist books as well as a Guide on how to self-publish an artist book. I am honored that two of my artist books were recognized as Photographic Books of the Year (2014 and 2017).

I am on the faculty of the Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP) and Medium Photo (San Diego), with my next two-day weekend creative book design workshop on March 23 and 24th with Medium Photo in San Diego (link: https://www.mediumphoto.org/book-making).

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
(c) Douglas Stockdale

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