Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicholas Iverson.
Nicholas, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My grandfather, who died when I was very young, was a pediatrician but had a love for photography. During the 50’s, he had a small darkroom in his basement and shot, processed, and printed all the photos he would take of family and life. He had a very artistic eye and a love for life. I had always loved those photos and that’s what got me started in art. In college, I actually wanted to be a painter but spent 3 years trying but I never got into the BFA program I wanted. I took a black and white film photo class one summer. The professor was great and really nurtured my craft and taught me how to see the world through the lens and become an artist.
Has it been a smooth road?
Smooth? No. But nothing worth doing is easy. I was a musician throughout college and had been in bands, recording and touring, until I was 30. Out of college, I started out to post-production photography for a clothing line and ended up getting into design. At the time it made sense. I needed to design fliers and websites for my band so it was an easy transition to do it for work. When I turned 30, I decided to stop pursuing music and focus on my other love, Photography. Plus there is more of an ability to sustain a lively hood. So I transitioned from design to photography and career changes are always difficult. And I always thought I started the process late. The older you get, the harder it is to make a change like this. Plus, in 2014, I moved to Philadelphia to be a part of an art collective studio space. I shared a 1500 square foot studio with 9 other photographers at different stages of their careers. My colleagues were all amazingly talented photographers and inspired me to be better then I was. We would assist each other and recommend jobs to one another. It was a great learning experience. But when the studio closed, I moved back to California. So I had to move my business twice. Moving your business is always hard. Doing it twice is even harder.
Have you ever felt like giving up?
Quitting? Absolutely not. I have often questioned what my career would look like. When times are rough, I revisit those thoughts. The more desperate times, the more desperate the thoughts. Like what could I make money at and live a happy life. But no matter what work I imagine I would be doing doesn’t mean I would stop photographing and making art. I never thought of Art, and my photography, as a zero-sum game. Like I’m an artist or not an artist. I could be an Uber driver and shoot during the day. It doesn’t matter. I have had jobs where I made good money but was never happy. Photography is what makes me fulfilled. It gave me my purpose. So anything that helps me serve that purpose is what needs to be done.
I recently read a conversation between Picasso and the photographer Brassai that just moved me. Picasso is one of my favorite artists and even though he was trying to get Brassai to focus more on his drawings than photographs, this quote spoke to me. It’s what I think about when I have hard times I think about other career paths:
Picasso to Brassai, “When you have something to say, to express, any submission becomes unbearable in the long run. One must have the courage of one’s vocation and the courage to make a living from one’s vocation. The “second career” is an illusion! I was often broke too, and I always resisted any temptation to live any other way than from my painting. I too might have done drawings for satirical magazines like Juan Gris, Van Dongen, or Villon. L’Assiette au Beurre offered me eight hundred francs per drawing, but I was intent on earning my living from my painting. In the beginning, I did not sell at a high price, but I sold. My drawings, my canvases went. That’s what counts.”
Words I live by. I just came back from spending a month in Paris. I shot everyday. I shot until 4 or 5 in the morning. I started an amazing photo project with a good friend. She’s a great artist in her own right too. On my last week, I had all my digital camera’s stolen. Every single one I owned. I have no idea how I will keep working. But I will. I still have all the work I made. I still have everything I shot. Camera’s can be re-bought. But some of the moments I captured can never be re-created. And that’s what matters. The work you do. And I kept shooting. When I didn’t have my digital cameras, I shot with my Hasselblad. I shot Polaroids and around 30 rolls of film.
I am going to paraphrase an article my mother and father read to me a long time ago when I was finishing art school. They still repeat to me when I get worried about money and work. I can’t remember the original article or who wrote it. Plus, quotes are probably not exact but this was my family’s mantra.
“The only rule is work. The people who do all the work all the time are the ones that figure things out and get things done.”
So all I know is that you just need to work. And when times get hard, all it means is that you have to work harder and have faith. Not necessarily in a religious tone. Just trust yourself and have faith that things will work out.
And I’ll end this with yet another quote from my mother who had been a freelance designer for 30 years. “You never get a check in the mail when you want one. You always get a check in the mail when you really need one.”
What would you tell someone who is just starting out?
Never stop shooting. Never stop challenging yourself. Find a mentor. Ask as many questions as you can think of. Find honest feedback on the work you create. And most importantly, don’t be afraid of what that feedback will be. It’s how you grow. You will make a lot of bad work before you start making good work consistently. Just keep working and grow.
What are you looking forward to?
I just got back from Paris and have a bunch of work to sort through. I want to do a lot more fine art and gallery work. I have some projects I have been working on for a couple of years and some I just started. Sorry to be vague but I am in the midst of preparing. My goal is to show in galleries and work on more personal artwork.
- Website: http://nicholasiverson.com/
- Phone: 213-804-6038
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/nicholasiverson
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicholasiversonphotography/
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholasiverson