20 Questions: Mining the artist's mind, featuring Adrian Mueller
Dot Editions has invited the artists who we've worked with us or who have participated in the studio's events to answer some questions about their artistic processes. In the coming months, we will post artists profiles weekly.
First up is Adrian Mueller, who spoke at our second Show & Tell event, when we featured some artists selected for PDN's 30 2010. Adrian grew up in Lucerne, Switzerland, and currently lives in New York with his wife and son. He is part of an international collective of photographers and retouchers called Fabrik Studios, and has garnered recognition from Luerzer's Archive, American Photography 25, Cannes International Advertising Festival, and other institutions of advertising photography.
Dot Editions: What is your earliest memory of making art? Adrian Mueller: I have always focused on the aspect of craft, not art. I truly believe that if the craft is exceptional, the art behind it will shine all by it self. I've only recently been satisfied with the way some of my craft has developed. My earliest memory of making art is therefore quite recent.
What is your first experience with photography? Photography and travel were always inextricably linked when I was younger. My first experiences with taking pictures were always connected to vacation. I guess that is the reason why I sometimes still don't feel that I am actually working.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned about your art practice? It takes time.
From whom did you learn it? Trial and error...
How did you learn photography? A mix of school, assisting and shooting.
How did your career start? One step at a time.
What were your difficulties starting out as a photographer? Getting people to take a look at the portfolio and hiring me.
How did you develop your style? I had no preconceived concept on how it should look. I guess it evolved organically.
What artist do you most identify with? Anybody who is dedicated to a particular field and doesn't get swayed by changes of trends and fads.
What is the most important idea in your art? It needs to be authentic and the craft needs to be good.
What qualities do you think makes a good artist? Persistence and passion.
Do you take photographs every day? Almost everyday.
Do you ever find yourself in a creative block? Yes.
How do you get out of it? First, I turn photography completely off. I do something very different. Once I feel I have removed myself enough from photography, I step back into it.
What turns you on creatively, spiritually, emotionally? Good food, good travel, good companionship.
What turns you off? 'Can you move it ever so slightly to the left?'
What is your biggest shortcoming as an artist? Sometimes when working with clients, I should be more assertive.
How has your work changed due to the photography industry's evolution? I experiment more.
What has been your most difficult learning curve as an artist? I am like a pitbull. Once I put my teeth into something, I hardly let go (in this case, photography). The problem is, I have no patience. This can make my progress seem too slow at times.
What advice do you have for emerging artists? 'It takes 10 years to become an overnight success'. If you keep that in mind, you won't stress out as much if things don't seem to go in your direction at times. If you are faster, congratulations!
Thank you, Adrian, for taking the time to share your opinions and experiences with us!