Artist Interview: 6/30/2008  

Brad Kester : Film and Photography

Brad Kester recently showed photographs at the Sezio.org launch, but his work spans from still images to short films, from short films to short stories, and from short stories to pinatas.  He is an artist who constantly has a project or two going on, along with a thousand ideas for future projects.  Here we ask Brad for insight into his process, his motives, and what's coming next.

SEZIO: What goes into making a photograph?

BK: For film pictures, I usually have some image in my head that I want to shoot and I dwell on it for a long time. By the time I set things up to do it, i'm terrified that it won't work out. and then it feels weird to just hit a button and it's done. It seems too easy. So again, I'm terrified that I messed something up. i'm always preparing for disappointment. I don't really feel safe until the negative is developed. Then I spend a lot of time in the dark room trying to figure out the best way to print it. It's usually two, three, or four hours before I feel finished with one print, but I'm slow. the dark room is slow anyway because there are lot of steps and things to set up but I love it. I experience a lot of anxiety making photographs, but I find the dark room very calming.


SZ: What other creative projects do you work on and how is the process different or the same as photography?

BK: I have more of a background in video production. I think of myself as more of a filmmaker. what I know about good imagery comes from that. i'm very much interested in the visual side of filmmaking, that's often a starting off point for me. much of what I do with photography, I think, comes from a constant search for images that would look good in a movie. I also write. scripts for movies and short stories. I day dream a lot about ideas before I execute them, but I think with writing I have more of a willingness to just throw it out there and see what happens. most of the time it's a huge struggle for me to figure out how I want something, so I use free-writing as kind of a device to get to it. I feel like i have to trick my mind into letting things out. sometimes it works. but other times, which is most of the time, I physically knot up for hours trying to get to something. Photography is interesting, though, and nice, because you can look at a picture and see the exact same image that the photographer saw. I find that to be like no other art form. I also make pinatas.


SZ: What inspires you?

BK: I'm inspired by other artists I like. A lot of my ideas are reincarnations. I don't feel bad about ripping off other people's ideas because if I really chew on them, and let other ideas tug at them, then it will come out as my own. In some ways, i think that's what art is supposed to be--a compilation of what I like and dislike about the world, which includes other people's art. I also find taking a shower to be a huge inspiration. About half or more of my good ideas come to me in there.

SZ : Do you work creatively as a discipline or does it come and go?  What goes into making the projects happen? 

BK: Just coming up with ideas that you want to pursue is a problem in itself. I face that mostly with movie projects because its such a massive endeavor. But after the initial excitement of an idea, it's definitely a discipline to keep it going. art has mostly to do with dilligence. one of the biggest problems I face while working on a project is self-doubt. I usually have to pretend like it's practice just to finish it.

SZ: Why do you create things?

BK: I ask this question all the time, mostly trying to validate it to myself. A lot of reasons. Half of them probably bad ones. Jealousy. I see things someone else did and I get angry that I wasn't the one to come up with it so I go home and try to work on something I can feel proud of. So, pride too. But then i ask myself why creating something would make me feel good in the first place. I think there's something in humans that wants to know how another person perceives the world. We are constantly wondering, or I am constantly wondering at least, if i'm doing it right. When I see something that is beautiful, it seems much more beautiful if I can share it with someone. And by doing that, I get a window into that person's mind. Making art, creating my own things is a much more personal way of doing that. I think by making things you understand yourself better too. Aside from all of that nonsense, though, the biggest reason that I make art is that I can't stop staring at it when i've done something I like. I have a deep admiration for my own crappy handwriting.


SZ: Is there another film in the works?

BK: Yeah, I'm working on stuff. That's the next big project I'm trying to plan. I did Wintercollar two years ago and I've had a lot of failed writing attempts since then. It takes me a really long time to process a story for a movie. But for some reason I don't feel like my artistic ideas are complete until they're in movie form. I get really frustrated trying to sort through my thoughts and express them. I'm pretty interested in the way we channel frustration like that, though, and Wintercollar has a lot to do with that. I guess i've still been thinking about that some for this new project. It's sort of about being a victim of circumstance and feeling sorry for yourself.  And about being lucky and unlucky. We'll see how it goes.


Tags: Art, San Diego, Brad Kester, Photography, Film

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