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Interview with Nicholas Cope

Humble Arts Foundation featured an interview I conducted with Nicholas Cope on their blog. Read the full feature below the screenshot. 


Rachel Wolfe Interview with Nicholas Alan Cope:

More often than not, the end use and purpose of the photograph divides the medium into two distinct realms. Nicholas Alan Cope challenges the divide between commercial and art photography work. By generating sculptural images that can be described as one and of the same, Cope’s work merges the two worlds into one. Perception plays a large role in the conceptually based images. Cope explains his processes in continually challenging the viewer while blurring the lines between photography, sculpture and design.


Q: Can you describe the origins and motivations behind your work? You were raised on the east coast; you currently work and live on the west coast. How has this contributed to your work?

A: Each project feels like a reaction to or elaboration on something I’ve made previously. The first complete project I put together was a series on the landscape and architecture of Los Angeles. All subsequent projects have been based around the visual concepts I began with in that series. Coming from the mid-Atlantic to Southern California definitely had a significant effect on how I shaped my aesthetic. The landscapes are so shockingly different to me that when I first came here I couldn’t help but create my version of Los Angeles.

Q: In light of your personal influences, what matters to you most: the concept, the process, or the feeling behind the finished work?

A: The abstract project was really about viewer perception. Because of photography’s mechanical foundation the viewer automatically attaches their real world interpretation to the image. If I were then to provide some sort of label or explanation of these images it would completely alter the experience. While I wouldn’t describe anything I do as necessarily emotive, each image certainly has a feeling that accompanies it.


Q: You studied at the the Art Center of College and Design. How has this affected your relationship between design and the constructed photographic image?

A: I try to treat photography like graphic design. I tend to start with some very simple thought; it could be a quality of light, group of color values, or set of shapes. I try to build a series around that thought without losing sight of the simple beauty of the original visual concept.

Q: Your work is often described and perceived as monochromatic, and the prolific exploration of light, form and volume seems a reoccurring theme in your varying works. Now, would you agree with these kinds of assessments? 

A: Definitely. Black and white minimal architectural scenes are kind of a default for me- it’s like doing a design exercise. I try to pare an image down to just the shapes and the light. I’ve done projects that deviate from this entirely, but I always seem to come back to a really clean aesthetic after doing something messy and chaotic.


Q: The absence of an artist statement assigned to your works initiates questions and discussions, call the role of the viewer into forefront. What do you personally and artistically gain by not providing the motivation behind the work? Would you be inclined to share any thoughts on this? 

A: I do a lot of interviews and I’m always happy to talk about my work, but I would like to think that my photography is about the images rather than my explanation.

Q: In comparison to your other works that may be described as architecture, still life or abstract areas of art photography, Lipstick appears to take a turn in a new direction. Is this a new development that we can continue to look for?

A: I’m always trying to create commercial work in a way that suits me. Lipstick was an opportunity to work as I would on any personal project, but with something that is commercially available.


Q: You explore a variety of photographic concepts and forms, which often allows you to explore other mediums. Have you decided to remain in the two-dimensional form of photography? Would you decide to move into three-dimensional space with your work? Do you have any plans to explore other mediums? If not, why photography?


A: I’ve been wanting to make sculpture for some time now, and really that’s what a lot of my more recent projects are: sculptures created specifically for the camera. I’m also working on a motion piece. I really don’t want to fall into the group of photographers who are making video just because their camera has a new function, so I’m going to take my time and do it right.

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