Mouthing Off Artists’ Spotlight
In this series, we will be showcasing the work and experiences of our Resident Artists, who have taken the time to have a chat with us either over Zoom or email. We hope that through these interviews our readers will be able to get to know our artists, what they do, and how they have made their way to where they are now. Our Resident Artists work in a diverse range of media, from painting and drawing to ceramics and film, so there should be something of interest for everyone!
It’s been a while, but we are pleased to present another interview with one of our Resident Artists: Katharina Ahlemeyer. Having been passionate about photography and videography from a young age, Katharina has developed a command of the camera which demonstrates her ability to see beauty in the ordinary. With an eye for capturing the right moment, Katharina’s work seeks to preserve memories of everyday life on film and create an everlasting image.
Katharina is also in the process of building her own website to showcase her videos and photography, so keep an eye on her social media for its launch!
We hope you enjoy our interview with Katharina, and continue to find inspiration in our Resident Artists. We’ll see you soon for the next and final instalment of this series.
Please introduce yourself to our readers!
I am 20 years old and I was born and raised in the beautiful countryside of Sussex, South England. I am half German and half English and have made an effort to speak both languages from a very young age. For ten years of my life I went to a Steiner Waldorf School, which is a very hands-on creative learning school where the main focuses are arts and crafts.
My chosen fields of work are photography and videography. I moved to Clapham last November, where I started a job in reality TV. This was a massive jump for me, but it turned out it was what I needed. It has helped me step out of my comfort zone and produce some work which I am incredibly happy with. Everything has worked out perfectly and I currently work as Head of Studio, Main Editor, and Camera Operator for an upcoming reality TV show. I absolutely love it!
I also love photographing people especially models, as I feel like you can have a lot to work with in terms of makeup and clothing. I do a lot of travel photography to satiate my love of exploring the world we live in, and this is usually all taken on my old film camera. I love shooting in film- there is something so special about capturing a moment which you then can’t edit or change. Once it’s been shot you will keep that memory forever. I also love being able to develop the images, making and watching them come to life in a dark room.
My main focus, however, is videography. I love creating videos for myself of places I have travelled to around the world, and people I’ve met along the way. I would say the videos I focus on currently are mostly Music Videos for upcoming artists. Listening to different artists’ songs is already special, but seeing them come to life in a video is something else.
How did you get into your chosen practice?
My dad was a very keen photographer but never took it up as a career. He photographed the odd wedding or two, but that was it really. I think he wanted me to go in that direction too, so when I turned eleven he got me my first ever camera and I started taking photos. I literally haven’t put a camera down since! For my sixteenth birthday I got my first good camera (a DSLR Canon) and an amazing book, ‘How to Photograph Absolutely Everything’, which has really helped with my photography.
I studied Drama, Photography, and Film and TV for my A Levels, and thrived in all of them. I’m not a very academic person but I love being creative, so these three subjects suited me perfectly. There was an awful lot of work, which I managed to my best abilities and came out with good grades. Having creative pursuits in my life has always been important for me, and has led me to where I am now.
What themes do you explore in your artwork?
I don’t really have a theme with my work, I photograph practically everything I see that looks different or I just really like the look of. I do have a way I like a photo and video to look, and it’s quite old fashioned. I love grain and the yellow glow of a photo, and I especially love shooting in black and white. This has led to a lot of my work consisting of that old film style photos, because I like to shoot on analog film.
Whenever I go abroad, I take two cameras with me: my best analog film camera (the Minolta AX 700) and my DSLR 1200d Canon. I usually shoot one to two whole film rolls during a holiday, depending on how long it is and then pick out my favourites from each roll.
What or who would you say are your main artistic influences?
I have two main influences with my work that stem from film and photography.
My main influence in film is Quentin Tarantino. He is such a triumphant American filmmaker, the things I love about his work is that it’s all so unusual, and the situation is always filmed in such extensive detail. It’s nothing like the normal.
My main influence in photography is Sally Mann. Sally Mann’s work totally fascinates me. I studied her, her family, and her work at college. Her intimate family is controversial and that’s what I found so intriguing; it’s so unique and spectacular to look at. Her most well-known piece of work is ‘Candy Cigarette’ which was taken in 1989 and shot in black and white. It depicts her daughter who is no older than seven holding a cigarette and looking at the camera with such a grown-up sassy look. It’s unique and odd in its own way and I love that about all her work.
Both Sally Mann and Quentin Tarantino’s work has an old-fashioned, vintage theme and look which I love, and I find that both of their work stands apart from other artists.
Have you faced any challenges in your artistic career?
I haven’t faced any big challenges yet, which is amazing because the arts industry is a hard one to work in. I’d say my biggest problem though is that I do find myself losing motivation a lot of the time. I need projects that will make me really excited and determined and then I will want to do them. If I’m not enthusiastic about a project I will lose motivation quite quickly. I also tend to lead myself astray when I’m taking photos and can completely change the subject of what I’m shooting if I find something else interesting. It does often lead me to new and interesting ideas, but most of the time it leads me off my initial path which can be frustrating.
What artwork or project are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the project I am currently working on at the moment (which I can’t say too much about at the moment as it is still in the planning stage), because it’s so different to my previous work. Another one I am proud of is the ‘Say You’re Mine’ music video, because I had so much time during lockdown and I wasn’t working on any other big projects at the time. This meant I could spend a lot of time with it and perfect it to the best of my abilities. I got my new camera at the beginning of lockdown, the Sony A7Sii, which is a very good professional camera that shoots in 4K video. I feel like I was able to create my best-looking video so far with this camera.
Do you have any current or future projects lined up?
I have so many future projects lined up, including photoshoots, short films, music videos, and videos about current society. I can’t wait to share them all with you!
I am currently working with a few small businesses, making videos for their websites and for their social media to promote the work they do. This is quite exciting for me because it’s something new; like I was saying before I need things that are new and out of my comfort zone, as that’s what inspires me and makes me work harder to create great new videos.
I am also currently working on a few things for myself. I want to create a new showreel with all of my latest and upcoming videos, which I hope to include on the website I am planning to create for my work. All of this is very exciting for me!
What are your goals for the future?
My goals for the future are to continue to work hard on my video and photography projects, as well as my current job in London. I am still learning new things every single day, from cameras and equipment, to editing software- and I plan on continuing to learn more. I want to do some online courses for film and software, so that I have more variety in my skillset.
A big thing I want to do is also teach others the exciting things I have learnt on my journey in the arts industry. I want to be able to live from this career, so I will have to keep working very hard to be able to do this- the harder you work the better the outcome!
What do you think is the role of the artist in society?
I don’t know where to start with this question, it’s such a broad question. An artist has so many potential roles in society. They can lead, follow, and provoke with their work, and I find that fascinating. Art is so versatile and an artist can take whatever role they want in this world. They have free rein to everything and that’s what I find so exciting.
For me I think the main thing is to portray your own views through art. Everyone’s views are totally different, but you can learn from others through their art. I want to show my points of view through my videos to make people more aware and learn things from my work. That’s why I’m currently planning lots of videos about social issues such as climate change and changing the way we live our lives, because for me it is so important and I want people to listen and work towards a better future. I am currently filming a video with a girl who makes sustainable clothes. She crochets, knits, and sells all her items herself and so she poses a great alternative to the current trend of fast fashion. This is a great way to change the things you do- buying from small run businesses instead of buying from big fashion brands that despite being so rich pay their workers below minimum wage. I feel this is so important as fast fashion is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. Drawing attention to issues such as these is just one thing I like to do in my videos, as well as show beauty in people and the world.
Can you give some advice for someone who wants to pursue a career in art?
The advice I would give for another artist is to be as creative as you can. Even if the idea seems stupid or silly you should try it out at least once. It could work out and it could be amazing.
I would also say you should work as hard as you can. The arts industry is really tough and challenging; you need to put the hours in to shine and be seen and heard, and for people to see your work that’s what it’s all about. Work as hard as you can, and you will thrive. Even if you feel like it’s hard to get into you can just do it as a hobby. Art is so beautiful and it’s so important for the mind, so just draw or paint or take photos on the side of your job and you can slowly go further in.
Want to see more Resident Artist interviews? Check out our previous one here.