Sunday, July 26, 2009

Jeffrey Kilmer - Artist

The envoy gallery is a contemporary art space located at 131 Chrystie St in NYC. ( “It brings together visual and performing arts, film, video, music, multi-media events, poetry reading, artist talks, publications and aims to provide opportunities for artists to exhibit their work within a context of current national and international practice.” Denny says it's one of the few galleries willing to take risks on unknown artists and it's largely supportive of the gay arts. Love it!

Jeffrey Kilmer recently showed some of his work at Envoy much of which can be seen in his new book called 23% Pure. Jeffrey has a masters in Architecture that can be seen reflected in much of his work as a photographer. His portraits are a glimpse into the youth of today’s society.

You book is called 23% Pure. Tell me how you came up with that title?
There’s no real story behind it. Its abstract. Architectural. It was a “working” title that seemed appropriate to the finished book.

What do you look for in your models?
Authentic, rebellious, skinny but toned, shaggy haired, strong featured, often with tattoos, scars, black eyes, broken noses. Interesting imperfections.

Subjects with tattoos are prevalent in your work, what is it about tattoos you are draw to? Do you have ink of your own?
It seems almost everyone has a tattoo. They are difficult to avoid. People with tattoos often appeared more interesting to me than those without tattoos. When tattoos were a rare occurrence, even just 10 years ago, they seemed more revealing. They told a story and offered clues about the person, the music they liked, etc… But now that tattoos have hit the mainstream they are becoming a little less interesting to me, and often less revealing, but I’m still drawn to certain people who have them.
I have two tattoos. The largest one was taken from an etching from the 1800's. I wanted something that looked “old school”, but also unique. I grew up hunting and fishing in Northern Michigan and Canada as a kid, before Post Punk/New Wave hit me. It’s a reminder of those days outdoors in the forest or on the lake.

You have been educated as an architect. How do you see it playing into you work today as a photographer?
Architecture is a fantastic education for a variety of disciplines. Art, Film, Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Photography.

Talk about your editing process. What is it you look for when choosing your final images?
There were 190 images selected for the book out of thousands. xxxx

What camera do you work with?
I’ve been using Nikon digital cameras over the past 6 years. I began shooting with 35mm film. None of that work made it into the book, due to the cost to digitize the film for print. I’d love to shoot with medium format film, but it’s too expensive.

You travel all around the county gathering your subjects. Where would you most like to visit again?
I find most of the kids via websites such as Myspace. The majority of my paid professional work is photographing architecture and involves travel. If I locate a bunch of interesting kids in a city that I’m scheduled to work in, I’ll try to stay an extra day at my own expense in order to shoot them. I love medium-size cities that are not on the radar, places like Tulsa, Oklahoma or Louisville, Kentucky.
The kids that interest me tend to have a certain moody or rebellious look to them. Perhaps they remind me of my teenage days?! Scars, black eyes, and tattoos tend to make them more interesting to me. The majority of the kids are cool, "creatives," and we often have common interests, such as music or fashion. Many of them become friends over time. We exchange music mix CD's and art via the old-fashioned mail.

What advice do you have for a young photographer?
My advice is to get a good education, take a lot of pictures!
Graduate school isn’t for everyone, but I matured so much there.

Are you planning book two and if so what can we expect from it?
Many of the subjects from Book 1, have been shot several times over the years, beginning when they were 18. Now they are 25. Mature. I’d love a Book 2, to be a series of 8-10 photographs of each subject, shot over a ten year period.

To see more of Jeffry's work or to purchase his book you can go to his web site at

Denny says He's one to watch ;)

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