ndavis4 Jennifer sits down with local New Jersey native photographer Nastassia Davis, as Nastassia reveals her photography style, passion, and internet popular “selfies”. Nastassia tells Artoholiks about her inspirations, what upcoming music artist we need to be on the look out for, and gives advice to other photographers who are just starting out.. Nastassia’s down to earth personality bought some light to Mix 206.

Jennifer:

Hi Nass, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to chat with the Artoholiks. Let’s get started, give me a little background information about you.

Nastassia:

First, I’d like to thank the Artoholiks design studio for this opportunity. It’s always flattering when others are interested in knowing more about who I am and what I do. I was born in Philadelphia, PA raised in Atlantic City, NJ and attended Montclair State University where I received a B.A. in Fine Arts and a minor in African American Studies.

Jennifer:

Cool. So tell us, how did you first get into the art of photography?

Nastassia:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in the arts and was actually heavily involved in a drama guild while in high school. However, when I attended college, I never officially tried out for the theater program because I was kind of shy. So I thought I’d pick up my dad’s old rolleiflex camera and take a photography course instead. I really enjoyed the darkroom process and how the images magically appeared on the photo paper, but made a quick transition into a digital imaging course when I bought my new fuji-fine pix camera. There I picked up basic editing techniques and tried out what I learned in class on photos that I took of myself. I’ve upgraded to an 8 megapixel Canon 30 D SLR since then. Working digital is great because 1) I don’t have to waste a lot of money on film and 2) I love the instant gratification I receive after taking images.

Jennifer:

Nass, how would you describe your style of photography?

Nastassia:

Like many people who have digital cameras, I’ve taken all kinds of pictures, but the ones that seem to get the most attention on facebook and flickr are those in which I’ve turned the camera on myself. They are my creative self portraits or “selfies” as I like to call them. I independently model for, direct, photograph and digitally process my own images. This form of photography allows me to have complete control over the image and I find it quite therapeutic since I’m able to express my thoughts and feelings in the same way one would use their diary or blog. A lot of my self portraits are very colorful, some dream-like and surreal while others are beautiful portraits of my friends.

Jennifer:

Who or what is your inspiration? Do you have any famous or well-known photographers you look up too?

Nastassia:

As for my “selfies”, anything and everything inspires me. It depends upon my mood and state of mind. I must be excited or anxious about the subject in order for it to spark the image creating process. From a crinkled piece of paper (”Talk Is Cheap”), to a concept (”The Misfit I & II”), to the way my hair looks (”B’twix & B’tween), I can be inspired at any moment to take out my camera and tripod. For instance, when I first heard Beyonce’s song “Single Ladies,” I wasn’t too crazy about it, but after seeing the video premiere online, a rush came over me and I felt the need to re-create it in a photo. Immediately, I had the sudden urge to dig in my closet for a leotard, high heels and hair tracks to perform and capture it on camera. Now I absolutely love the song! It sounds comical to think about it now, but that’s really what happened. I was up until 3am shooting and didn’t finish processing the final image until about 5am.

Other artist photographers I admire are Cindy Sherman, Nikki Lee, Lorna Simpson and Carrie Mae Weems. On a more commercial level, I adore the works of photographers such as Matthew Jordan Smith, Annie Leibowitz and David LaChapelle just to name a few.

Jennifer:

Oh I love that “Single Ladies” shoot you did; it’s actually one of my favorites from your work. What drives your passion for art/photography?

Nastassia:

Honestly, I feel like a different person when I’m shooting myself or someone else. I’m no longer shy and fearful, but someone who’s a bit more confident, bold and daring. That is the girl I want to see; that is the girl I truly love. And that is one of the reasons why I continue shooting and self processing my portraits. When taking pictures, my troubles seem to momentarily disappear, and that feeling is like nothing else in the entire world.

Also, I’d have to say exhibiting images online is one of the other driving forces that keeps me creating. I cannot imagine where else I would have distributed my images. The internet is more than a medium; I’m realizing it is what’s getting my photography noticed. The Guardian, which is a prominent UK paper printed my “Yes We Can!” photo in December in honor of Barack Obama becoming America’s President-Elect last year. From there, another opportunity to have my work printed overseas was through a book by blurb.com, which was titled “A Message For Obama”.

Jennifer:

Wow Nass, that’s major! Congrats. So tell us, who are some of Nastassia’s favorite music artists and why?

Nastassia:

I love Janelle Monáe. If you go to my flickr stream or facebook albums, you’ll see many images of her and other members of “The Wondaland Arts Society” that I’ve taken. Please look her up if you don’t know who she is. Janelle’s unique art truly speaks for itself.

Other new artist/bands I’m currently feeling are Chester French, VV Brown, Deep Cotton, Solange, just to name a few. Also, Of Montreal, who I just recently experienced in concert last Friday, is incredible. Gnarls Barkley is definitely another one of my all time favorite groups, just any artist who is seriously trying to stretch the creative boundaries and think outside the box. Also go check out Frankee Razor who’s a close friend of mine who’s doing his singing thing out in L.A. It’s inspiring to see him follow his dream.

Jennifer:

We’re definitely going to have to check out some of these artists. What advice do you have for younger women trying to get their foot in the door of your industry?

Nastassia:

I wouldn’t consider myself apart of any “industry” just yet. Although, I did recently have an official shoot with celebrity webstar B. Scott which was a lot of fun. However, I still would like to continue developing my style and using flickr to get feedback from other photographers. As far as advice to others 1) You’ve got to have the drive. There’s so many people out there who are incredible, but if you continue staying focused you will reach your goal. 2) Connecting, not networking is a must as well. No one gets anywhere without someone helping them along the way. And lastly, 3) Always stay positive and keep in touch. Not only has the internet been a great medium to disseminate my images, but I’ve reached out to real people and made new friends.

Jennifer:

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years career wise?

Nastassia:

I’m still in the beginning stages of my creative photography. I hope that it’ll lead me into meeting and collaborating full time with other important creative people in the industry. This past March, in honor of Woman’s History month, I had my first full live exhibition in Atlantic City which to my surprise turned out to be a huge success. A lot of folks came out and actually bought which made me think more seriously about not taking my talent for granted.

In 5-10 years from now I see myself changing the world with my creativity. Guess you’ll just have to stick around to see what happens. ;)

Jennifer:

Well, we definitely see that happening for you in the very near future so we’ll be sticking around J How can people who are interested in your art work find you and help you achieve your goal?

Nastassia:

Please go to my flickr gallery www.flickr.com/aarika. Sign up. Make comments and favorite the pictures that intrigue them the most. Also, to keep up with me, follow my www.twitter.com/shuttafly.

Jennifer:

Great! And lastly, how would you describe your fashion style?

Nastassia:

Fly. Nuff’ said. ;)

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