Jake Isaac

The Southern Glossary Instagram account is curated by a new artist or photographer each week. Every curator will put their own spin on the account, showing off work, their process, and their surroundings. Here's a Q&A with last week's curator, photographer Jake Isaac.

Location: Atlanta, Georgia  

Instagram: @Jake_Isaac

How did you interest in photography begin?

It's hard for me to pinpoint the moment that I realized I wanted to be an artist who worked in photography, but it definitely happened while I was a teenager. I was very influenced by skate photos and particularly imagery from local shows going on around me. Some of that aesthetic still creeps into the work in make now. I really think it took me learning some of the physics behind light, and how the camera works to capture it, before I truly became enamored with the medium. I also have to mention the viewing of old family photos. I always seemed to gravitate towards the images that weren't necessarily the intention of the image maker. Realizing that prompted me to think about why and to what audience is any given image 'successful', which will forever be fascinating to me. 

How do you feel about the relationship of an artist to their city or surroundings?

My surroundings are an integral part of my work, and they find their way into it in ways that I don't even expect. Much of my work is focused on an honest documentation of my neighborhood and the people I know, but even when I'm trying to focus on a more conceptual series I'll notice small influences. The American South has a very unique look, it's different than the rest of the country. If you compare Renaissance paintings from Northern Europe they look different than those made in Italy, the colors and quality of light are unique to the regions. I think you can see the same in American art, but on an even broader spectrum. I love the aesthetics of both the rural and the urban American South, there's a timelessness and solemness in many cases but there's also a sort of raunchiness and rebellious attitude that's probably existed since colonization. 

Do you have a creative or artistic peer group in your area that you're a part of? What opportunities are there for artists like yourself?

I would say that almost everyone I consider to be a friend, whether actively making work or not, has a strong creative drive. I'm very fortunate to be surrounded by so many people that I can bounce ideas off of and get honest feedback from as I make work. I feel a strong sense of solidarity with other emerging artists, and I do my best to dialogue with as many like minded people as I can. That's how the opportunities become available, the fact that I'm here on this site is a perfect example, as I was introduced by my friend Jack Deese who was featured here not long ago. There are other institutions in and around Atlanta that seek to promote young artists as well, I recently joined up with the Atlanta Photography Group and look forward to submitting work for shows they host later on this year. 

Where do you go to draw inspiration?

I am most inspired by looking at other artists work, and more often now I find myself going to the Internet to view images rather than the traditional photo books. There are so many people out there churning out amazing work all day, every day. It can never replace the feel of a beautifully designed book with great works in great sequence, but the sheer volume of amazing photography out there that can be accessed with a few clicks of the mouse is a constant source of inspiration for me. I especially love online zines such as this one, it's not only been great for me to get my work seen by a larger audience, it's a place I can come and see work that encourages me to exercise and push my own creativity. Thank you for that. 

Do you feel creatively satisfied?

Almost never. I do love the feeling of completing something that I had been working on for a while, but I'm hungry, and I have a hard time allowing myself to feel content with my work. I don't ever consider a series to be finished, there is no concept that I'm aware of that has already been explored to its full potential.

Tell me about a recent, current, or upcoming project or exhibition.

I'm working on a few different series at the moment. What I'm most excited about is a new idea that will be based on Craigslist personals ads. I don't want to give too much away, but I'm looking forward to exploring the strangeness that you find there. I'm getting ready to start applying to different MFA programs so I plan to spend the rest of 2015 working hard and trying to make more mature and thoughtful work than I did during my time as an undergrad.

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