Hey, Dee, how are you? Is Dee your real name?
Hi, Artem! Actually, my first name is Dee Ann. People who call me ‘Dee’ are my type of people though.
So, I’ve been following you on Instagram for quite a while now and I am very excited to be doing this interview because I am very intrigued by your work. How did you get into making art? Have you always had a craving to express yourself or is that a relatively new discovery?
Before anything else, thank you for being so appreciative, Artem! Ever since I was 15, I have always loved writing poems. When I went to college, poetry mended me and significantly helped me recover from a death of a loved one who died of cancer. I remember the nights I bled in words in futile attempts of putting my heart unto paper. I formally started photography a year ago and it made a huge difference in my life. I take photos to please myself and for the exhilaration of creating art. My photographs are my poetry.
What is the source of your work? What drives you to make art?
After quitting from my first job, I was feeling more lost than I have ever felt in my life. I felt like I had lost my purpose. I distanced myself from my friends for months. It was then that I started shooting self-portraits and dedicated my time solely for the purpose of curing my depression. Photography did more than that; it allowed me to see the world in different perspectives, thus making me dedicate myself to seeking out photographs that tell stories.
You mix text with visuals in a very powerful way. Which comes first, the text or the visuals?
Either. I sometimes think of a concept and then find the right caption. Or whenever I read something that hits me, I base my ideas on that.
Where do you find the texts for your photos - do you just read a lot? Are any of them original writings of yours?
I love to read, some of them are from my favourite books. Some are from tumblr, and from my favourite poets. And yes, I write some of them too.
How do you come up with ideas for your images and how do you turn those ideas into reality? What is your workflow?
We can all take photographs easily but not everyone can tell stories. When something interests me or an idea comes up, like from a book that I’ve just read, from a poem, or from an experience, I assess myself if the photo is worth sharing, do I feel good about it? Does my photo make others feel something? Is it relevant? And, is it possible? After the assessment, I then work on creating the photo, gathering the props and resources that could support the composition.
Do you have a background in photography?
I unfortunately do not have any professional background in Photography.
I discovered your work by chance on Instagram and that speaks for itself about how useful Instagram is for finding and following talent. What has your experience with Instagram been like? Do you have a website or a blog as well, or is Instagram your main platform?
Instagram is home. Instagram has the best community ever. If you follow the right people, especially those who have the same passion as yours, everyday you feel inspired to do your craft. I follow a bunch of amazing and talented Instagrammers and they inspire me in different ways to keep improving. I do post some of my stuff on tumblr at deeanngomez.tumblr.com.
Has Instagram and sharing your work on social media affected your art? Positively, negatively, both?
Instagram has affected me positively. It gave me a platform for self-expression. It also allows me to develop and create relationships with people who appreciate and inspire me.
Do you use Photoshop for your composite work? Did you learn to do compositing yourself?
I use Lightroom and Photoshop to edit my works. I graduated BSIT, but I learned basic photo manipulation just last year.
One thing that I really enjoy about your composites is a certain “artificiality” to them, so to speak. They aren’t polished in the same way, say, a photograph coming out of a retouching studio would be, and in my opinion that gives your work a sort of naive innocence and an additional surreal dimension that make it stronger and more profound. Is this something that you do intentionally or is it more of a happy accident kind of thing?
I am a natural light shooter and I just maximize my resources. We know that it is a rule in photography to avoid noise at all cost, but most of my photos are intentionally pixelated or grainy because I think it dramatically helps the composition look natural and interesting.
I noticed you use yourself as the subject in most of your photos. How does it feel to be on both sides of the camera? What are the challenges of that?
I do not use a camera remote control, so whenever I shoot self-portraits, I have to manually set the camera timer and do my thing in 10 seconds. It is really quite challenging, I have put my camera to risk many times. Despite the challenges, taking creative self-portraits is fun! I have the vision of how I want my photograph to look and to simultaneously turn that vision into reality is just fulfilling.
What are some of your biggest creative obstacles? Are there times when you find it difficult to make new work, and how do you deal with those times?
I think the biggest challenge is to come up with fresh ideas everyday. There are times when I find it difficult to make new work, especially when you have the concept but you lack the resources. Oftentimes I just motivate myself to come up with something that could maximize what’s available around me.
It's encouraging to see that you use very ordinary props and locations, and yet you manage to tell interesting stories. This shows that art doesn't require much in terms of physical things and tools. What are your thoughts on that? If you could choose "less" or "more" which one would you pick?
Your vision is what makes your art, YOUR art. As long as you love what you do and you’re passionate about it, nothing can stop you. Less is more. I don’t really use a lot of props in creating a composition, as said, I just maximize my available resources.
Any advice for people who want to create, but find themselves unable to do so?
My advice is to always try. I am not really good at creating poems but I always try because I want to and I feel like it. Doing things for yourself is a big step in creating because what other people say is the least of your concerns. You don’t need approval, you do not expect other people to appreciate your efforts. Value yourself and create for yourself.
What is the next step for you and your art?
I am not really sure but I am certain that I will take the next small, realistic step forward.