Getting to know Edward Fielding
What’s your background?
I’m the result of being an army brat growing up, always on the move, which continued in adulthood when job opportunities presented themselves. New places to learn about, explore and discover, helped shape my view on the world.
Does your artwork come from that background?
I think the constant exposure to new environments helped to develop my observation skills which are crucial for being a photographer. I was also a maker as a child; playing with Legos, building models, creating contraptions.
A lot of my work runs parallel to my model railroading, for example seeing the beauty in weathered old decaying building and looking at all of the wonderful details.
I love the steam train era of the 30s and 40s and a lot of my work has a nostalgic feel.
What are you trying to say with your work?
I do a lot of work for different purposes, such as creating book covers for the publishing industry, but a theme in my work is trying to create a sense of a mood or feeling of a place. Some of my best work has a heightened sense of drama.
Some of my more documentary style work like my new “The Flower Cottages” project, can be summed up in the words of photographer Robert Adams when he says “we built these things, we should look at them closer” – a photograph of an old car rusting in the woods of Vermont, a chair in the middle a plateau in Iceland or a leaning old house in the dunes of Prince Edward Island, invites the viewer to stop and look carefully at the things we human’s build as we alter the natural landscape.
What made you choose the medium you work with?
I think photography choose me in sixth grade. We shot 35mm film cameras at summer camp and developed the rolls of film on a picnic table. I was hooked by the magic of the process and the immediacy of going from idea to end result.
Do you work in a studio?
I primarily work in the environment, but have done a lot of studio work, including a series of dog portraits in the “Quotable Westie” series, as well as still life images and food photography. My current studio is temporary and is set up in a spare bedroom as needed.
What is the one thing in your studio you just could not be without?
White poster board is the most essential ingredient for bouncing light into shadows. I could work without my studios lights, but even with natural light I’d want my white poster board reflectors.
Who are your biggest influences?
I used to pour over photography monographs at the college library when I went to Boston University, so I have a lot of influences and inspirations – Diane Arbus, Mark Klett, Edward Ruscha, William Wegman, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Irving Penn, Jan Groover, the Bernd and Hilla Becher
– I kind of parted ways with contemporary fine art photographers when the work started being more about composites than straight on photography.
Music choice by Edward
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
I’m rather prolific so it changes all the time, but I have shot of a single white chair in the middle of nowhere in Iceland as a large canvas print over the fireplace in my living room, so I’d say that is my favorite currently. I like to think my best work is always ahead of me. https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/featured/take-a-seat-iceland-edward-fielding.html
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
The initial image can take fractions of a second, plus a half hour of post processing. Others like the “Flower Cottages” project took hours of research to find, and plan, the shoot, then a couple of hours working the scene and capturing the images. Then hours of post processing the images.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
I’ve gotten to the point of knowing what I want to process and what I want to discard, and how to take the image from RAW state to final product. After doing this for a number of years, I’ve created a bunch of “recipes” to get what I want out of an image, depending on the mood I’m going for.
What project are you working on now?
I’ve worked on a number of series in the past but my current project “The Flower Cottages” probably is the most thoroughly preconceived project to date. I planned the concept of documenting this iconic row of weekly summer rental cottages from the 1930s which line Route 6A along the beach outside of Provincetown.
I discovered the cottages while doing research for an offseason trip to Cape Cod. I planned out what I wanted to capture and what the final result would look like as a gallery show and as a book.
The prints are available for purchase on my site – https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/collections/the+flower+cottages+of+cape+cod and I just release a small, print on demand, book on Amazon. The book serves as a catalog of the project and shows the “portraits” of each of the historic small summer cottages which at first glance seem identical but as you look closer, you start to see subtle differences. It is an invitation to look deeper at the human made things around us. The book is kind of a throw back to Edward Ruscha’s self-published books from the 1960s like his “26 Gas Stations”. https://www.amazon.com/Flower-Cottages-Cape-Cods-Identical/dp/1987754301
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Be true to your passions and show the world your unique vision. Don’t try follow trends or try to do what is popular. Like right now, does the world need another pencil drawing of an eyeball on Instagram?
And also have some self awareness. Look around the greater art world. Look at books, visit galleries, go to museums, develop your eye by feeding it great art, not just cat photos on your cell phone.
What was the first piece of art you sold?
I sold a color print of a smashed light bulb to my High School art teacher. It was terrible, the light balance was all wrong. She showed it to me recently on Facebook and I was so embarrassed!
Do you find it hard to navigate the artworld?
Back in the early days I tried the traditional path of paying to enter into juried shows, paying to frame and send out artwork, all in the pursuit to pad the old resume and gain “exposure”. Later in life when I got back into my photography I totally bypassed the art world.
I started selling my work as stock images to designers, magazines and book publishers. I found it very satisfying to find a market that placed a value on the images, rather than just viewing and moving on. As my skills improved I started to move up to a more selective boutique stock agent. And as the work improved it had more overlap with the fine art so I started to sell it directly to customers via print on demand sites such as Fine Art America.
Now that I have established a market for my work, I’ve been kind of getting back into thinking more about art world, higher concept type projects. Also I’ve found that today with an online presence, curators and collectors find you if you make it easy for them. I was part of a group photography show because a curator found me online.
What are you personally doing to advance your work career?
I’m always learning new things; maybe watching a YouTube video on some Photoshop technique, taking a CreativeLive course, or even doing something like teaching myself to edit video. And I’m always looking for new ways to get the word out about my work. These days you have to be your own public relations firm, no one else is going to do it for you.
How do you price your work and why do you price it that way?
My prices are based on previous sales. I’m rather happy with the prices I’m able to receive for my open edition prints. They are reasonable for the amount of work put into them and for the volume they sell. I’d rather have the work sell than not. Sales are highly motivating to artists, it tells them they are on the right track and have made a connection with someone. My limited edition prints are price higher and include a signature, number, and embossed studio stamp.
Music choice by Edward
I’m a small time art collector myself and I’m always surprised by the low prices artists sell their original work for – most of the art in my collection is under two hundred dollars per piece.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
I’m everywhere. Quora, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ – it can be exhausting but then again, these are the day when you can be your own TV Station, your own publication and your own marketing firm.
Is there anything that really annoys you about the artworld?
The most annoying thing these days is the focus on auction results and the use of the art market as an investment.
What advice would you give new artists?
Be sure to have a day job and don’t overlook every possible sales market for your work. Being a working artist requires a lot of selling and hustle.
Don’t fall for the fantasy that you are going to find a great gallery and then all your cares will melt away. In any creative industry, the top 20 percent take 80 percent of the riches, be realistic and true to yourself.
Find your niche not only in terms of your art but in the places you sell your work. Your market might be in commercial work, licensing, commissions or in decor, the over all art market is bigger than the attention grabbing auction results.
Have you got hobbies?
Cross-country skiing, hiking, model railroading, writing, videography, gardening
Where are you based?
In the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont.
Edward M. Fielding
I live in Manchester, UK and try to promote other artists and writers when I can.I'm so pleased you found our community and I hope to chat to you soon!!Please comment on my posts if you like them 🙂