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Q: What was it like working entirely on your own?
A: It was both very exciting and very scary. Exciting because I felt free to create and explore whatever I wanted. There was no one in the room other than me. No one with any expectations or agenda. I played around with flowers and painted all night long, and it was really very exhilarating at times. Many nights I didn’t even want to go to sleep and just worked and worked.
At the same time it was very frightening. No client, no editor, no agent for feedback or guidance. And then, though I lived in a small, cheap place in Brooklyn, I still had to pay the rent. This was not the ’60s and my savings were running out fast, since I was spending lots of money on flowers and photo supplies. But somehow I always managed to get by and I saw my work evolving.
Even though I was working on my own, I did stay in touch with a few people in the commercial world who liked my work. One art director had my flower photographs all over his office, and one day this lady who was a book publisher saw them and within a matter of days I was working on my first book.
Q: What was the book publishing process like for you?
A: It was exhilarating to think that the work I was doing would end up in a book. The difficulty was that when I was approached by the publisher, they wanted all the material immediately in order to make the deadline for the spring market. One moment I was just minding my business figuring out what images I wanted to make, and the next I was on a rushing to deliver my first book. That was quite stressful, especially since I tried to make more new photos while the creative director was already working on the layout.
Everything was being rushed and finally sent off to the printer for the first proof — then suddenly everything was put on ice. Why? Because it was early 2003 and it was evident that George Bush was going to start a war. Consequently the companies involved with the book project were suddenly not sure if it was the right time. This went on for awhile and then, again suddenly, the publisher decided to just go ahead, which was great. Unfortunately there was absolutely no time for any corrections and the raw layout became the book.
It was not the ideal scenario, and I was quite unhappy about that. It took me some time to be able to appreciate all the good things that came from the book. I think the experience will serve me very well for my second book, which is in the making. After the first book was published, I also got some nice write ups, and, through that exposure, I was contacted by a gallery, and offered a group show, which later turned into a 2-person show.