“It was a hobby that turned into an obsession” Eli Craven
Eli Craven is a photographer who makes incredible collages out of his photographies. Nature lover but also inventive, he takes his inspirations from his everyday life and transforms those moments into unique piece of artwork.
Can you tell us a little about yourself? What’s your profession, background, studies..
I am an artist first, but I am also a teacher and a woodworker. My background is in photography, but I never enjoyed photography as a profession. I don’t like taking pictures for people. It was a hobby that turned into an obsession, but I wasn’t obsessed with doing it, my interests were in studying the process and how photographs are used to communicate and trigger emotions. I spent a lot of time in the darkroom getting to know the materials. From the beginning I had a tendency to manipulate my images, cover subjects and play with what can be seen. I didn’t understand why, I still don’t quite understand my impulses, but my interests as an artist continue to revolve around the urge to see and the connection between representation and desire.
When and why did you start to make collages with your photos?
About six or seven years ago, following my undergraduate studies. At the time I was photographing book and magazine pages and then altering the images in the darkroom. Throughout the process I felt I could simply use the images from the magazines and books directly. The additional step of re-photographing and manipulating in the darkroom seemed unnecessary, so I simplified the process and went straight to collage.
What inspires you?
I find motivation in all aspects of everyday life, positive and negative. I am inspired by the work of friends, students, and colleagues, and also in movies, music, and books. I recently watched the movie “On Body and Soul” directed by Ildikó Enyedi and it left an impression. Such a beautiful film. I am still thinking about it. On the other hand, our current political situation offers a lot of motivation to say something in the work. I don’t think that is necessarily “inspiration” in the traditional sense, but fear and anger motivate me just as much as beauty and desire.
What is your favorite artwork and why?
I can’t say that I have just one favorite artwork. It always seems to change, but Isa Genzken, John Baldessari, and Sarah Charlesworth are favorites of mine. More recently, I have been looking at the works of Monika Baer and B. Ingrid Olsen. Their work is fantastic.
How do you see your practice involves in the next following years? Where do you see yourself in the future?
In the future I would like to continue teaching and making art. In my current work I am taking more of my own photographs, combining them with found imagery, and blurring the lines between the found and the original. I have also been spending a lot of time in the wood shop and that is changing the work. I think it is important to evolve, so that the work isn’t repetitive and doesn’t get boring. My practice is constantly evolving. While there will still be aspects of collage evident, I see the work including more of my own photographs and becoming more sculptural.
Last but not least, Kluid is all about music, fashion, and of course illustration; what’s your opinion about those topics? Do you have any favorite clothing brand? What’s your style? Any favorite music ?
I’m not sure how I would describe my style – comfortable and functional, a predictable uniform. I tend to like classic styles that outlast trends. I listen to a lot of music in the studio and the music I listen to can influence the work. Lately I have been listening to Earth Girl Helen Brown, Cindy Lee, and Nap Eyes, to name a few. I think that music, fashion, and art are all connected. Personal style permeates the work when it is authentic and it can be seen in the clothes we wear, the art we make, and the designs we create. I think I tend to keep it simple.