Is the art world a complete mystery to you? One thing I've noticed since trying to show more of my photography is that everyday people don't feel like they're a part of the "art club". As an insider I want to reassure you that there is no secret code, all black outfit, or detailed education required - we want you as our fan. Be our receptive audience and we will feed off of that support, inspiring you with the things we create. It's all about that back and forth.
So take this as your invitation in and meet my newest friend New Zealand painter Negin Dastgheib who has a little studio here in Bushwick.
B: Hi Negin, thanks so much for having me into your studio. It was really nice to see your work up close and talk a bit about what inspires it. You paint from photos of your family member's memories to construct and share a common understanding of the past. Can you tell me what that image selection process is like and what about certain photos inspire a painting?
N: Finding the right photo can be very difficult. Not all photos translate well into a painting, especially as I take a lot of the detail out of the image. I look for simple images with a mixture of people and some familiar objects for example an umbrella, furniture or power poles to give a sense of place.
B: What was your childhood like growing up in New Zealand, did you have creative hobbies early on?
N: I had quite an outdoorsy childhood, my family were still relatively new to the country so they working hard to get where we are now. We enjoyed simple things like picnics and tramping. I always liked to draw and I did play the violin for a few years.
B: What did your parents miss the most about Iran that they couldn’t get in their new country?
N: Lots of things I'm sure, the history and the food! But overall they were excited to move to New Zealand and be away from the Islamic dictatorship. My mum was a pharmacist back in Iran and when she moved she did a series of odd jobs like working in a mushroom factory. I guess the language barrier would have set them back however it wasn't easy around the time of the revolution to find work. My dad came to New Zealand first with a scholarship to do his PhD and he is now lecturing plant science at the same university.
B: Is there a story that your parents have told you about home that has been most influential?
N: There have been many stories of their childhood that have had an affect on me. But really it's the way they share these stories, their faces light up and it really seemed like an amazing country to live in. At the end they always sigh and start discussing the current political climate.
B: From your early Iran paintings to these recent works you have removed all figures. Can you talk about why you’ve made that decision?
N: I wanted to simplify the image further, by taking out figures it becomes more about places and objects that relate to home rather than trying to recapture a moment in time. I want to be able to relive that moment and place myself in the scene again.
B: Your color choices really contribute to that feeling of nostalgia. In particular for me the pink palette of the wedding table that is repeated in a few other paintings. Do you try to closely reference the color of the photo you’re working from or are you incorporating color trends?
N: I do reference the color of the original photograph when I start. Though I may exaggerate certain areas. I find pink very stimulating, it has a lot of nice meaning behind it too. Its bold and fresh yet still gives a feeling of softness and safety. I like to bring the old photographs into a contemporary setting with color.
B: How has your experience been setting up studio in one of the most popular art burrows Bushwick, Brooklyn? Have you seen other habits or community building events that you want to take back home?
N: As soon as I moved to New York I knew I wanted to be in the middle of all of it. I've met so many artists and been inspired to see how hard they work here and how much the city values art. I also went to an artist run school called BHQFU over winter and would love to be involved with something similar when I go back.
B: Has your time living in NY inspired any new ideas that you want to work on? What is the next skill you want to acquire in life?
N: I've seen lots of amazing painters and that has definitely opened my mind to what painting can be. I definitely want to work larger scale and get a bit looser with my brushwork. When I go back to New Zealand I plan to do my masters in Art Therapy. Art is a great healing tool for anyone who needs it.
B: Who has inspired you the most lately?
N: Seeing local group shows in my neighborhood and lots of random artists on Instagram - @ellisonshaune, @charlotteevanspaint, @scottdanielellison, @_swamp_witch_, @gabrielspecter, @helenmelland, @joeandoe, @bettyscreams__, @snacks___, @tacowatanabe.
B: What motivates you to be in the studio consistently?
N: It's an addiction! I really don't have much control over it. If I don't go for a few days I don't quite feel right.
Hope you enjoyed this interview and got a few insights into how and why one young artist creates. If you have any questions for Negin leave a message in the comments, we'd love to hear from you.
Coming up next is my latest interview with etching artist and Whitney Museum art handler norton. You're not going to want to miss this insider look at his authentic converted loft and the moving story that charts his transition from painting to scratching lines out of plexi-glass. Sign up for my newsletter below to stay in touch, and smile because you just connected with a brand new person. Feel the love?