Free Range 2016, Q + A with Showcased Artist, Joe Earley

Free Range is an Art and Design Graduate Art Show taking place at The Truman Brewery from 10 June  to 18 July, displaying works across art, design, photography, interior design and for the first time this year, Illustration. Now in its 16th edition, the show attracts a wealth of participating UK universities and art colleges, providing emerging artists with a prominent platform for their work. One of the showcased artists, Joe Earley, graduated in Photography Contemporary Practice. Beside taking photographs, he is currently working on making handmade portfolios and books. We catch up with him about his processes and inspiration.

A:  Your pieces are fairly minimalistic, with bright colours and striking focus on recognisable ephemera. Would you say that your interests lie in documentation of the everyday?
JE: I suppose we all find a way to distract ourselves in life with a hobby (not to sound morbid) – but making images of perspectives I found were different purely because you weren’t able to see what surrounds the frame, this I found really interesting. I like the fact that you can completely change what an area is perceived as. A place of no interest to other people can be framed in such a different way as a photograph – you can play with it and remove what you don’t want around and change the nature of the place you’re photographing.

I adore bright colours, I like to attract the eye of other people, hopefully put a smile on their face, I suppose there is almost a certain will of semiotics with in the colour I like to concentrate with. Let’s face it, we don’t make work for ourselves anymore, I can’t remember the last time I made an image I was really happy with and kept it to myself, that’s just not how it works anymore, with means of exhibitions, social media, etc… we want to show people what we have, give ourselves a meaning in life. The era we live in now!

A: Your work tends to strongly centre around perspective, and a focus on accentuated lines; is composition a starting point for you, or is it something you incorporate into the subject matter afterwards?
I’ve been photographing using a similar aesthetic for around two years now, so when looking for an image I almost know what I’m looking for. For example, when I’m exploring a new place, the first thing I see are the lines, and shapes, then I use the frame or grid in the view to line up the perspective so when it’s time for the final edit I have all the lines perfect. I feel it’s kinder to the human eye and shows a bit more consideration in the framing, a little bit of OCD in this I suppose.

A: What gave you the idea of making handmade journals?
JE: It’s a really therapeutic hobby – I throw a film or music on in the background and sit back sewing books. It started at university, I bound all my own journals, just to give my work a little something extra when handing in instead of writing in a bought journal. It allowed me to personalise myself a bit and also learn a new skill. It’s also great to just know you’ve made something for someone who is happy enough to gift it to a friend or enjoy themselves to use on a little adventure or holiday for their doodles and stories.

A: Is there a photograph of yours that you are particularly attached to?
JE: There’s an image of my friend Jodie, we was on our way to Bestival on the Isle of Wight and that years theme was Nortical, so we had a big cardboard boat in-between us in the car, She pulled her hair across her face and popped her head through the peep hole and I shot a photo and it was the beginning of a new series, her eyes looked so sharply, and the fact she was looking through an object opened my eyes to looking through the ordinary.

A: Is there a photographer or mentor you have learned a lot from or that has had a significant impact on your practice?
JE: I’ve always been very fond of Jean Baptiste Sinniger, Tj Tambellini and a feed on instagram called @gangculture set up by artist Trevor Hernandez, big inspiration from them. But Jean was the main reason I started shooting as I did, his first works are stunning.

Free Range 2016 runs from 10 June – 18 July at The Truman Brewery, London. For more information:

1. Joe Earley Any Which Way. Courtesy of UCA Rochester and Free Range.