Charlie Clark: Tell us a bit about your background
Alex Kraus: I’m 25 years old. I was born and raised in NYC. I went to a very high pressure high-school, which I think made me want to go into art. My woodworking teacher was an awesome guy, Richard Bottwin, who makes and shows amazing art. I got very into building furniture. It was meditative for me. For college, I chose SUNY Purchase, which has an exceptional visual art + design program. I received my BFA in 2012. Now I’m living in Greenwich Village and working at an art gallery in Chelsea.
CC: How did you get into photography?
AK: I took an elective at Purchase in my Sophomore year, the History of Photography. It was taught by a woman named Marcia Due, who was clearly passionate about photography and it was contagious. I fell in love with the work of photographers like Lee Friedlander, Helen Levitt, and William Eggleston. I think what stood out to me about their work was that so much of it was funny. It made me laugh out loud and I didn’t really know fine art photography could do that.
CC: What do you prefer to shoot, film or digital? Why?
AK: I shoot practically all digital now. I use a 5D Mark III. It’s just so much easier not having to scan, dust, and color correct the way you have to with film. If I want to print huge or am feeling nostalgic, I’ll shoot with my Mamiya 7II, which is 6×7 format and is an amazing, fun camera to shoot with. It is nice to slow down and use film every now and then. It’s exciting picking up negatives from the photo lab. I feel that the time you’re forced to wait can be really helpful in selecting/editing your shots with fresh eyes.
CC: What are some things that inspire your work?
AK: Working at an art gallery is really inspiring. I’m just surrounded by great art all the time. One artist represented there, Tamiko Kawata, uses safety pins and panty hose and other unexpected materials. I got to meet her the other day and see her studio. Her work is so refreshing and I suppose it’s also funny what materials she chooses to use. She made me want to experiment with new materials in my still life work. But it’s also the fact that she was so friendly and clearly in love with making art that inspired me. That passion just rubs off on you and gives you hope in the art world and humanity.
CC: Describe your creative process – how do you come up with an idea for a new piece?
AK: I’m a really curious person. It annoys my friends because I’m always asking questions that they don’t know the answers to. But I just think, “what would it look like if I did this?” or “I bet it would look weird if I did that”. From there I just think of it as playing or experimenting. I get an idea or I have to shoot one thing and then 3 hours later I’m still shooting it. I tend to work at night and I usually have to be inspired by something to even pick up my camera. In the past I’ve tried carrying my camera everywhere with me, or forcing myself to shoot everyday, and it just doesn’t work. I have to be inspired.
CC: Can you tell us about a piece / project that you worked on recently that you’re particularly proud / fond of.
AK: This is a hard question for me because I don’t stay proud or fond of my work for long. I get sick of projects and have to move on to something new. People will say, “I really love that shot you took”, and I’ll just think, “oh man, that shot’s so old and it’s not that great”. But I am very proud to have just had my first solo exhibition in NYC. The show was called Experiments and it was hosted by No Home Gallery. It was about experimenting with color, geometry, texture and abstraction in still life. It was my first project that had nothing to do with my roots in street photography.
CC: Where do you see yourself in a year? in five years?
AK: I really hope to have gallery representation and be showing new projects more often.
I'm a creative coder living in Brooklyn. I keep myself busy pushing pixels at B-Reel, building interactive data visualizations and curating WAVA.