William Perls is a photographer currently based out of San Francisco and an Alumni of the Academy Art University. William's is a two-time Top New Creatives winner with award-winning images published in CMYK Vol. 51 (winter 2011) and CMYK Vol. 52 (spring 2012), here’s what he had to say:
First of all how are you doing? What’s new and exciting?
No complaints here. I'm currently working on a solo exhibition called "We are Animals" for my international debut at BOX 32 in Berlin, Germany. As well as producing a slew of imagery and video work for my commercial clientele. Life appears to be getting exponentially busier & I couldn't be more grateful, I am living my dream.
How did you begin as an artist, were you always a photographer?
I've always found ways to make things, whether it be drawing, painting, ceramics, graphics, and of course photography, art has always been a prominent facet of my life. My pop put a Canon F-1 in my hand at the young age 7 but it wasn't until I was 19 that I realized the importance of this object. I chose photography because it embodies everything I enjoy; being creative, being physical, working with people, and traveling.
Do you agree with the statement that an artist's medium sort of “chooses them”?
Yes, the medium chooses you. Depending on an individual’s exposure to life and ability to obtain necessary tools to present themselves into an outlet for creativity.
What is the story behind the Humanity Project, what does it represent?
The humanity project is intended to conceptualize synchronicity between humans. Timing is everything as they say; so much like a zipper these bodies fall into place with one another seamlessly.
Did you really intertwine naked people in a studio?
Yes, I did indeed shoot 12 nude oiled and tangled up people. Their faces were removed to prevent any pre-association with the models because the intent was to concentrate on the beauty of the form. The models covered a range of ethnic background as well sexual orientation. In hopes to once again to emphases the importance of Synchronicity between all of us.
Tell us about your process.
It all starts from the initial concept. My aesthetic choices, casting, locations & post-production are all intended to point directly at the concept. Once the concept is established a production crew is developed and mass communications undergoes to make sure all elements are in play for the shoot day. The photo shoot is easily the most fun part however, this is only the half way point for my process. I then take the imagery home, lock myself away, blast music and edit photo-shoot till the sun sneaks through my blinds only tell me that I have burned through another night. The last part can go on for days on end.
Why do you choose to create a surreal world through various forms of photo manipulation rather than capturing the world as it exists naturally?
My work is entirely based upon reality except I present my imagery in a surreal world because the visual dialog can be taken to an extreme. It's my way of hitting the viewer over the head with a concept.
I find the “Dolls” series dark and disorienting, yet witty and absurd. What’s the story behind it?
The concept of behind the big head revolves around the ego and the way people walk around with far bigger heads then they may deserve.
How much time to you spend conceptualizing a shot?
It completely ranges project to project. Some images just appear in my head right away but certain ideas like the Humanity Project take months to chew on and develop. I remember while attending university in San Francisco I would be given an assignment that would be due the following week and I would spend 4- 6 days thinking about it. Once the idea was formed it's only a matter of running through the motions to manifest it.
I know that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Is the “Glass Houses” series intended to be a photographic illustration of this old idiom?
Absolutely! This series was a collaboration with Erik Otto an amazingly talented installation artist who created the house we used as the set for the idiom.
This “Color Pop” series is a lot of fun, it appears that a crowd of onlookers is examining the lives and scandals of other people. Is that the idea?
Once again, right on! The photo shoot was actually produced and shot in front of a live audience and the driving concept is the juxtapositions of perceived reality vs the actual reality. Some people including myself like to create a world more beautiful than the truth. From an aesthetic standpoint this series is heavy drawing from the pop movement.
How do you see your art?
I see my art as my purpose. Without it I would be lost.
Why does art matter?
Art matters because it evokes new ideas and leaves behind a visual history of humanity.
What is your advice for young artists?
- Always ask yourself, Why?
- Learn your History and follow the masters of art.
- Pour your blood sweat & tears all over your work.
I'm making a movie... https://vimeo.com/61765006
William's collection of prints are featured for-sale today on CMYK Gallery.
(Interview by: Jacqueline Bon)