A new book connects the many worlds of fine arts photography.
I am a friend of the author and he writes about me (named and unnamed) in the book.
“Instant Connections” looks at fine arts photography from many angles. One of the angles that is rarely written about is the perspective of a fine arts photography collector. Collectors like myself know that it is more than just accumulating photographs, that in reality, it borders on obsession. I am a recovering photo collector, so I know the desire to posses an image.
I had the chance to ask Jason Landry a few questions regarding the book and I’ve included an excerpt from the book below.
PW: Whom did you have in mind as the primary audience for “Instant Connections”?
JL: Students, Photographers and Collectors. In a way, I’m trying to educate people through the 40+ essays and interviews that appear in the book. I’m giving the reader an inside look into what it’s like to be an artist, collector and gallery owner. I get questions about these topics a lot. People are always hungry for information. I’m feeding them everything I know.
PW: Why did you feel it was necessary to expose yourself so bluntly to the photography community?
JL: I don’t see it as exposing myself, but sharing what I know. I’d like to see more students and emerging artists succeed in their art careers. If I am able to offer them advice or connect them to someone who could help them, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I talk about this in one of the essays in the book. It has to do with another book, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell defines three types of people: Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen. It’s important to figure out who these people are in your own life, and how you can learn from them.
At the gallery, most of my time is spent mentoring artists and offering them advice. I talk to almost everyone who stops by. I find that people in general are not always forthcoming to offer up what they know. They keep information to themselves like it is proprietary information. I would rather help those who ask for it, and tell them the truth. Being an artist isn’t easy, nor is being an art dealer. They don’t teach a lot of business-related classes in art school and from my point of view, this is why many artists don’t continue being artists a few years after they graduate. Having a business background before going to school and getting involved in the art world gave me the tools I needed to succeed. It also taught me that having mentors and or being a mentor, building your network and being connected to the right people will help you in whatever field you choose to work in.
PW: The format of the book is, to say the least, unconventional. Did the book evolve that way or was this format your intention from the start?
JL: This is how I wanted the book to be published. It’s a bit of a “Frankenstein”‚ in a way that many literary agents and publishers shied away from it. The book includes essays, interview, quotes, poems and lists. Some literary agents didn’t know how to define it‚ where would it go in a bookstore? Some wanted me to just publish the essays, others just the interviews. Some didn’t think I had a large enough platform. I eventually found a person in Boston just starting up a press and they offered to do it
Here’s an excerpt from “Instant Connections”:
Who’s In Your Top Five?
Remember that catchy slogan from the T-Mobile television commercial: “Who’s in Your Top Five?” Let’s consider a similar question: Who’s in your top five, in terms of friends, mentors, and heroes? Think about the five closest people in your life. If you’re an artist or photographer, you’ll probably look at your “art family,” those people who understand who you are and your ultimate potential. My five-card motley crew breaks down like a mixed bag of M&M’s. Some are connected to the art world, and some aren’t. One owns a business. Another is semi-retired. One runs marathons, and another hobbles around with a cane. The last one dabbles in photography and is a mean bike polo player. I have had at least five mentors and friends who have given me advice, support, and inspiration while I was attending college, while I was an emerging artist, and now as a gallery owner and photography collector. The number of individuals in your close-knit art family can be more than five. I just prefer a smaller group‚ “quality over quantity. This reminds me of a great quote in the book The Start Up Of You which reads, “There is a big difference between being the most connected person and being the best connected person.” The goal isn’t to have a ton of people in your real social network. It’s not Facebook or LinkedIn, plus when you consider Dunbar’s number 6, quantity means shit.
For the most part, I’ve had the same number of individuals in my clique. I’m glad this cast of characters has stuck with me. They act as advisors, and they’re generally there because they want to see me succeed. At least this is what I believe, and I try to reciprocate whenever I can. These individuals know who they are, and I am forever grateful that they’ve given me so much knowledge, and, in turn, I only have to buy them lunch every once in a while. You’ll read about them in this book.
Who better to start with than Jeffrey Keough. When I was attending Massachusetts College of Art, my aunt and uncle would tell me, “Jason, you need to meet Jeffrey Keough. He works at MassArt and he would be a good person to know.” Did I do what they asked‚ nope. I’d done all that when I was in the business world. There, it was all about “who you knew” and clawing your way up that proverbial corporate ladder. I played that angle really well, worked hard, befriended the bosses, and landed a few promotions. But in art school, I was reinventing myself. This would be different. I didn’t want any help, even if they were friends of the family. My theory was, if someone did help me, and I left college and tried to show my work out in the real world and it wasn’t as good as I was led to believe, I would fail.
By my junior year, I felt more comfortable about my abilities as an artist and decided to pay Jeffrey a visit. What I had I found out was very depressing. He recently had had a stroke and was no longer at the college. All of the hype that my family had built up about him now felt like a deflated bubble. I began asking myself: why did I wait so long?
While vacationing at his island retreat on St. Martin, Jeffrey remembers his day beginning with a headache. Lucky for him, his former rental tenant had left a large bottle of aspirin in the cabinet. Those two little pills, according to his doctor, proved to be the difference between life and death.
Essays and Interviews on Photography
by Jason Landry
edited by Debbie Hagan
You can purchase the book here.