Laura Knapp on Life After School and Supporting Fellow Artists

Laura Knapp is a recent graduate from the New England School of Photography in Boston where she studied fine art and portraiture photography. Laura previously studied at Bennington College in Vermont until 2012, but left after two years to pursue her photography studies. Photos from Laura have been featured in exhibitions at Stone Crop Gallery in Maine, Black Box Gallery in Oregon, The Kiernan Gallery in Virginia, as well as Photo Place Gallery in Vermont.

In this interview with MiddleGray's visual arts editor Catalina Piedrahita, the artist talked about what she is up to one year after her first feature in Middlegray, about how her artistic approach has changed after graduating school, and about her most recent project "She is Sure."

Catalina Piedrahita: The first time you were featured in MiddleGray Mag you were an art student. MiddleGray has grown and evolved over the last year, I assume you have as well as an artist who has now graduated from school. How are things different from that time when we first published your work. Who’s Laura as an artist now?

Laura Knapp:  Laura as an artist now is someone who is more concerned with giving other artists the opportunity to share their work. Graduating has ended a certain chapter of my life and thrusted me into the work world. I’ve been working really hard on my blog “She is Sure”, doing retouch jobs here and there, and working at my school. Instead of sitting on my butt and doing nothing during much needed downtime, I force myself to work on my blog. I want to give female artists the chance to showcase their work in a friendly and artistic environment, especially if they are artists who may be too shy to submit their work elsewhere.

CP: One thing that hasn't changed is that you are still making self portraits. Has your approach to selfportraiture changed? If so how?

LK: My approach has definitely changed since graduation. It’s extremely helpful to have critique while you are attending school, but it can be somewhat limiting if you’re with the same group of people with the same view on your photographs from week to week. This summer I stopped caring about what would tickle my teacher or classmates' fancies, and instead, I started doing whatever I possibly felt like doing. For the first time, I set up some speedlites in my apartment and photographed myself hiding in a polka dot sheet. It seemed like a really stupid thing to do, and I had wanted to do it for a long time, but once I started photographing I realized how fun it was to let loose. I accept others' opinions of my work, but I recently realized that the only way I’ll feel totally proud of my work is if I am the main person who is impressed with the work. It’s one thing to create a wonderful photo in the eyes of your viewers that you don’t personally contact with, but it’s a completely opposite and amazing thing when you create a photo that captures the entire essence of what you’re looking for in a particular moment. I love to explore every way I can take a self portrait. I don’t want it to be straightforward all the time.

CP: Now that you are out of school, is it more difficult for you to create artwork? How do you stay motivated to keep producing work on a regular basis?

LK: My main priority since graduating had been to find a steady job, which meant that there hasn’t been a huge focus on constant photo creation. I don’t mean to be a downer, but being out of school has made me a little lazy with my photography. There are no teachers or fellow classmates any more telling me to make work, encouraging me to push through artist’s block. It’s now all up to me. That can be very daunting so I’m forcing myself to create photos every weekend when I have free time. The transition from 100% photo creation 24/7 to sometimes having a spare moment to photograph has been really tough. I’m still entering calls for entries and pushing my work out in the world in order to stay focused and encouraged to make more work.

CP: I’m a big fan of your blog “She is Sure.” I’m always in the look for spaces that give underrepresented people a chance to share their thoughts and experiences so I can expand my knowledge. How and why did you decide to create a space like this for female artists? Why is having this space and managing it important to you?

LK: The reason I created “She is Sure” is probably not what you’d think. I’ve always hated writing, I absolutely love to read, but ask me to write something and I run the other way. In order to face that fear (annoyance?), my blog was born. I wanted to trick myself into writing because writing no longer felt like an annoying task when I was talking about female artists I really admired and wanted to share with the world. I love being able to share female artists who are making work, but aren’t necessarily showing it to a wide audience. I want to give these women a shout-out and let more people hear about their work in hopes that it will catch the eye of someone who really really loves it as much as I do. I don’t know what it is, and it might just be my opinion, but I feel like quite a few women don’t feel confident enough to share their work in public. I want women to feel confident enough to share their work on the internet because that is the biggest audience you can get these days. 

CP: Do you have future plans for She is Sure? Are you planning on expanding this blog somehow?

LK: I hope to feature more artistic projects that are about mediums other than photography. I love photography and it is my life, but I would LOVE to have more artists submit from other mediums so the blog becomes well rounded and involves the entire art community instead of just a specific thing such as photography. I am excited to start doing seasonal playlists where the featured artists from the past get to choose a few songs that inspire and excite them during that time of year. I am a huge music fan and creating these playlists is giving me a chance to expand the blog to feature more mediums such as music.