Heather Canterbury, born and raised in South Arkansas, attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Art with an emphasis in graphic design. Unable to find solace and creative resolution in the medium of graphic design, she decided to explore a different medium to express herself. She has learned through trial and error, tutorials, research, and constant questioning of others. Her inspiration and motivation comes from lifestyles, music, haunting thoughts, life experiences, dreams, feelings and emotions. Her intention is to kindle emotions and/or a deeper thought process within the viewer. With an educational background in graphic design, her work often exudes an obvious architectural balance and coordinated color schemes. She is currently employed by the Arkansas Arts Center as their Visitor Services Supervisor.
Pictured above: Starr Motel, digital laser print on archival paper, 12" x 18", $225
Why art? There are lots of things you can do in life, why did making art grab you and not let go?
Art is truly an expression of oneself. It exists as my passion in life and I feel it serves as a cathartic release for me.
What do you find to be the hardest aspect to being an artist?
There are two ways to think about the purpose and creation of your art – you either create for yourself or you create for others. I have struggled with this for years. It is important to maintain your identity and find your “style”. As an artist, it is easy to see what works for other artists and want to draw inspiration from that, but you must stay true to yourself and create work that reflects your thought process. It is human nature to want to create art that people will enjoy, but when you quit creating for yourself – your passion and creativity slowly begins to decrease. It is a balancing act.
What role do you see the artist playing in a community?
Artists have a very important role in communities and society in general. A single piece of artwork can address emotion, world views, identity, race, etc. Art has the ability to bring people together, spawn conversation, and encourage the viewer to process an idea or personal viewpoint in a different way. Art can crack open parts of your brain that you never knew existed.
Do you have a preferred medium that you use, and why does it just click with you when you create?
Photography is my medium of choice, whether digital or film. my emphasis in school was graphic design. I had a hard time finding resolution through that particular medium. Photography resonates within me - the play on light, the ability to conjure emotion - it just works for me.
Did you ever have that "aha!" life-changing moment with a piece of art in your formative years? What was it and how did it affect you?
Once I realized the importance of light and how it deeply affects the outcome of an exposure - it all just made sense to me. I wanted to learn more. I wanted to explore more.
I remember in a graphic design class being told that after the class, I would notice graphic design everywhere, and it would change the way I see the world. For me, that held true. Do you think art has that power for most people? Does it for you?
I definitely watch movies from a different viewpoint; take careful notice of photographs in magazines; examine colors, symmetry, depth of field, focus, etc. The more I learn and explore, the more I find myself noticing the elements of art and design in all aspects of my life.
If you had the ability to take a class or workshop with any artist, who would it be?
I have followed Elizabeth Weinberg’s work for quite a while. She is a L.A. based photographer whose work speaks volumes. I appreciate her artistic process and ability to capture such fleeting moments that don’t seem forced or posed. Her use of light is impeccable and I am exceptionally fond of her post processing techniques.
How big of an impact is music on your creative process? Many of the artists I know have to listen to music while they create. If it’s a big part of your process, what do you listen to?
Music plays a big part in my life in general. I am deeply nostalgic and often music feeds into my creative process by way of conjuring up feelings. I create a new playlist every month, which includes songs that impact me throughout those 30 or so days.
Black and white, or full color? What floats your boat?
I’m a fan of full color. The coordination and play on color tends to play an important role in my photography.
What is the greatest accomplishment you want to achieve in your career as an artist?
I feel as if I am still on the brink of finding my photographic “style” and experimenting with different ways of approaching my subject. My biggest accomplishment will probably be the moment I find that for myself – however, I wonder if I’ll ever truly be satisfied…I’m hard to please and critical of my work. I’m just trying to fight my way through.
Thank you Heather for taking the time to give us a little insight into yourself as an artist!