Interview #28: Shar Marie (2022)
“Express the Unexpected” ／ Interview by Paul Rowland
Shar Marie is a freelance artist and graphic designer from Canada. She is an abstract photographer who is attracted to the mysterious, the unusual and the unexpected, finding inspiration in entropy and urban decay. Her unique combination of compelling images and thought-provoking quotations are both meditative and imaginative, inviting the viewer to recognize and reflect on the beauty in the overlooked — to see what is right in front of us.
Here is Paul Rowland’s interview with her…
PR／Please tell us about yourself and your background.
SM／Hi, I am Shar Marie, the owner of Sharon Marie Studios, a graphic design and art studio.
Art is in my DNA.
When I was 12 years old, I designed, manufactured and marketed dolls and plush toys to local businesses. Then, at 15, I joined forces with my savvy-sewing-instructor mother, and together we designed and sold patterns and produced a bestselling book on jeans.
I graduated in Design Arts with a major in Advertising. After a couple of exciting and productive years with the madmen, I launched into my passionate dream job as a full-time artist at a major planetarium and international production house (Edmonton Space Sciences Centre). There I collaborated with astronomers, musicians, photographers and writers to develop mind-bending imagery of the cosmos. After working there for 15 years, I started a family and successfully transitioned into freelance art. I worked on high-profile regional, national, and international campaigns during that time. Yet, I am not finished growing. The universe — and formal classes — continues to teach and inspire me.
In my art, I seek the convergence between spirit and expression. My artistic mentor is Franz Kline. My muse is nature. My weakness is fashion.
PR／What role does photography play in your life?
SM／Photography is a place to get lost, escape and discover the world around me. It is suspending a moment in time. Photography is an essential tool for me. I use it to take reference shots for the illustrations I create for my clients. For example, I needed a specific photo of an item that stock photography did not have available. So, to keep the costs down for the client, I would take the shot. In addition, some of my photos are an inspiration for prospective paintings.
I don’t miss the days of travelling with the film shield bag only to return home from a trip to discover my film was exposed. Ugh! Plus, the cumbersome weight of camera gear. But, on the other hand, I like to simplify things. So when the smartphone arrived, I had my eureka moment. Look, I have a built-in camera. I can take as many photos as I wish. So I ditched the camera gear for a simple life.
PR／Why do you photograph what you do? Why are you drawn to your subjects?
SM／I love abstract images. The mysterious speaks to me. I like to find a composition that feels like a painting. Urban decay, trash bins, bird poop, sidewalks, trees, damaged vehicles are some of my favourites. Anything is fair game as a subject. Possibly I am drawn to this because I am not behind the easel right now.
I like the unusual. Always have. Where others pass by, I am in awe of the broken pen, having taught yoga for several years. I tend to meditate on things. It makes me wonder who owned that pen? When did it fall? How many times did it get run over by vehicles? How many words did it write?
Do you see the damaged bumper on a minivan where an officer wrote a parking ticket? Or, an angel wing! While others might see a dove, a landscape, a toenail clipping, or a ghost, abstract imagery transforms the world we see into an unexpected, often unrecognisable image. Express the unexpected. Entropy is an art to me.
PR／Who and what are you inspired and influenced by?
SM／A trick question for me. Ha! The Who list is endless: artists, writers, astronomers, chefs, the toothless homeless man. My What list is even more extensive. Inspiration is breathing in the creative spirit. It’s that joyous feeling that secretly makes you smile. So take time to recognize the beauty in the little things — things in front of you. Whether we realise it or not, there are people that you may unknowingly inspire for what you bring to the world.
As an artist, I walk with my eyes wide open. I find inspiration everywhere. From dumpsters to decay, graffiti to gunk, where darkness kisses light. I find that nature and entropy are the greatest artists of all. Maybe that is why I see entropy as art. I want to inspire others as they inspire me.
PR／What is your creation process and what role does editing play in your work?
SM／If you take the time to look, there is beauty and inspiration everywhere you go. The creative spark is making a connection with what I see intuitively. My process is me, myself, and “i” Phone. As my right brain wildly searches for the image. Found it. Press the button. Click. Off to the Cloud. Or maybe not. I will go through the photos later. I tend to do minimal photo editing. Sometimes no editing. I will edit my images in the Snapseed App on my iPhone. Then, once I have chosen an image to upload, I search for a favourable quote. Creativity as an artistic expression is a synthesis between the right and the left portion of the brain. However, I’m pretty sure that my left brain is annexed. Well, maybe not all of it.
PR／What is a good photograph for you? Which of your photos are you most satisfied and pleased with?
SM／A good photograph in the classical sense is the rule of thirds, focus, boundaries and lighting. However, discovering the more you play with the pieces that speak to you will help you create a compelling image. I find the best photos tell a story. It engages the viewer. Shoot something unique. Take time to crop or compose your final image to convey your voice. I look at texture, scale, and perspective to create intriguing abstract art. Think about light and shadow differently and consider shape and repetition. I have many favoured pictures. I am pleased with “Wrapped,” as it has the elements of a good photo. It’s an image that captures an overlooked detail on the street that others miss.
PR／How do you choose such fitting quotations to accompany your images, and what role do you think they play?
SM／Seriously, you make me want to start with a quote.
“What you choose also chooses you.” ―Kamand Kojouri
A picture can tell a thousand words. But words can enhance the image by telling a story or adding a bit of mystery. I love books. I own many and leaf through them or the internet to find a quote that complements my photograph. I find the selection engages others. Perhaps my yoga training or the years in advertising have shaped this vision. I like stories. Some of my followers have expressed that it’s their meditation coming to my page. They are most curious about which comes first, the photo or the quotation. It’s 50/50. I spend time with an image before I find the quote. Other times, I have the passage but await the right image. Still, I hope I bring an inspiring message for the viewer.
PR／What do you hope to communicate with your work?
SM／I know you are asking the questions. (giggles) Can I start with a quote?
“Sometimes, what is in front of you and what you are seeing isn’t really so. It can, in fact, be quite deceptive.” ―Ella Frank
In our fast-paced world, sometimes you need to take a moment to reflect. Visual language is all around us. Suppose you look at the very first photograph in the world. Taken by Joseph Niéphore Niépce in the 1820s. Niépce’s image was shot from an upstairs window at his estate in France. It was right in front of him. I hope to inspire others to see what is right in front of them. My interview would not be complete without one last quote.
“I don’t ask for the sights in front of me to change, only the depth of my seeing.” —Mary Oliver.
Shar Marie is a freelance artist and graphic designer from Canada. She is an abstract photographer who is attracted to the mysterious, the unusual and the unexpected, finding inspiration in entropy and urban decay.
Her unique combination of compelling images and thought-provoking quotations are both meditative and imaginative, inviting the viewer to recognize and reflect on the beauty in the overlooked — to see what is right in front of us.
Interview by Paul Rowland.
Hintology is an abstract photography magazine project created in August 2020 which strives to create a community where every artists are given a chance to broadcast their voice, the aspiring just as much as the established. We are a small team of volunteers who rely on the passion and contributions of their community to help spread the beauty and diversity of abstract photography. If you share our vision of inclusiveness and inquisitiveness, you can make a difference by tagging your work with #Hintology on Instagram, or by following our page and joining our group on Facebook. If you appreciate our curation work and interviews, please consider donating via this link; all funds will go towards printing the first physical edition of the magazine.
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