Kate Alexis, in Bend
KATE ALEXIS CLAUSEN is an emerging artist based in Bend, Oregon who has been laying a solid foundation towards becoming a great photographer since she was 8 years old. Kate Alexis’ eye and her observations about her visual life are so astute and her demeanor is so confident that I thought you should meet her.
Growing up, Kate Alexis lived in the suburbs of Washington, DC where she began laying the groundwork in the creative arts by taking advantage of the plethora of cultural and historical activities the nation’s capital had to offer. She expanded on that foundation by studying photography, observing the diverse cultures in DC and by broadening her horizons through travels around Western Europe. All of these elements combined offered Kate Alexis what she describes as her “visual candy shop” and those experiences continue to influence her ability to capture the “beautiful or ugly-beautiful” in the world.
Like so many other creative people, Kate Alexis is passionate about other artistic endeavors and she also designs custom jewelry. Available through Etsy,Kate Alexis creates handmade earrings and other jewelry using sterling silver, Czech glass beads, Swarovski crystals and natural stones.
It’s clear whether Kate Alexis is behind her camera lens or designing a piece of jewelry for a client, she sees beauty everywhere and enjoys creating in the moment.
Growing up in Potomac, you had access to the arts and museums in DC. How valuable was your exposure to the arts at an early age in determining your career path?
My exposure to the arts was invaluable. It made me love art more than anything else. I’m blessed with the ability to see things others don’t and the consistent ability to see the work of other artists made me want to improve my own aesthetic, which made my love of photography grow. On top of that the city of DC is so amazing I could take pictures there every day.
You’ve been a photographer since the age of 8, what inspired your creativity then and now?
When I was a child I wanted to photograph everything because I never wanted to forget anything. Everything was fascinating to me. Life in its entirety is still fascinating to me but I am much more selective now when I shoot pictures. Not everything you want to remember is going to make a great photograph. I try to see beauty everywhere, in the expected and especially in the unexpected, and still when I’m taking pictures, just out wandering around it’s those times that really stick out in my memory.
How do photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and David La Chapelle influence your work?
Henri Cartier-Bresson is the “father of the decisive moment” and when I first saw his work and learned his method of choosing a spot and waiting for the right moment to come along, it really spoke to me because I recognize parts of that in my own work. I don’t work in exactly the same way but it made me become a more patient photographer.
David La Chapelle’s work is so out there and a wild story always pops in my head whenever I see his work. I love the breadth of his imagination. His work made me want to work in color; it took me away from being a black and white snob, now I love both mediums.
Do you have a signature photographic style?
I see my work as being very straightforward, beautiful and interesting with every image having a story behind it, whether it’s known or unknown. I’m mainly a street photographer and that has to be about being in the moment because if you hesitate it’s gone.
What would be a dream artistic collaboration for you?
In my wildest dreams I would love to work with Mario Testino. To simply be able to watch him work or assist him would be a huge learning experience. Not only does he take amazing photos he also does the creative direction for his shoots. I’m always watching to see what he will come up with next.
On a more realistic note one of my closest friends, Zoi Grey is an amazing creative writer and when I read her work on The Harlequin Sessions images flash through my mind and I would love to create photographs along with her beautiful words. Unfortunately we don’t live near to one another but hopefully we’ll be able to work together sooner rather than later.
From reading your blog I know that you love fashion, so describe your personal style.
It’s classic with a rock and roll edge. My favorite piece right now is a large Megaladon Shark’s tooth on a gold chain with a black diamond set in it from Portland jewelry house, Sticks and Stones. I see it as being very rock and roll but I end up wearing it with clean cut slacks and silk button down shirts.
Who are your style icons?
Gwen Stefani, Diane Von Furstenberg, Jackie Kennedy, Diane Keaton, Katherine Hepburn…I could go on and on.
Music is such a defining element in people’s lives, what song takes you some place special whenever you hear it?
I listen to a wide variety of music, everything from Billie Holiday to Foster the People to Led Zeppelin to Johnny Cash to Britney Spears, but my all time favorite band is The Dave Matthews Band, and my favorite song by them is Lie in Our Graves. When I was 16, I went on a two week road trip to Germany with my parents, shoved in the backseat with luggage crowding me. One day they gave me the day off from touring and I spent hours on our hotel balcony with the Rhine River in the distance listening to that song, dancing around, writing in my journal, etc. and whenever I listen to Lie in Our Graves it takes me back to that feeling of freedom and happiness. It was one of the best days of my life.
Understanding your passion for travel, which cities are most inspirational to you?
Paris is my number one spot. After that is San Francisco, New York, Portland, Washington, DC and a small town in Iowa called Clear Lake. I’m sure the list will continue to grow and change as I travel more.
Name one place you’d like to see before you die.
It’s a tie between Tibet, the southern coast of the Black Sea and Madagascar.
What advice do you have for younger women?
Be honest, be kind, be respectful and BE BOLD. Doing these things, being this way will get you far in life and earn you wonderful relationships with people who will respect you. Also focus on what you can control because if you can’t control something, stressing or freaking out about it won’t change the circumstances, instead you will just drive yourself crazy and waste valuable time. Take a bubble bath, hang out with your friends, read a book, do something to take your mind off of it. Last, make sure you have the strong support of people who will be honest with you.
Asked to write your memoirs, what would the title be?
Out of My Mind, Into Reality.
© Interviewed January 2012 by Yolanda, editor of Zavvi Rodaine
© Zavvi Rodaine.com 2012. No part of this interview may be used or reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the Editor of Zavvi Rodaine.com.
Photos: Kate Alexis Clausen
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