interview with kristin & chelsea delzell






top photo by Kristin Delzell, bottom photo by Chelsea Delzell

Without a doubt, one of the best parts of starting The By & By has been the opportunity to reconnect with {and feature} some of our extremely talented friends. A fellow former UNT classmate, I’ve been following Kristin’s work since she moved to San Francisco a few years back to pursue photography, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered younger sister Chelsea had decided to follow in Kristin’s creative footsteps. Curious to see how the sisters’ styles and artistic perspectives would differ, I reached out to them to do our first double interview. Not only did they agree, they even offered to do a special “summer” photography feature for the post!




Chelsea & Kristin

I love that you guys decided to both shoot on the same theme – how did you each approach the concept?
kristen: Well of course I set out with all these grandiose ideas of what I wanted to do. Chelsea and I wanted to pick a theme and then do our own interpretations. We picked “summer”. After weeks of nothing great, I just began documenting my life. Which is humorous, considering I’ve only done self portraiture for years, so it’s only natural. However, this body of work is different, my boyfriend Josh is incorporated into my images. This is our second summer together.
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chelsea:  My sister and I wanted to show how different our styles were by taking on the same concept of “summer.” I wanted to capture the carefreeness and joy that summer brings to me. I can’t wait til summer rolls around during the year because its when I’m most happy I believe. The sun, the long hair, bright colors, water, the heat, cool nights, spending all your time outside is what I wanted to capture because its my life and I want to take you with me. I underexposed the series of images to give it a film/mysterious look and focused on exploring filtered color as well.




photo by Chelsea Delzell

When did you know you wanted to be a photographer and how did you get started doing photography?
k: Initially I wanted to be a painter, from about birth. Then my senior year in high school I took my first photography class and I found it easier to express my conceptual ideas through film. I was amazed at the process; taking photos of anything I could imagine, then standing in a completely dark room unloading the film, holding your breath hoping you don’t mess up your images that could quite possibly never be replaced. Then standing in the dark room and watching images appear out of nowhere and they always looked so unlike reality. I would stare in amazement at what I had managed to capture {I have only recently begun to fully comprehend the mathematics and science behind it all}.
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c: Photography is the one thing I felt something from. I get a rush every time that follows with joy and accomplishment for myself. It excites me that I am able to make my ideas reality in a way that also defines my individuality, something that’s very important to me in life and art. I got started by taking an intro course in high school and continued throughout college as well. I took the class however with major influence by my sister and going with her whenever she had photography assignments at school. That’s really when I got my first practice using a camera was with my sister.




photo by Kristin Delzell 

Do you feel that your family life influenced the fact you both decided to pursue photography?
k: Quite possibly. We were surrounded by art and music growing up. Our father is a creative art director and both he and our mother always dress stylish and hip and lead a creative lifestyle. There was always art in the house. Chelsea and I would spend as much time in our pink and yellow bean bag chairs drawing in spiral notebooks listening to Steely Dan and David Byrne as we did playing outside with our neighbors as young children. Our dad would take us on photo shoots and even use us in the shoots on occasion. Art was very prevalent in our house whether we were making tables and chairs from our science fair card board back drops or helping dad color a cardboard race car for a photo shoot or creating elaborate school projects. I feel like photography came later, but our parents were and still are very supportive of us in our artist goals.
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c: Yes! I definitely think our family has greatly influenced both my sister and I. My family celebrates art and individuality. My sister and I growing up were never taught to be a certain way, and were pushed by our parents to pursue anything which allowed freedom and individual thinking of what we wanted to do without a motivating influence. I think that’s why we are so welcoming to art, because you can be whoever you want to be and its a very liberating feeling having that. One main thing that obviously influenced us was the music our parents played all the time, our houses interior design made me realize what differences of style were. Just little things you don’t really notice that shape you.




photo by Chelsea Delzell

How would you describe your work and how do your two styles differ?
k: My work tends to be conceptual art. I love to come up with a theme and then do a series. I spend the least amount of time actually shooting. I love planning and writing in my journal and doing research. I think Chelsea’s work is much more hip and fashion oriented. I love her use of color and the images are always super sexy. When I see her work I feel old and out of the loop at 27. LOL!
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c: I guess I’d describe my style as contemporary, colorful, clean, ever changing, and confusing. My sister is very avant-garde with her artwork. I really respect that because I love anything that’s challenging to the eye or makes you think…”what is this?” She also likes to do a lot of self-portraits and more black and white than I do. I love that she’s different than me. Different is very attractive to me and helps me learn and think about how I view things.




photo by Kristin Delzell

What’s the thing you love most about your field?
k: I like being creative. I like coming up with ideas and then carrying them out. Also, I enjoy spending hours on my own just listening to music and being totally absorbed in imagery. I also really enjoy working in the studio with all that equipment. I always feel a bit anxious, like who trusted me with all this expensive equipment? Do I even remember how to do this? Then I open up the C- stand, get the strobes up and then I feel like I guess I do know what im doing. I love it!
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c: The thing I love most about photography is the escape. Recently photography has changed the way I see and feel. I am currently a caregiver during the day for a family member with a terminally ill disease. I had a lot of down time during the day with which I didn’t know what to do with. Then I discovered blogs and flickr. Since I couldn’t go anywhere during my 12 hour days I started escaping through photographs. This has been a tough couple of years and honestly photography has really encouraged me to see beauty and want to create, because beauty is the thing that made me feel good during this process. Seeing photographs of people in different places, living wild in their youth… I wanted it all but couldn’t get it unless I lived it. I would have to say I felt “stuck” for a while and photography has definitely allowed me to feel joy again and put me back on my path.



photo by Kristin Delzell

What’s the most exciting, inspiring or favorite project you’ve worked on to date?
k: I did a 4ft by 2ft photo collage of my boyfriend Josh and I think it is really quite beautiful.  I am totally in love with how powerful images that size are. He has been the subject of most my photos for about a year now, before that I had been doing self portraits for two years. Even though I photograph him, it still feels like I’m doing self portraiture.
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c: Getting to work with Peter Forakis while I interned at Togonon Gallery. I got to travel with the gallery owner to Peter’s land where he kept all of his sculptures. I set up an outdoor studio and we photographed as many pieces of his we could – around 30 probably. At the time I was unaware as to who Peter Forakis was, but soon became in awe of his life and art. He was this carefree guy all throughout his life. As an artist he never sought “fame” which I respect in the utmost. He taught me it’s not about “them” – its about creating.



photo by Chelsea Delzell

What’s your ultimate career aspiration and/or dream project?
k: My ultimate career goal would be two fold {because I can have two right?}, I would love to work in the photography department at a museum, one of my favorite places to be is at the museum. It makes me feel like my heart is going to explode. I would also love to do public art works in tandem with other artists. I love the public projects of the Starn brothers in New York. Doing both at different times, or simultaneously would be fine with me.
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c: I’d like to create for the rest of my life and be able to survive off of it. I can’t imagine my life in an office, because what you do you spend most of your time and life doing. I really want to experience beauty and life. Photography, I know, is the one thing that will let me get there.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you do?
k: I’d be a product or packaging designer.
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c: If I weren’t a photographer I’d like to do anything with imagination. It’s hard for me not to slip into my own mind and constantly create, I problem solve constantly about life.



photo by Chelsea Delzell

Do you guys work together on projects often, or do you have any plans to collaborate in the future?
k: We model for each other and talk a lot about photography. If we lived closer together I would love to work on projects together, I feel like I could learn a lot from her work.
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c: The one thing we’ve worked on together recently is CHUNK, a magazine idea my sister and I thought of last summer. It’s a magazine that would highlight “chunks” of American people and what they create or do… a really member supported based magazine with a lot of interaction with the reader. We talked about wanting to get a van and travel to these different cities where people would submit their work to us or an event and highlight it in the magazine. My sister and I have like minds, however our styles differ in some ways.

What’s the best thing about having a sister in the same field?
k:
That we are both badass! Duh! It just makes us closer. She is the coolest person I know. I just love seeing her work and being like what?! Why didn’t I think of that?
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c: The best thing is asking for advice!!! Since my sister is 4 years older than me she’s more experienced with editing programs, production, ideas… so its been a big help for me having that person all the time to seek advice from.

Do you ever find it challenging {having a sister in the same field}?
k: I honestly don’t find it challenging at all. It rocks!
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c: There’s nothing challenging about it! She pushes me to be better because when I see her artwork it just motivates me to do the same and get my ass moving on what my ultimate goal is.



photo by Kristin Delzell

How do you inspire each other?
k: She helps keep me fresh and inspires me to look at imagery I wouldn’t normally. She makes me want to take more risks and just really go through with my ideas.
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c: Kristin inspires me in a lot of ways. She’s very active in the art world – whether interning at a museum, having a gallery show, entering numerous competitions – she motivates me that I can do it, because she is doing it. Her style is a bit more abstract than mine and I love that. That alone inspires me to be more avant-garde and not to settle on easy.

Where else do you find inspiration?
k: 
I find inspiration everywhere. I look at tons of photography. But mostly it’s just life and everything in it. The way a song makes me feel, a phrase I heard in class about appearing and disappearing volcanic islands, the landscape of California and of Texas. Obsessing about remembering moments and how to capture them, missing my friends and family. And being in love with Josh.
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c: Recently Flickr.com and music videos have been a big inspiration to me. I just recently joined Flickr and I could spend the whole day browsing amazing photographs of every kind. It’s very inspiring to see extremely different styles and the way they work with each other. Music videos have always been attractive to me. It’s the ultimate fantasy…whether it be wardrobe, hair, location, movement it’s something that creates an escape like photographs do. I really enjoy music videos because it’s a really creative art form, that I think people underestimate and overlook.



photo by Chelsea Delzell

Favorite thing to do in your free time?
k: Eat. I am so lucky to be in San Francisco because it is centered around food. I love chatting with my friends over beautiful food and then feeling lazy for wasting time, then feeling bad about being lazy, then realizing it is one of the most beautiful moments of my day and then finally feel good about it.
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c: My favorite thing to do in my free time is photography. I don’t currently have any professional work in the photography field so I’m just focusing on my future right now because its the most important thing to me, to make it and live my life the way I want to, which is to be a photographer. I constantly have my camera by me at all times. Anything you love is addictive, and photography is that for me. I can’t stop because I want it so bad.

What’s playing on your iPod right now?
k:
I have been listening to the Peaches album Father Fucker. {Slightly embarrassing, but true.}
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c: I really enjoy Deerhunter, El Guincho, Friendly Fires, The Dead Weather, Theophilus Londont, Cat Power, Nick Cave… I’ve just got a complete mix.

Do you dream in color or black and white?
k:
Color, for sure. I once climbed a wall with a emerald green rope.
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c: COLOR! Who doesn’t?!!



photo by Kristin Delzell

Favorite word?
k: Dang! {I seem to be using it a lot lately.}
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c: FREE.

Favorite place?
k:
I could say some sexy place, but as I get older I love being at home.
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c: Anywhere by the ocean…

Best or coolest thing you’ve heard, seen or done recently?
k: Today I learned about ocean volcanoes that appear suddenly and disappear just as quickly, and in the same day I learned about scientists developing invisibility cloaks!
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c: I just recently started communicating with a really experienced photographer, Curtis Eberhardt, who contacted me through Flickr.com. He has been a huge help/guidance factor for me. I am basically self-taught on digital so I have a lot of questions in regard to it. He is just amazing at giving me solid advice about technique and technical parts of the digital world. Also, I started a blog {almost a year now} and I LOVE doing it and the reactions that I’ve received from it. In the same way I approach my photography, I’d rather take someone to a place they visually rather than with words, thats why the blog is just photographs.




photo by Chelsea Delzell

Words of wisdom to other artists looking to get started in the industry, or the best advice you’ve received that you would want to pass on to others?
k: As much as having a skill or idea is necessary, nothing will happen unless you make it happen. An artist friend of  mine {Erik Parra} told me once art is half about making art and half doing research trying to get shows, published, and enter contest etc. I totally agree. It is so important to know this.
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c: Do what you want to do. Don’t get wrapped up in what you think other people want because that’s when you get lost. You know what you like so be confident in yourself – although I have come to realize it’s easy to feel defeated with your work if there’s not a lot of feedback. Drive is key to progress, just keep going and never stop.


Follow the Delzell sisters on the daily – check out Kristen’s blog, Kristin Delzell Photography, and Chelsea’s, Popular Imagination

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2 Responses to interview with kristin & chelsea delzell

  1. Heather Boggs July 26, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    This was a very interesting read! Kristen, I’m so glad that you are doing what you love, and loving what you do! You are truly talented and it looks like you will go far with your creativeness. Good Job!!

  2. Abby W July 26, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Love this! Love the photos, esp the top two. Wish I was a photographer like the rest of the world…

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