Michael George has been exhibiting his photos with Ugallery since his high school years in Florida. He has since shipped off to the Big Apple, art mecca of the world, to study photography at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Michael has founded a photo magazine at NYU and will bike across the country this summer for charity, but if you really want to know what makes him tic, read on!
What’s your earliest art memory?
I’ll never forget when my parents walked in and caught me “purple-handed” with a purple crayon in my hand as I dug it into the carpet with all of my might in what I suppose was my first attempt to make modern art. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” they exclaimed and of course I had no answer. That’s probably the best part of making “art” when you’re a kid. You don’t know what you’re doing, and you don’t really care. I kind of wish I could harness that feeling now.
You started exhibiting at Ugallery while still in high school in Florida. What brought you to photography at such an early age?
I really just happened on the medium through an International Baccalaureate photography course in my high school. It was a very popular class and from the first week I was hooked. I keep trying to remember if I ever had a passion or interest in photography prior to that time but I don’t think it went any further than taking snapshots. Now I can’t imagine leaving my camera at home.
You are now working towards a BFA at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. How has New York City and NYU treated you and your photography?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that having great professors in a great city makes for a very rewarding education. However, what I’ve really seen over the past few years is that NYC is a crossroad. It’s a think tank to come and share your work but it’s not really a place to make your best work. I’m yearning for the days after I graduate when I can venture into the world and make the work I really want to be making. What that is, I haven’t yet discovered. But I do know NYC will be waiting for me when I get back and continue to provide me with a wealth of critique and inspiration.
You are involved with a photo artzine on campus. Can you tell us a little more about it?
When I was a sophomore I founded ISO, the NYU/Tisch Photography Magazine (http://www.isozine.com). It started as a small publication aimed at showcasing the work of student photographers. It’s slowly expanded into a more prominent publication with a blog staff, writers and featured professionals. I’m very proud of what it has become and really thankful for the staff that has helped it become a reality.
You’ve said your love of romanticism influences your work, and your photos really encourage a sense of emotional attachment and nostalgia for viewers. Do you have a special emotional connection to any of your photographs?
I think I have a special emotional connection to all of my photographs – at least the personal ones. They’re my memories. Even though I don’t think I had any idea what I was doing in high school, my images continue to exude nostalgia and view the world through a romantic lens. They’ve just become a lot more diaristic.
What are you working on now?
I’m sort of at a standstill at the moment. I have a lot of projects I would like to work on but I’m leaving for a cross-country bike trip in three weeks and I know that will become a project all its own. My goal is to take the next few months to look at the work I’ve done and decide what has the most relevance. Whatever that is will likely end up as my senior thesis show.
What inspired you to ride across country?
When I was in high school I told one of my best friends that I really wanted to bike across the country before I hit 25. This past summer, through a random coincidence, I discovered the program Bike & Build and realized it was a perfect way to achieve my goal. Not only would I bike across the country but I’d combine it with a great cause.
The biggest challenge was to raise $4,000 for the organization – which is a requirement for all cyclists – I achieved that goal a few weeks ago and am more than ecstatic to begin the trip. I’ve still got a donation site setup because we are required to purchase a long list of gear and so anyone willing to help out can visit my website (http://www.inceptivenotions.com) and follow the link through to “Bike & Build.” The trip begins June 18th and I’ll have my camera in my backpack for all 4,000 miles!
What advice would you offer to other emerging artists?
Make art for yourself. Because you want to do it. Not because it’s hip or your friends do it or you want to make money doing something “cool.” If you were stranded on a desert island with no hope of human contact ever again would you still paint? Would you still take photographs? Would you still draw? If the answer is yes, then keep doing it.