Founder of Studio MadsMonsen

Inspirational quotes series: #005

Another addition to the inspirational poster collection of mine. This time with photography and type, not type alone. Self initiated projects are valuable to keep skill sets alive and force yourself to produce. It is easy to get caught up in all the other aspects of running a photography business that you stop shooting for yourself. I have been there and done that. Hence the projects. It is my second time at running a full-time photography business. First time straight after ending my apprenticeship. 3 years of studying on the job. I had already shot quite a few jobs for the studio and thought I had the drive and skills to set up.

First knock, agencies are vary of any newcomers as they want to know that you can pull it off. They prefer working with established ones as they would hate explaining why a re-shoot is needed.

Second knock, credentials are important even though nobody will ask for your diploma. I was competing as an advertising photographer against others that spent their time studying abroad before setting up back home. Even the ones that had gone through apprenticeships before me.

Needless to say, most of my energy went to seek new work, creating opportunities and working mainly editorial and doing regular go-see’s with new work to the agencies. A few years on my own I packed up my bags, left for England, as I had been accepted first at Surrey and then due to personal reasons changed to KIAD. The course at KIAD was brand new, specialised in advertising photography. The tutors told me that I was a bit unlucky as I should have been placed straight into the second year and not the first, as it was simply too basic.

However, I met some wonderful people that I enjoyed spending time with and solve photography projects. Merlin Hendy, Richard Sainsbury, Daniele Melgiovanni and Peder Songedal. Merlin is a brilliant dance photographer, Richard got represented by Photonica while in school, Daniele is part of one of London’s biggest studios and Peder has become a Canon Master in Norway.

KIAD only taught me two things that I didn’t already know. Split tone printing and the graphic design classes. I loved the latter ones. Something new and creative. I liked it. I wanted to learn more than only the two hours a week we had. Another fellow Norwegian from my home town had studied graphic design in London and had highly recommended his school.

As I normally do when I am about to set out for something new, I research. I asked the graphic design tutor at KIAD what schools she would recommend. I was given a brief list. Then I asked about the school that my friend recommended. “You will never get into that. That’s the best one.”

Determination. You will need it in any business you want to succeed. If you don’t want it, somebody else will. I managed to schedule an interview with the design school. Brought my photography portfolio and my humble attempt at graphic design. I met Andrew. I showed him my work. The graphic work was rubbish, almost thrown away immediately. Photography work hold interest. Then my story. Why I wanted this. Why I was here. Why he should give me a chance. I walked away with the brightest smile ever. I was accepted at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design.

I had to change school midterm. I had to get refund from the other school. I was the first Norwegian student to ever have done a transfer midterm. All the paperwork and money lost in fees as I did not get a full refund. It all didn’t matter. I was where I wanted to be. I was an oddball. That’s why I got accepted. I found out from my tutors later that that was how I were described to them. The oddball from Norway.

I had two options. I could breeze through the design course by solving briefs the photography way or I could pick the hardest challenge and get to understand type and typography. I got my hands dirty in the basement of Southampton Row setting type by hand. Letterpress printing. Same way you will never understand dodging and burning in Photoshop if you haven’t tried it for yourself in the darkroom. Not that I will make you necessarily better, but you will have a better understanding about the craft. I got to understand the logic behind the tools in QuarkXpress. Before everybody changed to InDesign.

Dual background. Design and photography. Need to fuel both passions. Inspirational quotes project helps. Enjoy the series as it develops.

Life’s too short to not be doing what you love doing.

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