We all know that building a sustainable career in the creative field is not easy, especially when you discover your passion at a later age. How many times have we heard the question – can a self-taught artist make it in the art world? At Agora Gallery, we have a number artists who have embraced the freedom of being self-taught and done incredible things with their artistic career. We decided to interview some of them in order to inspire those of you that may have apprehensions and fears about being a self-taught artist.
Self-taught photographer, Viktoryia Vinnikava discovered her passion as a young child in the mysticism of the red rooms and the magic of the technique. However, she only let her creative side come to surface at an older age. Inspired by the beautiful expanse of the deserts in UAE, she produces mesmerizing photographs that inculcate an appreciation of “the magical desert and its warm beauty.” Seeking beauty in ordinary landscapes, she aims to tell nostalgic stories and invoke different emotions and visions for her viewers.
Having missed the opportunity to pursue photography at an academic institution, Vinnikava talks about the struggles she faced in her artistic career and how professional training helps an artist advance further. “I am very grateful and content with where I am right now in my artistic career, but if I had a chance, I would have liked to explore my skills further and might have even found my unique artistic style much earlier in my life,” she says.
What was your first profound memory of photography? What struck you and drew you in?
My first memory of photography is the “stylized dark room” organized in the bathroom where my father was developing films. The red lighting and the mysterious atmosphere really hypnotized me. The thing that really drew me into this world even as a child was how the image magically appeared on the white paper.
How did it develop into the passion you have for it now?
It all happened by chance. I found an advertisement for a job that interested me in the local newspaper. They were looking for event photographers. At that time, I had very little knowledge of photography. Nonetheless, I was hired and that job turned out to be a very important learning experience for me. Today, it is my one true passion!
For the past several years, you have been traveling around the world. How has it affected your creative process and your style?
Every country that I have visited has been unique and fascinating in its own way. When I travel to these beautiful places and take photographs, I want to capture the true essence of the locations. These photographs are how my friends, family, and viewers see the world through my eyes. Ever since I have been travelling, I have begun to find joy in the simplest of things and find inspiration in the most familiar elements of nature. I have become much more aware of my surroundings. I have finally found my photographic and artistic direction.
Taking this a step further, do you think that artistic talent needs development and honing or that it unravels and sharpens naturally?
I believe that there is always something new to learn, to discover and to develop. Practice is extremely important and so is being surrounded by like-minded people. Artists are constantly evolving in their creativity.
When it comes to being a photographer, do you feel that being self-taught is an advantage or a disadvantage? Do you ever wish you had professional training?
Today, there is a lot of information available online for those who want to learn and practice. Art has become very easily accessible to everyone which is a great thing. You can easily learn and share any skill. If you are dedicated enough, you need not pursue the subject academically. You can manage to become really good at it with just the practical experience.
However, I still feel that if you plan to turn your creative aspirations into a career, professional training can be a great help. This is the only reason why I wish sometimes that I had had some professional.
If you were starting your artistic career over, would you change anything?
I am very grateful and content with where I am right now in my artistic career, but if I had a chance, I would explore my skills further and maybe try to find my unique artistic style earlier in my life. I would have liked to get some professional training in my field or even work at an art gallery and surrounded by beauty and inspiration at all times.
Do you have any advice for budding photographers and other artists out there?
Stay active, venture out and keep shooting! If you can’t shoot outdoors – shoot at home, but continue practicing. Get to know your equipment well and use that knowledge to your advantage. One crucial technical advice I have for photographers is to invest in good quality lenses.
Keep yourself motivated and inspired in whichever way you can. Don’t be afraid to participate in photo contests and juried exhibitions. Share the way you see things with the world. I believe if you are sincere – you will achieve success.
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