Blacks in the Arts Interview, August 25, 2016 By Tugené Davis
is the jewel you will miss through her humility. Her creativity is so much a part of her essence it has landed her to contribute and lead creatively in the Entertainment and Visual Arts Industry for more than three decades.
Her camera work and creativity has extended from Real Estate and Architecture to Fine Art, Product and Lifestyle Photography. She’s shaped projects with Disney, Paramount Pictures, Fortune Magazine, Universal, The NBA, Nestle, Remax Realty, The County of Los Angeles, Care 1st Health, Westfield Malls and countless other businesses that we’ve grown to know and endear.
But don’t let her accolades fool you, her humility is real. Gail has never followed a particular theme or plan… she just creates and records. She’s been inspired by most everything she sees with nature being her favorite.
Gail’s love of all things creative began in early childhood and was nurtured by both her parents who were creative in their own right. Instead of buying coloring books, they would buy a pad of paper, crayons, paint, and pens then leave her to create her own fantasies.
Her love of photography started in 1976 and ever since, she is rarely ever seen without her camera hanging from her neck. She’s worked as a journalistic photographer for a few years but soon traded the people and events in for nature. Through nature and landscape photography she expresses her feelings using the camera to record the beauty she sees.
Although a Biology major in college she kept gravitating back to her art. Becoming a self taught Graphic Designer in the late 70’s, she utilized all her talents to communicate whether it be a magazine, logo or working on movie posters and billboards.
Whether practicing her craft with old school techniques or utilizing mind bending digital media… she tells stories through her art, be it photography, paintings, prints or anything else she can come up with that represents all she’s experienced, and all she can imagine.
She makes it up as she goes!
You can find Gail on her website at www.GailOliverDesign.com. She is also on social media at LinkedIn Twitter Facebookand Pinterest.
What is your art form(s) of choice?
Graphic Design, Photography, Painting
What got you started?
My parents, who were both creative in their own right and fostered my creativity at a very young age. As an only child, I was encouraged to paint and draw to keep myself busy. Instead of coloring books, I was given pads of paper, markers and crayons to create my own. My love of photography came from my Father. It was his dream. Unfortunately he made his transition before it was actualized, but taught me how to use his camera before he died. I took these lessons and ran with them, it has, and is my connection to him, and part of my motivation to continue.
What have you enjoyed most about your industry?
I love creating and expressing myself through multiple outlets, finding creative solutions through the processes to communicate. I communicate feelings, share the beauty I capture through photography, and help people actualize their dreams, by helping them market and create brands for their businesses.
What lessons have you learned being creative?
When I was getting started, a mentor and friend told me to learn my craft so well that I would always have work. I’ve learned that every perceived failure is a success because I have the opportunity to practice my crafts. It comes full circle when looking at the big picture…There are no mistakes.
Outside of art what other jobs or skills have you used to make your art possible?
I am very grateful that I have had the opportunity to make a living doing things related to the creative field. My graphic design career evolved at ad agencies, and boutique entertainment studios paid the bills so I could explore my creativity as a kind of reward for surviving the 9-5 grind.
I also taught yoga for 12 years. In 2013, resigned as President of Los Angeles County Parks Foundation where I received a commendation from the County of Los Angeles for my dedication, enthusiasm and imagination. I still do graphic design and my real estate & architectural and product photography is also now in the mix.
What are your favorite tools to use when practicing your art?
I would have to say, my camera and my computer right now. I am rarely seen without my camera, and I need the computer to process my photos and also do graphic design. But I also love the rest of my toys… Paints, brushes, ink, clay and glazes, so I can create stuff.
What do you do to stay motivated to create?
I do my best to create something everyday… shoot, paint, sketch, create ceramics…something! It’s what I do to fill my world, it’s meditative to me, and a way to tune out the stresses of life.
Is there any education that has impacted your career?
While still in college, a good friend presented me with the opportunity to work for a magazine in the music industry. Mind you, I had no prior experience or formal training in graphic design. but I was a quick study. In no time I was laying out the magazine, creating covers, practicing photography shooting concerts and events and writing reviews.
This opportunity taught me a craft I had never considered and I ran with it! These skills catapulted me and enabled me to work at some of the largest ad agencies, studios and started a 30+ year career in the creative field.
What advice do you have for other artists?
LEARN YOUR CRAFT! Practice your craft every opportunity you can! Learn and understand your business and the business of art.
What rough patches have you experienced in becoming the artist that you are now. How did you overcome?
As in life sometimes it’s not all fun and bubble gum. In lean times, or in cases when my expectations were not fulfilled… I step back and BREATHE, take a different tact, and remember that we live in a friendly Universe (although sometimes it’s got jokes). Just keep practicing and moving forward. If you help yourself, the rest will manifest into All Needs Met!
What do you enjoy most about where you are now?
I am grateful that I have, and have had the privilege and the opportunity to do what I love…There is now a sense of calm and confidence with every new creative endeavor. It’s who I’ve become! A visual artist.
How would you encourage other artists to use their voice to solve present day issues as black artists?
Practice, Practice, Practice… Practice makes perfect! Learn your business, and learn it well. And maybe you won’t have to use your voice, but demonstrate by communicating through your art. Your abilities will pave your way!
Interview by Pasadena Black Pages in anticipation of April 10, 2016 Art Show
Huffington Post mention for "Photographic Language" Show October 1 - 22, 2016
09/22/2016 09:27 pm ET
Nickolas Chelyapov remembers the exact moment he knew he was hooked on photography. He was in a darkroom for the first time at Moscow State University. Chelyapov was working with a black and white film and enlarger and developer and photosensitive paper.
“The magic of transformation of a shiny white piece of paper into something that reveals an image as if it was hidden inside that piece of paper sitting in a developing tray was utterly mind-blowing experience for me.” said Chelyapov.
He went on to say if overdeveloped, the image would disappear into blackness...very much like life fades into black oblivion. He continued,
“But, if you stop the process on time, you freeze the image and that moment of physical existence that was captured. Fluidity of the process (pun intended) capturing unique and passing moments of the least tangible entity - time. These were the attributes of photography and its underlying physical processes, such as capability to manipulate and interfere with time, that attracted me to the craft and art of photography.”
Chelyapov’s photography will be featured in a solo exhibition “Retrospective” on October 1st. He will also curate a group show entitled “Photographic Language”.http://larkgallery.com/represented_artists/nickolas_chelyapov/
Richard S. Chow will be exhibiting selected work from his Distant Memories series as part of the group exhibition. Originally from Hong Kong, Chow got his first camera at age thirteen. After moving to Los Angeles at sixteen and experiencing a difficult transition, Chow found comfort in LA’s beaches. This is what inspired his current series.
He predominantly shoots fine art and documentary photography.www.richardschow.com
He is currently using a Canon 5d Mk111 with a variety of lenses. Like many photographers, his shots vary, depending on the day...He said he enjoys photographing anything unique to LA.
Dan Lopez will be exhibiting four of his photographs in “Photographic Language.” I’m inspired by my surroundings,” said Lopez, who usually heads to a specific location and stops when he is drawn to something. Lopez said he has always loved taking photos, specifically...
This will be the first exhibition at Lark Gallery that Jermaine Saunders will participate in. He originally met the curator, Chelyapov while working with his son at his first job. His double exposure work will be featured in the exhibition. “The inspiration for this photo was to create a classic look with 3 images together,” said Saunders. I love the early 1900s, with the architecture and the model styled it made for a perfect vintage look.”
Saunders said his favorite subjects to shoot are landscapes, architecture and portraits, then he often combines them. “When scouting (for a shot), I like to look for unique one of a kind places with good lighting,” said Saunders, who has been taking photos for nearly ten years now. He is currently using a Canon 6D and 7D.
“I love photography because it gives me immediate realization of my artistic impulses, said Irina Chelyapov (wife of Nickolas), who has been taking photos for the past 27 years. “As an artist, I always try to create not only likeness of reality but persuasive synthesized image of certain places, emotions and events.”
She will be showing nine photographs...”This photograph was taken in Century City and it is very close to my idea to create quintessential image of this city.”http://larkgallery.com/photographic_language.php
The artist reception features additional artists such as Alice Esposito, Dima Malanitchev, Krisjan Klenow, Mark Anthony Stewart, Dmitry Matusov, Donna Bell, Fabricio Espasande-Bouza, Gail Oliver, Gregory Thompson, Jean Brantley, Richard Bilow, Jim McKinnis, Kirill Chelyapov, Michael Bezman, Narine Isajanyan, Nickolas Peter Chelyapov, Olga Fotinich, Peter Shpayer, and Sasha Tivetsky.
The artist reception for “Photographic Language” and “Retrospective” will take place on October 1st, 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm at Lark Gallery Hawthorne (12609 Hawthorne Blvd. Hawthorne, CA 90250). Both exhibitions will run through October 22nd. Enjoy refreshments and live music by Leo Chelyapov. For additional information, see http://www.larkgallery.com