Artistic inspiration comes from many different sources and strikes in unlikely ways. Jeremy Garretson is living proof. As a child he drew knowledge from his Grandmother who was a needlepoint artist and painter and was also mesmerized by the ragged beauty of his first subjects – empty hospitals and urban factories.
As a high school student, he was encouraged when one of his paintings was auctioned in a fund-raiser for $5,000 but didn’t want to commit to becoming a “struggling artist,” so he took a different path. While in college, Jeremy switched his major to digital art and reigniting his love of photography.
In 2010, just as he was discovering his artistic voice, all of his gear was stolen and he was forced to take a five-year hiatus from photography. It was a rough time and Jeremy found himself abusing alcohol and drugs and getting into some legal skirmishes. Fortunately, his life circumstances have led him to where his art lives.
Rediscovering His Art
In 2015, his girlfriend, who is now his wife, discovered some of his old photographs and decided to gift him a camera. The first time he aimed, he was drawn into the camera’s transformative power.
“Almost overnight, my love for photography came back… Looking through the viewfinder allowed me to focus, compose, and capture what’s in front of me and tune out all the stress that was holding me down.” Jeremy Garretson
Today, the award-winning fine artist has been featured in national publications, such as the Wall Street Journal and Wine Press. He allows nature’s calm to entice him into discovering the delicate interplay between light and land, and the results are spectacular and often unexpected.
Jeremy Garretson: Crafting Stories
While many photographic art enthusiasts prefer that the artwork takes them to a place they’ve never been – some want the literal story behind the art. Jeremy doesn’t overthink what he wants his art to be – he wants patrons to feel comfortable with their own way of enjoying art.
“I’ve had clients walk into my gallery and ask me the backstory for every piece on display,” he says. “Some people want to hear about the hike you had to take to get the shot. There’s also a group of people who would prefer to interpret the art on their own.” Jeremy Garretson
One of Jeremy’s favorite subjects is Bug Lighthouse with the Milky Way, pictured here.
The elusive lighthouse is on the eastern tip of Long Island and is on a peninsula in a state park that closes at sunset. To capture it against a nighttime sky, Jeremy either had to walk through 9 miles of the state park or travel to it by boat. He convinced a friend to drop him off at the tip of a peninsula at midnight to capture it with the Milky Way framing it.
“To me, the next few hours were magic. I knew right away I was capturing something special.”
Landscapes and Natural Chaos
While his subjects have varied throughout his career, landscapes have been his focus for the past six years, with the surprising beauty of the Northeast and it’s waters taking center stage. An occasional rickety farmhouses or broken fencing will act as an accessory or provide contrast in his art.
“I’m a bit of an introvert and enjoy the solitude that comes with landscape photography. In a lot of my work, I like to include subjects like barns, lighthouses, boats and show their relationship to the natural landscape.” Jeremy Garretson
His overall intention is to help viewers appreciate the objects that we see every day. From his early artistic life, Jeremy views dilapidated buildings as opportunities to uncover beauty.
“With good light, careful composition, and selective editing, the rundown barn can look incredible. The next time the viewers drive by the rundown barn, they’ll hopefully see it in a different light.”
Quality Amplifies Beauty in Art
Because excellence is essential to his artistic representation, Jeremy takes extra steps to ensure his work shines. “I pay close attention to luminosity and color handling. If you get too aggressive with either of these, your print will suffer greatly.”
Color’s importance is just one of the things that led him to ArtisanHD. He was also looking for a printer that developed a working relationship with its customers.
“When I called ArtisanHD, Mike picked up the phone and chatted with me for about 20 minutes about prints. He answered all my questions and quelled my concerns. Five years later and I feel that we’ve built a strong working relationship.”
The relationship includes staff looking for ways to cut shipping prices, without risking the level of protection. “I truly feel that the ArtisanHD team wants their clients to succeed in their artistic endeavors,” Jeremy says.
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What inspired you to become an artist?
My grandmother was a prolific artist and made countless needle points and paintings. So if I had to say where it started, it started with her. I also had a really great art teacher in high school who saw my potential and encouraged me to push myself. I had no intentions of being an artist at the time, but my senior year I had a painting auctioned off at the school benefit for a record-breaking $5,000. This was certainly encouraging, but I had no desire of becoming a “struggling artist” and didn’t see it as a viable option at the time. It wasn’t until several years later in 2007, that I switched my major to digital art and took some film photography electives. A friend in the class was really into Urban Exploring and offered to take me along to an abandoned hospital where we documented the decay on our 35mm SLRs.
There was an inherent risk factor photographing off-limit, abandoned buildings, but that’s what made it so special. Not long after I purchased my first DSLR. This was the point where I discovered my artistic voice and how to make photographs that are unique to me. Unfortunately, a few years later I had all of my gear stolen and took a five-year hiatus from photography. At the time I was disheartened, but I just told myself, “oh well, on to the next thing”. I didn’t realize that in addition to losing my camera, I had lost an important way to express myself.
Did you choose photography as the way to express yourself, or did they choose you? Why?
I would say it’s is a combination of both. In my early days, I think I chose photography, but after my gear was stolen I also chose to give it up. Fast forward to 2015 and I had found myself struggling with depression, drug use, and some legal troubles. My girlfriend at the time (now wife) saw some of my old photos and thought that I should pick up photography again. She surprised me with a Canon 5DII and a 24-70 f2.8. Almost overnight my love for photography came back. Photography motivated me to get out into nature and live a better life. Looking through the viewfinder allowed me to focus, compose, and capture what’s in front of me and tune out all the stress that was holding me down.
Is it important for you to take people on a journey through your photography?
Ideally, I think the image should do the storytelling, but sometimes it helps to accompany it with a back story. I’ve had clients walk into my gallery and ask me the backstory of every piece on display. Some people want to hear about the wild hike you had to take to get the shot. There’s also a group of people who would prefer to interpret the art on their own and not hear me talk about my artistic intent. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way and I welcome both.
When is your favorite time to shoot?
When the light is good… I love the dramatic light that comes before or after a storm front rolls through. Golden hour and blue hour are always good times to shoot, but dramatic storms are by far my favorite.
Do you have a favorite subject? Landscapes? Wildlife? People? Landmarks? (Right now, it’s waves and sea life, but what else do you frequently shoot?)
For the past 6 years, my focus has really been on landscape photography. I’m a bit of an introvert and enjoy the solitude that comes with landscape photography. In a lot of my work, I like to include subjects like barns, lighthouses, boats and show their relationship to the natural landscape.
Was there ever a time when you were surprised & excited by how a photo or project turned out? Describe it.
One of my favorite images I ever captured is of Bug Lighthouse. At the time, nobody had taken Milky Way photos of it because of its challenging location. It’s a small lighthouse on the eastern tip of Long Island and is only accessible by boat. The only place to shoot it from is at the tip of a 4.5 mile long, sandy peninsula that is part of a state park. To make matters worse, the state park closes at sunset. My option was to walk 9 miles roundtrip in the park or find somebody with a boat. With a little planning, I was able to convince my friend to drop me off at the tip with his boat at midnight. To me, the next few hours were magic. I knew right away I was capturing something special.
Do you think about what you want people to feel when they experience your work?
Absolutely. I oftentimes try to take images with intention of making the viewer appreciate the beauty that we are surrounded with on a daily basis. An old run-down barn on the side of the road may look like junk to most. I see it as opportunity. With good light, careful composition, and selective editing, the run-down barn can look incredible. The next time the viewer drives by the run-down barn, they’ll hopefully see it in a different light.
What’s next for Jeremy Garretson?
After running a collective gallery with other artists and my own gallery, I’m ready for a little change. Selling my artwork has been very rewarding, but nowhere near as rewarding as getting out in the field. I recently bought a Jeep Gladiator and have converted it into an overland vehicle. This will allow me a lot of flexibility when it comes to traveling and photographing the U.S.
What advice would you give a photographer who is just starting out? (You do a great job of this in your blogs! Can’t wait to find out more.)
I jokingly tell people this all the time, but I wish I had gone to business school instead of art school. Learning how to run a successful business is harder than anything I’ve had to learn related to photography. That being said, it’s all been worth it. As far as photo advice, once you have mastered the technical side of your camera, I would encourage people to go to a museum and look at classic paintings. For example, if you’re into landscape photography, go look at paintings by Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, or other Hudson River School painters. There is so much to learn from classical painters.
What are the characteristics of a quality photographic print?
I do prefer the super-gloss look of Fujiflex Crystal Archive paired with some Tru-Life acrylic. These prints shine off the wall and demand attention. When prepping my file, I pay close attention to luminosity and color handling. If you get too aggressive with either of these, your print will suffer greatly. I encourage all my clients to light their artwork if their budget allows, but often time it gets overlooked by the buyer.
What led you to Artisan HD?
I was looking for an innovative print lab that offered a high level of quality control with good customer communication. At the time I felt that most large print labs didn’t care to develop working relationships with their customers. With so many big print labs, you don’t ever speak to the same person, they don’t double-check your image to make sure you submitted it correctly (sizing, color, luminosity), and they don’t go out of their way to get you the best prices on shipping. When I called ArtisanHD, Mike picked up the phone and chatted with me for about 20 minutes about prints. He answered all my questions and quelled my concerns. Five years later and I feel that we’ve built a strong working relationship. Mike still answers 95% of the phone calls and makes every customer feel like they’re getting his undivided attention.
Why do you continue to work with Artisan HD?
I truly feel that the ArtisanHD team wants their clients to succeed in their artistic endeavors. That they understand the significance of their role in creating the physical manifestation of the artists’ work.
What advice would you give to other artists who want to create and sell quality prints?
Creating the work and selling the work are two different things in my book. Create when you’re inspired and don’t beat yourself up when you aren’t. As far as selling artwork, there wasn’t really a place to learn these skills so I started learning through trial and error. I learned that a good photo doesn’t always mean it will be good artwork to hang on a wall. I’ve learned a lot about interior design which better helps me assist my client in their choice. I would also recommend signing up for a program like The Art of Selling Art. It’s similar to a masterclass but strictly intended for serious artists. A lot of the tips and tricks of successfully selling art are not common or public knowledge. This program really helped me figure out my pricing, improve my marketing, and better retain clients (repeat clients are my favorite clients).
Check out more of Jeremy Garretson‘s work here.