This blog post is the first in a series of interviews with BINDERS staff members and sales associates.
Chad Cartwright is a self-taught photographer and mixed media artist from New Jersey. Since July 2009 he has been working as a Sales Associate at Binders Art Supply in Charlotte, NC and in March 2010 Chad began working in The Frame Shop at BINDERS as well.
BINDERS: Tell us how you became interested in art.
Chad: As long as I can remember I've gotten a lot of pleasure from drawing - and I was good at it. I think most 7-year old boys want to be a scientist and discover dinosaur bones. I definitely had this dream for myself for a brief time, but by the third grade I remember that I wanted to be an artist.
As an adolescent, I remember being drawn to graffiti, but as a teen I don't think I really made much art - projects that had a beginning, middle, or end. I just doodled and sketched furiously and on everything. In high school I took up drafting but decided toward the end of my junior year not to pursue architecture upon graduating (though architectural drawing still floods my aesthetic). In my early 20's, I decided I wanted to be a graphic designer, so I would always sketch projects and play with ideas and share them with my best friend, who was also very creative. I mainly wanted to design t-shirts and album covers but I never did anything with the ideas.
When I was 23 a friend of my mother's piqued my interest in photography. I had some extra money so I bought a camera and started shooting. But still (outside of occasional days spend wandering and shooting pictures), anything related to art was something that existed mostly in my head and my sketchbooks. It wasn't until I moved to Charlotte in 2007 that I really began creating.
BINDERS: What types of things have you been working on lately?
Chad: I’m mainly working on creating a body of work and honing my creative process. I've been doing some mini-collages that I use just to get ideas out in a small and simple format. The small format allows me to experiment more, which is how I learn some techniques to apply to larger pieces.
I'm also trying to be more conscious of always carrying my camera with me - being more prepared to capture the moment. I am shooting more engaging portraiture and working on a series about beauty and culture.
When I moved to Charlotte, I started going to school for graphic design but couldn't afford to keep going. So now I'm also continuing my education in other practical ways - internships, a lot of reading and hands-on learning, and taking on jobs from established graphic designers and getting critiqued while getting paid. Currently I'm focusing on logo design.
BINDERS: That's one thing that we've all noticed about you here at BINDERS, that you really seem to enjoy your photography. Tell us a little more about that.
Chad: There are a few reasons why I love photography. First, when I shoot a picture I'm capturing something available for everyone to see and enjoy. I enjoy capturing images that highlights people's ability to look at the same thing and see it from a unique perspective. I especially love when I can take a subject out of context and create something fresh and interesting or beautiful that wouldn't usually be thought of as such.
Also, creating something takes time and sometimes I just need some instant gratification. When I just don't have it in me to create something I'll walk around and explore for a few hours and come home with a few new pieces of art, just by capturing things that I found interesting on my walk - and that experience (or the pictures themselves) will refresh and inspire me to create something new.
BINDERS: When you first started working at BINDERS, you came straight from an internship at a local gallery. Can you tell us about that? Would you recommend others complete art-related internships?
Chad: The internship was at one of Charlotte's premier galleries and came about through a relationship I created networking. The internship was a very positive experience for me because I got just what I wanted out of it. I wanted to see what the business side of the art world looked like and how it operated. I learned how to hang work and to maintain correspondence between artists and the gallery. Receiving, photographing, packing, and shipping artwork were among my responsibilities at the gallery. I edited photographs to be put on the gallery website and I put artist profile books and resumes together. I learned what makes artists attractive to galleries, how galleries determine the value of an artist's work, as well as how to approach galleries. One of the biggest things I learned is that a gallery is a business and not validation of whether you are a good artist. Every artist’s work will appeal to a specific audience. If a gallery doesn't think they will be able to sell your work to their clients they probably won't represent you. Rejection is not a statement about your skill or worth as an artist. You just have to find your audience.
I think my internship helped me immensely but I would offer a word of caution for those looking into any kind of internship. An internship is free work. You are not an employee, and many places look at interns as free labor. Even those situations can be positive but it's ALL about what you want to get out of it, and what you put into it. You HAVE TO make it your own. If you choose to do an internship, set some goals and make your goals clear to the person in charge of your internship. In your internship you might not be doing the job you want to do but you should be learning the skills that transfer into making you effective in that job.
BINDERS: Finally, tell us about your new position in the BINDERS Frame Shop. You started out on the sales floor but recently have been working in our frame shop. What attracts you about our Frame Shop?
Chad: I wanted to work in the frame shop because I figured it would be a good skill to have as an artist (knowing how to frame and present your own work). And it has already proven very beneficial. But the reason I enjoy working in the frame shop is because it's such a gratifying job. It's not easy to find words that express how much picking the right presentation for your art amplifies its beauty. I particularly enjoy when I've helped the customer select the framing for their piece(s) and I am there to see their face when they pick up the completed job. Even though they saw and selected their framing purchase they are blown away by how good the finished product looks. Framing can be pricey, but it really is worth the money. The framing process makes things so much more than they already were - and it makes the beauty last longer.
Check out Chad's blog at chdwck80.blogspot.com - it's also listed to the right under "staff blogs". If you'd like to include a link to your blog please email email@example.com with your name and blog address!