I’ve been following Jacqueline Rivera’s work for a couple of years now, so am stoked to have her as Arts&Life’s very first Artist Profile! Her highly imaginative photos always inspire me and I’m in awe of the fact that she’s produced such amazing work at 20 years old! Below, she talks about her process and her thoughts on balancing life and her creative work.
So what are the basic stats? I’m currently 20 years old living in San Diego. This is my third year at the University of California San Diego. I’m a Communication major and photography minor.
When did you start taking photographs? I’ve always had some interest in photography since my first point and shoot digital camera. I was in 7th grade if I remember correctly when I got it for Christmas. But my true interest and actual practice in photography came when I discovered the 365 project on flickr. I fell in love with the images people were making, they weren’t the typical everyday shots I was used to seeing. Everyone had different perspectives and creative takes on their photos every day. When I discovered Rosie Hardy’s first 365 I was inspired to start my own 365. I loved the fantasy-like worlds she was creating and the imagination that she conveyed in her photographs. She put so much effort into her photo every single day and I wanted to try it for myself. So I started my 365 and slowly put more and more work into each photograph. It kinda spiraled out of control—from putting up a sheet in my room as a backdrop to spending hours editing a photo in Photoshop or staying up until five in the morning to take a photo in the middle of the street. I guess somewhere in the middle of my 365 I discovered I was photographer.
What inspires your work? Everything and everyone! I feel motivated to do something creative when I see what other people can do. It makes me want to push myself to create something that somebody else might be inspired by. However, I particularly love the images of Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison and Tim Walker. Their images are beautiful and they have a style to their photographs, so much that when you see one of their images you know instantly who the photographer is. I want to someday develop my own distinctive photographic style. Other than people, I’m inspired by everyday things from music, patterns, colors, objects, stories, movies… the list can go on forever. It’s just whatever happens to inspire me that particular day.
You have a very whimsical style. Can you describe where that comes from and how you achieve it? I feel like lately I’ve kind of been all over the place but I do try to stay on the whimsy side. I guess because I started photography from a younger age that I prefer a young whimsical and fantasy-like aesthetic. It also comes naturally to me I suppose. When I started taking photographs I didn’t really intend to have this whimsical theme to my work, but everyday I seemed to take a photo that somehow expressed this. You just have to think of any image in your head, even if it is not something that can be seen in real life, stretch your imagination and just make it happen through a photograph. It’s great that with Photoshop and some props you can create any image that is nestled in your imagination. Don’t be afraid to experiment and get inspired by unusual things.
What kind of attention has your work received so far? I’ve gotten so many lovely emails of people who tell me they love my work, which I really appreciate. When I was starting my photography I had no idea how many people would be fans of my photos and it’s a really amazing feeling! I’ve done a lot of interviews for various blogs and websites but one of the strangest, yet coolest, interviews I’ve done was for a national newspaper in the Czech Republic. They sent me the two different newspapers my interview was published in and I was so excited! I also was mentioned on Esquire magazine’s website which I stumbled onto one day, which was pretty awesome.
How do you balance your life with your creative work? This is so hard for me now that I’m in college! During high school it was easier. That was when I took a photo every single day! I used to just do my homework right away and then focus on the photo I wanted to take for that day. Taking photos slowed down once college started though. But I’m taking photography classes so this forces me to take some photos and snap back into photographer mode. You just need to prioritize and find time to squeeze in photography and creative time and don’t let your personal life effect your creativity or inspiration.
What’s next for you? I definitely want to focus more on my photography after I graduate. I want to find a creative photography position somewhere while also focusing on my own personal work. I was also interested in continuing my education and going to an art school but I’m still thinking about it. I’m just taking my future one step at a time. I’m also taking a photography course right now where I’m preparing for my final project. These might be worthy of putting on flickr so stay tuned! I have a unicorn mask that I’m wanting to play with, but I’m not set on a particular theme yet.
What would be your advice to photographers or anyone pursuing a creative path? I would say continue shooting everyday and don’t stop. Do one thing creative everyday…even if you don’t feel up to it. Even if it’s writing a little poem or drawing a picture. Just keep your inspiration flowing and shoot what you want to shoot. Don’t worry about what other people think of your work but still share it with everyone you know. Don’t be embarrassed and stay confident in your work. If you don’t give up and continue towards improving your work, people are bound to notice. Keep learning and try to be better than you were the day before. And most importantly, have fun with what you do. Don’t make it a boring routine, make sure whatever you’re doing you get some kind of excitement out of it.