Taylor Sikorski & Blaine Ewig
By Felix Chrome
Blaine Ewig is a poet and photographer. An Evergreen graduate, she used to work at the Cooper Point Journal as our Arts & Culture Editor, and you can find her photographs in many issues of the CPJ. Taylor Sikorski, also an Evergreen Alum, is a comedian, videographer, and photographer. She recently began organizing a comedy open mic focused on providing a platform for women and queer comedians, and works for the public television. After a couple beers, I sat down to chat with them over garlic fries as Le Voyeur.
Cooper Point Journal: What is your collaboration process is like?
Taylor Sikorski: We both joked about how we are both pushovers but we can be really assertive when we want to be, so that’s been really helpful, we’re both pushovers and not pushovers. Usually we’ll just text each other with weird visuals we get or ideas, it will be out of nowhere like, ‘i just had this idea for a shoot i want to do’ then we’re like, ‘fuck yeah! that sounds awesome!’ And then we will just keep talking about it, and we will do it like the next day, it can be really short notice, and I think it’s funner that way.
Blaine Ewig: Yeah, there is not usually a lot of intent or planning, one of us will just be like ‘hey I want to do this thing, let’s make it happen’ and the other person will usually be on the same wavelength anyway, and is like ‘okay let’s make it happen’ and then we do it.
CPJ: Have you collaborated on projects a lot before?
TS: Yeah, but very recently. It’s worked out really well, because like you said we are on the same wavelength and I know exactly what you are visualizing. Let’s go to the dollar store and get shit, and we are just like ‘yes this will be perfect’! We found a bag of gold glitter and we were just like ‘exactly, yeah we need this’ and then like we know exactly what to do with it. Kind of. Like last night we bought a bag of gold glitter and we just started shoving it in our crotch to look like pubic hair. Just like ‘yeah, that’s what it was for.’
BE: Yeah, pubes, that was intentional. It’s all about intent, you know. [Laughing] Art is all about intent. I don’t make art!
CPJ: Okay, Blaine, so last time you were in the Cooper Point Journal you said “I hate art and don’t want to talk about it.” What’s your beef?
BE: Well I said I don’t want to fucking talk about it. [Laughing] No, but art is some bourgie bullshit. I don’t know. There’s that whole thing ‘does life imitate art or does art imitate life’ and it’s all fucking meaningless, so it doesn’t fucking matter. And like, just fuck art. I don’t know, that’s not really a good thing to put in a newspaper.
TS: I love art!
CPJ: How do you reconcile making art with—
BE: It’s not art!
CPJ: What’s not art about it?
TS: I don’t think about what we do as art, I think about it as relieving our creative desires. We just have an idea and we need to make it manifest physically, because that’s the only way shit can be appreciated, if you have a physical thing to show for it. And it feels really good to see your thoughts or your visions recreated. And there are definitely limitations, but it is cool to see what you can make happen. But I love art. Sidenote, there have been some photo spreads that have changed my life, like I happened to pick up a magazine at the right time, and I’m like, ‘fuck, my life is changed’. And I don’t even know if that is considered art, it could be a fashion spread, or any photo.
BE: I feel like art proper is something that happens in the confines of a weird critique room. There is a weird language around it and a bunch of weird self-referential bullshit. And I am not really into that.
CPJ: You said you usually start with an idea or vision, but there also seems to be a lot of playfulness, or silliness, in your photos. How much of any shoot is specifically planned out, and how much of it is just fucking around? How does your process go?
BE: We usually definitely start with a vision, or kind of a theme, like ‘I want it to feel like this’ or ‘this is a shot I want to get’.
TS: And we work with what we have to do the best with what we have, because it is obviously not going to be what we pictured. It’s nice that we have that intention, and then it’s really cool to see what we use, like whatever little shit we do have we’re like, ‘oh we could use this as a prop!’ ‘oh yeah we could use this as a backdrop!’ ‘fuck yeah, it looks so good!’ and I think our best photos are the ones we don’t plan on. They are part of the same idea, but it is just what we come up with in the moment, and they usually end up being pretty goofy.
BE: I think it also has to do with how limited, or not, we are by the equipment we have. All we have is my camera and some clamp lights, and then we just fuck with those until they work. And that can turn out really cool, but we have done shoots where it didn’t work. Like that time we went out to the mima mounds, and we were both feeling weird that day.
TS: There were also some creeps in the field.
BE: Yeah they were yelling at us.
TS: We did have a good idea behind that but we were both having bad body image issue days, which is totally real. Because we usually end up having to be the models and the photographers—we try to get people to come along but usually it’s just us—if we are both having weird days, like feeling creatively constipated, or real fucking constipated, where you just like can’t pose, it’s not going to turn out well. And when we did it at the mima mounds they turned out cute, but it was just not what we were going for. And also there were creeps that were yelling to us.
BE: Oh yeah, we were taking all of our clothes off too.
TS: We were changing in the field, and there were gunshots going off because we were by the shooting range, and these dudes were yelling at us. I don’t know, I think mima mounds have bad juju. I think the aliens are there. That’s like a theory, that they are alien nests.
BE: I don’t believe any of that shit.
TS: I’ll believe anything.
CPJ: What inspires your ideas for shoots? Do you have artists that have really inspired you? Are there other places where you get your thoughts and ideas?
BE: I’m inspired by the spice girls. I’m half serious about that.
TS: Britney Spears
BE: Lisa Frank. Parties.
TS: We also joke about Terry Richardson but he’s a creep. We’re like, ‘that looks very Terry Richardson, but he’s a creep, soo…’ That’s what we say. We like it. But also he’s a creep.
BE: I want to kill Terry Richardson.
TS: It sucks that Terry Richardson fucking capitalized on the flash.
BE:Yeah he ruined flash for everyone. Like if I take a picture of someone is it like sexually exploitive now? That’s what it feels like, it’s like ‘ewww it’s like Terry Richardson and you look hot, but since I’m a woman taking your photo is it different?’ I think about that a lot.
CPJ: Does it feel different to you?
CPJ: What feels different about it? And what feels still the same and exploitive about it?
BE: Well, I think taking a photo of someone is like inherently exploiting them in some way, shape, or form.
TS: I agree.
BE: But it’s different because I am not looking at it the same way. Usually when I am shooting another person who is not a man I am trying to put myself in their shoes, not getting off on it.
CPJ: Do y’all, either together or separately, ever shoot objects? And what do you feel like the difference is? Why are you interested in taking photographs of bodies, specifically?
TS:I usually shoot for candid moments. I am all about the people. I like landscapes a lot, I am an impressionist-loving person, that is why I say I love art, I love impressionism, I gotta love art because it make me cry. But usually I take pictures of people, of candid moments. I like to be the party photographer or the party videographer. I really like shooting people because there is already like an essence with that. [To Blaine] I know you take pictures of a lot of stuff too.
BE: Yeah. I am kind of on the same tip about capturing the essence of people. I think people are more interesting. There is the whole thing of how it is easier to use taking photos of people as a crutch and I have heard that a lot in critiques. I think that is bullshit because humans are so interesting to other humans and I think that is a great thing that should embraced. That sounds so gushy, I want to like puke about it, oh my god. I shoot objects sometimes. I made a chapbook that all had closeups, macroshots, of canned food, and it was a weird chapbook, about my life, what was going on at the time, and anxiety. I shoot objects all the time, but I also try to have something organic and human in it.
CPJ: What are you going to be working on in the future?
TS: We have another fun one we need to buy some props for, but it’s going to be messing around with flash, and color, and some other cute ideas, people should just be on the lookout. We are going to have another fun one soon, we just need money to buy the supplies.
BE: We need a trampoline, and a strobe set up, and a backdrop, or kidding we actually just need a trampoline.
TS: Can we put a personal ad in the CPJ for someone with a trampoline? We’ll come bounce around naked on it.
BE: Or just paypal me money. Or like, Taylor is trying to move to Detroit soon, paypal Taylor money. Also I am unemployed, paypal me money because I am unemployed.
TS: I got paid in weed tonight to do a comedy show. There are some fat nugs, to say the least.
CPJ: I feel like I should just ask you to tell me about yourselves, but that is such a rude question. But like, besides photography what else do you do? What other creative outlets do you have?
BE: Taylor does a lot of cool video shit that I wish I could do, and it’s amazing! She’s really good at it.
TS: Yeah, we have been planning on doing a video shoot, complementing a photography shoot, so that is something I am looking forward to. I also do comedy. I feel like that shows through a lot of the photos we take. Yeah, video and comedy, that’s my shit. [To Blaine] You write poetry.
BE: I like to write poetry and bake stuff. That’s not really artsy.
CPJ: I don’t know, I think baking’s an art.
BE: Well it’s like art you can eat. So you’re digesting art. Metabolizing art. Chewing it and ruining it. [Laughing]