My attention was recently directed to Shae DeTar and her fanciful vision of women. Shae is a playful spirit whose artwork reinvents femininity in a way that is otherworldly and poetic. Artists build new worlds, and I am so happy to have found myself in hers. Take a look at what Shae has to say about art and life.
Lola Who: Hi Shae, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in photography.
Shae: When I was around 11 or 12 years old I began painting on magazine photos and sometimes collaging them. I did this in my teen years and during my twenties. My first intent was to be an actor, and I was doing commercials and theater in New York. So I never thought of art as a career goal, art was just a way for me to be creative and express myself. When I turned 31 or 32 my dog died, and that’s when I decided to quit my job because I was so devastated, and I had no idea what to do with my life. My husband recommended I try photography, and I started painting on the first print I made, the same as I used to do when I was growing up. It felt so natural and it was sheer bliss. All of a sudden I had a voice and I could say something with my work. It was a lot of trial and error because I didn’t go to school, but I learned a lot just by constantly shooting and making mistakes and being open to the unexpected.
Lola Who: Your pictures depict Shae-world… So my question is who are all these women? Friends? Strangers? Concepts?
Shae: My subjects started out as friends, and then friends of friends, and then I began asking for volunteers via Instagram, and that’s mostly how I find people today.
Lola Who: Do you remember when you first became interested in mixed media art, and can you tell us more about your process involving photography and painting?
Shae: I started playing with mix media when I was around 11 or 12 years old. My process is pretty simple; I can sum it up in one word: experimentation. I leave myself wide open to the unexpected, and I don’t overthink it. I don’t let people’s expectations, or my own, influence my mind… just try, and play, and create in the moment. So experimenting is king for me, and that’s my process.
Lola Who: Your work is very colorful and sensual. How did you develop your style?
Shae: Failure has taught me everything. I developed my style by making lots of mistakes and learning from them, and that will always be my journey I presume. Colour is a big muse for me, it guides me more than anything. I love colour and I always have, so it’s just a big part of my home, closet and life in general.
Lola Who: Your use of bright, bold colour creates beautiful surreal landscapes. Can you tell us more about your relationship with colour, nature and the female form?
Shae: Landscapes and nature are the most creative things in the entire world. Think about creation all around us, the insane design of animals, plants, and the universe. I look at creatures in the sea and I am utterly amazed. Landscapes throughout our world are mind blowing; the patterns, the colors, the textures… It’s far more beautiful than any piece of “art” I’ve ever seen. It moves me to such extent that nature as the centerpiece of my work. As for the female form, I am first and foremost a woman and being in a woman in this world is what I am most familiar with. My goal at the moment is to explore ways of expressing the journey we, as women, take, in a subdued but courageous manner. In other words, I want to say something powerful without shouting it. I don’t need to photograph women in an overtly sexual manner in order to show that a woman is independent, strong and in control of her own sexuality. I hope to show our strength and the emotional sphere inside of us, in a classical and sometimes in a surreal visual way.
Lola Who: In which city are you currently based, and how does it influence your work?
Shae: I live in New York City. It’s home. It’s where my parents and part of my family live. I love the energy and the culture and the people. It’s home!
Lola Who: Where do you draw your inspiration from and who are some of the artists who influenced your work?
Shae: Van Gogh, Matisse, Vuillard, Schiele, Manet, Picasso, Monet, Lautrec, Munch, I love these artists so so much. I am not really inspired by photography as much. Paintings are what really inspire me.
Lola Who: Does art education have anything to do with your current success?
Shae: No. I have not been to school for what I do. I will watch things on Youtube to learn something I need to know. When I was hired to shoot the cover of NY Magazine, I was nervous about a technique I wanted to use, so I took a two-hour private class at PhotoManhattan.com to just go over the technique, to feel more positive about what I had in my mind.
Lola Who: Who is your biggest woman crush right now that you would like to photograph?
Shae: Cecily Brown – the painter
Lola Who: What advice would you give to young artists trying to become themselves?
Shae: To create as often as possible and to face your fears. If something scares you, be sure you do it!
Lola Who: What are you working on right now and do you have a special project coming up in 2016?
Shae: I have two solo shows coming up where I am showing large scale painted pieces from the past 3-4 years. I am so excited. I have never shown originals in group shows, only reprints of the originals, so I am very excited to be showing large originals! And I’m thrilled that these are my very first two solo shows!
By Rhianna Iverson