Camille Porthouse is a national and internationally published exclusive ALT photographer.
Fairy Goth Mother Studios launched in 2011.
1. How did you get to where you are right now as an artist?
It took me years to get where I am now, I started out being so insecure with the idea of art and expression. I was a wall flower and wasn't comfortable enough with myself to do what I had a passion for. I actually started out shooting rap concerts and progressed to some larger concert venues. At the height of it I shot for Hedley and Karl Wolf, but even with that accomplishment, it felt cheap. I was up all hours of the night practically living off of Redbull and networking in smokers pits all because I thought that's what was trendy. Suddenly a light turned on that said "This isn't art!" After that moment I dropped everything and started shooting for myself and with the intent of creating. Over the last year I shed my safety blanket and pushed myself further into making art that would make some people more uncomfortable by referencing pop culture, sexuality, and inner freedom.
2. Do you think it is important to have a formal education in order to be an artist?
Absolutely not! I have met so many artists and some of my favourites have no formal education. The desire to learn and create outweighs a diploma to me. For a time after finishing my studies in Ethics and Philosophy in university, I thought I should go into a Photography program in a college setting. I didn't even last a semester, it was horrible, everything was so subjective, and art seemed like a joke. To me art is such a pure form of personal expression, for someone to look at a piece of my soul and tell me they would prefer a different shade of blue made me hate what I was doing. I started to question if I even enjoyed photography. Quitting that program was one of the best choices I have made as an artist.
3. Describe a typical day for you.
A typical day for me revolves around HealthCare, it is something I am incredibly passionate about. I work about 8.5 hours at a foot clinic, in that time my mind often wanders to new concepts for upcoming shoots. I head home and answer e-mails, edit new content whenever possible, and start making prop lists or Pinterest boards for the upcoming sets I am working on. In some ways having a career in medicine is the perfect stark sterile contrast to my bright provocative photography.
4. Who or what inspires you?
As of late, pop-culture has inspired me as it has become even larger than life than it previously was, it has started to burst with bright colours, open drug use, nipple piercings, and rehab stays. The other main form of inspiration I find is what I see in other people. It's the little quirks that come out, the socially inappropriate thoughts they voice a couple of drinks in after a long work day, and the things they keep locked away inside as their own dark secrets, those pieces that can eat away at you when you find yourself alone. It's a mix of vulnerability, desire for sexual liberation and the innate push to say "Fuck it, I'm trying my best!"
5. Do you only work with professional models, or can anyone book a shoot with you?
I have preferred to work with non-professional models, more so because the aim of my art isn't perfection. I don't go into a shoot with an exact image in my head of what I want to achieve, I go in wanting to find a feeling. That way it is just two people that want to have fun and create. In attempting to pull a feeling from a shoot I keep things light and stress-free. I embrace art as a chance for expression and growth and the models I choose feel the same. We usually have a few beers, I look at wardrobe pieces, and we sit and talk about our lives. Two people sharing real aspects of their lives creates a bond, and that bond helps me pull passion and emotion from my models during a shoot, most of the girls that have modeled for me have become great friends that I cherish.
6. Your work has some dark/alternative themes. Have you experienced any negative reactions because of that?
You would think that certain pieces I have put out into the world would be hit by some pretty solid hate comments, I have been lucky though and haven't received very much negativity. I try to ride a rather thin line between what is seen as fun yet provocative and what is seen as offensive. Recently I had the opportunity to watch people see my work in person, and although it was mildly terrifying it was cathartic. I took real note of why some individuals had a less positive response, and it wasn't that they thought the art was subpar, it was more that they were uncomfortable with the amount of skin shown and the sexuality it projected. I realized that what some people don't like is exactly what others praised me for and said I should continue to push and explore.
7. What is your dream art project?
When I think about the idea of a dream art project I picture being able to fund a weekend somewhere like Nevada where I could host a bunch of friends and models and use pools, deserts, and drastic contrasts between landscape and wardrobe to create some interesting non-studio pieces. The idea that everyone could eat, drink, and be free for a couple days while shooting is something that would work well with my style, I love candid shots, so when someone is just free and comfortable it makes my job a breeze. In my dream art project, I would absolutely finish the project by printing them onto canvas and making mixed media pieces out of them using bubbles, glitter, fire, coffee, every fun art supply I have in my arsenal.
8. What's the best art-related advice you've been given?
"Does that make you happy?" 2 years ago I was talking to someone about the concepts I shoot and I downplayed it a bit, the person simply came out with "does it make you happy?" of course I said it did. And that has been the main aspect I have taken with me over the years. In some aspects it is inherently hedonistic to pursue pleasure in all forms, I believe art is one of those forms, and I ask myself if it makes me happy on a regular basis. The answer is always "Yes."
9. Do you have any advice for emerging or aspiring artists?
Don't worry about what will sell or what you think is popular. Art should always be a part of who you are, so don't make it for anyone else. Take a look at who you are deep inside, find time to always embrace that and celebrate it, it is something no one else has but you! Never force your art, never downplay it, just embrace who you truly are and let it flow out of your body like a song.
10. What's next for you?
I am looking to really push my personal boundaries over the coming months, I had such a great response from my last show, it gave me a new piece of myself I didn't know I had. I have a couple of new gallery events popping up on my calendar and I plan on trying to experiment with a new and less conventional way of presenting them. I want to use my voice as a visual artist to help people find liberation in sexuality, personal expression, and to remember to be playful! That means a lot more introspection on my part, but also a lot of experimentation, and hopefully some large mixed media pieces happening in the near future.