We had the good fortune of connecting with Douglas Stockdale and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Douglas, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Keeping a balance between various life activities always seems to be a bit of a challenge, especially as I realize that probably one of the most precious commodities I need to account for is time. What helps me to keep what I think is a healthy balance is to prioritize what’s really important, such as keeping family number one on my to-do list. Early in my working career, I found that work can be a relentless black hole that can absorb a considerable amount your life if you let it. There can also be an enormous amount of peer pressure to spend every spare moment at work and or after hours with the ‘team.’ I try to keep that need for balance in mind as I set aside time for all of my activities, realizing the importance of give-and-take. That’s how a balance occurs. There are a lot of potential events that compete for my time, and while it would be really great to do these all, I also realize that this would be to the detriment of family time.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Recently, I have come to understand that I am a bit of a modern Renaissance man in how I meld my interests in science, arts and literature. I am not going to get into the science side of my professional life, other than to say that for a considerable time, my day job has been as an engineer/scientist developing novel pharmaceuticals and medical devices. My interest in literature is as a book-geek, a collector of artist books, an editor of a virtual book review magazine, and as a published or self-published author of six books. My creative side is expressed as a painter/photographer developing artwork that explores issues relating to culture, family, science and retention of memory. I have been reading a biography of the late Imogen Cunningham and I relate to her response to a certain question. Someone asked what she is most excited about, and she said “my next picture”. As a contemporary artist, I think it’s my curiosity that continues to push me forward, exploring new ideas and concepts. Earlier this year I continued to work on my Memory Pods series about the retention of memory, a project that I have continued to develop for the past six years, and artwork I feature in this interview. During the COVID-19 shelter-in-place, I started a new series of art-science experiments, Quantum Elements, that investigates how light bends, as explained by Quantum mechanics and particle physics. During this same time, I became familiar with the Light & Space (art) movement that was based in Southern California. It has inspired me to experiment with new reflective materials that really increase the luminance and physicality of my artwork. One of the lessons I learned about being an artist is the insular aspect of working on an artwork series in solitude. I recognized the need to develop a community for support and inspiration. I now belong to or support a number of local creative organizations that can provide community and various kinds of feedback or inspiration. I frequently find that when I lead a creative workshop, I get back almost as much as I give. I have spent a lot of time in the corporate world and am very familiar with creating and maintaining a brand (I also have an M.B.A.). I have realized that in my creative pursuits, I am not as concerned about creating a brand for my artwork. In fact, I have come to think that having a ‘brand’ other than being a ‘contemporary artist’ might actually limit me in what I want to develop creatively. In contemporary art, there are no rules, and trying to create a brand implies creating ‘rules.’ Thus, my story is about being a contemporary Renaissance person — someone whose curiosity leads to a life of creative investigations that are part science, part art and part literature.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Living in south Orange County we fortunately have a ton of local options, and to make things even better, Los Angeles and San Diego counties are not far away. For someone visiting, I would think globally, but act really locally as far as what’s available. I would focus on the seacoast village of San Clemente. It has miles of beach trails, as well as the pier, beach and expanse of ocean to provide a very coastal lifestyle experience. After a day on the San Clemente beach, it is fun to head to the Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar located at the base of the pier, overlooking the ocean. Fisherman’s has reasonable prices and a wonderful selection of seafood. Farther up the street from the beach along the main drag are a series of other great restaurants. At the top of my list is Nick’s San Clemente for great American fare, as well as its sister venue, South of Nick’s Kitchen & Bar, for a Mexican-influenced menu. A great option for steaks is the Vine Restaurant and Bar at the top of the street. A reasonably priced go-to for Mexican food along this stretch is Avila’s El Ranchito. I love their carnitas and I can’t complain about their margaritas. For me the go-to for really good pizza in town is Sony’s Pizza, a local pizza institution. There are two other places that are about local knowledge. The first, located on the outskirts on Pacific Coast Highway, is the greatest burger and beer joint, Riders Club Cafe. The second, which has great Sushi, is Miyako Japanese. I should also mention that in the same area of Miyako is some good Italian food at Fratello’s Italian Kitchen. It is reasonably priced and has a solid menu. A nearby restaurant that has been getting some good pizza buzz is TJ’s Woodfire Pizza. Beach, ocean, and good food. It does not get much better than that.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
As an editor of a non-profit (non-revenue) virtual magazine, PhotoBook Journal, we would not have the global impact on contemporary artists and photographic book readers without the team of volunteers who make this publication tick each day. They are the book reviewers, resource managers, copy and text editors, layout and design artists and digital back office that propel us into the lives of countless readers. So, I would like to give a shout-out and thank the team for all the time they put into our book review venture: Gerry Clausing, Paul Anderson, Debe Arlook, Melanie Chapman, Alaina Dall, Kristine Dittrich, Deborah Davis, Madhu John, Steve Harp, Wayne Swanson, Rudy Vega and Jonas Yip. We are also fortunate to have some one-time/guest volunteers who have contributed their effort and time, which include Lode Laural, Brian Rose and Dia Wang. I really love this team and thank them one and all!
Also, a final shout out to Chris Davies at Fabrik Projects and for Donna Cosentino, Executive Director of the Photographer’s Eye Gallery in Escondido, for her enthusiastic support for my Memory Pod’s series that she will feature in a two-person exhibition in February 2021.
Other: Art blog (Singular Images); https://singularimages.net PhotoBook Journal; https://photobookjournal.com
All images copyright Douglas Stockdale