We had the good fortune of connecting with Jack Proctor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jack, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’ve been photographing for most of my life, starting with a disposable camera when I was a kid. I am not sure what my life would look like if making images wasn’t the core part of my every day. Finding ways to create images whether it be through film, collaboration, or pursuing images for myself- tackling the image is a challenge that is forever changing and shifting, allowing me to evolve as an artist. It feels amazing to find ways to use image making as a means of documentation, connection, sharing, and expression whether it be my own or facilitating someone else’s vision.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The work I do for myself and the work I do professionally are currently very disjointed. The further I get from college, the more I am battling the nagging questions of if I really want to be making what I am making, and more importantly, how will my work engage with the world? It is a constant struggle to push past these doubts and continue making while working professionally in micro budget films and reality TV. The 2 worlds I am straddling feed one another without necessarily influencing one another. I see my work as an evolution of similar questions revolving around the way humans interact with each other and the world around us. My perspective is rooted in being a white, middle class artist from the San Fernando Valley, affecting the ways I think about suburbia, family relations, and the influence people have on one another. It is very centered around an LA adjacent experience, pushing against this other world of commercialism while being very distinct. I don’t know if I have answers to how I am overcoming the doubt in my work, but I know I have to keep creating. I am on a path where I am learning how to prioritize my artistic practice as much as my means of survival. What I want people to know about who I am as a maker is that I am in progress, flux and never fully cooked. I am allowing myself to be pushed and affected by what is around me, as well as maintaining the core of my image making ideology. I hope to find new ways to talk about these questions of human interaction as I grapple with myself and others.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I wanted to show people around LA and the places I go most often it would be Pablito’s in Burbank- they have the cheesiest, greasiest late night grub in the SFV. I definitely spend too much time at the central library and the last bookstore. LACMA and MOCA are my 2 favorite museums in the area, but smaller art spaces/bookstores like Fulcrum Press, Reparations Club, Art + Practice, Flux Art Space and so many more scattered around LA are musts. I am very much a homebody with fits of social excursions once every couple of months to absorb and then I go back home/work to allow myself to process these thoughts and feelings. Between moments of making and working, I spend most of my time in books, podcasts, and my head.
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?
There are so many people that influenced me in unmeasurable ways. My high school photography teacher Paola Prato who facilitated me participating in a free high school program called CAPS. They offer free darkroom education, provide busing to the CalArts campus, feedingus lunches and give us access to film, cameras, chemicals, enlargers etc. The grad students that taught us guided me and offered me resources to expand my thinking about image making. This gave me a base knowledge that helped me get a job at Santa Monica College where I was influenced by so many amazing professors like Steve Moulton, Craig Mohr, Josh Withers. The lab technicians Sean Blocklin and Patrick Connor taught me the chemistry of traditional film processing, helping me push the limits of what I could mix and make to expand what I was doing. I was fortunate enough to learn from Wet Plate artists such as Allan Barnes and Jerry Drapala who helped me be playful, slow down and explore the physicality of image making. Moving to Cal State Long Beach pushed me past the technical and into the conceptual. Having a basis for theory from high school aesthetic and philosophy classes and a class from Linda G. Lopez at SMC, I felt I was able to take the technical and go beyond just making a pretty image. It taught me to think about what was appropriate for the work I was making, and what it needed to be. I was constantly butting up against being pegged as a commercial artist, or people thinking my work was a critique of commercialism in a way I am not sure will ever go away. Making work that is polished and a commercial way of making,while speaking to topics that I think transcend the polished look is something I am cultivating and learning to own.