Paul Thompson graduated with a H.N.D. in photography from the Newcastle Art & Design College in 1999 and opened his London studio in 2005 after assisting leading advertising photographers. While continuing to build an extensive commercial portfolio, Thompson has devoted recent years to a collection of ongoing, interconnected bodies of fine art work.
His minimal, abstract photographs are often (but not always) made on the coast, usually late into the night, using a large-format film camera. Instead of adding artificial elements, Thompson subtracts them, stripping his compositions down to their most essential features.
Paul, where do you get your inspiration?
For my landscape work I get inspiration from different areas. Firstly my love of the coast and being out in nature. In terms of photographers/artists Joel Sternfeld, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Richard Misrach, Andreas Gursky, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Mark Rothko, Yves Klien, Turner are all big influences.
Which is the reletioship and influence beetween your cultural backgorund (country, studies, etc.) and your artworks?
The first relationship between my background/artworks is my love for the coast/beach. It’s the first place I want to go when I got home, it’s one of the biggest struggles about living in London. I originally studied Graphic Design and always wanted to be a graphic designer while at school and it wasn’t until my college years I got into photography. I still feel that graphic design plays a big part in my photography as it’s very considered, clean, minimal, my people/portrait work it tends to have a quiet english sense of humour in there, not shouting or loud, just subtle and quiet which I also think is reflection of my personality as I tend to be quiet.
What are you much focused in?
I’m very focused on having several personal projects going on at any one time. They are all long term ongoing projects. I don’t do one shot here and one shot there. I tend to focus on bodies of work. I think I’m more of an album person than a singles person if I was a musician (which I’m not in any way shape or form btw). All of my personal work is shot on large format film so this process also defines my style and approach to photography and the pictures I make.
Have you encountered any difficulties when you first started your art/freelance career?
I studied college then assisted. Both freelance and full time for one photographer. I feel I was quite success in my assistant days. I only worked for people who’s work I admired and wanted to learn from, never saw assisting as away of making money. It was a stepping stone to learn and further my own photographs/career. Starting out as a photographer went very well, but it was early 2000’s and the industry/world was a very different place. I think if anything I face more difficulties now due to the changes and the lack of respect for photography. Everyone thinks they’re a photographer now. Anyone can take a picture but not everyone can make one.
Over these years, what is the most important thing you have learnt from your profession?
Stick to what you truly believe in and make the work you want to make even if that excludes from form getting other work. Don’t follow or chase trends or be a jack of all trades.
Do you think that a creative job is just creativity or it’s discipline too?
I think a creative ‘job’ has very little to do with creativity anymore and is more about producing content in as many versions as possible. There’s very few ideas in jobs/layouts that come through nowadays. However, working on your own work/projects requires massive discipline and dedication particularly which the pace of everything now.
Are you currently work on new projects?
I am as well as continuing to work on existing ones. I tend to keep them to myself until I have a body of work that I’m happy to share. I think it’s important to have a body as there’s nothing more disappointing than seeing a shot on instagram or blog going to the photographers site and seeing thats the only shot like that and all the other work is nothing like what you saw posted.
Artist Website > paulthompsonstudio.com
Twitter > @pthompsonstudio
Instagram > @paulthompsonstudio
Facebook > facebook.com/paulthompsonstudio
Behance > behance.net/paulthompsonstudio