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Monday, May 09, 2011

Interview with Per Zennström

q)Who are you? Where are you from and where do you live now?

a)My name is Per Zennström, swedish fashion photographer, blogger, on-line publisher, public speaker and teacher on topics like photography, fashion, pop-culture, new media and things like that.

I'm born in sweden but haven't lived there for over 20 years now. I lived in NYC, Paris and currently I'm based in Berlin, loving it here because of the strange a nd “unfinished” state of the city. I feel that there is so much opportunity in this city and You can see and feel that everywhere. There is a definate “slacker” culture here but at the samer time a lot of people are drawn here because of the opportunitys to actually produce work here and the city itself is activly trying to remake itself into a world center for culture, education, entertainment & art.

q)What is it that you do? What media do you use?

a)Like I mentioned I do a lot of different things, what they have in common is photography, fashion, pop-culture & new media.

I like to be more than “just” a fashion photographer and that's why I'm so exited about all the possibilities of the current shift from old-, to new-media.

All of a sudden almost anyone who is “hooked-up” to the web, can take control of their own story... (see Iran / and the current Arab popular revolutions and the rise of new media...)

I have a very big interest in the area where pop-culture, media, music, fashion, photography and business meet, mix and match. For example I'm fascinated by of how Lady Gaga and artist Marina Abramovic recently cross-pollinated each others work and image, and really taking advantage of media to further burnishing their repective public persona.

q)What do you think sets your work apart?

a)It would be nice to hear that Your work is “different” or “You have a singular style” but in reality all images have already been painted or shot. What You can do is to re-package certain ideas...

I'm trying to be “edgy elegant”, essentially that means that I'm a classic photographer fascinated by “new stuff” and I'm trying to use that in my images.

q)How long have you been showing your work for? Did you have a “big break?”

a)I have been a (fashion) photographer for 18 years now and about 10 years ago I became lazy and my work suffered because of that. So I took a long hard lok at my images and decided to change...

I realized that I needed to start from scratch again and I activly started working with almost anyone that was unknown, new, young or in general “not connected”. Some thought I was taking risks by associating myself with “unknowns” but for me it was very important to try to move on and not just go through the same old motions as before.

My thought was that I needed to start to work with a whole new generation of editors, art directors and not rely on my “old” contacts anymore...

I also have become interested in the business itself and how it works.. I used to a bit snobby about money , not taking it seriously but I now understand the enormous creative energy that goes into any business.

The past 2-3 years that I started pushing, hustling and trying to promote my work using all the new outlets at our disposal nowadays = Social Media. I have seen a big increase in the interest for my work recently and I believe it's all thanks to the work that I have put into promoting myself. I don't see myself as an artist, I'd like to think of myself as a “storyteller”...

q)What are some things that have inspired you?


That really could be anything like the shine of a girls hair on the beach, or walking past a cool building, or reading an interetsing article on-line or an old movie...

q)What have you been working on recently?

a)Right now I'm working on an exhibiting for Berlin Fashion Week in July. I'm also trying to get issue #3 and #4 of my magazine 11horses out soon.

q)Do you listen to music while you create your work? If so, would you give some examples?

a)Music could be very important during a shooting and I love to hear new stuff and different peoples playlists ( Years ago I used to lug around my whole CD collection in 2-3 CD albums, about 400-500 CD's, crazy !!! Love Spotify !!!

q)Do you do work in any other media? Other projects not necessarily related to your main body of work?

a)This is a really great question !!!

I think that a lot of people limit themselves too mouch and never dare to cross the line into something unknown. I'd like to think of myself as a “storyteller or “image maker” more that “just“ a photographer...

I find that blogging really suits my temperament and it's also a tremendous “traffic driver” to Your main website. I like to muse about things that crosses my mind and show things that I like, not necessarily my own images all the time. I also publish my own, pop-cultural, magazine 11horses.

Recently I have also started getting invited to lecture and talk to students at various art-schools which I really, really enjoy.

In fact I think I'd really would like to have my own talkshow and invite interesting guests to talk...

Being asked to talk to these student made me think about fashion-photography and why I like it so much and why I think this is important.

Another very very cool “new” thing that I'd like to explore more is live video streaming. Basically we all now have the possibility to become broadcasters and produce our own on-line TV shows, for FREE !!! It actually doesn't cost You a dime !!!

I'm also pleased that I have been invited to curate and edit some photo related projects... (soon to be anounced !)

q)What advice do you have for artists looking to show their work?

a)Use the networks and the possibilities that social media gives You to connect with the right people... Do Your own thing and produce Your own show !!!

q)Do you have any upcoming exhibitions of your work that you can mention?

a)Now in July, here in Berlin there will be a smaller show with some of my new work...

q)Where can people see more of your work on the internet?

a)Please check out:

Per Zennstrom on Behance

Per Zennstrom on Saatchi on-line

11horses, the viral issue


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