Last spring, we did something new and exciting. Of course, as purveyors of the uncommon, we’re always eager to try new things, but this one was EXTRA exciting, because it gave us a chance to see awesome work by talented young artists and designers from across the US. We put out a call for entries for our first-ever UncommonGoods Scholarship and more than a hundred students sent in their work. After much deliberation, we’re thrilled to announce that Lauren Waldrop, a communication design major at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, is the recipient of our $1,000 scholarship prize.
Lauren’s photography captured the attention of our scholarship team, and we were impressed by the story she included in her submission, which highlighted her dedication to her craft, artistic process, and future career goals. To announce her win, we asked Lauren to tell us a little more about each of the areas she touched on in her entry. Check out her Q&A below, and take a look at her winning work.
How did your high school art program and teachers influence your decision to pursue photography?
I attended Olentangy Liberty High School in Powell, Ohio. I believe the school’s art program is one of the best in the state. The program grew immensely during my four years at the school, and competed well in numerous competitions and art shows, including the Ohio Governor’s Art Show. The teachers are the reason for the success of this program. My photography teacher, Grant Gilsdorf, taught me everything I know about photography, and art in general. He went beyond just a teacher, and has become a great mentor and friend of mine. With such love and support, it creates a positive work environment that can foster great growth of student artists. The Liberty art department helped me develop as an artist and define my style.
What do you think is the importance of high school arts programs for students?
High school art programs expose students to classes that will push them to explore their creativity. Art programs allow the students to discover interests beyond the classroom. If I wasn’t for my first art class freshman year, I would’ve never considered art as a future career path. High school art programs foster rising artists and support students’ creative abilities.
What kinds of photography competitions did you enter and did they help further your goals as a photographer?
Throughout my high school art career, I entered numerous district-wide art shows hosted by my high school. Other outside competitions included the Delaware Arts Castle Show, and the Ohio Governor’s Youth Art Show. In the past few years, I’ve been successful at the Ohio Governor’s Youth Art Show, placing in the Top 300 as a finalist. These shows teach me how to separate and make my work stand out to a judge. They are also great ways to receive feedback and grasp others’ opinions of your work.
What is the process of editing your photos like? How important is that in your craft?
As a surrealist photographer, I enjoy editing my photos rather extensively. This may be through adding different items, backgrounds, or layers to a photo to strengthen the final image. To edit my photos, I use Adobe Photoshop. This software allows me to polish up my original image, but I try to shoot my image as error free as possible. Then I will go into Photoshop and remove any unwanted aspects, such as stray hairs or any distractions in the background. After this, I’m then free to begin creating and adding narrative to the piece. I can achieve this by Photoshopping in new backgrounds or objects that interact with the model. Overall, the goal is to make it look as real as possible.
Why do you want to work in marketing or advertising? How do you think your photography skills will apply to your future career?
In high school, I was involved in a competitive business group called DECA. This group sparked my interest in marketing and allowed me to explore business through numerous business conferences and meetings. Advertising seemed like the perfect career path that would combine my love for the arts with this new-found interest in business.
My photography skills will help me develop graphics and give me a unique visual eye for the future, when I’m hopefully designing for a company. It will provide me with a more creative outlook on any of my tasks.
What do you think the role of photography and creative is in advertising and marketing?
I believe that photography helps with the branding and promoting process in marketing. It allows a company to visually communicate their product to their consumers. Through photography and creative works, businesses can intrigue potential customers by using graphics and visuals. This allows a business to establish a company image.
Finally, tell us a little more about each of the pieces you submitted. What are the ideas behind them and the process behind creating each one?
I define myself as a surrealist photographer, because I enjoy adding in fantasy elements into my photography. As shown in my pieces, I have a darker style with high contrast lighting and dark color schemes. One of my most successful pieces has been my black and white portrait titled Recycle, which was a Top 300 finalist this year at the Ohio Governor’s Show. I enjoy shooting more studio-based images so I can control the lighting and how it highlights my model.
Outside of photography, I also enjoy dance. This is shown in my piece titled Grace. I like to use dancers as my models because they know how to pose and really complete an image.
Lastly, my piece Thought truly embodies my artistic style. It shows a richer color scheme with deep purples, and contains the surrealist element of the light bulb. This image shows my process and my editing skills. This photo was once two images that I composited together, then added the light bulb to convey the message of one’s thought process and getting struck with an idea.