This post was originally published on the Plywerk blog. Our Photo Lab partners with Plywerk to provide photo printing for the Portland-based picture-mounting company (holy alliteration, Batman!) Plywerk offers beautiful, sustainable custom photo display solutions that are easy to use in a variety of settings from home to gallery.
Give us a brief description of you, your work, and your style.
I‘m complicated, sensitive, dramatic, and intense but those are words other people would use to describe me. I know I have always seen the world differently, the concrete reality of objects seems to take a backseat and instead the world I inhabit is a constant metaphor of emotion as experience. Someone once told me, buying broccoli should not be a transformational life experience… but it can be, it all depends on the perspective. There is always a sense of trying to find balance. One minute I am craving solitude and the following minute I want to be in the heart of a sensory downtown city like social overload. It’s a war within me, and through my art I look for balance and grounding, a blend of both sides. At the center of it all, is a thirst to create. I have to satisfy that wherever I am.
I work at Glacier National Park as an exhibit specialist where I can combine both my love of art and nature and encourage others to find inspiration where I have. I’m TR on their facebook page, where I get to spout poetry and share my work. I am just starting my second season and last year I fell in love with the place, literally. I feel the America we look for, the one we get nostalgic about, the romantic west, still exists there. Come visit!
What are your goals as artists?
I want to find peace. I want to find calm. Creating art is a release. I have to do it. As I get older I don’t want to carry the burden of my mind and my life alone, selfishly I want the world to accept me, to understand the gift and the curse of experiencing life outside of the quote unquote norm.
In part, its because growing up I felt separated, different from the rest of the world. As I got older it manifested itself as my sensitivity to the emotional realm, but also as a gay man. Everyone accepts a park ranger, everyone accepts a photographer, I wanted a part of me, that part I shared with the public to be accepted, because the other part of me, I couldn’t change ran the risk of rejection. I’ve been a park ranger/ photographer way longer than I have been an out man. When I did finally come out, it was a struggle to let go of the safer identity, the cocoon of acceptance I created, but it changed my art, matured it in a way, and gave me freedom to be expressive and not hold back, to be willing to put everything out there, to let people know, the photographer they love, the national institution they enjoyed, supported the life and art of a gay man. I am an artist during a time when there is struggle for rights for the LGBT community and I hope my work humanizes the cause. I also want others to see the beauty, the dark, the light, the chaotic balance of the between, to experience love as place.
Sometimes, there is a sense of loss when I flip through the media I see out there. Are we aware of the world we live in. I want people to want to see the places I have seen, to put their hands and feet on the ground, to feel what it means to connect. I also want to remind when it comes to our public lands of their inheritance and to find a way to pass that on to future generations.
Why did you choose photography?
Photography chose me. I couldn’t afford a video camera when I graduated college. My degree was in video production. I wasn’t interested in making documentaries but I had definitive ideas on creating the next big blockbuster film. I loved/ love cinematic, glossy, romantic in the art sense movies, where the story takes advantage of its visual medium. I needed a video camera to match, they were way out of my price range, so a friend let me borrow his grandfather’s manual Nikon still camera. It’s was frustrating at first, you had to capture an entire two-hour film in one second, one second in which you couldn’t repeat, ever. Because of this background in film, I never became a raw, journalist style photography nor a nature photographer not in the real sense, more of a painter, a director. Over the years I pushed myself to learn, to ask myself questions in the editing room, what did I want to say, what did I want to share, what am I foreshadowing, where is the conflict? All the questions one asks when one writes a story. When I saw success, I analyzed it, so I could repeat it, maybe that’s the scientist in my background (my parents).
From where do you draw inspiration? And what do you do when you are not shooting?
I am always attempting to interpret the same experience from different angles. I have been told my life is my art, and I don’t have any one focus. My hope is the public takes a look at all the angels I present and puts together the experience from that. I compose music for voice and piano (I sang in the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus when I lived in Portland and had a piece performed by them), illustrate (pen and ink), and write poetry (www.rangerrains.com). But, when I am not “arting” I am gardening, cooking—this last winter has been an exercise in perfecting pop-corn, though I blame that mostly on binge watching on Netflix.
Why do you chose to show your prints on Plywerk?
Plywerk came highly recommended and I agree with their eco-conscious values, but mostly, it’s the customer service. I was a bit trepidatious at first about exhibiting my work, and I received gently coaching from the staff which helped.
Camera of choice?
Film or Digital?
Top three movies of all time?
Spirited Away, hands down, it’s the one I go back too, all the time.
Favorite day of the week?
Thursday. Everything that was possible was, and what could be is in the works for the rest. A good autumn kind of day of the week.
Your favorite website besides your own?
I’m not really a browser but a social media hound, and I loved the flirtatious nature of Instagram, and the influx of inspiration drawn from the U.S. Department of Interior’s feed.
Favorite type of melon?
There are these fabulous melon bars I found in a small grocery store in Kauai, green melon wrapped around a creamy vanilla center, soooo good.
Do you prefer Van Gogh with two ears or one?
One. What one does for love… (sigh)
Have you seen this high-speed video of jello: http://tasteologie.
This reminds me I used to bring Jello in to work every Thursday when I worked the front desk at the Forest Service in Lake Tahoe. It was my way to get to know the staff. This went on for years. People loved played with the layers, bouncing and jiggling them. I haven’t eaten Jello since.
When was the last time you ate a pancake?
Beginning of April, I made gluten-free pancakes for Easter breakfast and smothered them in homemade strawberry-habanero jam.
Would you describe kohlrabi as more of a turnip or radish?
It’s sort of like tasty cement. My experience came from a CSA box I received while living in Alaska, and I half expected it to scream at me when I pulled it out (this was during my Harry Potter days), but when I went to cut it with knife, I had to be aggressive, sort of like a coconut. Roasts well though, of course, everything tastes good with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.
Anything else you want to tell us?
When I was a teenager I was inspired by the artwork of Thomas Moran, and Albert Bierstadt and their impressions of American wildness. Their artwork in part contributed to my career as a National Park Ranger and to try my hand at interpreting that world leading to an acceptance of myself and the joy of being able to share those experiences. In 2016, The National Park Service celebrates its centennial. Get out and experience at least one of the places in the coming year, help celebrate and take with you, your camera, your pencil and your mind and then share your artwork with those around you.
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All photographs in this post © Tim Rains.