Many of my art crushes are creatives who emulate their work in some way or another. Michael Blank is no exception – he is a lot like the photographs he takes; tranquil, influential, and, I’ll admit, rather beautiful. He’s got a calming tone about him and trustworthy eyes that have a tendency to stir the soul, the kind that can easily make a journalist forget that the interview isn’t about her.
This California artist has built an impressive portfolio over the past six years, playing with both film and still photography. All swooning aside, he is an incredible individual who boasts both skill and style within his work. Peep our conversation below and let his artistic warmth subtly enchant you…
LF: Let’s start with the basics, where are you from?
MB: I was born in NY, then went over to Japan for a little while. My parents were in show business, my dad is a composer and my mom was a dancer, they had their affair and had 3 kids. But I would say my adult life is Californian – I am a California boy.
LF: How long ago did you start photography?
MB: I first picked up a camera about six years ago, but didn’t get my first “professional” camera until about three years ago. I started by getting my friends to let me shoot them with any point and shoot camera I had at the time.
LF: Do you feel like it came naturally to you?
MB: Well, I am always trying to perfect my craft but I originally got into it because I really like cinema and movies. I went to school and received a bachelors in cinema and tv arts. I want to be a feature film director. I think the visuals of cinema is why I got into still photography. Plus, I figured there was more than one way to get into the door of the film industry and I thought photography was a good start. So far so good, I think.
LF: How would you describe your photographic style?
MB: I love tranquility, so you might notice a common theme in my pictures. I like them to be very relaxing. I want people to look at my pictures and almost be envious, thinking “I want to live that kind of life” because that’s what inspires me, relaxed, good energy. There are two main things people want in life: to have adventures and be comfortable and I try to capture both at the same time.
LF: That sense of calmness in your images is echoed in your personality, would you agree?
MB: Yes. My personality can be pretty calming and I always like to be approachable. All my friends are martial artists and stunt men, so I got into martial arts too, but I wouldn’t say I am a gnarly guy because of it…if anything it has made me more relaxed. I am very chill.
LF: Are you into writing at all? or exploring other art forms?
MB: I’m into movie script writing and and writing romantic poetry to girls. Growing up I was an artist of all types. I would draw, and I studied martial arts. I was in a band and played guitar. I am not a singer but I would sing…and mess around on the piano…and martial arts of course.
LF: So you’re a romantic?
MB: I am beyond romantic. I love romance. I have a very romantic view of the world, and I dream really big.
LF: What’s your sign?
MB: Aquarius, what’s yours?
LF: Ahh yes, would you say you’re a typical Aquarius?
MB: Haha I am not the expert on this stuff but I know that I love to listen and give advice. A lot of who I talk to and work with, I end up giving relationship advice.
LF: If you could have any other career; what would it be?
MB: Directing would be the most obvious answer. Directing and writing movies in a truly defined auteur style like Quentin Tarantino and PT Anderson.
LF: How would you describe your style of filmmaking?
MB: Cerebral, I want people to connect and feel it. Anything to get you thinking and feeling on a deeper personal level.
LF: Whats the best way to do that?
MB: I am highly visual and I like to DP my own films. What you see on screen has to make you feel something from the visual alone. The story should have more layers than is perceived on the surface. The deeper it goes into the human psyche the better for me. Characters are very important. For the longest time The Fifth Element was my favorite movie ever. There is so much to it, it’s revolutionary. The soundtrack alone is supposed to be set in the future so it’s a mix of so many different cultures. The director, Luc Besson, really thought it through in so many ways.
LF: Do you prefer playing with film or photo?
MB: I love both for different reasons. In film there is a lot more life through sound and movement. But I love the idea of a really great photo that can tell a story in a single frame.
LF: Do you feel like things come easily to you? Or are you a hustler?
MB: I have been very fortunate. I am not as big of a hustler as I would like to be. I think I need to push myself more. A lot of people just say let your talent speak for itself, but I know that half of it is talent and the other half is who you know and how hard you work.
LF: How fast do you live?
MB: I live so slow that people can’t keep up.