I’m happy to be featuring an artist with whom I have collaborated with for almost an entire year now! The 33-year old multi-talented female artist goes by the pseudonym TOTSPUPS which encapsulates high quality photography, art direction, and web development. TOTSPUPS is located in West Los Angeles, California. If you’re in the LA area- look her up!
Q1. At what point in your life did you know you’d be an artist? I spent more time coloring then anything else as a child. I was so distracted noticing colors, shapes, and lines that I refused to learn to read as a child. I thought words were so boring when you can stare at art. I wanted to be an artist but didn’t make that big decision until the end of sophomore year at USC when I decide to become a professional photographer and enrolled in Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA.
Q2. Do you have another talent/passion/hobby? Where do I start? I think most artists are sensitive to many things. To be a versatile photographer, it is important to understand fashion, architecture, design, interior design, style (hair, nails & makeup), and technology (now that most photography is all digital). I love all of the above and I also love to cook.
Q3. Who has been the most encouraging person in your life? Funny question because most of my life I have been discouraged to pursue art. There wasn’t a source of encouragement, to be frank. One day I decided to take ownership of my life and I am glad that I did. It changed the course of my life. I learned a great deal about what is important to me and my happiness.
Q4. What inspires you? Everything inspires me. Before web, I looked at magazines, movies, books; anything that I can find that had photographs. Now with web, I browse online at least 2-3 hours a day. It is amazing how easy it is to find great art from all around the world. Most recently baby Lily inspired me to take photos of children and pets which lead to TOTSPUPS. Her smile and her charismatic personality made me want to pursue child photography which is something that never crossed my mind.
Q5. What medium still intimidates you? For me, drawing, painting, and collage making takes too long to get it to a point I like. I can kind of draw but I prefer to let the professionals do it because I actually feel miserable during that long creation process.
Q6. What artistic trend do you dislike? In photography, I loathe subject against a white background. It actually makes me nuts. I personally use the background to add a story, a mystery, a feeling, a something to my portraits. So to me white background is a wasted opportunity to add to the story of the photo.
Q7. What has been you favorite piece of someone else’s art up until this point in your life? There are just so many. I have the upmost respect for photographers who have a commercial success without compromising their artistic integrity/voice and still keep the work relevant and withstand the test of time. Nick Knight and Sean Ellis would be the two that comes to my mind.
Q8. Do you do photography full-time? I did and it wasn’t fun. When you work as a photographer full time the type of work that comes in is generally not interesting and very vanilla. I did it for 2 years and decided that I would like to do it on a commissioned basis and only take on clients’ projects that are interesting/inspiring to me. Today, my business is all about personalized photographic gifts. It is for people that want to give more than Babies-R-Us gift cards. I chose children and dogs because their candid expressions and precious moments are the things people savior the most. With a click of the shutter I have frozen these moments forever. They may grow but these photographs can be retrieved and enjoyed over and over again. I find this very fulfilling.
Q9. Do you think you have a specific style? What is that style and do you see yourself evolving out of that anytime soon? It took 10 years to develop my style and I hope to evolve. During my early years I like bright colors with eye catching poses. In time that evolved into a being drawn to a combination of controlled loud colors paired with muted colors.
For my child and pet photography, I like large reflections in the subject’ eyes which makes them sparkle. I like pure uncensored candid expressions. My job is to capture the subject’s personality to tell their story at that moment in time. I guess I am a memory catcher who can take these moments and create poster size prints, photo books, cards, invitations, or caricature stamped portraits.