This is a new weekly series where we feature our incredibly talented Adolescent members and their work! Sign up here to join the Adolescent Membership and be part of the @ family!
Hey, Adolescent readers! This week, we want to introduce you to our newest Adolescent Member Crush: Joyce Ding. This UCLA student and photographer takes endearing portraits of her friends—many of which often double as stunning optical illusions. Read below to learn what Joyce loves about being signed to Adolescent and studying sociology and art history.
Adolescent Content: You’re currently a student at UCLA—truly living the dream! What’s your experience at the school been like so far?
Joyce Ding: UCLA has this vibrant, fugitive, and hopeful sense of youth that doesn’t have to do with anyone’s physical age. Going to a big school in a big city, you learn about culture, life, and people through everyday experiences. You meet new people every day, your friends are from all over the world, and you are open to many opportunities you never even thought about before. Even though being one individual in a big community can generate a sense of confusion and loneliness sometimes, I appreciate every aspect of the present, and I see myself more clearly.
Adolescent: Has studying sociology and art history influenced your work? How so?
Joyce: If art is a dumpling, I do see the visual elements as the wrap and everything else as the stuffing. The stuffing can be anything, and inevitably it will connect to a larger context. Most people would agree that a cultural and [intellectual] foundation is very important in terms of arts, [so] sociology and art history indeed help me build up the “stuffing” of my works, and they also help me to be better at distinguishing what is flattering and emptily deep, and what is authentic and sincere. As embracing my subjectivity in arts, I try my best to avoid my cultural, political, identity and moral bias in social sciences. Therefore, while expressing the subjective, sensual, and visual through [my] images, I also try to express the logical, critical, and objective through [their] contents.
Adolescent: How has being represented by Adolescent impacted the style and trajectory of your photography?
Joyce: The inclusive community Adolescent creates make me appreciate human connections and youth culture. Everyone is creative, talented, and passionate, and I love seeing people do what they love. After joining Adolescent, I started to take more colorful portraits of young adults because I appreciate their energy and I can relate to them the most. My work became more free and vibrant.
Adolescent: What’s your process like for a photo series, from coming up with a concept to editing the final outcome?
Joyce: I have different processes for different photo series. Sometimes I come up with a detailed plan, like a 15-slide work pitch including everything I have in mind. Sometimes I don’t make any plan and just follow a stream of consciousness.
Adolescent: To what extent is your work concept-based?
Joyce: I always create photo series based on concepts. For individual photos, though, I often find some patterns later and put them into groups. I learn about myself through this process. The photos I share with the public are mostly portraits, but my favorite works are actually personal and narrative non-portraits which I don’t usually share. They are pure and obscure, and I don’t find it necessary to add a commercial lens on them.