Inside the Studio

Martin Stranka

How many years as an artist?
Honestly, I always ask myself who is an artist? Is it someone who does art for living? Is it someone who studied art? Or is it someone who has exhibitions around the world? That’s the question. But if you are asking how many years as a photographer, I am saying 5 years. I know someone could say I am still young and beginner but I think it is not about numbers and years, it is all about your own mind and your creativity.

Unfortunately I don’t use any sketchbook. People ask me how I am able to create those scene without any sketches. I really just use my mind, my inner world and music as tools of creating. All my photos were born in my mind not on paper.

Favorite font?
There is only one word – Helvetica. I absolutely love all of them. Mainly the ultra compressed one! I really like the simplicity and minimalist look. I like it for reason you can focus on meaning of written words and you don’t have to be disturbed by its fancy look.

Honestly, I don’t have any but somehow I am tattoo addict. I am not talking about guys who did it only for being in and cool. I am talking about people who did it for their deeper reason and for its deeper meaning.

Nudity is one of the purest form of our human body and I think that it is the best place for a message or a picture that describes us, encourages us, makes us stronger or makes us thinking about it. It is like a empty sheet of paper which is waiting to be drawn and written.

Favorite cuss word?
Damn it! 🙂

What’s around the corner from your place?
I have to say I really love Prague. When I go out I can find places like gym – where I have never been to, the post office where I always stay for “hours” in line, the grocery store, pizza restaurant- where they have the amazing Pepperoni pizza ever and the biggest graveyard in Prague which is unique place with hundreds of trees, amazing silence and really special atmosphere during the sunset when the ray of light goes through the leaves, you have to see it.

A piece of art you love?
I know I should say some kind of material piece of art like a sculpture or painting, but I really love music as art. It is something that can lift me up and push me down on my knees at the same time. It is one of the strongest way of art. And if I should say exactly a piece of art then I will say music band Sigur Ros and whole their discography.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I think I basically already answered above.  I cannot imagine work in silence. I am music addict. Music is the most powerful catalyst for my mind, for my body, for my creativity. I know that people can’t hear the music from photos, but I can. I really do. I know it sounds quite silly, but always I look back at my portfolio I hear the music I was listening during the process of making this exact photo. Sometimes I lie on the floor, listen to music with my eyes closed and let all the emotions flow through my mind. Then I stand up and sit down to the laptop and start working on a photo – with music again, of course. I fell in love with music like Sigur Ros, Lisa Gerrard,  Antony and the Johnsons, Birdy and many more. I cant imagine any day without music.

Who are your favorite writers?
I have to say and I have to own up I don’t read the books a lot. My imagination as an artist doesn’t work based on reading book. I have have to say on the other hand I bough 2 books a month ago. And I love it. There are “Poems” from Arthur Rimbaud and “Lonesome Traveller” from Jack Kerouac. Both of them have the similar hidden meaning – both of them are about bohemian and unconventional way of life, something I have been always attracted to.

Favorite contemporary artist?
Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison. Their works speak to my a lot and I even can say their work influenced me a lot. I think people know their work so I don’t have to describe it. Their project called “Counterpoint” is amazing. Unfortunately I haven’t got an opportunity to see their exhibition yet.

Going deaf or going blind?
It is true I feel how much my eyes are weaker and weaker, but it is something that happens to everyone. But I would really hate to go deaf. As I said before I am a music addict and even that much when I go out and I forget my headphones at home by accident I have to go back and get them. Prague is a loud city like every kind of capital city, so I really tend to escape to my inner world with my music. And I know how much it makes me stressed when I have no music with me.

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you do?
I wanted to be a office manager when I was in grammar school. Then I was finishing my bank university but I already knew I wanted to be a photographer. Now if I could not be an artist I would like to be somehow connected to art anyway. So I would work in galleries, or as an agent for artist or something like that. Now I cannot imagine my life in office. I know it, I feel it.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
Then it would a photo “Gray Dawn” from Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison.

Favorite sound?
It would be the sound of rain.

Favorite smell?
Really nice question. I love those questions regarding senses.  I have it even written it on my personal website I love the smell of autumn. It has really strong memories for me. I am really optimistic person but I love the melancholy on the other hand. I tend to work with falling and floating leaves in my photos and it is all connected with autumn. I have the reason why the smell of autumn has become the strongest moment for me in whole year.

Why do you make art?
Well, I would rather say that photography discovered me than I discovered the photography. I have never studied photography. I have to say that I lost one of the closest people in my life in autumn few years ago and I felt like I had to express myself somehow. I felt like I needed to find something like a “valve” so I started taking photos and somehow it works. At the beginning I took it as something like a therapy which became my passion. So it is quite weird and strange saying that this accident inspired me, but this is only the way how I was involved into photography.

Now I feel it is still my base of my inspiration, but daily usual moments become my inspiration too. Something like dust grains floating in the light of sunset – wow, that’s something what I could stare at for ever. Or the smell of the autumn – those short 3-4 weeks when the nature is preparing for sleep, all those leaves falling from the trees, this is it. I know it could sound quite silly and childish, but I love those daily moments.

Art School or Self-taught?
I have never studied at art school.

What do you collect?
I collect everything with SpongeBob SquarePants – the cartoon character 🙂 Childish, I know 🙂

Which living or dead artist would you most like to meet?
Salvador Dalí.

Food or Sleep?
Can you imagine a bed full of food? That’s it!

Greatest achievement?
Well, I can say that my biggest achievement is being happy and I that I do my passion. But if you meant work achievement then I can modestly say I won Professional Photographer of the Year 2011 and another over 30 international awards during last 3 years. ( . I have to say I really appreciate every single of of them. My work is not about winning awards, but it is so nice I can move with someones mind and move with other people. That leaves me speechless.

Mottos or catchphrases:
“Be yourself, loved by a few and not understood by the rest”.

Astrology or Astronomy?
Both, both. I was watching falling Perseids last night with one of my closest friend. He is so close to my heart and we can share our inner worlds so much. And on the other hand I work with Tarot as well. I was always attracted to the universe and everything between universe and the Earth. Everything regarding the esoteric.

Would you ever figure model naked?

Religion or Pop Culture?
None of them. I don’t believe in any God or religion. I believe in people. I still do believe we can change in better way and make the world better place. I hope. I believe. I want to believe in it.

Traditional or Conceptual?

Favorite editing software (if any)?
Adobe Photoshop CS5

Camera type?
Canon EOS 5D

Natural or artificial light?

Film or digital?

Aperture or Lightroom?
None of them.