“Music” is the title of an abstract art piece printed on aluminum by artist and photographer Kevin Dailey whose works were truly stand-out pieces on display at the 2018 ArtExpo event in NYC. Kevin is known for producing works that are instantly recognizable for their uniqueness and vibrant colors. Interestingly, Kevin only branched out into digital abstracts recently, his initial work was firmly rooted in realistic traditional photography.
Kevin Dailey has been fascinated with capturing imagery since childhood. As a sailor, marine photography coupled with nature has always been a major source of inspiration. In the 1980s he photographed the “Newsday Yachting Series” which was a popular multi-media presentation forNewsday, the Long Island based newspaper. This lead to Kevin having the opportunity to photograph events in England, Germany, Sardinia, France, Monaco and elsewhere.
Now based in Connecticut, Kevin has also photographed ski racing for the “Jeep Ski Club Challenge” and both home and business interiors, for homebuilders, and interior designers. Kevin is skilled at capturing images from boats, planes and helicopters.
Via an exclusive interview, Kevin recently discussed his career as a photographer/artist, his experiences in the art world, digital techniques, and more.
Meagan Meehan (MM) of Entertainment Vine: What sparked your interest in photography and how come you were so drawn to marine subjects, especially yachts?
Kevin Dailey (KD): I would have to credit my mother’s science teacher. She was a life-long friend of the family and would show us her latest travel-log slide-shows every year. She was a good teacher and very good photographer. She taught me a lot about composition. I grew up sailing and at a young age started working as a sailmaker, working with my brother and sister-in-law. We needed to make a presentation on sails to a yacht club. My brother said, “You like cameras, go buy one and start taking pictures!” I started with more technical shots, but I often took some more vanity or yacht portrait style images. It is a much longer story, but being a sailor myself, it was easy to understand what shots would look attractive to other sailors.
MM: How did you break into the art and/or photography industry and get your work shown with Newsday?
KD: I wanted to get out on a race committee boat to take some shots of boats racing. The committee chairman asked what I was going to do with the images. I said, “Put on a show at various yacht clubs.” He said, “Why not here, at the prize giving?” I agreed, and that ended up an annual event to hundreds of people. That event was so well received that the publisher of Newsday asked me to shoot a three-regatta series and put on a multi-media show for over 400 people at the awards dinner. My brother and a friend helped me with custom sound tracks and the actual production of the shows. We had a great time with this for many years.
As far as my abstracts are concerned, my wife asked me to take some pictures of a bouquet of flowers she received for her birthday. After shooting the normal images I got bored and thought, “What if I were to spin the camera while taking the shot?” So, I tried it and really liked the results. I then played with the shot on the computer and now it is still one of my favorite pieces of artwork. I think this was my break from just being a photographer to becoming an artist.
MM: You travel internationally, so how much does that impact your creativity? Do you also exhibit your creations as you travel?
KD: I love travel and it is a huge influence! It is inspiring to see new and different surroundings. I love European architecture, and as crazy as it might seem, I try to include it in my abstracts whenever I can. I have not taken the time to exhibit internationally yet, but I would like to do that. I did take my slide shows “on the road” domestically for many years but have not done so lately.
MM: You were a sailor, so how has that influenced your life and artistic flair?
KD: I still am a sailor! Sailing is a wonderful sport. It is about teamwork and using the forces of nature, like the wind, to move the boat. It teaches discipline and creativity in solving problems, which are things everyone needs in life. I think sails have beautiful shapes and curves, much like bird wings. Thinking about my work, I see a lot of curves and 3D shapes. Maybe that is due to this influence. Also, there is a lot of action and drama in sailboat racing. I like to capture this and if it is not as dramatic as I think it should be, I now add the drama later in transforming it from just a photograph to art.
MM: What are your biggest influences and inspirations when it comes to capturing images?
KD: Shapes, color and patterns. I am almost always looking for more “building blocks” of images to pick parts of to make my abstracts or add drama to my sailing images. The beautiful curve of a car fender or an archway of a building, or dramatic clouds, are all catching my eye. My wife is an interior designer and has a great eye for color. I think this has had a huge effect on what I do as well. She is always pushing me to “expand” the works that I create.
MM: How did you develop such a unique photography/digital media style?
KD: Evolution! Everything changes and that is what I like to do with my artwork. With digital images I can change the colors, bend and twist things, and generally evolve the image to something totally different from where I started. Everyone sees a piece of art differently. Imagine being able to take each person’s interpretation and then make another change from that to form a new image. Eventually you end up with something very cool. I do it in my own mind, using the computer for help.
MM: How did you get involved with Blink Art Source and how have they helped your career?
KD: I had seen their booth at previous ArtExpo’s and was always impressed by the work they displayed. They were always very eager to speak with anyone, artist or customer. I contacted them about my work and they said it would be a very good fit. They have helped me get my work out in the public view and to a much wider audience. They offer participation in a resource book that goes out to over 10,000 people in the art and interior design industry. They also participate in shows like ArtExpo and several others.
MM: You recently exhibited your artwork at ArtExpo in NYC, so what was your overall experience of the show like?
KD: I think it was great! I was able to meet a lot of other artists and learn from them. I received a lot of very positive response to my work. The show offers the opportunity to getting exposure to 30,000 people over four days. This is pretty hard to do anyplace else.
MM: What are your biggest goals for your future photography career and do you have any other events coming up?
KD: I am working on getting more gallery representation. I am also trying to push myself to keep evolving my artwork. In May I have a showing of my work where I will have at least nine pieces on display, half being sailing images and the other abstracts printed on aluminum. Most are 40”x60” or larger, so it is a big display. I am always looking for opportunities to show my work, so the future is full of possibilities!
MM: Thanks for chatting with me, Kevin, and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
KD: Meagan, at ArtExpo you spoke as part of a panel on the key elements to success as an artist. You and the panel offered up some really great tips and rules to live by. Litsa Spanos of A/D/C Blink spoke on marketing. All of this is important in growing as an artist, as there is a real business side to the career that is just as important as the art itself.
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