Though I’ve never met him in real life Christian Villacillo strikes me as a kindred spirit of sorts. Upon viewing his photography I envision him resting quietly on a lonely ridge, high above the world, reveling in the soothing wonder of the natural world. There is a stillness, a peacefulness in his work that comes through in the majority of his photos. I know for myself every visit to his photostream or portfolio is a calming event. I find myself longing to be alone in the woods for an hour, and for a few moments my surroundings melt away and I am. In my opinion this characteristic marks Chris as a true artist. I hope after reading this interview you’ll agree.
Without further ado I present you an interview with Chris Villacillo. Enjoy.
Q1: Mountains/nature play a huge role in your work. But you also do some beautiful, intimate portraits. Can you tell us about what draws you to these two different types of photograph?
A1: The Romantic landscape painters’ idea of the Sublime has greatly influenced my interest in nature. I share their sentiment that nature is far more greater than man; that it is unpredictable, ever-changing, grandiose, and has the power to affect and bring out different emotions in humans. My photographs of landscapes is a tribute to that idea.
Portraiture came later on in my photographic journey. I started becoming interested in the human form but I end up still tying it together with my interest in nature. I see these portraits as relationships between human and the natural landscape.
Q2: If I had to guess I’d say Ansel Adams is a major influence. Agree? Disagree? What other photographers inspire you?
A2: Definitely. Ansel Adams was the only photographer I knew when I was young and clueless about photography and art. Until this day, I have never fallen out of love for his work and I have continually challenged myself to bring out that influence in my own work and my love of the environment.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Annie Leibovitz, and Michael Kenna are also great inspirations to me.
Q3: In addition to photography you paint. Do you find any parallels between painting/photography? Do you find any inspiration in one that finds it’s way into the other?
A3: Photography and painting to me are truths, but two different truths. My photographs are representations of my immediate visual experience of the world while my paintings are the results of my searches within myself. The inspiration from the natural landscape transcends these two truths.
Q4: You are very involved in the online aspect of photography what with Flickr and Tumblr. How have those two platforms affected your work, and what value do you see in the burgeoning social aspect of photography?
A4: These online communities has gotten my work out into the world and into the collections of online curators and galleries. I have gained an audience that I never thought would exist or existed! It is also through these platforms that I have discovered a multitude of inspiring artists and photographers that have become my peers. The internet has become the vehicle of exploration, discovery, and discussion for a lot of fields and I think it has broadened the potential of making photography available for everyone.
Q5: You shoot film. Care to explain why you choose that over digital?
A5: I shoot both film and digital. But the reason I started shooting film is my fascination for its sentimentality and poignancy and also because I believe an old medium should not die upon the emergence of a new medium.
Q6: What’s on repeat on your iPod, record player, Spotify (or other music injection device) right now?
A6: The third movement of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor performed by Hilary Hahn and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Q7: If you had to pick one camera to shoot with for the rest of your life what would it be?
A7: A Yashica Mat-124G.
Q8: As I’ve watched your work evolve over the last year or so I’ve noticed a consistent feeling of quietness or stillness. I find myself at peace when I view your work. I might go so far as to say it’s a dominant theme in your work, and the bridge that ties together your nature work and your portraiture. What do you think about that? Agree? Disagree? Is it intentional, or a side effect of your personal vision/style?
A8: I get this comment quite a lot. The quietness or stillness is the reflection of my introverted personality. It is not intentional at all but every time someone points it out to me, I’m really pleased because I know that person is getting to know who I am through my work.
Q9: Color vs. black and white?
A9: Black and white.
Q10: I’m still convinced that you’d fit in perfectly here in Seattle. What are your plans for the future as a photographer/painter/otherwise?
A10: My trip to New Jersey, New York, D.C., and Toronto two months ago made me fall deeply in love with the big cities but I had cured that by going on a road trip to the prairies and the Canadian Rockies. I would love to experience Seattle in the near future, but for now I think I have found myself at home in Alberta. As for plans, I’m going to get into university to pursue a BFA and major in printmaking and painting and just keep on working.