Designer Interview: Chase Jarvis

Innovators & Creators, Photography

Chase JarvisChase Jarvis recently spoke at TEDx at CMU in Pittsburgh. Chase was gracious enough to conduct an interview with his tight schedule and share a few thoughts with DavisonCreators before his visit. Chase not only is a world renowned photographer and film maker, but he is the creator of, and is the mind behind thebestcamera app.

You are soon to be welcomed into Pittsburgh as guest speaker at the TED conference at CMU. Have you ever been to Pittsburgh? Yes and No. I had a layover in Pittsburgh but have not been to the city; but I am looking forward to it.

Do you have any specific plans to seek out any location or attraction for photographing while visiting? With a packed schedule and being a speaker at TEDx, I have no planned events. Travel has me stopping in Pittsburgh for this speaking engagement and then flying to New York City for business, then back to the West coast. I have been super swamped leading up to this event, so no camera crew; but I will have my iPhone. Look at the Best Camera website and I am sure I’ll post some pictures from Pittsburgh.

What is the oldest photograph you own; one that you had taken at a young age? And who played a role in you taking pictures early on? Oh my goodness, I have a pile of pictures I shot with the square flash bulb camera, from maybe around 1974. My family took a drive to see relatives in California. The action of the flash was intriguing to me, just as much as the pictures I was taking. My father is a hobbyist photographer, my grandfather was a photographer, so I am a third generation photographer.

In my life I have seen the progression from Polaroid, 11O, 35mm, disposable cameras, digital cameras and now cell phone cameras. What are your thoughts on how we take photographs today? You know, growing up we would have a camera with a roll of film on it, take 4 pictures over the holiday, a couple more on my mom’s birthday, then spring break take a few more, and then finally develop it over summer. With my photo app, Best Camera, people from 170 countries around the world are able to share their photos in real time, right as they take them. There is no reason to take a picture if you are not going to share it with people. You no longer have photos hiding in a roll of film. That’s amazing to me. I have a huge sense of excitement for me to be able to see and share pictures so easily. Before my app, there was no way to share your pictures with others after you took it on your iPhone; it was revolutionary.

Are you as tight knit with your creative staff as you appear to be? You seem to have a core of dedicated people working with you that support you in your creative ventures. Very much so. We have all been friends for some time, they help me to manage my time and help in running the great studio we have. Especially the handling of my tight schedule and blasts of emails; it would not be possible without my staff.

Where is your next destination, and what future work are you currently planning for? I am traveling to New York, and then to the west coast like I had said earlier, but I am not at liberty to speak about the work I am working on. Short films and commercial ventures are always in the works though. My Seattle 100 Project, a documentary I am working on for a book and a gallery show that profiles the underground culture of Seattle; musicians, scientists, bartenders, computer programmers, and everyone who makes up the culture of Seattle. Songs for Eating and Drinking is another ongoing project of mine. Hosting good friends in the music industry so that we can document a gathering of good food and good music. My phone is always ringing with a new project.

Does your travel schedule allow you to blend your work travel into leisure? Well, without making it more complex than it is, my schedule is very hairy. The reality is that my time is very packed, which is the way that I like it. That is where my creativity comes from. My life is so immersed in art, and it is a dream come true. So there is no line I draw between work and leisure. I am just 1OO% engaged. I fly 150,000 miles a year, work 18 hour days. Being a professional creative, I never really disengage. Quiet time allows for me to relax and to maybe work on my fine arts after a commercial shoot, but it’s not like I schedule two-week vacations. All I need for leisure is quiet time to sketch, or dream or think.

Any words of wisdom for our viewers who want to seek out to be as creative and adventurous as you? For me, my day starts early; I try to get outside first thing, usually with my coffee. I have a mole skin sketchbook I sketch in and, obviously, I use my iPhone to snap pictures for the Best Camera. But here’s more broad sweeping advice for the viewers; just do something creative everyday. When you sprinkle chocolate sprinkles on your cappuccino, do it in a pattern, whatever it is. Be mindful of being creative. I want to see an awakened creative consciousness of creativity in our culture. I am getting a ruler waved at me; I have to click over to line two. But thank you for the interview!


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