Michal Pudelka is a Czech photographer who creates sharp, luscious images that will prey on your mind. Long legs, longer ponytails and lips that burn, the eighties are back with a killer twist, and we can’t get enough. Read on to hear his thoughts on shooting, stealing, and a lethal dose of irony …
So tell us, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Michal Pudelka (21 years) and I am a visual artist working mostly with photography, drawing, collage and video.
How did you get into photography – Has it always been a passion of yours or did it just knock you over the head one day without warning?
Photography never was a passion of mine, I always headed towards fashion industry and since ever I wanted to be a fashion designer. When I came to Paris for my studies I realized that fashion is a too small box for me, so I started experimenting with many different art forms. Somehow I got where I am now.
Did you have a formal arts education? What effect do you think that has, or hasn’t had, on your work? Is an arts education useful/necessary? What would you argue an arts education actually is?
Before Paris I attended private art lessons for couple years. In Paris I started to study photography at Parsons Paris, but to be completely honest it bored the hell out of me. So after a little while I left and now I know that it was the best decision in my life! It completely changed it though. I was forced to grow up and since then I work non-stop and am constantly happy. In my opinion art schools suck a lot.
What was it like growing up in Slovakia? How might growing up in a post-communistic country had an effect on your work? Do you think one’s childhood retains significance or in a way infiltrates into your later work?
I think that in the childhood we build our personalities, so my growing up in post-communistic country formed my personality. I really am used to work hard and I see things very ironically – that might be the effect. People use to think that my photographs are colorful and happy but they are not. Only that sometimes is much easier to sell your ideas in a pop bubble
Are there any themes or underlying elements you find resurfacing throughout your work? A specific message or emotion that you try to convey to the viewer? Would you consider each image as distinct or as part of a larger entity, a series as a whole?
Since my work is highly conceptual, every image I create tries to send out some message. Each picture has its own story but is also always a part of something bigger. At the moment I work on the concept of similarities with differences, it really fascinates me that people have a need to look that much a like. There are more ulterior concepts, which I combine with the main one. It depends a lot on what is currently bothering me.
Why photography, specifically? What camera, and type of film do you use – do you develop it yourself?
It doesn’t matter on what you shoot but how you shoot it. I started on a cheap digital holiday camera and soon I went to analogue. I know how to develop films by myself but I don’t do it.
Have you ever experimented with other artistic media? Is there a significance to the way you approach your work?
I work a lot also with collages and videos, plus I draw all the time. I always have plenty ideas, which I have to write or sketch down, so I won’t forget them. I have millions of ideas that are still waiting for their creation.
Can you tell us about the creative process that goes into an image – do you plan and structure each beforehand or do they develop naturally? What has to happen between the initial idea and the final image?
Me and my producer, Katarina Gyu, always invest quite much time into the process of preparation. I usually have a very strong vision of final images and I always draw them before, so we have the blueprint of what we are going to do.
Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any places, people, or ideas that you find yourself returning to for ideas? Any particular photographers with whose work you identify?
I always create all my ideas from my head, I don’t like to get inspiration from other photographers – because for me it is something like stealing, like I wouldn’t be able to think of something by my self. My life is quite a colorful bumpy ride, so I just need to have my eyes open and get inspiration from my own experiences. In that way my work can be even more personal.
What do you look for in other people’s art? What appeals to you as a viewer?
Mostly forms and colors, atmosphere.
How do you choose your models – what attribute, quality or feeling do you look for in someone? Does this translate at all to the people that you surround yourself with in daily life?
There is a type of mood that I like in girls’ faces and I always look for that. Thankfully Czech Republic and Slovakia, where I take most of the girls for shoots, are countries with dozens of beautiful girls so it is quite easy.
In my daily life since I have more work and no free time. Now I am surrounded mostly only by my fiancé David and my producer Katarina. They are both very beautiful, both inside and outside. I don’t really care about outside beauty though; on my pictures it is only for bigger ironical effect.
Is there an image or series that was particularly challenging, or holds great significance to you? Can you tell us about it?
I just have done my very favorite and long time wanted shoot. I don’t want to talk about it before it gets published – it will come out soon in the Anonym Magazine n.12.
What can we expect next from Michal Pudelka?
Hopefully getting better and better with every image, plus I have many surprises prepared. Soon also at michalpudelka.com !