Delaware native Austin Tolliver, 17, an up-and-coming photographic artist, is holding the first public showing of his work from 7-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17, at Gather, 53 N. Sandusky St., Delaware.
“I do everything,” Tolliver said. “Some mix media, old school quill pen ink drawings, watercolors, oil pastels and acrylic paint, but mostly photography.”
Tolliver’s real love? Portraiture.
“I think capturing people for who they are means a lot to me,” he said. “It’s always been people, even when I was drawing back in middle school. It has always been portraits.”
Tolliver said he discovered, at an early age, he had an interest and talent for both music and drawing. He said he began playing guitar around the time he was in second grade, and he would write his own music because he doesn’t care to copy someone else’s work.
“I’ve always looked up to a lot of other artists,” he said.
Tolliver said he mostly works in digital photography, but he recently developed an interest in “old school” film photography.
“Photography has taken me places that I would have never thought I would get to,” he said. “I love black and white, which is the majority of my work.”
In order to have greater flexibility, spontaneity, and control to create his art at will, Tolliver transferred out of Delaware Hayes High School when he was a junior to be a homeschooled student.
“When you’re an artist, you have these spurts of creativity and you need to create,” he said. “At that moment, I’m not focused on schoolwork. I needed to have the freedom to create. It has worked out really well, and my mom is very supportive.”
Tolliver said so many of his ideas come to him quickly, which in turn, prompts him to take immediate action before the moment is lost. He said photography allows him the luxury of moving much more quickly with an idea than a painting does.
“Painting is sometimes harder for me to come back to the next day and actually want to work on the piece,” he said. “Photography allows me to get my ideas out and accurately.”
But, now that Tolliver has his gallery show approaching, he is learning something new about himself.
“I notice that with having the deadline for the gallery, it has boosted my creative mental state,” he said. “I have loved working hard on the gallery and putting everything together.”
Tolliver, always looking at new ideas and art forms, said he just made his first music video.
“It might be premiered at the gallery opening,” he said.
As for other ideas, Tolliver added he would like to work with retirement communities, creating portraits of all the residents and writing about their lives.
“I want to ask them what is the one piece of advice you would give to the youth, because I feel like they are so sporadic and don’t know what they’re doing,” he said. “I feel like if they take that piece of advice from someone who has been here longer, they’ll get to (a better) point in their life faster.”
Tolliver said his body of work contains a wide-span of nationalities.
“I want to make a voice for everyone,” he said. “Going back to the retirement thing. I don’t think they … have an equal voice.”
Tolliver’s future plans are to continue to work on his art and maybe move to Los Angeles or New York. He isn’t sure if he’ll attend an art school or university, but he thinks his path lies in photographic art.
“At some point, I’d like to be a touring photographer for a band,” he said. “There is a lot of music-related portraits in my stuff, but I’d like to do galleries as my career.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.