I was contacted by Voyage Utah Magazine a month or so ago and asked if I would do an interview, of course I said yes! Check out the interview and tell me what you think!
Today we’d like to introduce you to Tomas Mitchell.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started? I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember. My mother is a classically trained pianist and music and the arts were always an influence in our home. I started playing instruments in Jr. High School and expressing myself musically has been a part of me since my childhood years.
I became interested in photography shortly after high school while living in Monterey California. I purchased my first 35 mm SLR camera in 1986 and was soon hooked. I began working in photography printing labs and then portrait studios and after a few years started shooting freelance for modeling agencies. I also photographed many weddings and family portrait sessions. My true passion has always been nature photography and I was always photographing landscapes and nature scenes every chance I could but I paid the bills for 10 years photographing people. I also was trained in camera repair while living in California and after moving back to Utah in 1990 I opened a camera repair store in Pleasant Grove which I operated for a couple of years.
I quit photographing people in 1997 and began concentrating on my passion of the natural world. I’ve always been an outdoorsman. Hiking, camping, skiing and mountaineering have been a part of my life since I was a child so photographing the flora and fauna while outdoors just always made sense to me. I started out years ago with film cameras and used just about every still photography camera you can name. I’ve watched the field of photography change drastically over the decades and once digital photography started really improving I jumped on board and have never looked back.
In 2014 I decided to build a website and start selling my photographs online and at art shows and so began a new chapter of my life. Growing an art sales business has been a pretty big learning curve for me. Learning all the ins and outs of web development, SEO and the art show world has not been fun. I’ve always just wanted to be an artist but I’ve learned that I have to wear many different hats if I want to be successful because no one else is going to build my business for me. Now my photographs hang in homes and offices all over Utah, the USA and the world but I keep doubling down and trying to learn how to be better at my craft and my business.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road? Being an artist isn’t easy. It takes lots and lots of practice to be good at something, somewhere in the realm of 10,000 hours of practice. I have found one of the keys of being a successful artist is to continually evaluate your work and take constructive critiques from others. This can be hard on your ego but you have to learn to just get over yourself and listen to what others are saying, to a point. All artists have a vision of how they want their work to be. This vision may not appeal to many others and that is ok. But if you want to be successful you need to either find a way of getting others to enjoy your work or adjust your work to appeal to a larger audience. This can be difficult for many but learning to refine and polish your work is really part of the whole journey.
The next struggle is selling yourself. Learning to build a business is not easy. I know many amazing artists that no one knows about because they have never learned to market themselves. You have to be willing to put yourself and your work out there in front of others. Figuring out which art shows to apply to and how to get excepted into the various shows is a huge learning curve and struggle. The amount of time I have spent building various incarnations of my website has been downright ridiculous! Learning all the information you really need to know about how to get your website found by the search engines is extremely challenging but worth the effort.
It is a constant struggle for me of finding the time to work on social media, adding new content to my website, getting out and photographing, find time to edit the photographs I’ve taken, scout new areas to photograph and spend time with family.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others? My specialty is nature and landscape fine art photography. I market my work to be displayed in homes and offices and I am known for my vibrant colors, depth and very big large format prints. I commonly sell prints 40 inches and wider and can easily print my newest work in sizes up to 60 inches wide. Because I live in Utah most of my work is of Utah’s amazing scenery but I also travel around the US photographing and have been to England and Scotland capturing that amazing areas.
I am also very particular when it comes to printing my work. I have experimented with many different printing styles but finally found an archival medium that is guaranteed against fading even when hung in a sunlit room. I have almost all my work printed by a local Salt Lake City art printing lab, Replicolor. They have developed a print type that I use as my flagship model, the Museum Aluminum Mounted Print. This print is created with Epson archival inks on high quality art paper and then laminated with a scratch-resistant coating and mounted to a solid sheet of aluminum. The archival properties of this print type is easily 200 years. I am one of the few local or even national photographers using this method and honestly, it is miles above anything else, especially the dye sublimation prints most photographers use.
So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why? Creating art that makes others go “ooh and aah!”
The digital photography revolution has changed the world. What used to be a limited few of us who shot film and were good at it has turned into a large amount of people taking amazing photographs and creating digital art because it has gotten so much easier to do. For me finding subjects and capturing the perfect light that inspires people and makes them want to hang a print on their wall is what my business is all about. Many people are taking great photographs now even on their phones but not many people are getting their work in front of others who want to hang the art on their walls.