This is a VERY long overdue post on my extremely talented friend and all around amazing person, Peter Hoffman. Pete and I go way back (all the way to high school!) and he is inspiration to me, as n artist and a human being. He was able to take his passion, photography, and turn it into a successful profession, while at the same time making a positive impact on society and shedding light on social and cultural issues. And taking some damn beautiful photographs. Thanks Pete for humoring me and answering these questions.
All photos were taken by Peter Hoffman, are his property, and can be found on his website: http://www.peterghoffman.com.
Who are you and what do you do?
Not to be contrarian, but I see a question like this as very open to interpretation. My first instinct is to say something like “how the hell can I say who I am? and what I do? I don’t know. I try to make the world hate itself less while trying to make myself love the world more?”
Maybe you should change this to “What is your name and what is your medium?” – unless you would prefer the above answer.
I think what you’re looking for is “My name is Peter Hoffman and usually I make photographs”
Describe yourself in five words:
Awake, tired, conflicted, critical optimist
Do you have a favorite piece of yours? If so, why is it your favorite?
Not really. I haven’t made a work that I feel is successful yet. On the other hand, if I did then maybe I’d stop trying.
My favorite art that I have own are my photo books – right now I’m into Stephen Gill’s Coexistence, Julian Germain’s For Every Minute You are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness. I am itching to get Lise Sarfati’s and Vivianne Sassen’s recent books too – those ladies are super talented.
Any tips or inspiring words for other artists?
Make it a point to get outside of your comfort zone, make the work that you NEED to make, and if you are trying to make a career of your art, well, figure out a way not to stress too much about your work once it’s out of your hands. Work your tail off but not at the expense of your important personal relationships – unless artistic success is more important to you than
not being miserable. Also, try not to let yourself get in the way of yourself and make sure you give a shit about something.
Can we find you anywhere on the world wide web?
You can find me too many places on the web – it’s a necessary evil I’ve come to terms with because the internet essentially allows me to make my living by making photographs, and this is something I am immensely thankful for. I don’t get hired for commissions if people don’t know my work exists.
You can see me at http://www.peterghoffman.com and http://www.peterghoffman.tumblr.com and twitter @peterghoffman.
I also just had a piece published on CNN Photos so you can see me there: http://cnnphotos.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/22/aftershocks-of-the-christchurch-earthquake/
What is your favorite:
I don’t play favorites generally because they change so I will give you current interests
Color? Navy, Grey, Crimson
Animal? I’m just really jealous of anything that can flies so I think that’s backhanded favoritism. Let’s go with the Peregrine Falcon.
Movie? I really enjoyed Beasts of the Southern Wild this year. I have a short memory with films. Visually I thought Pi – Aronofksy’s first film was really great and Enter the Void was also a challenging film though I don’t think I’d watch it again.
Book? I read magazines a lot more. My subscription to Harper’s is valuable. Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling are examples of literature that is important to me though. I know it’s sort of cliché but I also loved Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance and think I need to reread it now that I have a bike that will need some soon, if only to get in the right mindset.
What work do you most enjoy doing?
I like walking in empty places and taking pictures of natural and constructed chaos. I also really enjoy formal portraiture and have gotten to meet some really fascinating people this way.
In general I like the places photography brings me more than the photography itself. I’m naturally introverted so it has been a good medium to challenge my natural ways and has gotten me to live differently, and for that I am very thankful.
Name something you love, and why?
I really like my trail running shoes, my old finicky motorcycle, my snowboard and my surfboard. All are vehicles for getting the wind to blow in my face which is one of my favorite sensations in the world.
If I am not limited to material objects then I love being in new places with wonderful people on a light whisky buzz. I love being outside in the summer with my good friends and family. I love stopping and looking at the trees and running in the woods.
Isn’t love just a substitute word for that which you can’t describe your feeling for? I just love when I feel alive. That can some at the strangest of times and be triggered by the most unexpected things. I love that I can’t explain it.
Name something you don’t love, and why?
Honestly, for me this is a dangerous question. I get pretty upset about the world in a myriad of different ways so I could answer this any number of ways depending on what I read in the news.
One of the core reasons I make photographs is to address things that frustrate, concern or sadden me.
And Anne Coulter. Heinous, wretched woman.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Be yourself. I think Sesame Street told me. That said, I’m really sorry that Anne Coulter feels free to be herself.
What couldn’t you do without?
Creating, and the wonderful people in my life. And almonds. And at this point probably running and crossfit.
You’ve been selected to go on an all-expenses paid drinking binge with one famous artist, one famous writer, and one free choice. Who would you choose?
We’ll go surfing in the Maledives and sip on top shelf whisky around a campfire at night.
I’ll go with Andy Goldsworthy in his prime because I want to see what he builds (he can start with the whisky earlier than the rest of us), St. Augustine because I still want to ask him about “Confessions” and my wildcard would be my girlfriend because I wouldn’t want to have a great experience like that without being able to share it with her.
Would you rather eat a handful of hair or lick three public telephones?
Definitely lick telephones. Joke’s on you – try to find me three public telephones anymore!