Twenty-something British fine art and photographer Steph Wilson’s work radiates a satirical and daring attitude. Whether it’s a nipple demurely covered by a fried egg, a windblown angelic face or a woman swallowing a snake that makes you wonder just how far it can fit inside her body, she’s pushing boundaries. Sometimes it’s just about rubbing gross things in people’s faces, she said.
Here is an abridged version of our interview with Wilson, the founder of Lemon People, where we discussed what drives her photo series, her collaborative and why she has zero plans of visiting the United States anytime soon.
Tell me how you got started in photography:
Through painting, needing to shoot an image to paint from.
What is your source of inspiration? What drives your photoshoots?
I get asked this all the time and I never really have an answer. Everything? It's my job? It's fun?
Younger generations have reflected your parodies on the use of emoji censorship in their own photos, making this an issue that doesn't just apply to the older segment of millennials, reaching so far as to apply to the generation that was born after the millennial age group. Can you tell me a little bit more about your shoot and how you think it's impacting the absurd censorship online?
I just found the whole thing a bit hilarious, it doesn't really go much deeper than that other than the potential of, by making it harder to post artistic nudes online, are less nudes being shot? What are the repercussions of that?
Some of your photos are very up close and personal, drawing the viewer in almost because of how unnerving it is. Can you tell me what was the motivation behind those shots?
Nothing much other than the aesthetic value of it, as you pointed out. Sometimes the framing is just better up close. It's also nice to rub gross things, metaphorically, in people's faces.
How do you choose your models?
I tend to gravitate towards the weirdos and the less "model" models.
Your video shoots give a more personal look into your art, simply from having a moving model for the viewer to interact with virtually. What inspired the video portraits? How do you see that art form growing within photography?
Everything's online, so that gives the opportunity to make video work more often. Saying that, I prefer the stillness of a photograph, I find it more elegant and timeless.
Do you do most of your work in the US or in the UK?
I live in London, so the UK. Only been to New York for 5 days and Florida for a week, and was horrified by the portion sizes both times. Now that Trump has the opportunity to be president, I'll be steering clear for a while I think...
What has been your biggest obstacle so far as an artist?
Calling myself an artist, it kind of creeps me out.
Where do you see your art moving in the future?
Returning to painting, hopefully.
How do you transition from painting to drawing to photography and back? How do you see each art form differing for you personally?
I haven't drawn or painted in about 2 years as I simply can't afford to nor have the space. I don't like doing all three at once anyway. I like to do one thing, nail it, then move onto the next.
What artists have served as your role models?
Role models isn't the right word as it assumes you want to be like them, rather than take inspiration from them. Artists that inspire me are fellow photographer friends such as Elle Hardwick and Alice Zoo, and the modern greats such as Harley Weir and Colin Dogson.
How did Lemon People get started?
I started it up a couple of years ago. Essentially I just formalised the dynamic our group of friends already had by turning us into a collective.
How do you see the collaboration between all the artists involved furthering each person's individual work?
By one person getting exposure and linking to Lemon People, the rest of the collective benefits from that exposure. not to mention we all benefit from each other’s talents which makes larger scale projects much more realistic and doable.
Last minute thoughts:
Shoot and make without having a definite "feminist statement" in mind, but just by creating powerful and eye catching work, in that, it is feminist by making women's artwork noticed and admired.