Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University.  

This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Jason Collette, a fifth year student majoring in Photography.

In this issue, Morgan and Jason talk about collaboration with artists, tips for designing an arts-based business, and merging editorial and fashion photography.

Who or what are your artistic inspirations?

The main reason for my interest in photography was to learn more of all the discourses involved with what it means to exist. I will not say that what I am creating is meant to be political although I can say that I often think about what it means to be human. Some of my main influences are Robert Frank, the school of Düsseldorf, Bauhaus, Lee Miller, Stephen Shore, or Jeff Wall. I wish I could create a list of photographers and artists to know if you go into art school because it could fill this entire interview.


What is your favourite lighting set up and camera/lens combination?

If I could control the sun that would be my lighting setup, but when I have to go inside because of the weather I try to setup too use a three-point lighting system. I use the speedotrons, softboxes, and sometimes a grid diffuser.


Jason Collette, Untitled, 2017


Can you walk us through how you set up the studio during one of your shoots?

First off, I grab myself a speaker to play music. Next, I get a coffee and sit down for a while and get mentally prepared.  It’s really necessary for me to organize my plan for shoot. I often use fabrics as backdrops – we have backdrop stands in the photo cage that are really versatile for staging. With lighting I really consider balance, the background, and key light. I cannot say that I shoot the same way every time though. I recently have been experimenting with flash on the front of my camera for a more ‘snap-shot’ aesthetic during my shoots.


What subject matter do you tend to spend the most time working on?

I like to think about art and its associations with advertising. My work is most often speaking on behalf industrialization, cross-contextually, and globalization in some way. It can be confusing to a viewer of my work because the subject matter is not direct, or in a series, but that is the point of what I make. I want the viewer to think about their place within the world while looking at my work.


Do you prefer shooting on location or within a studio setting? How does this change the way you approach your subject(s)?

I always want the model or subject to interact with its surroundings. I think a lot about the space in the framing and the shapes within the picture as a whole. Whether I am inside, or out, this is something that is in my mind while shooting.


Jason Collette, Untitled, 2017


Do you ever collaborate with other artists to make-work together? What do you see as the value in collaboration? 

I believe that collaboration is one of the most valuable things to any artist, whether it is photography, music, writing or any art form, it is really important to share ideas with others and get an understanding of what people in your community are thinking as well. For me, even if you do not agree with the values of others around you, it is important to see their point of you. I believe that these ideas will help any artist find their own voice within the world.


You have said that you work between editorial and fashion photography. What drew you to work within that framework and how do you see the similarities or differences between the two?

I guess a main point is that fashion photography is about the garments and editorial is more about the story that the images tell. For me, this line can be blurry. What brought me into this type of photography was my interest in people, in collaboration, and in the history of clothing. There are a lot of valuable movements in the world today because of how designers have addressed their work.


How do you think your art practice, or the way in which you approach art has changed over your time at OCAD?

I started out with a keen interest in street photography. I would rebel against anything too experimental or hands on. I believed that I could make great work like the American street photographers by simply pointing and shooting my rangefinder. I see now how much more goes into those images than I initially believed. There is much more to the process of photography than I would have understood when I started at OCAD University. Although I can still be very resistant in my image making, today, I am much more open to try new things.


Where do you see your career path going and whom would you most like to work with?

I am going to continue my pursuit in creating art, and working in fashion. I wouldn’t mind working with Wes Anderson or Martin Scorsese, that would be great. I am currently working with a company called Bypseudonym and am very excited to help them develop their body of work.

Jason Collette, Untitled, 2017


How did you get involved photographing for Bypseudonym, and what was your process designing their unique collection of fashion photography for their website and brand?

I reached out to the owner of the company, Summer Ellis, and we shot an editorial with her talented team. For their collection of images, we try to create a more candid look for each image and are interested in neutral tonality that accompanies the styling. It is important for us to also consider the gaze and posing of the models in each image.


Are their any specific OCAD U Faculty who have influenced your work? A specific discipline or course?
I want to give a BIG thanks to the entire OCADU photo faculty.  We have a very diverse and interesting group of talented photographers. My biggest influences have been Gabby Moser, one of the most talented photo historian I have met, and to John Jones, and Kotama Boubane.


What are your goals to take your business to the next level? What is your advice for other artists also looking to make their work into a business?

It is important for me to create valuable relationships within the art and fashion community. My best advice would be to practice, practice, practice, because there is always something new to learn in photography and to meet as many people and be as involved in the school and city as you can while at OCAD University. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people.


To see more of Jason’s work you can visit his instagram


See Jason’s work at the 

102nd Graduate Exhibition at OCAD University, May 3rd-7th.

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University.

Interview by Morgan Sears-Williams

About the writer: Morgan is a fourth year photography student and runs the Friday #ArtCrush series on the OCAD U Photography Blog. She loves speaking to other artists about social justice, how to break barriers within artist communities and nurturing the arts in alternative spaces. She is the Art Director for The RUDE Collective, a student representative on the Photography Curriculum Committee and has done workshops on intersectionality and allyship relating to LGBTQ folks. To see more, you can visit her website or her instagram.