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MEET: JASON LEVINS

Photographer, Writer, Art Book Maker
October 19, 2015
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Q&A

Name.

Jason Levins.

Location and hometown.

I live in New York City, I was raised in Vermont.

What do you do?

Photographer, writer, art book maker.

Inspirations?

Classic Literature, Friends, Paintings, Beauty, Confusion and Wonder, Rock and Roll, Women, Mountains, Rivers, Springtime, Autumn, Roses, Old Harleys, Greasy Hair.

Your best wisdom?

First learn how to put the weed in the bags, then get the money.

When did you realize you were meant to do what you do? 

I was thirteen-years-old and it was springtime when I saw my friend’s older brother’s band perform in an open garage at the end of a driveway.  It was the first time I really witnessed one of my peers “creating” something. They were making music all their own, right out of thin air, and it had a noticeable impact on the people who were there witnessing it. I was so impressed that I decided on the spot that this was the direction I wanted to take in my life. Not necessarily to be a musician, but to be surrounded by people who were making things — creators and artists. I wanted to be part of this group and not just an observer.

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?

My favorite thing about photography is its collaborative nature. It allows for constant interaction with new people and new landscapes.

What’s your favorite piece of art?

I have a special appreciation for Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World, which hangs in the Museum Of Modern Art in Manhattan.  My father had a full-sized print of this painting hanging in his house my whole life, and when I saw it in the MoMA for the first time I realized that it was the first painting that had engaged me in an art dialogue. I’d questioned and analyzed the painting and felt emotions that corresponded to the image of the girl laying in the grass with her house on the horizon throughout my whole childhood.

What’s your last memorable dream? 

I dreamt that I was visiting a friend in his swanky new apartment building and that there was a man and two women in his apartment with him when I got there.  I sat on the couch and the man began injecting morphine into my arm with a syringe, but I woke up before I got high because a dog barked outside my window.

What ideas, books, people, film, artists etc. are inspiring you right now? 

I am inspired most by the people around me who are creating — folks who day after day, year after year, are consistently producing serious work whether they are being recognized for it or not. The band Dirty Fences comes to mind because they are about the hardest working band I have ever met.  They tour constantly, taking their show to a new town night after night, all over the globe, giving people a chance to taste what they are cooking up and form an opinion of it, while constantly coming up with new material and recording new songs. They are an extremely inspiring group of guys to be around.

Your favorite memory?

Anytime I was speeding down the highway on a summer evening, after a swim, with my friends in the car, windows down and wind in our hair, hurtling into the blaze of a sunset with rock and roll playing loudly under the hiss of the rushing air, beers in our hands, thinking about what the night had in store.

If you could collaborate with anyone in the world who would it be and what would you make together? 

I want to collaborate with more models to produce photographs that illustrate scenes from some of my favorite novels. I want to photograph your band. I want to photograph the actor today who America will fall in love with five years from now.

What’s something we should get into?

Any body of water, as often as possible.

What’s something you haven’t done yet that you want to? 

Just take a walk for a few days, see how far I could make it, buy a new set of clothes and have a hot meal in the town I’d reached, and take the train back to the city in time for work.

What do you want to be remembered for? 

For being a happy, honest guy who left behind pictures of the sky in all his friends’ houses.

What artist would you most want to do a portrait of you?

I would like to have my portrait painted by Francis Bacon — or maybe Taylor Mckimens — but what I would like more than that would be to have my portrait written by Henry Miller.

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