interview with photographer and art director Meghan Plowman
We recently caught up with the incredibly talented art director and photographer Meghan Plowman. Here she tells of her creative process, favourite artists and places to visit, including Joshua Tree in California.
What does a normal day look like for you?
There's only a couple of consistent things about any day for me. I like to start my days getting out of the house and exercising - it helps with my concentration and also perspective, knowing there is a world outside of my own busyness that runs whilst I'm so focussed! The other thing is photographing at some point, whether it be on my phone or camera. I learnt some advice early on, to shoot everyday and you'll learn something new about photography every day.
Please tell us of your travels, what are some of your favourite places to visit and what it is you love about them?
Over the years travel for me as been built largely of trips back to Canada and surrounding North America for family reasons. But I've been forntunate to travel a few different places. I'm in love with travel and seeing other places full stop really. I'm the kind of person who can adapt quite easily to a destination and enjoy the language of that culture, through it's visual identity, pace, and whatnot. I'm a very visual person and to me different places fills my visual library and life tank.
A favourite place for me in recent years has been the Joshua Tree Desert region in California. Actually the whole desert region really. I'm becoming more of a botanical geek (I'll state my horticulturalist husband responsible for that!) and I find myself drawn to the barren, grotesque and yet really beautiful landscapes of varied life. The pastel sunsets and stillness out there is magical. For those who have been, for sure know the spell this place casts on one when passing through. It's like time stands still and you can breathe without any distractions at all, other than what's in front of you!
Another reason for my interest in these regions is my love of the architectural history that goes with it. The pocket of mid century homes, hotels and landscapes out there is one I've been fascinated with since I was young. I have a feeling I'll be involved in this style somehow in years to come.
Whilst I'm yet to go, Japan is next on my list. Another destination I have had my eye on since I was young, my interest in the cuisine, attitudes, aesthetic, landscapes and architecture has me wondering if I'll ever return! I think there's a lot we can learn from the Japanese and they have a sense of understated beauty and appreciation which I find very endearing.
How do you like to chill out and relax, do you have any rituals?
I'm actually most relaxed and myself when I'm with my family. They live a little further south from me so the trip to see them is like unplugging from the city, my work, my technology - everything. I can be most myself and find it a refreshing time to be amongst them.
When I'm in the city, I tend to escape somewhere nature focussed to chill out. It's one of my greatest inspirations to be amongst the unpredicatable and imperfect landscape of the earth. Be it the beach, river, hills or even outside in our mini backyard farm. There's so much to see and be inspired by if you look.
What are some of your favourite things you have collected over the years?
That's a good question - because we collect a lot! A favourite pastime of my husband and I is to verge pick here in Western Australia where it's still a thing. We found an old, timber slimline ironing board with metal legs and I knew I'd use it as an entry table. I love it and it's a favourite with others too.
Another piece which is sort of more inherited than collected, is our 1940's extension maple dining table. It was my Dad's first growing up in Canada before it was the one I grew up with. It sat in my parents garage for years after an upgrade but my husband rescued it and we finally gave it a sand back to it's original buttery maple tone. I can safely say there's none other like it in Australia. It means so much to us for family history obviously, but also because it encapsulates that idea of mindful consuming and buying quality that lasts, and being able to pass things on to your family for years to come.
Do you have any rules when collecting new pieces?
I definitely don't take it lightly! First and foremost you have to love a piece. And have somewhere to put it! With my work I have collected far too much just for propping purposes so I know the drag of too much stuff and nowhere for it to go - and be enjoyed. I'm certainly one for natural materials where possible too. Quality, natural materials and knowing who my piece was made by and that story - is a bonus and adds another level of meaning.
When beginning a new design project what is your process?
My projects are all pretty varied but a constant starting point for my work is research. Finding out about my client, what they want and their story and how I can tie them into a project so it's not all me. It's super important to me that who and what I work on are in line with my brand and person, but also what they are. So an authentic connection starts that ball rolling.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Literally right now it's original soundtrack scores! I always have music on when I'm working and it's usually an OST. I'm a huge fan of film scores and the stories they tell, plus they inspire me no end.
Who are your favourite artists?
This could be a massive list of categories! But I'll keep with fine art for this, I'm a big fan of abstract minimalism. Georgia O'Keefe and Ellsworth Kelly are right up there for me. On my current radar - Sydney photographer Traianos Pakioufakis, a delightful and refreshing look at multiple subjects including landscape and nature and probably evident of the direction I'd like to be moving in myself.
If you could collaborate with someone, (can be international or from another time period) who would it be and why?
This is the best question I've ever been asked. And probably the toughest. I would love to design a concept home one day in the mid century style - pencil has even made it to paper I can say! But to have the help of a masterful eye in Richard Neutra would be incredible. I'm deeply appreciative of the work he did all those years ago for spaces I believe are entirely relevant for today.
Desert House by Richard Neutra (far right). All other images by Meghan Plowman. You can view Meghan's website here.