The photographic series Big Appetites, by American photographer Christopher Boffoli, has been exhibited in galleries and private collections in Europe , USA, Canada and Asia. Inspired by childhood memories, a fairy tale by Jonathan Swift rather than a film by Joe Johnston, the Seattle artist likes to create a fantasy world in miniature in which vegetables and any other food draw the scene.
Who are you? What do you do?
I am an American fine art photographer, writer, journalist and filmmaker. I am best known for my Big Appetites series of photographs that feature tiny figures photographed against real food backdrops which has been published in more than 100 countries. The photographs can be found in galleries and private collections in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia.
How did you start?
I began the work in late 2002 after I was inspired by a sculpture installation that I saw in London that used miniatures. I was always creative in various ways, mostly as a writer. But I have been making photographs in some form for the last 30 years. One of the key elements in Big Appetites is the surprising mixing of scale. This was something that was very common in cinema and television when I was growing up. The idea of mixing tiny people and food is still very common today, mostly in advertising where it appears all the time. If you consider that every museum in the world includes tiny artifacts, miniature representations of real life things, from tens of thousands of years ago, it is clear that mankind has been obsessed with miniatures from the time we began making objects. So by exploring this universal subject of scale with toys and food – two of the most common things in just about every culture in the world – gives the work a power and accessibility that I could never have foreseen.
Where do you work?
My studio is located in Seattle, a verdant and mountainous corner in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, known for things like coffee, computers, building airplanes, grunge music and rain. Though we don’t actually get as much rain as people think, what we do have here for most of the year are cloudy skies. And that benefits my work a great deal as the flat, even overcast is really perfect for the kind of naturally-lit food photography I do. I don’t think that photographers talk enough about the locality of light and how things like minerals, pollen and levels of moisture in the air can give certain places a specific kind of light that is unique to a place. When you consider that there is no color without light, then you realize that light is really everything.
What are your goals?
The concept of goals requires a plan and I’ve always hewed closer to the concept that the world was made round on purpose so that we can never see too far ahead over the horizon. I mean, I studied literature and English at University and never imagined that I would one day have a full-time career as a visual artist. But if pressed I’d say my goal is to succeed at making something that pleases me and that people can connect with. By far the best part of my notoriety and success with these images is when my work is exhibited and I see and hear people interacting with the work; laughing, asking questions. I don’t think it is such a bad thing to aspire to a goal of making something that generates an experience and emotion for the viewer.
What you do not like?
People became aware of my work through the power and reach of the Internet. But too often I see that same power being used to cheapen not only the value of visual art but the significance of originality and creative innovation. Too many publications and individuals feel comfortable downloading and republishing the work of artists and photographers without permission. I frequently hear that they think they are helping to promote the work. And while this may be true on some level, they are mostly motivated by their own desire for traffic, clicks, subscribers, attention, etc. Every day I see so many people aggregating the work of others at the expense of creating something novel and original themselves. It is all too true that life is short. And while I recognize that most people in the world don’t spend their time being creative, I think that everyone has the capacity to create. I just wish more people would recognize the value of their own voices.