Artist Interview: Scott Griessel (aka Creatista)

Every month we feature one of our illustrators or photographers. This month we talk to Scott Griessel, alias Creatista. Scott is an Arizona-based photographer whose larger-than-life portraits gleefully fall outside the box of standard stock. Scott is not afraid to let his models emote or get messy or outrageous. Today we take a look inside his world of colorful characters— from smoking nuns to nagging moms, drag queens to femme fatales, bubblegum punks to yogis and beyond…

Scott Griessel

How did you get started in photography?

SC: I’m actually a TV and film guy. I started my career in video and worked up to being a producer and director for TV commercials, videos for shows, training films and that sort of thing. I spent a while as a creative director and partner in a boutique agency working for national clients like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Freightliner, Airstream and others. I was working on a catalog job for Saab in Atlanta over a decade ago and the photographer had just switched to a digital back for his large format camera. I was skeptical and made sure he had lots of film and a regular film back handy. My first brush with digital was immediate love and I’ve never looked back. As I progressed in my career, I was able to integrate photography into my own company, Creatista. Now it’s about 20% to 30% of my business.

Who or what inspires your work?

SC: I’m a big fan of Cindy Sherman and Chuck Close. I guess I just like quirky portraits. People are endlessly fascinating.

What are your favorite images from your collection?

SC: Wow! I like a lot of them for different reasons. Here are five that come to mind… of course, on a different day I’d pick five different shots.

971485 © creatista

What’s your favorite subject matter?  Describe your style. What do you try to capture in your images?

SC: I love shooting people and characters. If I can set up a scene just like I would in a film or video, I’m happy. I like the pictures to end up with a sense of relationship and narrative. I’m not a picky scenic type, or an intense sort of ‘work for the one great shot’ photographer. I tend to shoot pretty fast and loose. I like to work on location and even enjoy a certain sense of messiness to my shots vs. pristine staging. Mostly, I just want to have fun while I work.

1120953 © creatista

If you had to pick just one camera to work with from now on, what would it be?

SC: I know it’s counter-intuitive, but I’m not that interested in cameras. I shoot Canon and have some great 1ds and 5D bodies and glass. Even so, I don’t read the trade magazines or spend much time thinking about my gear- except when it breaks. I’m in the Lance Armstrong school… it’s not about the bike and it’s not about the camera. Lots of my friends love their gear, and I’m often a bit sheepishly embarrassed by my own lack of knowledge. I just know what I like and I click the shutter when I see it.

309096 © creatista

If you won the lottery, what’s the one place or person you would run away to photograph?

SC: I have a dream to walk across the country for a year, stopping into the small towns and just meeting people and writing about them. I’m interested in the country and how we’re doing. Not in a political way, just what people are up to and how they live their lives. I’ve done quite a bit of editorial work for magazines and other clients and I really like it. This would be a personal project. In 2006 I produced and directed a documentary film called The Asphalt Gospel about a group of progressive Christians that walked from Phoenix to Washington, D.C. It was five months on the road moving very slowly from town to town. Guess I’m just itching to get out again.

1696314 © creatista

What do you do when you’re not shooting?

SC: Travel, baby! In fact, I’m on my way to Turkey with my wife in a couple days. We’ll come back with thousands of photos… so look out, reviewers!

What one tip would you share with someone who’s just starting out in the stock industry?

SC: Can I give more than one? OK. I will.

I’m a huge fan of microstock and stock. It allows a photographer to find a niche and work on subjects of interest to them. I’m not a birder, but, if I was, I would concentrate on creating excellent shots of birds. It’s like being a writer – ‘write what you know’.  Shoot what you know. I know actors and theaters and film-making, so that’s what I shoot.

It is seriously hard work. For everyone that I meet and refer and help out to get started, maybe one in ten will stick with it. The secret is, it’s worth it. It takes time and effort, but once your portfolio hits a certain size and your skill level continues to grow, it’s a great way to make a solid income. It is possible. I couldn’t live solely on my stock work, but it is a significant part of the entire platform.

Don’t take rejections personally. Reviewers are human and have opinions and have to make borderline calls on images. No photo is worth getting upset over. I used to agonize over every shot and feel an affront if it didn’t get accepted. Now I lick my wounds, try to learn from the experience, and move on.

4168425 © creatista

Do you have a favorite artist/photographer at Crestock?

SC: Since I shoot people, I tend to be drawn to other artists that do the same. Who isn’t in awe of Yuri Arcurs? I always enjoy images from andresr, and I think diego_cervo has an interesting eye and does a nice job with the post work on every image. For still lifes, Elenathewise, and nicemonkey rocks the vectors.

Do you have a website/blog or any other personal links (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) that you would like to share?

SC: I’m everywhere. Easy to find on Facebook under my name, Scott Griessel. I’d be happy to make new friends. I also maintain a back-end invite-only site on Facebook called CreatistaPhotography with models, MUAs, stylists, actors and photographers. The main site is… forever in need of updating but always fun, just the same.

4464257 © creatista

Would you like to share any other information?

SC: I’m from San Diego, and spent my formative years in the Midwest, including Detroit, which I love. Now I live near Tucson, Arizona and have a studio called 19 Below – that’s on Facebook, too.

I work with Eric Basir at Photografix for the bulk of my post work, since it’s too fast and furious for me to do all on my own. Theadra Taylor is a rockin assistant and model; she sets up our Creatista shoots. Edwin Serrano is the king of gear, staying on top of all the stuff when I don’t and making me look like I know what I’m doing…

See Creatista’s portfolio

767120 © creatista

4575877 © creatista

2 Comments on “Artist Interview: Scott Griessel (aka Creatista)”

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