JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you want to be growing up?
TEREZA ČERVEÑOVÁ: At school I was always very driven and my dream was to study at one of the best universities in Europe or US. Problem was that I always liked to learn everything and thus when the time to decide what I want to do after high school came I hit the wall. I never really had any particular dream profession before I discovered photography two and half years ago and that’s when I definitely recognised what I want to do for the rest of my life.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
TC: My life in London, my relationships and things I am going through at the time are always the driving and shaping force of my work. I am doing a lot of research for my university final major project and what I find interesting are the references and inspirations of the artists I am researching. At the moment I am reading a lot about Wolfgang Tillmans on whom I’m writing my dissertation and reading his interviews is fascinating. However, even though I am a photographer, I always find painting and writing a lot more inspirational.
JC: What are you up to right now?
TC: As I am in the final year of my degree I am working on my final major project. The initial idea came from the structure and nature of haiku - very short Japanese poetry. One of the typical qualities of haiku is the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a “cutting word” - a kind of verbal punctuation mark between them. Many of my photographs have a similar kind of juxtaposition within them and that’s what inspired me to create visual haikus using the vocabulary made of my own photographs.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way?
TC: Yes. I have been very lucky to be around people who discussed my work with me and pushed me forward already from a very early age. My parents, who both studied at art school, are my life-long mentors. When I was a teenager I met Peter Strassner who became my art teacher and he had a major influence on my decision to become an artist. But the major shift in my work is happening right now supported by the great photography team at Middlesex University especially with photographer Eva Vermandel coming on board last year.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
TC: I am based in London, and like I said earlier, my life here is the driving and shaping force for all my work. Especially the work I am working on at the moment is very diaristic and thus the city, the atmosphere of a place and my home are usually platform for my photographs and sometimes even the subject itself.
Living in London is shaping me as a person as well. It is very dynamic and also very challenging. There are always crossroads where you have to make your choice. It doesn’t let you become lazy or complacent. You have to keep working; you have to keep moving forward. And I like that.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
TC: Keep on working. Everybody goes through phases of ups and downs in their work and recently I was given a valuable piece of advice and kind encouragement: whatever you do, don’t worry about the doubts – they’re part of the process. It may sound odd maybe, but creating work should always be a battle, and the worst enemy of good work is complacency.
JC: If all else fails - what is your plan B?
TC: Besides taking photographs, I really love darkroom printing and I would definitely consider pursuing it as a profession. Last year I have started an apprenticeship with Kevin O’Neill, one of the last traditional photographic retouchers, so there would be definitely a specialist demand for that in the future. And this year I have started to work at my University as a Student Learning Assistant, which is a role where I support younger photography students with the modules I did in previous years. I am kind of a bridge between the tutors and the students, and I mostly help them with editing of their work and darkroom printing. I really enjoy working with the students so teaching would be a good plan B.
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
TC: Definitely. It is a great driving force and a big privilege to be able to discuss the work and ideas between each other and get constructive criticism and feedback. Creating contacts and meeting new inspiring people will always enrich your knowledge and help you in your development as an artist as well as a person.