Derek Smith 0:03
Hey everyone and welcome or welcome back to the Mississippi artists to artists podcast. This week we have Jay Marcus Alford on as our special guest. He's a Mississippi photographer. But before we get to that, I just wanted to remind you that we have the body exhibition going on at the little yellow building.com. You can also find our other calls for art out we have the upcoming show, Mississippi outsiders. And you can also sign up to get featured for the southern exposure, where each week we take a Mississippi artists that has submitted their artwork and we put them all over our social media. So check that out. Give it a try. But let's get to the episode.
Welcome back to another Mississippi artists to artists podcast. I want to welcome Jim Marcus Alfred, thank you for coming on and sharing with us about your life and what you do. He's a photographer here in Mississippi. He's done beautiful work, conceptual style photography, but figurative. I enjoy the work a lot. It was just in our past show that we had. But welcome to J'Marcus, thank you for coming on.
J'Marcus Alfred 1:20
Thank you for having me. This is my first time on the podcast. So yeah, this is very, very fun and interesting experience.
Derek Smith 1:31
Well, to get started off, why don't you tell me about yourself growing up and, and your history with art.
J'Marcus Alfred 1:41
I don't know with art. It's weird, because for a long time, I didn't consider myself an artist. Like I've just like taking pictures. And that's kind of what I've done. Even when I was like younger, like,
I remember one of my early memories is just like, me going to Walmart where my mom and her like having like the little disposable camera and like turn it in. And then like in a picture back I thought that was just like, so cool.
So like, whenever we get out, like make sure just like data camera, and just like, take a picture too. And so I think growing up, I'm always just like, let's have some sort of camera. If it was like a web camera, or was just like a little point and shoot camera.
I just found them fascinating. And so
I wouldn't say it was it would be into like 2013 Around that time where I got my first like DSLR and earlier just like was like shooting things. So yeah, and I think wasn't what I when I started out started shooting. I was on like the Quidditch team at Southern Miss. And so I was putting photographer and then like, I got an injury and couldn't play anymore. So I can add this, like I have a camera. Let's just take pictures of whatever. And then it kind of just evolved from there.
Derek Smith 3:16
So have you have you gone back and found that box of photos from when you were a kid and when you'd like first started picking up and and trace the timeline?
J'Marcus Alfred 3:26
I have it I don't know where they would be. Because I know we used to keep like a photo books and stuff. So I have to ask my mom she might have them somewhere in a book. That'd be cool to go back and look at
Derek Smith 3:44
I've always done painting it's been my big thing and photography was is just a fun side effect of painting. You know, you need to go take your own pictures, you need to go document your own things. And I recently found a whole stash I stopped taking pictures with actual cameras, probably around 2005 or so. And like that was the end. So I had documentation from like when I was seven until 2005. But it was interesting to find it'd be it'd be neat to see your work from back then like as a little kid, you're what you used to take pictures of and then compare it to what you really enjoy now.
J'Marcus Alfred 4:22
Most of the fun was just like embarrassing pictures of my cousins.
But yeah, so definitely would love to just like have that. Just I don't know just some I just want to have that to go back and kind of reminisce on that time because those were like fun times just being a kid and just having fun.
Derek Smith 4:49
Tell us about your work. Now. The work that you had in our previous show. You've had very intimate portraits, some of yourself so what is your how do you enjoy
That's a weird question.
What's your eye as a photographer like?
J'Marcus Alfred 5:08
That's, I think that's something I'm still figuring out right now.
Cuz most of the more my more recent work is, oh, man, that was just due to like, the pandemic. And, you know, we had lockdown. And, you know, it's like, I'm in the house, I have all my equipment here. Let's just shoot something.
And so something I did was like, I challenged myself to, like, take a portrait a day, while we're in lockdown.
And like just how something different every day if it's like a different color, a different angle, and in different elements, something that kind of challenged my creativity. And that a lot of what I'm doing now, it's kind of just like, resulting from that. It's just like, trying to just trying something different and seeing what what happens.
So you're, you're doing the portrait a day in your, your pandemic, or from the from the pandemic work, but has there been a time yet where you're, you've started to make that mental shift from I'm, I'm not as photographer to I am, like, this is an art and I am doing it? Are you still, because I know myself? I struggle with that all the time. But I it's an interesting job to have. For sure. I will say that was oh, within that time, like, when things would open up and like they were like small exhibitions or something, I would just put a photo or two and just to kind of see what happens, you know, and I think that's when kind of that turning point started to happen. For me, I think the biggest one was actually a couple months ago, at the Marine Museum of Art, their bicep competition, which is like a pretty big competition that I've known of for like years, and just like, never what it was, like, out in or anything in it. But some work in there. I had like, oh, photo get selected for and I was just like, what? Like, like, like, that's, for me, that was really big. And it's like, okay, you know, this is bigger than what I think it is right now. So I think, you know, stuff like that was like something that's really just like, really getting me to this point. I was like, I'm not just taking pictures. It's like, I am an artist. So yeah, that that's something that's helping with that.
Derek Smith 7:50
It's a it's all stepping stones, you know, you have little bitty victories, and then you have some good victory and it pushes you forward. And it's just flooding with, like, reassurance. I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.
J'Marcus Alfred 8:04
Yeah, I don't think there's always like this clear, like, this is how you be an artist, you know, this is like, what an artist says this is the path that you go for our shields, like, is different for everybody. And so I guess for me, it's like, I'm trying to figure out my path for that.
Derek Smith 8:25
Now, one of the things when when I was growing up, I wasn't exposed to very many paths that artists could take. And there were you know, nobody ever talked about it. It just wasn't really out there. So I had no clue. How about you when you were growing up? Did you see like, were there any artists out there that you saw, we were Chief saw, like a path that I could potentially take to be successful in this. Almost like our idols, you know, like, you know, this is somebody to look up to it was it was always such a struggle to find anybody to look up to in the art field when I was growing up.
J'Marcus Alfred 8:58
For me, I think that came later because, like for me growing up, I always saw people that were like drawers or like painters, so it was like, trying to paint is or like, those are artists, you know, or like they're like poets and people that like to write and I was like, Okay, those are artists and so for me, I never really had like a photographer where I'm just like, Okay, this is like an artist.
And like that's something I think I didn't get into until very much later.
Derek Smith 9:34
Well, who, who's some that inspire you now do you pull from anyone?
J'Marcus Alfred 9:39
I follow a lot of photographers on Instagram, like, I follow like six other people on Instagram and it's like a lot of them and it's like different photographers from around the world.
say his name is vision. Yeah, I think he's from China.
And there's just like, like a lot of just beautiful imagery. And it's just I wish I could go out like, I wish I was on the love roses, like, you know, we do totally different styles. And I was like, I wish I could do that, because I have to send you some other stuff because
Derek Smith 10:21
please do because I mean, there's forgetting to do this, I get to meet different artists, and you all have, it's all been so diverse. between photography and sculpture and painting and pesto and just all of it, it's also diverse. And each one of you have these people that you look to for inspiration. And everybody's kind of shared that with me. And to see this wide variety I've been exposed to so many like different things through doing this, that it's been amazing. So please, anything that you got send it to me because I love to look at it I really, really good.
J'Marcus Alfred 10:58
I was gonna say like, just like, oh, a lot out then like, I'm always just like looking, trying to just see, you know, what works out then just like, everything is just like so different. And they really just for me, reinforce that there isn't like a set way to do photography. It's like, we all have our own style. We're all have our own vision of what we're doing. And oh, that's where reassuring to me. Is your portrait a day project still going on? Are you still doing that? It's not I work full time at Southern Miss. So, you know, when we got back into office, my top just kind of shrank. So I don't have as much time for it. I try to make time to do it like once a week at least. But you know, it's kind of hit or miss for me right now.
Derek Smith 11:49
How are you finding the work life balance
J'Marcus Alfred 11:55
definitely takes up a lot of it.
To also outside of photography, I also do like martial arts, and to do weightlifting, so it's hard to kind of fit everything into less like the after five. Because it's like you only have like four or five hour things like get to go to bed start to work. But again, it can get to you I know it gets to me.
Derek Smith 12:22
Just having that constant grind up routine. And then all of a sudden, that time that you had set aside, it's just it's not there, you filled it with something else by accident, you know? And then you have to go and find it again every once in a while.
So are you going to continue that in the future? Are you working on any other or have any ideas for projects or anything in the works coming up?
J'Marcus Alfred 12:47
I would like to continue with but and one is just like the time because I've been thinking about like, kind of like the what's next now that that's kind of like in the distance, whereas some time has passed and I'm not really producing as much and it's like, okay, what do I want to do? And so I haven't quite figured that part out yet. And I'm so I'm working on it, but I just don't have what it is quite yet.
Derek Smith 13:21
what's your day job? What do you do during the day.
J'Marcus Alfred 13:25
So I work as a digital media coordinator for the Southern Miss marketing, my marketing communications team. And so, my main what I do mainly is like edit videos for social media. And like any campaign videos that we put on different platforms.
Derek Smith 13:43
So you see a lot of the marketing and everything else that techniques that are going on. Have you thought about Well, is there any correlation to like the potential of marketing your own work and how you've been marketing the university? Like is there maybe hints and tips and tricks you can take from doing that to?
J'Marcus Alfred 14:01
I don't know, like it's something I've definitely given thought to but haven't really just sat down and just like, kind of like with it kind of expand and like work on it. So maybe it's something else I look forward to down the road.
Derek Smith 14:20
It's also new are the platforms and everything else aren't new, just what artists are doing on it are it's evolving so fast. To keep up with it's so so weird. Yeah, and like the time span of something is like so much shorter now. It's like, you know,
J'Marcus Alfred 14:40
the thing hits and like you got to either keep going or like someone else is gonna keep like just take that momentum and just take off. So like, social media is like a very interesting thing because it's like, with algorithms and just like overall just the attention span of things on the internet it just It has a kit in there, it's like great for like a couple of weeks or a couple of days, and then it's on to the next day.
Derek Smith 15:09
staying relevant when, when cycles of everything change within minutes. You can be on the good side of everything. And then, you know, the wind changes, and then all of a sudden, it's like, oh, no, this is all bad. This is this has gone wrong. It's a weird barbed wire fence to crawl over and to get under.
So what would be like your dream of going forward next
J'Marcus Alfred 15:40
hour, like to just like, kind of expand my artistry more.
I think that that would be like a big goal for me. Because like, it's stuff that I enjoy doing. So now that there's like, a lot that goes on the business side of being an artist, that is something that's like, and you got to learn. So I think that'll be next for me is just like trying to figure it out.
Just expanding as an artist and kind of figuring out how to elevate our work.
Derek Smith 16:17
So anybody that wants to find you they find you on social media at Lightkeeper 212. Does that mean anything special.
J'Marcus Alfred 16:25
I was on the Quidditch team, as I mentioned before, so that's where 212 came from. That was my number for Quidditch. And that was also at the time, the song to one to Basel Eubanks was big. And so that's where 20 came from. And then my position and Christine was keeper. And then my favorite digitus DigiDestined, from BG mon cartoon will have the crest of light. So it's like like Kubrick to want to love it. I love it.
Derek Smith 16:58
Is there anything else that you would want? People who are looking at your photography are to experience in your art? Is there anything that you would want them to know about you that they wouldn't automatically get from your photography?
J'Marcus Alfred 17:12
I think there is because like I said, most of us just like me experimenting and just playing around and just having fun with it.
Derek Smith 17:23
That's what I like about yours, it feels like you know, it doesn't feel like you're trying to accomplish anybody else's vision. It feels like when you look at your photography, it feels pretty intimate.
J'Marcus Alfred 17:35
For sure, because
I just like have this like weird moments where it's just like, it can be like two in the morning. It's like I have decided to get I have to pitch it now. And so it's just like knee jerk and stuff. I've been just like setting stuff up. And it's kind of go for it.
Derek Smith 17:54
So Lightkeeper212 go and follow J'Marcus on Instagram, Is there anywhere else they can find you.
J'Marcus Alfred 18:03
I'm also on Facebook also lightkeeper212
Derek Smith 18:06
Alright, so Instagram and Facebook Lightkeeper 212. And the last one I'd like to ask you is for for people that are coming behind you and wanting to be in art or for you as a younger self, what would be some advice that you would have?
J'Marcus Alfred 18:21
I'd say just go for it. I think we kind of get in a head sometime or just thinking like, you know, especially for me, it was like, oh, what I'm doing isn't really art. It's kind of just taking pitches, but it's
I think a lot of us downplay that sometimes it may get her isn't ahead. And so I say just kind of go for it and just follow where it takes you
Derek Smith 18:47
thank you so much for coming on and and for,
no one else knows this. But I was beyond like today I'm so glad that this actually got to happen because I was not paying attention and my mind was elsewhere that screwed up royally and thank you so much for staying on like the extra time and doing this interview. I really appreciate it because I know how precious our time is and how how worth it it is to have you to come on here and just talk about your life and your art. So I really appreciate that. Thank you for having me on.
For everybody else. We will have another artists next week. You'll hear us again soon.
In a special thank you goes to our members the Friends of the little yellow building. Beth breelan Mary Hardy Gwen fury, Mary Adams, Jenny Howard, Jenny Mo, Evelyn PV. The Evans Family Janet Smith, Buffy Jordan, Jennifer Drinkwater, the Smith family, bopper Zak and Hannah Hester, thank you for all the support
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
The Little Yellow Building is the creative art studio of Mississippi artist Derek Covington Smith. TLYB was established in 2018 to help grow and promote visual art in the state through opportunity, exposure, and education.