To The Front

Bringing Walls To The Front: A conversation with Courtney Coles and Erica Lauren Perez by Daniel Makagon

Apr 06, 2021

Part of the Seeing the Scene series

To The Front is a collective that emerged from a combination of connections that can take shape through social media and a desire to make use of historical approaches to displaying photography. Although most members are interested in making multiple types of photographs, music photography was the foundation for the formation of this collective. Erica Lauren Perez and Courtney Coles started To The Front to provide opportunities that tend to be common for cis men, but often less available for photographers from other identity groups. The collective has focused on photography shows in galleries and other DIY spaces so audiences can experience the photographs in ways that mirror live music: in real time with other people. And the collective seeks to link the politics of display to community activism. Previous parts of this series have focused on photozines, so I’m excited that we can shift our focus slightly to consider how punk rock photographs can be viewed in addition to zines.

Erica Lauren Perez photo by Kat Nijmeddin

Daniel: Let’s start by talking about how each of you discovered punk.

Erica: Early on for me, around seventh grade, I listened to the Distillers, Rancid, and Green Day. Each of those bands led to more bands. And my guilty pleasure band which now I don’t care if people know I like them, but when I was a teen, I liked Good Charlotte. Then it kind of just trickled down. Doors were opened to other bands I didn’t know about. Then I got into the more political punk and I couldn’t listen to pop punk anymore because it’s not cool and people call you a poseur, which is the worst insult when you’re a teenager. [Laughs] There was no person who introduced me to it; it was me being online and coming across something and being like: “Hey, this is really cool; it aligns with what I believe in.” Punk is the reason I became vegan. Where I was growing up, there wasn’t any diversity or different way of thinking; it was typical high school, like jock. And you’re weird if you don’t like what they like, so I was weird and that was fine.

Courtney Coles self portrait

Courtney: I grew up listening to gospel and Motown through my mom mainly. I don’t know how I stumbled upon MTV, but I was obsessed with everything that MTV had to offer. I wanted to be an MTV VJ, not knowing that that’s not a real job. But the older I got I realized that MTV wasn’t good and thought the cool kids watch Fuse and channels that played better music.

Through that I started listening to pop punk and artists I found myself in high school: Victory Records, metalcore, emo. And I still love many of those bands if they’re not terrible people. [Laughs] It was a snowball effect of being obsessed with MTV and Fuse but then wanting to know more about music. There was not one genre that I was drawn to over another. I wanted to be well versed in everything. Also, being extremely online with LiveJournal and Xanga.

As a sidenote, it’s funny to think about: why was I giving my address to strangers on the internet? [Laughs] But they were making mix CDs. “Of course, I would love to have your B-sides or a recording of your basement show from 2002.” That was so not safe to send my address, but that was how I found a lot of bands. I didn’t have friends in my personal life who could tell me about music, but my internet friends could. I always loved and hated the internet since it was new bands over here but new allegations of something that wasn’t cool over there.

Fever 333 photo by Courtney Coles

Daniel: Can you both talk about how you got into photography and then what led you to photographing bands?

Courtney: I got into photography accidently. My parents always had a camera hanging around the house; they were documenting my siblings and me just growing up at birthday parties, family trips, and stuff. That led to me bringing a Polaroid camera and a disposable camera to school to photograph my friends, unaware of how expensive film is and was. My mom was like, “Please, stop taking pictures of everything.” [Laughs]

I think the first time I mentioned wanting to be a photographer, I was thirteen. I think my parents thought it was a cute little hobby but bought me my first point and shoot digital camera that was like one megapixel [laughs] that was totally awful but at the time was “State of the art!”

And I always loved music but was finally old enough to go to shows. I had to pick and choose when I would go to a show because my mom was like, “It’s too late to pick you up from these venues. I can’t do this every night.” So, I was like, “I guess I’ll go see the bigger bands, not backyard shows.” That was my kind of compromise: I could still love this stuff but I’m going to live vicariously through my friends sharing their photos on Myspace or Xanga and just wish I was at the show because, again, I had to pick and choose when I could go.

I didn’t see any kind of career in music photography. I just wanted to be at the show, take pictures, and give them to the artist. “Thanks for making this album, here’s some shitty photos I made.” [Laughs] –Courtney

When I graduated from high school, I took it upon myself: “Now I have a car and a license, I can do whatever I want, and you can’t tell me ‘no.’ I’m gonna go to all the shows.” I started going to a local venue called the Cobalt Cafe and other venues like Chain Reaction. I would scour websites: “Who’s playing tonight?” and then drive down the 5 to see some no name hardcore band. I always had my camera, but I didn’t see any kind of career in music photography. I just wanted to be at the show, take pictures, and give them to the artist. “Thanks for making this album, here’s some shitty photos I made.” [Laughs]

The very first time I saw a woman in the pit was Lisa Johnson. I was like, “Wait a minute, you’re telling me I could be on the other side of the barricade and take picture of the musicians? I wanna do that.” I immediately flocked to her: “Teach me how to do everything.” So, that was a major transition in terms of seeing value in making photographs and being a photographer who photographs artists. I love photographers like Emily Driskill Ray and Lisa Johnson. I was so mesmerized that they were there, documenting their scenes and their histories. But seeing myself in their shoes was never a possibility. I’m just a kid from Sylmar. That’s the music side, but outside music I was always making photographs of myself and my family as a way of documenting things.

Erica: Similar to Courtney, I got into it when I was a teenager and kind of by accident. I was already into punk music, like street punk, crust, anarcho. I just found it on my own at an early age. I wanted to use my time at school to get into an art, but I’m not good at drawing, I can’t paint. They offered photography classes and it was something I was super into: learning how to process my own film. One of our things was to take a disposable camera and document something every day. Then you go to your class and develop your film in the darkroom. Naturally, I was documenting my friends and the shows I was going to with these disposable cameras. Low lighting, a disposable camera, I have the photos still, but they were very bad. [Laughs] They were not quality images at all. But it’s nice to have and look back. This is where I started when I was fourteen or fifteen and just doing it because I liked to do it and I was happy to be there.

I was like, “Wow, I didn’t even think that I could marry the two things I really like, which is photography and music” and then try to make something out of it when I’m done with high school. –Erica

Then one day someone in my class asked me—there was a website that he wrote for and they needed coverage of Billy Talent and Thursday. I think it was at the Hollywood Palladium. This was a larger show than what I was usually going to. I was going to the Glass House (Pomona, Calif.), The Showcase Theater (Corona, Calif.). There I am at the Palladium and I had to rent a digital camera because I did not have one. After that I was like, “Wow, I didn’t even think that I could marry the two things I really like, which is photography and music” and then try to make something out of it when I’m done with high school.

From there I went to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, which is one of the few art schools in our state, as a way to be like: “Look, I’m going to college still; it’s an accredited school.” From then on, I shot for websites and zines, not really knowing what the end goal was. I still don’t know what the end goal is but I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing. Several years later I’m still passionate about photography and music.

Daniel: When you shoot a show, or punk stuff in general, what are you trying to achieve as a photographer? What are your aesthetic goals? And how does the type of space alter your goals?

Entry photo by Erica Lauren Perez

Erica: It’s completely different. If there’s a photo pit, not a photo pit, the lighting is different, and how intimate the show is makes a difference. I always have a preference toward a more intimate show, but shooting a festival or shooting at an arena can also be really cool. The last Slayer show was amazing to photograph. I wouldn’t get that at the skate shop where I photograph shows. My favorite part of a show is the fan reaction to the band playing: whether they’re singing along, stage diving, crowd surfing. Those are usually my favorite photos. Of course, if you’re shooting for a website or magazine, they want photos of the band singing. More cropped in.

I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older to be more comfortable with what my eye wants me to photograph versus what I’m seeing other people photograph. –Erica

But I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older to be more comfortable with what my eye wants me to photograph versus what I’m seeing other people photograph. It doesn’t have to be this perfectly cropped-in photo of the singer singing into the mic. Instead, it could be the person in front of them yelling the words right back at them. That’s my favorite part. Everyone will interpret the show differently through their own lens. I’ve missed that so much during COVID.

Also, whether or not the lighting is great; hopefully there is some sort of lighting because I prefer not to photograph with flash. I bring one with me just in case, but even if it’s low lighting, I try to use the lighting that’s there. One of my photography teachers shut off the lights on the first day and basically was like, “Photography is how you see light.” I can’t get that out of my head; so if I’m at a show and I see the light hitting someone in a certain way, that’s gonna make the photo for me. Light.

I never understood the hierarchy of fan > barricade > singer on stage. No, we’re all in this together and we’re all feeding off of each other’s energy. –Courtney

Courtney: I retired from photographing shows because my anxiety was like, “We don’t like this.” But when I was photographing shows a lot, I absolutely preferred the smaller, no barricade, push your way to the front show. I feed off the energy from the crowd. I never understood the hierarchy of fan > barricade > singer on stage. No, we’re all in this together and we’re all feeding off of each other’s energy. I’m the fan that’s here because you, the musician, made this great art. But we’re all just loving on it, so why is there this massive distance from the crowd?

Fever 333 photo by Courtney Coles

Whenever I was making photographs in the pit, I was always trying to figure out what’s going to be forgotten. A lot of photographers flock to the lead singer because they’re shooting for wires or publications that need them. I was always making images for the artist or their team, not something that was widely produced. So, I was always trying to figure out images that you weren’t going to get from someone else in the pit. If it was an artist that I was familiar with then I knew what to wait for and what to capture, but I tried not to get in my own head about being a photographer who uses pristine glass or flash because I was all about what I had and what was there: an ISO that is so high or bringing a 1600 film to get those photos that I grew up loving. I want to bring that space where it was photographer-fan-artist-intimacy. Of course, it gets harder if you’re shooting for a publication, but I’ve always tried to be honest and consider what I would want to see as a fan published someplace.

Daniel: Other photographers have told me that film was so expensive when they first started that they tended to figure out how many bands were playing, how many rolls of film they had (if more than one), and how much film the wanted to dedicate to each band. That approach meant that there was rarely film left to shoot between sets. How much do you shoot other things that are happening at a show beyond the band on stage?

This is a beautiful culture. For four hours a day, or whatever, we’re all just weirdos together and there should be documentation of the weirdos. –Courtney

Courtney: A few years ago, I remember being, “I’m so bored just photographing bands.” Yes, you’re a band, but we’re all here. This is a beautiful culture. For four hours a day, or whatever, we’re all just weirdos together and there should be documentation of the weirdos. Especially when there are barricades. I remember being that kid who was like, “I’m here. I have to pee, but it doesn’t matter. I love what’s happening.” I remember The Used doing their fifteenth anniversary for In Love and Death, this album came out and changed my entire world. These people were so excited and had been there since whatever o’clock and I thought: “Oh my god, I must document you.” I would have loved to see photographs of me against the barricade when I was fifteen and screaming my head off.

Erica: I’m pretty shy, so I feel like if I’m hired to do something—if it’s behind the scenes pictures—I have more courage. I feel like it can be intrusive and rude to a certain point. Some people can feel entitled to take a photograph of a band off the stage. I’m really careful about being respectful with what I’m capturing because I’m not a paparazzi. If you want me to take the photos, or if you are hiring me, I will do that. And if I’m on tour then that’s a whole other thing. It’s like, “Okay, I’m hired to be here and I’m going to photograph the fans.”

But if it’s just me going to a show, I feel like there’s a respect that I try to present. Whether that’s to a fault or not, I feel like there’s always someone else who’s willing to get the shot. But I’m not competing with someone else. I’m either making the work for myself or I’m making it for my client. I just kind of feel it out. I’ve been to festivals before and photographed metal fans, like portraits of them: in masks, with blood on their face. They’re happy to be photographed and then I get hyped, so I start asking more people: “Can I take your portrait?” But those are my favorite photos because it’s different than just a band being on stage, which I also like.

To The Front Nashville

Daniel: This is really interesting because I think over time we end up with a lot of photos of bands, but what might end up lost to time is the documentation of the people who helped make a scene or the energy at a show. Let’s transition to your work together. How did you two meet and what inspired you to form To The Front?

Erica: We met at a festival in a parking lot. We have a mutual friend. I think we both were photographing or had our cameras on us. I had heard of Courtney through the internet, just like I’m aware of many of the photographers who we found for To The Front, through a community online. I think we bonded that we both were baristas and photographers who were trying to find a tour to hire us. We were not having much luck because I think, in a certain bubble of music, you see the same people getting hired over and over again. This is great but you don’t see yourself represented at all. It feels very discouraging. You’re educated and put time into your work and eventually you’re hoping that your goals—which for both of us at that time—was to be on a tour as a photographer. It was difficult, so we both found friendship through that and I had loved her work online and I think there was a mutual respect for each other. We’ve been friends ever since. As far as To The Front goes, that was probably a few years after we met, right?

Courtney: Yeah, I think we met in 2015 because it was a year into me being back from Portland. And I think it was the end of 2016 that you were on tour with AJJ and I was in a group show for women of color, MissRepresentation. The curator, Maritza Lugo, it was her first big thing. Earlier in the year she was in a show for female artists. I think she was one of, if not the only, non-white artists. And she was like, “You’re telling me that in a city so vast and beautiful that you cannot find other non-white artists to be in this show? What’s happening?”

She sent this e-mail to everyone involved in the show: “Instead of waiting for someone to make a show for women of color, why don’t I do it?” And I was like, “Whoa, that’s sick. I wish I could do something like this with music.” But I couldn’t figure out the words to describe and who I wanted to do it with. There was a month or so with me thinking about it. And then at the show Erica did a walkaround and then said, “Do you want to do something like this?” And before she even finished her sentence, I was like, “Yes! Oh my god, yes!” That was all I wanted to do, get our photos off the internet and put it in a gallery or someone’s backyard to have our own space because we were so heartbroken that we weren’t getting gigs.

And it was like, why are we waiting for someone else to do something when we have it in our hearts to do it ourselves? We reached out to our friends Carly Hoskins and Dani Parsons. They said yes and we were like, “Oh my god, they said yes.” It was this thing where we were four introverts who didn’t think beyond this thing where it would be a one-night only show. We didn’t think anyone would show up and all of our friends showed up. And we were all overwhelmed by the love and support, and people seeing this and going, “Of course we’re doing this. We’re so proud of you guys. Do more.” And we were like, “Maybe not.” [Laughs] But we did and here we are.

Daniel: Was the original plan to do a gallery show with women—or women and non-binary folks—or was the original conversation about bigger ideas and then the gallery show was a way to enact some of those ideas?

Erica: As Courtney said, I was on tour with AJJ. On the last day of the tour, in New York, I had dislocated my knee and couldn’t walk following that show for several months. This factor definitely contributed to me trying to find other ways to focus on photography without making new photos. I went to Courtney’s art show on crutches when we both landed on the idea of starting our own photo show with friends.

To The Front Los Angeles

For context, I’m Mexican, and seeing Latinx and Black artists represented in the show she was in really inspired me and, again, it’s where Courtney and I decided to start our own one-off photo show. We just wanted to hang our artwork on the wall with a few more artists we admire who are our friends. We had no set “requirements” or anything. We want to be as inclusive as possible. We had so many friends that are not in L.A. that we would love to have in it. We didn’t think it would be this repeated show or this bigger thing, but just “Let’s hang our photos on the wall.” It was very surprising for us to see the turnout and the support. I don’t even think at that point that it was “Let’s have more.” Instead, this was great because there were reporters, and it was so strange to hang up our photos of rock and punk bands on the wall. We had some prints for sale, but we were so caught up in trying to make sure that it turned out okay that it wasn’t about making money at all.

Last minute finding a gallery in LA was kind of hard because most galleries will charge you a lot of money for this many days and we just wanted one day. And we didn’t need a proper gallery; we just needed some walls. I was able to find to find a gallery through one of the Facebook groups that we’re in and they cut us a little bit of a deal. But I think it was riding the high of the turnout after that show in 2017, so we talked about doing one in New York and found a DIY space for that. The New York one was like Los Angeles times ten. There were people pouring outside of the building. Unfortunately, the space we had it at is no longer open. Most DIY spaces we’ve come across for To The Front are now closed, so that’s a huge bummer. But it was such a great experience and we started growing without knowing that we were going to keep growing.

Daniel: You have both used the phrase “putting the photos on the wall.” The plan was very much about display? Or did the group talk about doing a zine or doing a book?

Erica: We have a zine out, but it’s a lot of work making a zine. It’s also a lot of work making an art show. But it was just about, “How can we include more photographers that we know about, that we admire, and include them in this project we’re growing?” We also wanted to travel because when we travel we meet these photographers that we knew online and also have shared experiences with them: whether that’s security being unfairly harsh with them because they think the photographer is just a fan even if they have credentials and a camera, or whether they’ve been untreated unfairly and not hired because they are not a cis dude. I think that’s what motivated us and then we got more organized as we went along.

Our main objective has been to uplift other artists, make it less of a competition and more about supporting each other while also supporting these communities we’re traveling to. –Erica

And we’re enjoying giving back to these communities while we’re having our art shows there; we’re donating to local organizations. That was another thing that Courtney and I were on the same page about: As much as we’d like to sell artwork or have someone contribute to the organization, we’re self-funded. We all chip in for these gallery spaces and we’re finding causes we support and are passionate about during this last (Trump) administration. So it’s just all of those things on top of each other and wanting to make a difference by having these shows. Our main objective has been to uplift other artists, make it less of a competition and more about supporting each other while also supporting these communities we’re traveling to

Daniel: What has happened since then? Do you two spend a lot of time working on To The Front projects and has the collective developed more fully?

We don’t want to give them their flowers after they die [laughs], like, “We loved so and so’s work” after they passed. No, we want to do it now because we want you to feel like you belong here. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t belong here. –Courtney

Courtney: It’s open to anyone who is not a cis dude. And we realized early on that it’s not just photographers that we want in the show. A lot of people are illustrators, designers, or we have a chain stitcher, and they all still work within music. It’s all these great little jobs that you just don’t think about, but it’s like, “I’m still marginalized in my tiny little field.” So, yes, we would love to have you be part of this because we want to showcase the talents of our friends and friends of our friends, people we love. How can we build a space to show their work? We don’t want to give them their flowers after they die [laughs], like, “We loved so and so’s work” after they passed. No, we want to do it now because we want you to feel like you belong here. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t belong here. I’m sorry you’re not getting hired for jobs you want, but we see you, respect you, so come join our loose collective.

Before the pandemic happened, we were planning shows every six or so months. We wanted to see the world but also be realistic with our money and our finances and everyone else’s stuff. But now that the pandemic happened, it’s wild and strange. We’re still very active but it’s a lot of: “How can we stay positive amidst all of this?” A lot of us lost our jobs, so we’re like, “What do I do?”

We have been doing talks recently, where artists speak about their work, how they came to music. It’s not just the Courtney-Erica show; we have so many other artists who are so talented and we can turn the camera on them and let them share their process. For me, as a massive fangirl of everybody in the group, “I want to hear you talk about your work, let’s talk about you.” So, it’s kind of like a dream we didn’t know we’d have. Every new thing, it’s like, “Oh, crap, we didn’t know we asked for that, but it’s presented. What do we do now?” And how do we not ruin this because as a non-dude you’re always worried about coming off a certain kind of way. It’s been great and so positive to have people reaching out and wanting to know what To The Front, the collective, is about. It’s so humbling and so lovely.

Daniel: When you say you don’t want it to be the Courtney-Erica show, has the leadership expanded as the collective has grown?

Erica: There are a handful of artists who have contributed ideas. Amanda Fotes and Little Dipper managed organizing and getting our first zine printed and shipped. Amanda was really passionate about the organization we were donating. But we weren’t doing a zine just to do one. The pandemic caused us to cancel the festival we were going to do with Anti-Flag in Pittsburgh.

The unforeseeable future, as everybody says, means we don’t know when we’re going to be able to do these shows again. We had to keep ourselves busy and have things to look forward to when everything’s on fire. We’re always trying to keep the door open to growing and evolving. If we’re not then there’s no point in existing. It’s not just for ourselves to make us feel good, but it’s about helping other people get hired and create representation.

Daniel: You said earlier that you both want To The Front to expand beyond photography. I know you’ve done some livestreams on Twitch about other visual projects, such as graphic design. Has the photography extended beyond music?

Erica: Most of the photographers in the collective, though they do primarily photograph music, it’s not just music. That’s important if we want to share someone’s work on our Instagram because we want to get eyeballs on their work. It doesn’t have to be a picture of a band. But To The Front did start as—these are artists who photograph or contribute their work in the music world in some capacity. For the artists Courtney mentioned, they’re making merch for bands, you’ve seen their flyers but maybe you don’t know who made this design. For now, that’s still within the music realm and it’s all different scenes too: there are hardcore photographers, people in pop punk, people in rap, a little bit of everything.

Daniel: Can you talk about the selection process for a show?

Erica: I personally had a tough time figuring out what was fair. As we’re growing, obviously more people are finding out about it and wanting to join. When we started it was just: we’re friends with these people and this person, and they live in the city. Let’s just call them and tell them we’re planning this show. We never had a submissions process because we didn’t ever want to say, “no.” Why? It’s just wall space. If we were able to do a virtual gallery or a digital zine then we’d want to be able to say yes to everyone. There’s no reason not to since it can live anywhere.

When it’s a physical gallery, we’ve tried to be as fair as possible with saying, “If you live in the city and you’re interested in joining us, anyone who has ever been involved with To The Front to this point is invited to join. Most of those people would have to travel to the state we’re going to if they want to be in the show or send their work. Then we find out how much space is left from there and invite any new artist who lives in that city to join us. Up until we stopped having art shows because of the pandemic, that’s what our process has been. That’s somewhat reasonable. If you live in Nashville and you want to submit your work and be in the show, you can. I always joke around that we are going to implode one day because we don’t want to say no to anybody. [Laughs] Also, we’re trying to organize it as we go and be as fair as possible.

Daniel: And can you talk a bit about the selection process at a granular level? Does the photographer choose the images, or do they send to you two and y’all decide?

Courtney: It’s all up to the artist in terms of what they want to show. We’ve been doing everyone choose five. Printing is up to the artists themselves. But print as many as you want. If you’re coming, bring what you have, and we’ll figure out the wall space. I think it’s always been in the four to five range. We don’t choose photos for the person; it’s up to their discretion. It’s up to the amount of wall space but it’s definitely not a thousand photos and this whole wall is for so and so. You could bring one picture if you want and it could be 16” x 20”. We all have this much wall space so you can do what you want: you can have Polaroids, you can have stickers, it’s up to you. I don’t think we’ve ever turned anyone down. If there’s not enough wall space then we will find a table to showcase prints. Again, we don’t want to say no because we know what it’s like to have people say no. We don’t want to be that person. We will figure out where to put your photos with respect to everyone else who is in the show.

We find a way: it’s chaos, then we set up, and then it’s good. –Erica

Erica: We’re on a budget, obviously. We don’t want to ask people to contribute over a certain amount to help pay for a gallery. If a DIY space is this much square footage then we divide that by all of the people who are going to be in the show. We have had to build cubes that are going to live in the middle of the room so we can hang photos. I like that our shows are not super formal. We want to keep it punk. We don’t tell people, “You have to frame your work.” If you want to hang it a certain way, you can. I really like that it’s a mixture of different print sizes, frames, no frames. We find a way: it’s chaos, then we set up, and then it’s good.

Daniel: The interviews for this Seeing the Scene series up to this point have been with photozines makers. We always talk about sequencing but there is also a selection process that happens with display in physical spaces. Can you share a bit about your processes related to the organization of space during a show?

Courtney: It’s always been that the artists who are physically already there, who didn’t send their work, just pairing up with friends. I mean eventually we’ve all become friends. But this is why I love our shows versus some of the shows I’ve done formally in the art world: There are no rules. Dealer’s choice, do what you want, make sure there’s space for other people to set up their work. It always ends up flowing in a very cohesive way.

Like Erica said, it’s chaotic and then it’s not: “I got here late, where can I put up photos?” Then “Oh, there’s space in the back room.” And it ends up tying all together, which is such a beautiful thing. In art spaces you lay the photos out on the floor, you stare at them, and you figure out where things go but with us it’s always like, “I like this wall because it’s in the corner” and that’s cool. “Have fun in the corner, you’re great.” [Laughs] It’s very disorganized but also organized, which brings in the DIY and the punk. Both of us are always wondering if it’s DIY if we’re in a big gallery space. Yes, there are no rules for what we’re doing and we’re definitely not doing this the proper way; it’s very punk and not formal whatsoever. I love that.

Daniel: A good DIY show is professionally run, but it’s not corporate: promoters make flyers in advance, they announce the show through social media, they collect money at the door, they have a plan for the set lengths and order. There’s chaos in what you’re doing but you have a plan and people who show up, who aren’t participating, are able to engage in various ways with the art.

So few of us will have opportunities to be in formal gallery spaces. Everyone deserves to have their photographs or drawings printed and hung on a wall to be admired. –Courtney

Courtney: We want everyone to feel like they contribute to it. I don’t want it to feel like Courtney did this or Erica did this. No, it should be: “I submitted my photos. I printed this. I hung it up.” This is why I like that we choose DIY spaces and galleries. So few of us will have opportunities to be in formal gallery spaces. Everyone deserves to have their photographs or drawings printed and hung on a wall to be admired. That’s such a beautiful feeling. “I slaved over this beautiful thing and now it’s on a wall and this person is taking a photo of it because it sparked something in them.” I think everyone should have that option without having to go to school or without having to be represented by some big-name agent. No, you’re a punk, you’re an artist, you deserve to have people fan over you.

Erica: Of course, if you’re from the Annenberg Space for Photography, hit us up. [Laughs]

Courtney: They closed down that small space.

Erica: Open it up, open up the pit. [Both laugh]

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