Could you introduce yourself?

My name is Tequila Helland. I love strawberries and the color yellow.

What’s your life philosophy? How do you try to apply that to your work?

My life philosophy is to understand every life philosophy. My goal in my work is to have my subjects project from the inside, and to have that show through despite the fact that it is just a picture. For example, when people ask me what they should wear for a shoot, sometimes I have guidelines but my bottom line is, “wear what makes you happy.” By doing things like this I can make maps of people. You learn to navigate that map and thus you learn to capture who they are in a photograph.

Could you tell us what you think makes you stand apart in the art industry?

After much deliberation over this question, the only thing I could think of is that the pictures I take aren’t about me. The other art forms I do, painting, writing, those drip. You can tell who did them. There’s definitive voice and passion. I am a high intensity person, and before I take pictures I have to squeeze all that out somehow. It’s like a sponge. If you clean a counter with a soaking wet sponge the counter will be sloppy. If you wring out the sponge beforehand the counter will be spotless. Such is so with the work I do. I have to wring out the sponge to be able to focus and not take sloppy pictures that have me splashed all over them. I want the pictures I take to be mainly about the subject with me as the shadow you can only see if you look for it.

How would you describe your art style? Do you feel like it reflects you?

Crazy and slightly impulsive, but ultimately deliberate and methodical. Yes.

Who are the individuals in your work? Friends, family, strangers?

Friends, mostly. It’s easier to capture them properly if you know them. But I also love street photography and shooting random strangers. I love Bruce Gilden and what he does. I want to do something like that someday.

What are a few tips for other artists that might be reading this?

Love what you love unapologetically and you’ll have more fun that way. We all start little but we all grow.

If you had to choose any music album that captures the emotion of your work, what would it be and why?

This is an impossible question. There is too much music for me to answer that accurately.

What's one thing that has to do with art that others might not know about you?

People who know me well know that I am super hard on myself. If I don’t like what I’m doing I get so stuck and then hate everything I’m doing. But as soon as I get back at it I fall back into my old passionate roller coaster self.

Do you have any rituals you do before you start your creative process for a new project, to get your mind and energy in the right place?

Chuck Close said,”Inspiration is for amateurs--the rest of us just show up and get to work.” I love that. I know it’s pretentious for me to apply to myself because I am an amateur but I find that that is the best method. I don’t have any pre rituals because the ritual is the act itself.

What’s a typical day for you?

Just going to school usually. My days aren’t that exciting during the school year.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee if it’s pour over, tea the rest of the time.

What are some of your goals for 2017?

Self growth.

What makes you happy?

Yellow, strawberries, space, philosophy, blurry candids, oil paint, rain, books, inside jokes, people. Basically the list is too long to put here.

Any closing comments?

Thank you to everyone who puts up with me. Thank you to my friend who helped me write this because I am not good at talking about myself.