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Bjorn Amundsen: “It’s harder, but it can be done.”

May 13, 2010

Meet Bjorn Amundsen (photo credit: Daley Hake):

He’s a director, motion designer, photographer from a suburb near Chicago, Illinois, called North Aurora. I caught up with him over the phone last week while he was ripping the siding off the side of his house (woot!) to talk about what it’s like producing art in his particular suburb.

Here’s a snippet of the interview, and a few selections of his work:

Nate Ryan: Being that you live in suburbia, do you find the same kind of stuff that we talk about? Where it just seems desolate, in terms of art.

Bjorn Amundsen: I mean, I don’t know if I’d call it “art” where we’re from, but there are craft shows and things like that. There are two parks in town that have sculptures, but for the most part, the “art” that’s in town just seems more like “prints of art” than anything creative. Like expensive home decorations for rich people to spend their money on.

NR: Ah, yes we have the same thing here. It’s either a tree, a bear or a horse. In general that’s the subject matter of our particular suburbs “art.”

BA: [laughs] Exactly, and it seems like any friend I have that does anything creative feels the need to live at least 30 minutes outside of this suburb. I mean, there are times where I feel somewhat irrelevant when people ask me about my job. They’re like, “Oh, you’re a photogra… How do you do that? Do you like golf?” And my eyes glaze over…

NR: Man, I feel like I’m talking to myself. This is weird. So, how does living in suburbia affect your work? Do you feel you need to tailor your work for suburbia, or do you think you need to keep it raw to pierce into suburbia?

BA: Well, in terms of subject matter, I find that – especially with photography – you can find beauty anywhere. It’s just a lot harder to find in suburbia since everything is so homogeneous. But, sunsets and trees? There are some things that are going to be beautiful no matter where you are. I just feel like there’s not enough “generation of culture” that can have input in your creativity. Like, if I’m commissioned to shoot a project in town, I’m pushed to find something that’s visually interesting. It’s harder, but it can be done.

NR: Do you find that helps, or hinders your creativity?

BA: It helps. It makes you look for new resources to get creative with. In the city it’s like, ‘why don’t you go stand by that brick wall, and you’ll look awesome’, it’s really easy. In order to make something look amazing in the suburbs you’ve got to look harder. You can’t just have somebody standing in front of some drag-and-drop housing. But if you find something interesting, chances are it’s going to be lesser-known and more rewarding since most people won’t take the time to look.

Check out his film reel below, and the rest of his work at

[Vimeo 10728270]

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