Just last week Norfolk, VA native and design artist, Dahrell Williams released his “You’re A Flower” photo series including a few corresponding videos via his website dahrellwilliams.com. The Perfect Play had the opportunity to sit down with him to discuss the project and upcoming work. Read the full Q&A below.
DW: My love of drawing and painting at young age grew to an interest in design and appreciation for photography. My dad, who is a professional photographer, has been most helpful in technical aspects of my photography. Working for his business as a designer is when I gained my earliest skill in Adobe design software. My work is photographic but always with the intent to support a concept. I enjoy photography. Its an element this is pivotal my design and is the best way to present people in the work.
TPP: What was your inspiration behind “You’re A Flower”?
DW: Back in October of 2014 I was listening to an album by Fatima called Yellow Memories released earlier that year. I like the cover of this album, which is a delicate portrait of the singer/songwriter and on a floral background. This then inspired me to create something that incorporates portraits of women and flowers but with a more focused concept.
TPP: What went into the creative process while bringing your idea to life?
DW: After month or so I concluded to simply base the project on what I saw initially and create a concept that would compare the two in some way. Flowers are often associated with femininity so the idea seemed fitting.
TPP: What kinds of challenges did you face?
DW: In addition to not having a set name for the project, I had to decide what flowers species to focus on and how to represent them visually. To make the concept stand away for other floral themed projects with women, I decided to put more emphasis on the recognizing traits of flowers that each woman would represent later on. The traits had be something that was applicable to the nature of flower and attributes of a woman. This was tough. It caused me to dive into research to find right flowers and best terms to use. Overtime I broaden the comparison to not just be natural but symbolic as well. Aesthetically I wanted the mood of project present of since of mystique. I had this image in my mind of an enchanted garden at night where I’d find a fragrant woman. I figured to best way to do this was use a method of projection that can cast deep shadows and show the flowers on a large scale.
Another battle, but enjoyable one, was finding the right women to be photograph in the series, and to get a commitment to come shoot. I approached 50 or more women in efforts to meet my goal of 12 women or flowers. I actually kept a list through the process. I only knew three of 12 women personally before I began my search. I was intentional about representing a diverse group of women with varying skin tone, hair texture and nationalities. On the opening night of WORK RELEASE (Norfolk, VA) I was fortunate to meet a young East Indian woman, which is slightly uncommon for this area. She agreed instantly to be apart of it the concept, so I’m grateful to for her taking an interest in my idea as well all the other women.
TPP: What message did you want to convey?
DW: Flowers and women are something that most of us interact with on daily basis or at least observe. One should observe a women whether it be mother, wife, sister or daughter and be able recognize their contributions and value. We see flowers bloom year after year, observe their beauty, but never really understand their nature. Ultimately I want to be inspired by the work and recognize the significance of the smallest details in life.
TPP: What was your goal for the project and what are your future plans for it?
DW: Midway through the project I decided to make an effort to show the work publicly, preferably as a solo exhibition. I had a vision on how the work would be viewed. Variables like budget, location, time caused that not happen. Overall after 2 years planning, shooting, designing, and meeting tons of people, I’m pleased to finally release the body of work. With this project I released two music video concepts, introducing my ability to produce and direct. I will follow up full length project album. YOU’RE A FLOWER © is brand. Its something I will surely revisit in years to come and with the next installment I hope to do more than the last.
TPP: Any upcoming projects coming?
DW: Honestly, I have at least 10 working concepts right now. I just have to determine which ones are the most attainable at my current state and then save the others. In these projects I hope to venture into fashion, exhibition design, film and fine art. The possibilities are too vast to stay within a single discipline of design or medium. Whatever it may be I hope can do it well.
View the full project here: Dahrellwilliams.com
Instagram & Twitter: @dahrellwilliams