15 Questions With… Jan Philipzen

How are you at the moment?

Right now I am recovering from accidentally spilling a full glass of apple juice all over my keyboard five minutes ago but besides that I’m feeling pretty good.

What is your morning ritual? How does your day begin?

Usually I wake up quite late. I’m reading the news in bed, then my lovely girlfriend makes me breakfast if I’m lucky. After that I practice Muay Thai, sometimes just boxing, and then I’ll get to work.

What, right now, can you see?

Loads of prints, my laptop, my hard drives, a glass of water, some flowers and my speakers.

What artist, project, book would you recommend we see/follow?

Bruno Roels, he is a master at producing photographic prints.

Tell us about your process when starting a new project

It can start as basic as going out and simply photographing whatever grabs my attention. Without reason and language getting too much in way of creation in the early stages. After building a small archive I will look for guiding threads, which some pictures share in common. The selection of images will then serve as a basis to determine the subject matter, atmosphere, printing techniques etc. Then finally intentionality is becoming more and more of a factor, as the work begins to take shape. In a way I’m letting the work guide me to where I want to go if that makes sense.

What has been your favourite collaboration? 

Hard to say. There have been so many great collaborations with stylists, make up artists and hair stylists especially. Cécile Paravina has been doing some amazing work over the last few years so I’m always very happy when I get the chance to work with her.

What is your greatest achievement? 

Being able to do what I love all day long.

What is your greatest regret?

Luckily I can’t recall any major regrets so far. But of course there are many daily regrets I have and probably need in order to learn and improve in life.

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

In the spirit of NASA I will say perseverance.

What is your latest project about?

My latest project is the book Ravedeath Convention, which was published last year with Art Paper Editions. The earliest picture in the book is from when I was thirteen years old, so it really covers my entire youth. The project consequentially has a wide array of subject matter ranging from friendship to destruction. But at the same time it was the start of an ongoing investigation into the physical dimension of photography. Especially in the increasingly digital world, I found myself drawn to tactile experience and textures that were not so concerned with being smooth and perfect.

What are you researching at the moment?

Cults, superstition, occultism & religion.

What can you not work without?

Besides the obvious things like a camera, a computer etc. I will have to say my flash. I love my flash.

What challenges have you faced working in your industry?

Balancing the conflict between craving novelty while simultaneously maintaining a necessary degree of accessibility. Or maybe familiarity is a better word.

What are you hoping for in 2021?

What most people likely hope for in 2021.

Share a song with us, what are you listening to at the moment?

A song I’m listening to all the time including right now is Maggot Brain by Funkadelic, because it’s in my opinion the best guitar solo ever performed. And it’s all recorded in one single take. If god would exist, he would sound like Eddie Hazel that day. Also I have to shamelessly plug permafrost polygons, the EP I released earlier this month.

Jan Philipzen (born 1997, in Münster, Germany) studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. He started his journey as a photographer working in fashion for Olivier Theyskens, Document Journal, ODDA, Ann Demeulemeester and Givenchy among others. His latest book Ravedeath Convention was published in 2020 with Art Paper Editions. He also released multiple musical projects under his name and lives between Antwerp and Paris.