Musée Limited Editions: Ken Pivak
The Musée Limited Edition Print Sale is still on! All prints are taken from the Billboard Creative 2019, curated by our editor-in-chief Andrea Blanch. To see the rest of the prints currently on sale, shop here.
Mariah McCloskey: You grew up in the Bronx doing graffiti, what made you want to focus on photography over other forms of art?
Ken Pivak: I always saw the world differently. My dad was sort of an artist and art has always been a part of my life. Eventually, I learned how to become a photographer in high school. A senior, Michael, took me under his wing, and to this day I give him all the credit.
Mariah: What made you move into shooting advertising? Do you find it challenging to work in your creativity?
Ken: By my second year of college, I was assisting photographers in the advertising world. I went all over the world. It was great. It was actually at that time that I wanted to work for Andrea Blanch.
Mariah: Oh, really?
Ken: Well, I wasn’t doing fashion, and as far as she was concerned, I wasn’t what she needed for her beauty campaign. But I still got to taste how it felt to be a professional in advertising. And like graffiti, advertising is something you see: you can’t avoid it. It still disrespects people’s memory, it distracts you and makes you think about something else. But it’s legit and I get paid for it. And it beats getting busted by the cops. [Laughs] And that’s what--I guess being a kid from the Bronx-- drove me to stay in advertising: finding challenges in working under that banner. Sometimes I find that accomplishing the challenges is more rewarding than working on my own art.
Mariah: You were a self-starter as a young person. Do you have any advice for young people today in the photography field?
Ken: Teaching people how to have self-worth about their imagery--that they should know their rights, people give away too much. There are days when you’re contracted for $10,000 a day, but if you know your rights, you could be making $40,000 a day. A lot of younger people don’t like to discuss this kind of stuff before a shoot.
Mariah: Your images vary in style even within the same concept, where do you find inspirations?
Ken: I never do the same thing twice; I try it and move on. I know some people try to pigeonhole you into doing the same thing over and over. I get it. That’s how the industry works. But as a creative person, as an artist, I love trying new things. And if someone says you’re really good at that technique, that’s a bad sign for me-- that means I’ve done something for too long.
Mariah: You have a new book coming out titled Vocations of Love featuring portraits of women from different stages of life, what was your inspiration for this?
Ken: I’ve got 126 women over the age of 90 that I’ve got on film or digital. And it’s a gift to Maryknoll; this is the oldest mission of nuns who go out into the world helping kids with AIDS in poverty.