An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 50 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews (1-25)
Adam Antalek; Trailblazing and Solidifying his place within the Community.
In today’s highlight, we profile Adam Antalek, a local photographer and one of the originators of FLOATED, a subculture magazine featuring local artists, local businesses and events. FLOATED is quickly rising and is on its way to being a prominent publication within our community!
Adam Antalek, one of the originators, is an extremely positive individual. This traits are rivaled by his extraordinary gift in capturing captivating moments in time. What I respect the most about Adam Antalek is his positivity, open minded nature and willingness to work with new faces. This type of attitude is a good thing to come across when collaborating with another artist. It often leads to a beautiful destination.
I asked Adam a series of questions. Here’s what we discussed.
Tell us a little about yourself, where your from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
I grew up in Honeoye Falls, NY about half an hour south of Rochester. I went to high school in Honeoye Falls – Lima. Going through school (leading up to high school) I feel art is taught as a joke. Nobody ever tells you that art can be done as a career, while it’s made pretty clear what sort of jobs you can get with math and science. We’re told about Van Gogh going insane, shown some weird cubist painting by Picasso, and told to mimic it. I wasn’t into that basic art history shit, and we never learned about what went INTO the work from the artist’s soul. I don’t think we were even shown any of the crazy stuff like Hieronymus Bosch was painting, and he was an O.G. art history lesson.
By the time I got to high school I was pretty set on not being interested in “art.” I took the required art class required in high school, and I remember seeing this one teacher, Harold Coogan’s, room full of old monitors, cameras, a dark room, and computers. Suddenly, I was fascinated with the whole darkroom deal, and all of the weird shit laying around the room – which sparked me to sign up for a photo class. We started off with pinhole cameras, and seeing a photo develop on paper right in front of me in the darkroom was like some black magic. It was super fascinating and I wanted to know all about it. Fuck all that math shit. I wanted to make stuff I could show people, something that was unique every single time.
That interest led me to go to Monroe Community College following high school. I got all of the lame classes out of the way there, took a few photo and video classes, but I didn’t really learn much. Most of the lighting I had learned, I’d taught myself already by that point. I wasn’t building my network either, and half of being successful is networking. I still didn’t even know the basic path of a career in photography. I left MCC thinking, what the fuck kind of jobs are there for me? A wedding photographer? We didn’t learn shit about photo history (or anything that really resonated) and I was left confused as to why there were COLLEGES that exist to train photographers.
I figured there weren’t any opportunities available for me so I applied to RIT, knowing it was one of the top photo schools in the country. That shit changed my life. I learned the basics of lighting, how cameras function, how to interact with your subject (I hated photographing humans before RIT, now that’s my jam), how to (try) to run a business. I gained an immeasurable lifelong network of some of the best, most badass, most disciplined people in the creative industry. Critique too was great. One of my best teachers, Clay Patrick McBride I still make work with today, he’d always make sure everything was on the table after a critique. You don’t wanna walk around with any doubts in your mind that you’ve done the best job you can. And if you haven’t, then knowing how to improve is the most valuable tool. More than anything I gained confidence that you can do whatever the fuck you want as long as you work your ass off, and pour EVERYTHING you’ve got into that one thing you fucking love and believe in.
Immediately after high school I was living on couches for a few months, working construction, didn’t have a place to live (suburban parents kick you out on the street if you get tattoos….), that makes you really want to work to build something for yourself. If you really wanna stick it to the man, you gotta take control of the whole fucking mountain.
What inspired you to be a photographer? Early experiences worth sharing?
The camera is like magic, some unreal thing. If we didn’t have a darkroom in high school, I might have not been as interested in photo. I loved how it was like taking one still frame from video, but you could spend hours making it perfect to show people. It was very hands-on, the smell of the chemicals, and the coffee. We had coffee in the photo room which really kept me going; no other teachers had coffee. I’ve always loved holding a camera even when I was younger. I remember getting a little digital camera one year for some holiday gift. It could hold maybe 15 photos, something ridiculously small, and I’d play with that thing for hours. Eventually the batteries leaked and messed it up. Those disposable cameras were always super interesting to me growing up as well. Advancing the film was fun. I loved the sound that wheel made, it felt like I was communicating with it.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
Constantly. Theres so many situations. Being an artist every single day has conflict. I’m still making coffee to pay my bills and I have a $90k college degree. The triumphs are when you make it to the next day, when you make a dope photo, the little things. The larger accomplishments follow the baby steps with time.
What do you believe sets you apart from other photographers?
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
Star Wars and music. I’ve got the falcon being chased by 2 tie fighters hanging over my stereo. I collect a lot of Star Wars stuff, and collect records. I used to play in a few bands but I don’t have time any more.
Any projects you have out or currently working on?
FLOATED ALTERNATIVE CULTURE MAGAZINE
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Where would I like to see myself? On the beach drinking beer and hanging with my girl and my pups.
Where DO I actually see myself? Its hard to say. This magazine is very young and picking up a little traction. I’m gonna ride it out and take everything month by month in Rochester. Maybe I’ll have another job here, maybe I’ll be in LA or NYC. I’d already planned to be living in NYC right now, and yet here I am. It’s hard to predict the future. I’ll be in Rochester until I have a reason to not stay here.
What advice can you give to aspiring artists/entertainers/photographers?
I think Henry Rollins once said – Application, Discipline, Focus, Repetition.
And be really lucky…..aka social, be really social and it creates luck.
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
Instagram – @aantalek