The Magic of Fine Art Prints: An Interview With Patricia Barrett
Patricia Barrett Studio is renowned for museum-quality archival pigment fine art prints, limited edition home decor, and dazzling collaborations with talented artists, photographers, entrepreneurs, and even advocates for social justice both local and global.
From her roots in the darkroom to her 20-year career as a master archivist for award-winning photographer Rodney Smith to running her own studio in New York City, learn about the woman behind the curtain: this month’s featured artist, entrepreneur, and owner of Patricia Barrett Studio: Patricia Barrett!
From The Darkroom to Becoming an Entrepreneur
Like many, Patricia Barrett discovered a passion for photography in high school. “I was fascinated by the darkroom,” she said. Working in a local studio, she quickly found a passion–and preference–for behind-the-scenes work in the darkroom.
Later on, while working for an Iris print studio (an early digital printing process), she gravitated even further toward the darkroom.
“That’s where I found I could listen to music and watch the magic happen.”
After interning in New York City, she found a home–quickly moving to the city in 2000, where she found freelance work assisting a number of photographers. She soon found her niche working with renowned fashion and portrait photographer Rodney Smith.
“At that time,” she said, “Rodney was only shooting in black and white–and everything–every image–was hand-processed in his studio in Sneden’s Landing. Since I had experience working with digital files and printing, I helped him transition to making archival fine art pigment prints–and eventually shooting color film.”
After Smith’s master printer moved on, the former asked if she would be interested in taking the latter’s place–and the rest is history!
When Rodney Smith passed away in 2016, she knew it was time to start a new chapter–with more flexibility. One thing led to another, and she started Patricia Barrett Studio, leveraging those skills honed for over 20 years–and started collaborating with artists, photographers, entrepreneurs, and other figures she’d met or admired since moving to the city.
Finding Inspiration As A Photographer And Entrepreneur
As an entrepreneur, she finds time to be a photographer–in her free time, and while traveling.
Discovering a new place is usually what ignites her creativity and passion. There’s something to be learned from the design aesthetics of a new place, whether you’re photographing an image or simply taking in the scenery.
“When I’m discovering a new place, I’m never without a camera,” she said.
When she can’t physically hop on a plane, train, or automobile, she’s perfectly content online–scrolling Instagram for inspiration.
“It’s such a visual medium–and I’m definitely guilty of feeling the scroll addiction,” she said.
Living in close proximity to New York City has its benefits too.
“Since I live near the city, any trip in will inspire me in a multitude of ways–from museums to restaurants to street murals to window displays, all it takes is an open mind!”
Printing For A Cause
Having her own studio isn’t just a career, it’s a way to impart social change–a cause she places in high regard. In other words, Patricia Barrett Studio isn’t just an eCommerce site or a place to buy framed wall art or fine art prints–it’s a way to make a difference.
In fact, one of her favorite pieces she’s worked on (“Black Boy, Fly” by Temi Coker) speaks volumes.
“I met Temi on Instagram, and the moment I saw his work, I was captivated. When our country was in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, I reached out to him about collaborating on this print and donating the proceeds to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund–which fights for racial justice.”
“I was so thrilled when he said yes, and I suggested this piece.”
That’s the beauty of fine-art prints–they’re more than hanging wall art or modern home decor–they speak volumes in more than words.
“It spoke to everyone–and sold out within a week. We were able to hit our goal and donate to a great cause.”
Finding Your Unique Voice as a Photographer
She lists Anton Corbijn–perhaps best known as the creative visual mind behind U2 and Depeche Mode–as her absolute, all-time favorite photographer. In college, she was so inspired by his work “Star Trak” that she learned to lith print–a long, laborious process involving grueling hours in the darkroom–and spent extensive time honing the craft.
“Part of what appealed to me [about Corbijn’s work] was the lack of strobes and production. His photographs are so simple, with natural lighting in black and white, yet they’re so powerful and evocative.”
Those same qualities led to her 20-year career as master archivist for Rodney Smith–and even helped develop her own voice.
“Everyone has a unique voice,” she said. Her one piece of advice for up-and-coming artists?
“Find that voice–and don’t compromise or try to imitate others.”
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While she’s currently in talks with other artists regarding future collaborations, she’s mum on the future. “I can’t reveal anything right now,” she said, “but I’m really excited about these new works.”
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