Partners in Art
by Bill Weaver
photo by Partners Photography
(Patty, Miranda, Sophia, Eric, and Seth)
I’m trying to find out what I want to do when I grow up,” Eric Lindley laughs. He and wife Patty have recently brought their portraiture business, Partners Photography, to Brown County. This comes after fifteen years in the world of commercial art.
The couple and their three children arrived from Indianapolis last May mostly to get away from the big city life. Because it’s flat up north logic dictated a move south to the hills of Brown County. That and the reputation of the county’s art community. It’s a community that Eric is still trying to figure out his place within.
“How do you fit in with the Nashville and Bloomington art community?” he wonders. “I have no idea. I do digital prints of digital photography and all my work is in a computer. I don’t know how that will be received in the art community.”
Still, he intends to try, but only after a methodical study of how the business of art is conducted. “My whole mindset up to this point has been with commercial agencies. You get to the point where you get tired of having people tell you what to do. So you start looking for other reasons to express yourself—for yourself. The stage I am at right now is to research how artists get gallery space and how they become marketable. It all comes down to the marketing because art is something that someone wants to buy. And I don’t know if there are any artists who are successful digital artists.
“When we moved to Brown County our goals were to start the portrait business back up and get back to art for art’s sake. And that’s one thing I’m trying to do.”
After attending school at Ball State in Muncie, where he and Patty met, Eric worked as an airbrush illustrator. “I started working in a studio doing design, illustration, a lot of layout-type copy.”
“He did everything,” Patty adds, “cutting the masks and spraying the illustration, making a new mask—which was really tedious. He saw one day that they were going to be able to do this work on a computer.”
That idea was confirmed for him when asked to photograph a building then under construction. “They went in this computer—it was the size of a room—and they finished the image of the complete building,” Patty says. “It was really a big deal,”
While continuing to create his designs the old fashioned way—photographically—Eric haunted computer stores in search of an affordable machine that could be used for retouching photographs. “I was probably one of the earlier ones in the Indianapolis area to embrace computers,” Eric says.
Patty worked as a freelance photographer, with her portraiture business on the side. “The bulk of my work was usually commercial stuff and I would do brochures and different things like that. My specialty, what I loved to do, was photography with children and the coloring of it.”
When the couple wasn’t working on an art project they worked on the other part of their business plan: renovating the building they’d bought on the near westside of Indianapolis. “Eric did most of it because I was busy having kids,” Patty laughs. “That’s the good thing about being self-employed. You have such a flexible schedule. Sometimes Eric would have a whole week to work on the building because he didn’t have any jobs. It was a good kind of fill work.”
When Eric wasn’t gutting rooms or sanding floors he was creating striking works for clients like Thomson Consumer Electronics, Nachi America, and NAC Mallory. “My commercial art is like collage,” he says. “It’s combining images from a unique perspective. The computer allows me more than just a straightforward product shot. It allows me to illustrate a story of what the client is trying to say about that product.
“Printmaking,” he goes on, “has changed from the old days of working in a darkroom. There’s still value in that, but there’s so much more control in using a computer to adjust and fine tune the image. The cool thing about computers is that they allow you to play until you see which path you want to go down. You can always cancel the changes, go back to them, manipulate them, make variations. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of playing. It’s a lot of experimentation. It’s a lot of challenge.
“The frustrating thing is that you get into situations where you’re spending more time maintaining the computer than actually working.”
Today the couple works to revive the portraiture business that Patty thought she had given up. “After the third child I said, ‘Well, I think I’ll just concentrate on raising children for awhile,’” she says. “It was a good decision. I never thought I’d go back to portraiture because everything was digital and had changed.” But she soon realized that she had all the computer expertise she needed right there in her husband.
“We do it together,” Eric says. “Patty works the camera. I work the computer. We capture portraits digitally. We adjust them, tweak them, then print them via a high end ink-jet printer. The fun part about portraits is that we can have the art element, too. My philosophy has always been that if we’re going to do anything we’re going to do it a little different, create something that other people aren’t doing. That’s what drives me. That’s the element.”
The family has quickly come to love Brown County and the opportunity it gives them to make and meet friends. “We came from an industrial side of town,” Patty says. “It’s so different here. Nothing’s close by but it doesn’t matter because it’s such an enjoyable drive. The kids love it. We saw a flock of thirty turkeys last Sunday on the way to church. And cows in the road! We have enjoyed the people a lot. In Indy, even though we were all in the same neighborhood for fifteen years, it was hard to get to know our neighbors. Here it seems like you meet people everywhere you go—at baseball practice, at the store, the same people—and that is so helpful. I think it’ll be great for the kids to have a close knit community.”
For a sample of their work please visit the Partners Photography website at <www.partnersphoto.com>, or call (812) 597-0063 to find out more about their portraiture service.