Melbourne-born Paul Barbera is a photographer, author, creative director and traveler of the world. Currently residing in New York he works across Manhattan, Melbourne, and Amsterdam, and has lived and traveled everywhere else in between.
Paul is best known for Where They Create, which documents the creative spaces of artists and designers from around the world. He has also produced advertising and editorial for clients including Ikea, enfolds, Dedon, Bugaboo, Vogue Living, and Elle Decor.
Getting to Know…
Clyde Semmoh and Paul Barbera at an IJM.nl studio party.
What was the first piece of art you bought?
I think my first piece was given to me by my oldest and best friend, Dominic Wood. He still paints and he lives in Berlin now. When I visited Dominic there in 2001, we went to a show of a street artist and I purchased a painting and a stencil poster for a grand total of 450 Euros – which was all the money I had at that time – and it turned out that those pieces were by Blek le Rat. I had no idea who he was at the time, I just liked the artwork.
How would you describe your taste in art? What are you most drawn to?
My current collection in my East Village apartment is very eclectic. Maybe half are from friends, others are found pieces from Op shops, and some are from galleries. Art comes into my life in such strange ways, I feel it finds me mostly.
Paul’s newest book, Love-Lost Volume 1
Which artist would you most like to meet?
It’s not so much an artist but rather art movements that I would have loved to been around. I would have loved to have been in Italy during the 1940-50s, New York City in the 1980s, and to have lived in Amsterdam in the 1970s and have been a part of the art scene during that time.
What do you collect?
My blog, www.wheretheycreate.com, is one way I collect – it’s a body of my work that has been ongoing for the last 20 years, where I photograph the spaces of creatives.
Part of a series of travel photos by Paul.
How would you describe your personal style?
I would describe it as an eclectic mix of old and new. I like to geek out on new technology but mix it with the old and traditional.
What books are on your bedside table?
I’m more of an audio book person, so the books I’ve been listening to are Sex at Dawn, The New Buffettology, Moonwalking with Einstein, and A History of Rome.
Do you have a favorite museum or gallery?
In New York, I love the MoMA and MoMA PS1. I love the Stedelijk in Amsterdam. It has been closed for years but I used to go all the time. It has now been reopened and I’ll be there next week; I can’t wait to see it after the renovations.
More travel photos by Paul Barbera.
What role does art play in your life?
It’s very much a part of my life – not necessarily in a gallery-going way, but rather in the expression-of-humanity kind of way. I travel a lot for work, and based on my encounters, I think everyone is creative; people need to express themselves.
If you could only have one piece of art in your life, which would it be and why?
Lucio Fontana’s “Spatial Concept ‘Waiting” (1960). It’s basically a white canvas that has one clean cut on it. It’s hard for me to say why, but my first memory of being moved by art was when I first saw Fontaa’s work when I was 18 or 19. I just have such a visceral feeling when I think of his art. My father is Italian and there is something very Italian about Fontana’s work. Maybe it’s as simple as that.
Food – Travel by Paul Barbera.
What was the last great exhibition you went to?
Just last night I went to a show held by Karma, Fulton Ryder, and Harper’s Books at the Lowell Hotel. There was a Richard Prince installation in a bedroom- it was so bad that it was good.
If you could paint, draw, sculpt, etc. which skill would you most like to posses?
Well I guess I’m already a photographer, but if I wasn’t I would love to be able to draw.