Interview: Elizabeth Hudson

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By: Cassandra Litten

[Cassandra Litten] What piece of media are you obsessed with right now?
[Elizabeth Hudson] There’s a Japanese reality show on Netflix called Terrace House, and I’m hooked on it. It’s about six strangers who live together in a fancy house and how they interact with each other. The longer I’ve been watching it, the more I’ve been intrigued by how everyone’s personalities unfold, the bonds that people form, the lives that people lead outside of the house, and how Japanese customs differ from our Western ones. The dating customs are especially interesting to me! It’s like watching Victorian era courtships. I’ve fallen hard for this show. Just leave me in a heap of emotions on the floor.

[c.l.] When did you start experimenting with photography? How did your interest develop?
[e.h.] Joining hitRECord [an online, collaborative production company run by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt] in 2010 sparked my interest in photography. I had never been surrounded by so many photographers before and I was in awe of their work — I still am! Their talent inspired me and made me want to try. I dabbled a little bit back then, though I didn’t start actively learning about and pursuing photography seriously until the beginning of 2015. I instantly fell in love with the process, the results, the specialness of visual storytelling, and how an instant can be held in time forever in ways that words can never do.

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[c.l.] Your style of self-portrait is very haunting and intimate. Did you purposefully develop this style or did it just kind of happen?
[e.h.] It was a happy accident that began when I unintentionally took a double-exposure shot back in 2015. I was drawn in by its eeriness and imperfections. I was surprised by how well it conveyed all of the instability that I was experiencing at that time and how it made me reevaluate my perfectionistic approach to photography. That’s when I realized that my self-portraits, and my photography in general, don’t have to follow textbook rules or a specific set of teachings. If my work conveys the emotions that I intend, if it draws people in and touches them somehow, then I have done my best work.

[c.l.] You’ve never been one to shy away from exploring new realms of creativity (photography and writing of all forms — screenwriting is your newest venture). Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all of the things you want to try? On the other hand, do you feel grateful to have varied interests?
[e.h.] I’ve always been a little too ambitious, and trying new things excites me. I think I must be easily bored, because I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have so many interests. Strangely, I am never overwhelmed by how many artistic realms I want to pursue. Instead, I get overwhelmed by time, and how I don’t have enough of it to pursue everything!

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[c.l.] You are an outspoken advocate for anxiety and Lyme disease awareness as well as many other causes. How much have these things influenced your art?
[e.h.] Oh, immensely! Since being diagnosed with Lyme in 2015, I have leaned heavily into creating art as an escape. It has been therapeutic for me in many ways, helping me to process everything I’ve been through and to channel all of my fears and heartaches and triumphs into something more. I think the stories I write and the photos I take often reflect those struggles, though perhaps it might not be as blatant to the observer as it is to me. I don't think people have to struggle to produce good art, but I genuinely believe that my art has improved because I've struggled.

[c.l.] How important do you think it is for artists to practice self-care? What is your go-to routine?
[e.h.] I think self-care is vital for artists! Being an artist can be isolating, even for those of us who work closely with others. We tend to spend a great deal of time inside of our own minds, planning and creating and tapping into emotions that are not always easy for us. It’s an incredibly rewarding process, but it’s also emotionally draining. Sometimes, it can even become psychologically triggering for those of us who suffer from mental illness. I firmly believe that all artists need to develop self-care routines that help us maintain a healthy mental balance and free us from becoming overly trapped inside of our own thoughts. For me, I like to do small things: going for walks, spending time with other people, watching a movie, reading a book, eating chocolate, meditating briefly, or taking a bath. Those little rituals are what can help clear my mind the most. It doesn’t have to be a big routine to be a beneficial one.

[c.l.] What are your artistic goals/plans for the near and distant future? Anything you want to talk to us about that we should be looking forward to?
[e.h.] For the near future, I want to set my short film plans into action and bring the script I’ve written to life! I’m hoping to get to work on that very soon. For the distant future, I hope to ease back into portrait photography and photograph more people, because few things make me happier than shooting portraits and collaborating with others and helping them tell their stories. I also want to write a novel! And publish a book of poetry! And maybe have my photography in a showcase! There I go again with being too ambitious!

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Follow Elizabeth's work:
Instagram: lilybetta
Twitter: @lilybet
Her website: www.lilybet.co