The first time that I saw Syd Moen's work was while I was checking out at a Whole Foods in Houston. I was instantly captivated by a picture using 360 photography that looked like a little planet. As a graduation gift, my mom gave me a piece of Syd's work that showcased the Texas Capital because I was moving to Austin. The picture hung in my room throughout college and always reminded me to have a unique perspective. As a young artist, I am always interested in how established artists got to where they are today. I sat down with Syd in her personal studio at Spring Street Studios to talk with her about art, life, and making it all work.
Upon entering Syd’s studio, I instantly felt welcome. Syd has a very inviting personality, which is why I was surprised when she told me that she is actually a little shy. As a child, Syd’s mother encouraged her to pursue art as a way to get her out of her shell. Syd dabbled in many art mediums and went on to earn her B.A. in Art History from the University of Houston.
“At one point I decided I would like to get a professional degree and architecture was always at the back of my mind, so I did it”
After talking to Syd for a short time, I quickly learned that she is a woman who sets her mind on a goal and then achieves it. While in her last semester of architecture school at the University of Houston, Syd decided that she wasn’t passionate in being an architect. She compared the experience to wearing a pair of shoes that don't fit…you can wear them around and make it work, but it’s not comfortable.
“All the pieces were there at a young age, but I needed to live a little life to put them all together. That was my path. If it’s your passion and your thing, you will find a way to manifest it”
Syd talked about the stops and starts in her life because she was pushing away the idea of being an artist.
“There is a lot of stigma around being an artist. Other artists get it, but so many people think of visual and performing arts as a hobby…but it’s like breathing”
One criteria that Syd created for herself was that if she was going to be an artist, she needed to do it on her own financially. Though Syd took many jobs here and there to support her passion, she is proud to say that her art is now self supporting, so she has nothing distracting her from generating art. Syd is known for her "little planets", which capture the unique culture of Houston. The pictures are created using 360 photography and then Syd uses computer software to stitch the images together. Syd is still very interested in architecture, so her pictures highlight the buildings of the location in an exciting way. Many people are initially drawn to Syd's work when they see iconic images like the River Oaks Movie Theatre as a "little planet", but stay interested when they see other locations from Syd's perspective. Syd scouts her locations based on what is interesting to her and she is very interested in history. In addition to photography, Syd is also experimenting with 360 video.
SYD MOEN'S ADVICE FOR EMERGING ARTISTS
1. Be true to yourself
Everyone has their own path and what works for someone else might not work for you
2. Give yourself time to figure it out
Timelines don’t work and you need freedom to be spontaneous
3. Set goals
Give yourself a productive goal to work towards
4. Be seen
Do your thing and hone your skills
Tap into a community of like-minded people
6. Always be available
People remember when you give your time and it will always come back to you
7. Have joy with what you do
Whether you are creating art or working a supplemental job
I walked out of Syd's studio feeling energized about my own work. I'm finding out that's what happens when artists connect. Check out more of Syd Moen's work here.