Icelandic artist and photographer Margrét
Margrét Seema Takyar is a New York based Icelandic photographer, director and artist. She is very well travelled and educated, having both a BA and an MFA in Fine Arts from London and New York. She has a great artistic eye and a strong attention to detail.
"To capture a still shot, a single moment that will never come again is fascinating to me and I am equally obsessed with the idea to create moving images/stories from endless re-writes that can be re-played over and over without consequences."
We managed to catch her as she just landed back in Reykjavik from a job in Africa.
Please tell us a bit about your Icelandic background!
My mum is Icelandic and when I was 8 years old we moved from Germany back to her hometown in Iceland, Reykjavik. That’s where I went to high school, made friends (with some of my closest friends still to this day), where I fly back for Christmas every year and Iceland is also where I started stealing my mum's camera any chance I got.
When and how did you take photography from a hobby to your day job?
I'm still not sure when it happened—it's a bit blurry, like the feeling of growing up. I am constantly figuring out how to do both those things. But the main difference is that as a hobby it took a fraction of my time but now it is a 24/7 commitment, like a consuming new lover and you are somehow both consciously and unconsciously always working. Maybe that blurry line is a curse, but I choose to see it as my lifeline.
What's the inspiration behind your images and how would you describe your style?
I am not very focused when it comes to style, I think. It seems to constantly change depending upon my mood or need, what is in front of me, or even what the last thing I heard on the radio was. But I am driven by stories; stories of people, circumstances, animals, how they interact—with each other and their space, and their reactions to certain circumstances. Lighting, colors and locations are also insanely important to me, and finding the right location is usually a huge part of my process and influences the story I had planned in my head in some way or the other.
You were recently away in Africa for a job, we would love to hear some more about that?
I was DP-ing a documentary in Ethiopia, Africa. The documentary is about gender inequality (pretty broad topic, but that's all I can say for now) and directed by a powerful female duo. I am proud to have been a small part of this project, because I know this story will be important for a lot of people and will hopefully change some lives.
You are currently based in New York. What are the biggest challenges of living and working in NYC?
The biggest challenge of the city, for any artist, is to juggle a life of creating the work while managing an income. The dream, of course, is when both are interconnected, but it can take a lot of U-turns, mind f**k's and an enormous amount of 'bigger than life' believing you will get there, which can be draining but can also provide the material for some of your best work and the drive you need to make it happen. But on the other hand, I have been in New York now for 12 years so the magic and high of it, despite the juggle, is pretty spectacular too.
Are there any particular photographers that have influenced you?
Everyone really, all the somebodies like me and the nobodies like me, I just have to look on a site like Instagram and a flood of confidence, insecurities, visual hunger and satisfaction come over me when I see other peoples' work. Both work I connect with and love and the work I don't particularly like. Actual names that have been with me from the start though are classics like Diana Arbus, Bruce Davidson, Ellen Kuraz, William Eggleston, Helmut Newton, Gregory Crewdson, and I recently watched a documentary called Finding Vivian Maier—her work blew me away.
How would you describe life in Iceland?
The life in Iceland I know is beautiful, at times it can feel a little isolated and I wish we were more open as a nation to diversity. But most Icelandic people I know are hard working individuals, kind, with good humor and share a deep love for black salty liquorice.
Any Icelandic person you admire?
Yes, of course—quite many, in fact. And it might be a cliché, but if I had to single someone out, it would be my mum. She is pretty much the pinnacle of independence, equality and forward thinking, and a beautiful mix of ruthlessness and kindness in all her interactions with people. If I can be a fraction of her in my work or love, then at least there is one box I have ticked.
Do you have any big plans for 2017?
Right now 2017 seems like a lifetime away, so no. But, I am sure when that New Year kiss happens a wave of “let's get shit done” will come over me. I definitely have a list of dream projects I want to tell and shoot—and I have every intention of following through on them—so I am hopeful 2017 will be a big huge pile of mistakes and successes.
Where can we find you on a Saturday night?
Depends entirely on my mood. Either hiding from the world or putting on red lipstick, drinking wine at a bar with lovers and friends.
Depending on the shoot of course; but when on my fashion shoots, I work with and have a dream team of amazing stylists, make up and hair artists and talent agencies in Iceland, New York and LA. And incredibly generous and talented friends and colleges from all over the world that give invaluable feedback on stories, images, films, scripts and ideas. So despite being a one woman show most of the time, I have both a visible and invisible strong team around me, that I bow to with love and respect.
See more of Margréts work at www.margret-seema-takyar.com or follow her on Instagram @margretseema