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Interview with Jeff Merriman-Cohen

Photo Center member and Certificate student, Jeff Merriman-Cohen, talks about finding a second career and his concept of “adult onset artist”…

Q: How did you discover the Photo Center and what prompted you to become a member?

A: Daniel Gregory introduced me to PCNW when he was entering the certificate program, six or seven years ago.  When I first started to be interested in the school, it was a natural choice to make for us. [… ] My wife Jamie and I like to support education in the community. We are proud to support PCNW!

Q: You are a relatively recent addition to the Photo Center and the Certificate Program.  Can you tell us about how you came to the Photo Center?

A: I spent 25 years working the left side of my brain hard, in the corporate world.  I loved what I did, had the chance to work with many wonderful coworkers, help many wonderful clients, and had lots of opportunity to apply my creativity to the challenges of building a caring, supportive and impactful firm.  During that time, I led Merriman to a number of honors, including awards for “Fastest Growing Companies”, “Best Places to Work” and most recently, being named one of “Washington’s 50 Greenest Companies”.

And it was time for something new!  About six years ago, I had what I now call, an artistic awakening, or “adult onset artist”.  It started with a class at Pratt, then opening a painting studio, and picking up a camera to add photography to the mix.

As my first career came to a close last spring, it created the space for me to pursue artist expression more fully, I registered for a couple of PCNW classes, and a few weeks into fall quarter, I knew the certificate program was the right step for me.

Q: How do you use the Photo Center community?

A: As a home to learn, share, consider and struggle through developing as an artist: viewing the exhibitions, attending classes, spending time in the studios and darkroom, chatting with other students.  Frankly, just hanging around is a big part too!

Q: What are your photographic goals?  How has being involved with the Photo Center helped further those goals?

A: Right now, I want to get to a place where the camera feels more like a part of me, rather than a complicated contraption that I carry around; to really build my technical competency to a place when I can bring voice to the images I have in my head.  The classes I’m taking are the bridge to the next phase of my expression.

In the longer term, I want to create work that people want to hang on their walls and see every day.  A world with a little more beauty — is a little better world.

Check out Jeff Merriman-Cohen’s website here. 


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