OTP Artist Interview Kenneth Owens Art Galley Exhibtion London Edinburgh Copenhagen 2019

Photo: Kenneth Owens

OTP short-forms: Kenneth Owens



An interview with the after-hours American photographer, via direct message.

We talk extreme personalities, Heironymus Bosch and touching the real deal.

OTP What is your name? Where are you based? How would you described your work to someone that you were meeting for the first time?

KO My name is Kenneth Owens. I’m an American currently living in the Netherlands. I have a hard time talking about being an artist. I prefer to just show my work. But yeah, humans are the primary focus of my photography.

OTP What’s important to you?

KO New experiences. Not letting negativity consume me, trying to remain happy. 

OTP How did you get into photography/when did you first start taking pictures?

KO I got into photography 20 years ago when I was 13. It became real when I stole my parents camera to take pictures of my friends skating (I broke the lens).

OTP Artist Interview Kenneth Owens Art Galley Exhibtion London Edinburgh Copenhagen 2019

Photo: Kenneth Owens

OTP What do you get out of photography? What’s the point?

KO I ask myself "What’s the point?" quite often, but then I remember not to expect anything from photography. I started doing it for fun and I still enjoy it, it’s still a magic process to me. I’ve tried different things over the years and I’ve gotten to a place now where I enjoy the images I’m getting. I try to capture life without disrupting it, it’s more about timing than anything else. The real challenge is staying observant as the years progress.

OTP What attracts you to the people you shoot?

KO It’s always the old badasses and gangsters I want to photograph. They have all the stories in their faces. I’m interested in humans, especially the ones who aren’t afraid to be weird. My whole life I’ve been surrounded by extreme personalities. I used to wonder why all these crazy people would hang out with me, then I finally realised I’m also one of them. What inspires me is always a hard question. Don’t want to write some corny bullshit. Easy answer: just being alive - grateful for everything. 

OTP If you had to pick a soundtrack for your photography, what do you think would be the best fit?

KO I like a wide variety of music but it would have to be “rock and roll” - Christian Death would be a good fit for me.

OTP Artist Interview Kenneth Owens Art Galley Exhibtion London Edinburgh Copenhagen 2019

Photo: Kenneth Owens

Photo: Kenneth Owens

OTP Do you have a favourite camera/type of film to work with?

KO Had a long love affair with my Hasselblad 500 and I recently sold my Maymia 7. I’ve stuck to my Nikon F3 for some some years now. For film I use Kodak TRI-X B&W and Fujicolor.

OTP What do you like to do when you’re not taking pictures?

KO I’m a night creature. I like to sit at dive bars, party at clubs or walk around. I should be writing more. Instead I just listen to music and stare at the wall. 

OTP What kind of images do you like to look at? Any artists that you would recommend the reader looks up? 

KO I really enjoy illustrators - sketchy pen and ink drawings. The weirder the better. All the Fukt magazines are on point. Artist wise, Frank @sofshk is one of my favourites in Rotterdam and Max @maxseckel is a good friend in New Orleans doing amazing work. Everyone you feature on OTP is top-notch, not ass kissing, just being honest. 


I have so much admiration for many artists for different reasons. Some of my other favourites are Francisco Goya, William Blake, and Hieronymus Bosch. 

OTP Artist Interview Kenneth Owens Art Galley Exhibtion London Edinburgh Copenhagen 2019

Photo: Kenneth Owens

OTP Are there any exhibitions that have had a particularly big impact on you?

KO The Ragnar Kjartansson solo at the Barbican in London was one of my all-time favourite. I really like the feeling of the space in the Joesph Beuys room at the Tate Modern. Gordon Parks’ and Helmut Newton’s retrospectives at Foam in Amsterdam were both incredible. The ‘Basquiat and the Bayou’ exhibition at the Ogden in New Orleans. Robert Mapplethorpe at Kunsthal in Rotterdam. Always inspiring to see the legends. 

Honestly, the exhibitions that have had the biggest impact on me have been at the British Museum. Going numerous times and touching all the ancient artefacts they stole from all over the world, I really feel like I can absorb some of that energy. I know I shouldn’t touch them but whatever. I often ask if the items on display are replicas, but have been told a few times they are the real deal.

OTP What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received? Any words for the reader?

KO Stop directly copying shit. Be yourself.  Of course other artists influence you/your work but accumulate all the things that inspire you to develop your own style. 

Advice wise, I like the simple things people told me when I was young because I didn’t listen then: treat others the way you want to be treated and stop being afraid of what other people think of you. 


Love all y’all! Thankful for this opportunity.