Artists Inspired by Nature | Short Q & A with Photographer Taylor Mahalik

Nature has been inspiring artists for centuries. Don’t believe us? Walk into a museum and you’ll see artists inspired by nature everywhere. Find Monet’s Water Lilies, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and the famous Rousseau tiger. For a less direct nature-to-easel connection, look up Gaudi’s unique architecture or Guiliano Mauri’s Tree Cathedral.

We believe a deep connection with nature produces a unique level of creativity that is difficult to attain without it. We spoke with L.A. based photographer Taylor Mahalik to get her opinion on the unique intersection between nature and art  — specifically photography.

Taylor Mahalik

Q: How did you get into photography?

A: I’ve always been interested in art — specifically painting, even at a young age. In high school, I took a photography class in addition to the painting and drawing classes I was taking, and I found it really fun. I just saw it as another art form and creative outlet.

I bought a camera and would mostly take photos of my friends, my food, my room, etc. Nothing particularly exciting — just the world around me. Eventually, I got my BFA in photography at UNT and have been shooting in some capacity ever since!

Q: What intrigues you about photography?

A: I love that there is no shortage of what I can capture and create. There’s always an opportunity to see a person, product, or space with a unique perspective and capture that perspective through the lens.

When you spend time in nature, you’re putting yourself in a position to connect with something bigger than yourself.

Fashion photography Taylor Mahalik
Captured by Taylor Mahalik

Q: What is, if any, the intersection between your art and nature?

A: The biggest connection most of my photography has with nature is light. I often prefer to work with and manipulate natural light. It’s a tool that’s always there to utilize if you choose to work with it rather than against it. For example: for a while, I was obsessed with shooting downtown because the quality of light that reflects off the buildings is beautiful and inspiring to me — even midday when the light is usually harsh and flat.

Q: How can nature offer a unique perspective on art?

A: When you spend time in nature, you’re putting yourself in a position to connect with something bigger than yourself. At least, that’s true for me. When I absorb the world around me — without technology — I’m challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone, which leads to growth. And when there’s growth, I’m opening myself up to new ideas and new inspirations. That was my experience when I recently went on a camping trip to Yosemite. Standing in front of the incredible mountains and trees was so humbling. And in my opinion, humility is essential to creating art that is truly original.

Mahalik's photograph in Yosemite
Captured by Taylor Mahalik

Q: What other photographers/artists inspire you, and why?

A: Lately I’ve been loving Lauren Dukoff’s portrait photography, as well as Zoltan Tombor’s fashion work. Both are artists inspired by nature and create beautiful imagery through natural light. I also find a lot of inspiration from artists like Louise Mertens, who uses photography and painting to create beautiful mixed media pieces.

As an artist inspired by nature, Taylor Mahalik discovers unique connections between the green around her and her photography every day. Artist or not, we find that spending a little time every day in nature encourages a more creative, more humble, and happier self. In fact, gardening is just another form of creation. So get growing and get creating!

For more interviews with artists, check out our spotlight on Ashlie Lohner Dance: another creator and artist who is inspired by nature and the garden.