Interview with Patrick Winfield: Polaroidologist

Patrick Winfield, Graphic Designer and Photographer  

Patrick Winfield
Location: Yonkers, New York
Art Institute of Philadelphia and City College of New York


I love Polaroid, so when the opportunity came along to interview Patrick Winfield, a graphic designer and photographer who frequently uses Polaroid to create dynamic visual stories, I jumped at the chance to speak with him.

Patrick’s work has a healthy following. I’m excited he took time to share his work; his love of Polaroid and playing around.

CL: Please share with us a bit about your background:

Winfield: I studied computer and stop-motion animation initially then moved onto graphic design, painting and photography. I landed a job doing graphic design for a startup company in 2000 and have been working in the industry pushing pixels ever since.

I grew up in upstate New York and have always been most at home in nature, walking through a trail in the forest or exploring a riverbed.

Patrick Winfield’s Beaver Pond Polaroid Composite

beaver pond, 2007 – polaroid 600 film on board – h:20 w:21 inches

CL:Tell us about when Polaroid came into your life:

Winfield: A photographer friend of mine told me about her ideas and techniques she was experimenting with, it was only a matter of time before I picked one up and did my own thing.

CL: What Polaroid Cameras do you own?

Winfield: I own a few. The original SX-70 is my go-to camera. I use a basic one-step for all my photogram work, just to eject the film from the cartridge.

CL: What camera do you wish to own?

Winfield: I am pretty excited about the release of the Zink cell phone printer. There is something similar out now, but this looks cool with prints that go to the edge of the sticker paper…fun stuff! O yeah, and the 20×24 camera is always there…the possibilities! But really any camera will do.

Patrick Winfield’s Origin Polaroid Composite

origin, 2007 – polaroid 600 film on stretched canvas – h:38 w:38 inches

CL: Why did you choose Polaroid film?

Winfield: It is all about the flow of working with images as soon as I create them. The process is like playing in a way. When a photo comes out of the camera I can see if I want to adjust it or take another shot right away. Polaroid film isn’t the only way I can do this and I have experimented with disposable cameras, Xerox machines and flatbed scanners, but the immediacy and characteristics of the Polaroid film is unique and seductive.

CL: Polaroid film does not seem readily available. How does this affect your work?

Winfield: It is actually very available and I enjoy working with it knowing it is available to everyone. It is not as depleted as one may think, but it surely is not the cheapest medium and most formats are being discontinued so I do keep a cache in my fridges crisper drawer. This makes me more conscious at times when using film, as well as preparing food. I am not hesitant if I want to take a shot or start a big composite, rather I will think about it more.

Patrick Winfield’s Saranghe Polaroid Composite

piecemeal, 2007 – polaroid 600 film on board – h:20 w:21 inches

CL: Describe your approach to your composite stories.

Winfield: Sometimes I have an idea that I prep for and work through with sketches and preliminary shots. Other times I work intuitively and employ a call and response technique where I put something down and respond to that. These two ways of working produce very different results and balance me out, I do not favor one over the other.

The representational composite pieces are a study on perspectives. Instead of being a fixed, static or standing, it is a walking perspective. Not an instant view, but a clustering of memories and visual experiences. That is when they are working best.

CL: Where or from whom do you draw inspiration?

Winfield: Everything. Family, the people I love, friends, art history and all of the arts. I get very inspired from the books I read. Ultimately it all comes back to nature and my investigation with the world. When I am inspired by a view, a song I heard, a painting I had seen or a book I read, I want to create something that is as inspiring as that was to me.

Patrick Winfield’s Double Model on Chest Polaroid Composite

double model on chest, 2007 – polaroid Spectra film on board – h:20 w:30 inches

CL: What do you think about your work being labeled as “Hockneyesque”?

Winfield: That is very flattering and he surely is a huge inspiration. I have a method and technique that derived from his initial experiments and work that he made popular. I also use the word composite to describe my grid work as well as showing my feet in some of the works and the picture within the picture theme. One of the best ways to learn a technique is to copy it, after that phase I can move on and find my own way to contribute to it all. A lot of my work is about turning the snapshot into a work of art playing off the high and low aspects.

CL: What are some of your favorite photography sites?

Winfield: has a great community of all things Polaroid. Polanoid has some talented artists and photographers discussing and sharing ideas, with a variety of experience and skill. I have met some great contacts there. is amazing. It is huge; sometimes too big. The talent on there is outstanding and I see things that I am inspired by all the time.

Wooster Collective is a blog I check regularly. It is run by some great people that showcase street art and inspiring works from all over the world.

Patrick Winfield’s bear hill (wisdom teeth), 2007 Polaroid Composite

bear hill (wisdom teeth), 2007 – polaroid 600 film on board – h:24 w:18 inches

CL: You’ve mentioned that you are a fan of COLOURlovers to find inspiration. How do you use COLOURlovers?

Winfield: More for my job as a graphic designer. I like to see what palettes interest people and see what sparks my attention. It is a wonderful place to find these ‘trends’ and discover.

Patrick’s next solo exhibition will be March 8, 2008 at the Open Space Gallery in Beacon, NY.

All images courtesy of Patrick Winfield. Copyright Patrick Winfield. All Rights Reserved.

Author: cococello