Featured Creator: Amy Lombard of Happy Inside

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Today's featured creator is Amy Lombard, a Philadelphia-bred, Brooklyn-based photographer, who found inspiration in the most unlikely of places: IKEA. Her project, Happy Inside, finds her publishing her first collection of photos taken at Ikea's all over the country throughout 2011. 

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Introduce yourself! (just a lil background, this, that and the other, etc)

Hey there. My name is Amy Lombard and I am a photographer living and working in Greenpoint (Brooklyn). I grew up outside of Philadelphia, and ended up in New York in 2008 to pursue my BFA in Photography from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Now here I am, about to graduate and working on my first book.

When you first went to the Red Hook IKEA, what were you planning on picking up, and when did you realize that you had picked up something quite different than you intended?

Truthfully, I think I wanted to go to IKEA Brooklyn partly because I wanted to go on the water taxi... (seriously, who doesn’t enjoy a free boat ride?) However, I believed was getting shelves and some storage boxes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t anything terribly exciting. It was that night when I picked up my film from the lab — as I was looking through the film I realized I had made two portraits accidentally. I was so intrigued. As I said in my Kickstarter video, the fact that they were in IKEA was so secondary when viewing the work. They looked so real. It has been my Swedish love affair ever since.

I know you've spent many a weekend at IKEAs all over the country at this point. Did you ever think of giving up, or abandoning the project? What kept you going?

Never. With my work I am very much project-oriented. I get very obsessive about a specific project I am working on and I see it through till the end. Between working, school, and this project, of course there were days when I was just completely exhausted and going to IKEA so often was beginning to take its toll. The prospect of making a book was what kept me going. Daniel Pianetti (he is designing the book and also founded a website called No Layout) and I have been talking for the past year about making this book. And now it feels like all this hard work is beginning to pay off. 

Did you ever get yelled at by IKEA security? Or, thrown out? 

Surprisingly no, not really — I had someone stop me once and ask me what I was doing. I explained to them that I was a student and they were very understanding.

Your subjects look so peaceful in their portraits, were they aware of your presence, or simply, zenning out on Swedish furnishings?

More often than not they weren’t aware of my presence. Either I become invisible the moment I walk into IKEA, or they are zenning out on Swedish furnishings.

Ikea's not known for being scandalous, but did you ever catch anything….controversial while roaming the showrooms?

Hm, that’s an excellent question. I really wish I had a great controversial story to tell you! I mean, i’ve seen couples sneak off to the bedrooms and make-out. As I am typing this I’m thinking: 1.) Wow. I sound creepy. 2.) This would probably be more “PG” than controversial.

And finally, what do you think is the defining thread between all these images taken in all these different places? 

A few months ago I was showing this work to someone for the first time. I didn’t give them any kind of background on the images. They said to me, “Okay Amy, so you’re photographing your family?” They had no idea they were taken in IKEA. To me, this kind of response really exemplifies the defining thread between all of the images. All the photographs at first glance are so ordinary; they take on this family snap-shot quality. When I explain that they were taken in IKEA it added a different layer to the work and made it much more complex.