Jan Chlebik


"Endless interest is offered to those who want to look"

Jan Chlebik

How do you work?
A bit of planning and a bit of making it up as I go along. You may have an idea, anticipate what you may do and plan for it, but then when you get there you may chuck that out of the window and start again. Or it may turn out exactly as planned! It’s a process that I’m not sure I can explain.

What inspires your work?
My home town, taking another look at what I know. I’ve been lucky enough to have had jobs that have taken me all over the world, but now I enjoy revisiting places I think I know and looking at and photographing them again. It makes you work harder, but I really don’t need to go anywhere else. This is what concerns me, this is what I feel I should be doing.

What are the tools of your trade?
The most important thing I’ve learned was from my art teacher when I was at school. He taught us how to draw but in doing so what he actually taught us was how to look. It sounds obvious but it’s just about having the ability and discipline to really look and see. I feel I’m taking photographs even when I haven’t got a camera because it’s all about just looking, not recording.

Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Not at all. Everyday is different. If you don’t feel comfortable making it up as you go along or reacting very quickly or just doing things on the spur of the moment, you can forget it.

What’s keeping you busy?
I’ve got this book on Manchester that’s in my head. I’ve been taking photographs of the city for nearly 30 years; the only angle is that it’s My Manchester, and that’s what I’d call it. Sometimes you get an idea and it’s so ridiculously simple that it’s either genius or crap. In fact maybe I should call it that instead.