The Masked Artist
Hank Blum, aka “the stormtrooper photographer”, creates beautiful landscape photographs and videos with a humorous twist starring a stormtrooper as his main subject. In our interview, we talk about his inspiration for getting into this style of photography, as well as why being different is everything and how comfort can be detrimental to the creative process.
Durango Magazine: What led you to this type of photography, and were there any photographers who influenced your life?
Hank Blum: Ansel Adams, Claude Steelman, and Bob Ross were always my mentors. The crazy idea started when I got a stormtrooper costume. It was collecting dust, so I thought, “You know what? I’m going to start an Instagram account and post photos of beautiful landscapes of the Four Corners with the stormtrooper.”
DM: What is your favorite aspect of both the creative process and final results?
Hank: My favorite part of creating is the reaction from fans. At the end of the day, this was for nine-year-old me. I was scratching my own itch. I love hiking new mountains and desert landscapes and love Star Wars, so seeing it being shared by other huge Star Wars fans is humbling. These movies hold a very special place in a lot of our hearts.
DM: At what point did you feel like your creative career had begun?
Hank: It’s probably when I started getting offers of money (laughs) to post on Instagram and requests from people who wanted to buy prints. Even then I questioned myself, saying, “Is my work really that special?”
DM: What’s the creative process like for you?
Hank: One of my goals is to make it funny and original. I love comedy, laughing, and playing pranks on people. Humor is the main point I try to hit.
DM: Do you have a quote or mantra that helps you to remain focused in your life and on your art?
Hank: “Being different is better than being better.”
DM: What’s one of your favorite scenes so far?
Hank: My Bob Ross-inspired photo of the stormtrooper holding a paintbrush and painting Red Mountain. I still cannot believe how awesome it turned out.
DM: What impact are you hoping to make through your images?
Hank: My focus is being me and doing things differently. I want to make people smile. I think bringing comedy into it is a lot of fun. Getting good reactions from something that I’ve created is what makes my day.