Admittedly, Betsy Frost first appeared on our radar through the Instagram account @supportyourlocalbadgirls. She has photographed artists featured in Discorder, including BB, Jody Glenham, Louise Burns, and others we look forward to featuring in the future.
Beginning in February 2018, Frost will be adding ‘gallerist’ to her curriculum vitae, as she works towards opening a shop in Victoria that will exhibit emerging work.
Discorder caught up with Frost in Victoria to talk about this, and other things.
Who is Betsy Frost?
A photographer. I’m a photographer, born and raised on Vancouver Island. Betsy Frost is sort of a created name, it isn’t my real name, but it’s the name I prefer to go by to represent my art. So she’s her own entity, if you will.
Sort of like Ziggy Stardust?
Sort of, I wouldn’t go anywhere to compare myself to somebody that cool.
Most people would know you from your photography work as Support Your Local Bad Girls. How did that get started?
I’ve been taking photos for almost as long as I can remember. When I was about 12, my mom gave me her old camera and at the time, one of my older brothers was a photographer. He was part of a photography collective that was down the street that had studio space and a dark room, things like that. I would beg to go to the studio with him all the time. I would help him in the darkroom, so I kind of got a bug for it.
I used photography almost like a therapy session for myself and I found that getting a bit older, later on in the teen years, that my memory wasn’t so great. So as a trick for myself, I would just rapidly document everything. It started as an obsession, rapidly documenting where I was, the things I’d see, and I would just collect so many images of literally a wall or something. Being a visual person, I’d see that and think, ‘Oh, I can piece this all together from that.’
It wasn’t until about this time last year that I started putting my work online, putting it out there. I compiled hundreds of images over my teen years, but I still, to this day, haven’t shown anyone those photographs.
What other art media do you practice?
I do styling work that comes along with photography, but pretty much photography is all I know. I don’t do digital. I never crossed into that realm. For me, it was just a completely natural thing to stay in the analog world. I’ve never really liked or felt comfortable with the internet and technology, and working with digital files. I’m more of a tangible person. Having the physical, celluloid strips of my images is something important for me. I still watch VHS and have records and tapes; it’s more of a world that I understand. So I stick in the film realm because I don’t understand the other realm, and I’m pretty comfortable with that. I love film. I can’t see myself venturing out into other media such as digital. It just doesn’t feel natural to me.
Would you say this love of vintage media lead to the Born to be Bad Vintage and Oddities?
Yeah, for sure. I used to run Born to be Bad Vintage, which was an online vintage store through Etsy. About a year ago, I decided that I was going to do photography full time, so I stepped away from it. I found that I loved [photography] more. I used to work in vintage stores. I was always very D.I.Y., and I still am even now. My first inclination when I need something for photography isn’t necessarily to go out and buy it, it’s to try and figure out how to make it. So it did feel like a natural progression to sell vintage, and I had amassed such a large collection on my own, it felt like a good way to move some of it.
Let’s talk about @supportyourlocalbadgirls on Instagram. What would you say is the goal?
I never started it with a goal. I got Instagram one day and it was kind of just my private account. @Borntobebadvintage was a business account, and I just wanted a private account where I could just post dumb things like selfies and pictures of my cats and things like that. I just typed it in and that was my name, and then I started posting my photography on it as well. When that gained momentum, I deleted all the personal things and now it has become my photography page. I was never expecting it to happen.
Could you tell us about your upcoming projects?
A couple of friends from town run Camera Traders in Market Square, Victoria. They sell used equipment and analog cameras, and they supply a really good selection of film.
In February, the apartment that I lived in for a really long time burnt down. I didn’t have proper scanning equipment for my negatives or a place to work, and [my friends from Camera Traders] let me use their equipment and really helped me with anything I needed for work. Eventually we got talking and decided to make a gallery space. We’re set to open February 2018. We’ve just put our first submissions call out for a group analog photography show. The gallery is going to be focused on experimental and emerging artists in Victoria. There are always some realms of photography that go unseen or are deemed too weird for certain galleries. Hopefully we can represent more of that.
Follow @supportyourlocalbadgirls on Instagram <3