From sketch to collectible: photographer Greg Knott’s “0 Series”

The Torpedo Factory is full of one-of-a-kind art. Whether you’re drawn here by painting, sculpture, ceramics, fiber, glass, or pieces that defy easy description, you know you’re seeing—and buying—work that isn’t like anything else, perhaps not even other works by the very same artist.

So what does a photographer do when an art lover comes in and asks for an “original”?

“I’ve installed pieces in homes where the client explained to me that my work was the first reproduction they’d ever purchased,” explains photographer Greg Knott, who’s known for iconic, multi-panel stories that culminate in a humorous “aha!” At first, Knott didn’t know how to respond to art lovers who told him they loved his work but wanted, somehow, the photographic equivalent of the paintings and sculptures already in their collections.

“Photographers don’t have an ‘original,’ Knott says. “I suppose the negative used to be the original. But then it hit me: I actually do have originals, the sketches that no one was supposed to see.”

Unlike most photographers, Knott sketches out his ideas before he executes them. He’s now gone deep into his personal files to add a new twist to several of his series: a matching panel showcasing the original five-inch sketch that inspired the final work. Each framed, matted drawing is numbered “0,” to show that it’s the only one of its kind—a drawing from the artist’s own hand.

Knott is pleased to have found a personalized solution to the question of making photographic prints more collectible, but don’t be surprised if the “0 Series” makes the typically good-natured photographer a tiny bit wistful.

“Painters often describe what it’s like when they sell something they’ve been working on, and now I know what they mean,” the photographer says. “It’s weird: I do feel like I’m saying goodbye to a little piece of myself.”

Explore the work of Greg Knott at the Torpedo Factory in studio 317—and throughout November, visit the third floor to see what all of our photographers are doing to celebrate FotoWeek DC: new works, studio exhibitions, and more than 300 linear feet of fine-art photography!

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