Artist Interview: Gigi Goldeen

Gigi Goldeen is an artist raised along the coast of Santa Cruz, California. Studying film at California College of the Arts, she recently transferred to San Francisco State University and is currently studying photography. Competing in surfing and junior lifeguards growing up, Gigi was immersed into a eclectic surf culture. She continues to explore the raw lifestyle and unique individuals in her portraiture. Her practice consist of the traditional photographic techniques using film as well as digital and editing. One of her short films was featured in Patrick Trefz’s film “Idiosyncrasies.”

Tell us a little about yourself and what it was like growing up in Santa Cruz.

I am currently studying fine art photography at San Francisco State University so I go back and forth between city life and Santa Cruz. I am very privileged to have grown up across the street from Steamers Lane. As a kid I competed in surfing and junior lifeguard competitions. Through these activities I have made close relations to my community. When I travel, no matter how beautiful the destination, I am always grateful to come home.


When did you start getting into photography? And where did you hone your skills?

I took my first darkroom class at Santa Cruz High Sophomore year. I started documenting my friends and was very particular about how the photographs were composed. I studied cinema at CCA and that gave me more access to experiment with a similar medium. While at CCA, my color film teacher encouraged my to continue in photography. She inspired me to keep documenting the people in my life and my everyday lifestyle. As far as skills, that came from curiosity and experimenting.

What is it about taking pictures that sparks your interest? What inspires your creativity?

The social aspect of it. Interacting with people and documenting characteristics sparks my interest. I strive to take timeless or dateless photographs where there is no emotional attachment to a specific time period. Shooting mainly in film emphasizes that esthetic. People inspire my creativity especially men. Their gestures, features, and body language are attractive to me.

Do you think there is any advantages or disadvantages to being a female working in your field?

Advantage if anything. I like taking photos of guys and what guy wouldn’t want a girl taking their photo? When photographing girls they are more comfortable. I usually shoot people that I have a personal relationship with so I have not experienced an issue.

What do you think is the most important skill you have learned? And why?

Communication and how to interact with people, delegate, and collaborate. I am very sociable and that makes photography fun.

Can you talk about some of the projects you have been working on lately?

I just recently co-curated a charity event with my mom. The event was called Wet Art with O’Neill being our main sponsor. 36 active surfers in the Santa Cruz community donated a used wet suit. Each suit was distributed to an artist in the community. 36 artists took their suits and created an art piece to be auctioned off. All proceeds went to the Boys and Girls Club and the Breast Cancer Foundation. The show was accompanied by a book, which I designed. The book consists of the artwork, photographed by Tim Matthews, artist’s portraits by Mark Prefontaine, and surfer’s portraits, which I photographed. You can get more info at

What are your thoughts on film vs. digital?

I could have a whole interview just on this question. Personally film gives me the mindset and esthetic I aim to execute. I have concentration with film that I can’t as easily apply to digital. Film is more of a fine art and science. Performance in the darkroom is more appreciated as an art form. For me it’s more about the process and the enjoyment I get experimenting in the darkroom.

Have you tried experimenting with any other media?

I studied cinema for two semesters and continue a personal practice with filmmaking. As far as other mediums I enjoy soldering, welding, screen-printing, jewelry design, and painting. I would like to explore more graphic and web design.

What would you like to do with your talents in the future?

I would like to continue my darkroom practice and maybe expand to printing larger. For a career I am aiming high. I would like to get involved with the creative side of advertising, making ads and commercials. Starting in the surf industry and then more corporate either working in a firm or with companies such as Target, Levi, Budweiser, and Nike.

For more of Gigi’s work, check out her website at

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