100 Creatives

Phoenix Photographer Andrew Pielage on How a Haboob Put Him on the Map

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 99. Andrew Pielage.

Say the name Andrew Pielage, and a few images might spring to mind: a massive haboob, Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture, and breathtaking landscapes.

It was after capturing a sprawling dust storm roll through the Valley that Pielage's work gained a national audience. "Years of hustling and putting in the time, but it wasn't really until July 2012 with my photograph of a haboob that really put me on the map and kickstarted my career in photography," he tells New Times. "Still one of my favorite all-time images."

Now 39, the photographer, owner of downtown Phoenix's Drive-Thru Gallery, and occasional New Times contributor still gets in touch with nature — something he's always loved. "I was raised seeing all the beautiful parts of the Southwest," Pielage says. "It wasn't until 10 years ago I realized that I was kinda good at recording those beautiful things with a camera ... and was done with 9-to-5s."

It's not so surprising, then, that the outdoorsman's favorite book is Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild. He describes Chris McCandless, the book's subject who left everything behind to live off the grid, as having "an unrelenting and sometimes crazy passion for what he wanted to do. We could all use a bit more of that passion in whatever we do." 

I came to downtown Phoenix without knowing anyone and a camera in hand, ready to dive head first into a career in photography.

I make art because of too many reasons to count. Sometimes for historical purposes, sometimes for therapy, sometimes to capture a extraordinary moment, sometimes just for fun!

I'm most productive when I'm busy.

My inspiration wall is full of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, National Geographic imagery, news, and the weather forecast.

I've learned most from making tons of mistakes. Self-taught and tons of mistakes go hand in hand.

Good work should always be challenging and from the heart. When you have a simple project or one you have done before? Challenge yourself to make it better then simple and mundane.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more teaching and sharing of your passion to the younger generation. I not only want to create great photography but also teach and inspire the younger generation to explore their creativity and someday be better at photography then I am. 

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski