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Daily Inspiration: Meet Joie Rey Cohen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joie Rey Cohen. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I received my first camera as a gift from my parents in 1989, and I have been creating fine art and commercial photographs ever since. Shooting 35mm black and white and learning to develop my own film and to create my own prints, worked really well with my skills for creating excellent compositions. After taking my first photography and art history classes in high school, I went on to take as many art and art history classes I could in college. I earned a humanities BA with a focus on gender studies and experimental film and then an MFA in Creative Inquiry/Interdisciplinary Art, with a focus on Marketing, Teaching, and Memoir. I have shown my work on three continents, in over a dozen cities. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Early on and through graduate school, finances were a concern. People would always ask me about my equipment and would judge me based on what I was shooting with at times, but I would often redirect conversations to my techniques and aesthetics. I have always stayed true to my working-class roots, I believe passionately, that it’s not about the equipment, but about knowing your craft. 

During graduate school, I used apps to obtain headshot clients and worked a work-study job in the financial aid and marketing offices at my graduate school. I wasn’t making that much money, but it was enough to survive in San Francisco as a student. I was fortunate that I was able to live in the same studio apartment for 17 of my 20 years in San Francisco. 

When I initially started graduate school, I was studying to be a therapist in a community mental health program. During the second semester, I was asked to create a map of my family, in a family dynamics class. My father was dying at the time, and I had never made art about my family or my life, so I decided to drop out of the program. I applied and got into a new MFA program that was being offered, and my MFA thesis was a visual memoir dedicated to my dad. He passed away during my graduate program. Creating my visual memoir was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life, but also one of the most rewarding and healing as well. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
My fine art is empowerment of a queer, Jewish, working-class experience, where industrial meets nature, gender lines are blurred, and surreal is revealed. through a queer lens. It is where subconscious and conscious collide, with overlapping textures, colors, and symbols. The many layers of identity; including but not limited to gender, spirituality, oppression, privilege, ethnicity, traditions, dis/ability, are figuratively and literally represented through photography and mixed media pieces. I use high contrast, disguises, digital collage, and masks, which create surreal and often gender-free imagery. My process is often a collaboration between my subjects/models and me. My work illustrates the energetic connections between photographer and subject/model, and the goal is to bring to light, the individuality from the people and places I photograph. It is an elaboration of the impossibility of creating work that completely excludes the personal experiences and personality traits of the artist and subject at the same time. Those being photographed become an indirect self-portrait. My most recent project which I completed last summer, is the Queer Tarot Deck, which features 78 original images, and is available for sale on my website. My greatest influences are Del LaGrace Volcano, Cindy Sherman, Annie Liebovitz, Maya Deren, and Floria Sigismondi. With over 30 years of photography experience, I have shown my photography and experimental films, on three continents, in over a dozen cities. 

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I use they, them, theirs 

I am available for fine art / commercial commissions, headshots, product photography, portraits, and more! 

My website: 

The Queer Tarot Deck: 

(415) 424-8732 

By Appointment: 

4340 E Kentucky Ave 

Suite 313 

Glendale, CO 80246 

(In the Workshops Building) 


  • The Queer Tarot Deck $50
  • Headshot Denver Special $150 until March 31st, 2022 (Original price $300)
  • Fine Art Commissions Starting at $200
  • Product Photography Starting at $300

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Joie Rey Cohen

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