Paxton Maroney is a conceptual artist based in Dallas, Texas. Her surreal photography invites the outside world to step inside snapshots of her dreams. Working across a variety of mediums and specializing in a wide variety of portraiture, Paxton brings her subliminal life into the waking world, allowing viewers to take on a new perspective while challenging the limits of reality.
Between new projects and exhibitions, Paxton was gracious enough to give us a peek into her process, vision, and what's coming next for this compelling and creative original artist.
Introduce us to yourself, your vision, and your journey so far.
Hello, my name is Paxton Maroney. I'm a conceptual artist and photographer residing in Dallas, TX.
I've wanted to be an artist since I was about 7. I was born in the era of no internet or social media, and I could not be more grateful for that. In fact, the internet didn't appear until right before I went off to college.
As a child, I was either outside wandering around my neighborhood on my bike, finding tadpoles and getting dirty collecting tiny things, or sitting in my room drawing for hours on end. I ended up going to college for Landscape Architecture (parents weren't so keen on the art path and didn't have many creative options left at that time). I did learn a lot from that schooling, though. I learned that I was instinctually a designer, and studying abroad in Italy sparked my interest in painting again.
The path I am on now from where I started has been long, but such an adventure. I'll never stop shooting. I'll never stop creating. I'm a working artist now and I do photography for clients.
My vision is that I hope I get to continue this for a very long time. Always learning. Always growing. Always curious. I honestly think that is what has kept me with a young spirit and an old soul.
How did you get into photography and visual art?
I've used film all of my life. My first camera was a Polaroid Sun 660. I still own it. I didn't start getting into digital until around 2006, and back then what was affordable was such a low resolution it just wasn't worth it. I started to work in a photography studio that year and was more attracted to the post editing portion than the actual photography end. So, I "borrowed" Ps7 from the owner and started to practice and learn all of the tools on my own.
Soon, I got a job retouching for a local photographer. Again, at that time there were no flash drives, so we were burning DVDs. I'd pick up RAW files and burn finals on a new disk and return. Oh, the olden days of technology!
I guess in a way I learned backwards. I learned retouching and editing and color before I ever held a professional digital camera in my hands. When I received my first digital camera, my world changed. I've been shooting ever since. All self-taught. Tauruses are hard headed that way.
“This is how I see the world. This is how I see you.”
– Paxton Maroney
Your work ranges from beautiful portraits to surreal art – what attracts you to creating using different styles and mediums?
I shoot and create what I am truly passionate about and portraits are huge for me. I am one of those photographers that love a human subject to evoke a mood or tell a story in one image.
I do the same thing with my surreal composite artwork. There's something innate inside of me that is attracted to this type of work and it's hard to explain. I think it's important to share that I never sought this out. Photography found me when I needed it most. It's an expression of myself when I can not speak the right words.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I believe the work needs to come 100% from me. It actually comes from my dreams.
I often wake up in the middle of the night from vivid dreams. At times, I lucid dream throughout the day. I've trained my brain to create new chimera images for portraiture using the images I see on the back of my eyelids. When I've scouted out the perfect location, I begin to painstakingly reconstruct the scenes from my subliminal imagination. By bringing these images to life through photography, these symbolic images reveal a deeper meaning and compose a story when compiled into a cohesive series.
For my series West Of 3:00AM, I traveled through West Texas and along the West Coast. The contrasting environments inspired the concept of marking the landscape with lucid squares slicing through, resting in and defining the scale of the planes. As I visited the Joshua Tree and moved through Chino Hills and other parts of California, the experience transitioned from envisioning almost solid structures to a more sporadic pattern of neon lights driven by the emotions felt in the space.
The series Then My Soul Saw You is more organic, less constrained, and portrays a more vulnerable side. These pieces use ominous clouds of watercolor to illustrate a struggle with anxiety, doubt, and sadness countered by rigid lines of stringwork – a creative endeavor to understand the darkness and regain control.
The Anscoflex series was shot digitally through the viewfinder of my Anscoflex camera. Peeking through the glass invites the viewer into the piece. It asks a question and allows a sense of presence. Everything I do is intentional.
“There’s more of a freedom here. Nothing is holding me back anymore. I am free to wander. This is my journey. What route will I take next?”
– Paxton Maroney
How do you use social media and your website to showcase your work?
I'm mainly on Instagram, these days. I have 3 business accounts now.
On my main page @paxtonmaroney you'll find my work as an artist and photographer. I'll post location opps there for shoots. I have one coming up at Monahans Sandhills. The first of many road trips coming up.
I also have a private studio @studio3thewarehouse that photographers or videographers can rent by the hour.
There is also my coveted collection of vintage clothing/goods I'm letting go of @trailno3. I use a lot of vintage clothing in my artwork and shoots. It's time to let them go, so they are available for purchase :) I still have many pieces to add to that page. Again, time is my enemy!
My website paxtonmaroney.com (which I LOVE) is the main go-to for contacting me to book a shoot or purchasing art prints from my store.
I wear so many hats, my contact form is very general so you can tell me your needs. Portraits/headshots, post artwork, retouching, commissions, products, album covers, publicity... I love working with other creatives, and you can see it all on my website or social media!
What’s next for you?
Lots of great things are coming up! First, I just had my solo show, West of 3:00 AM, which can be viewed online. Still selling those works and preparing for a group show at the end of May in Deep Ellum at Kettle Art. (Follow me for updates on show dates and times.)
I now have a publisher and I'm working on a new art book. It's an extension of my series in West Texas, so there will be more traveling ahead and more to create. That info will be shared online, especially on IG @paxtonmaroney. I'm very excited about that.
I'm also working with a new creative agency and working with Refueled Heritage Co. on their new look book this year. I love shooting fashion and product with my point of view now. We seem to speak the same language.
Paxton Maroney is a conceptual artist based in Dallas, Texas. Her surreal photography invites the outside world to step inside snapshots of her dreams.
Working across a variety of mediums and specializing in a wide variety of portraiture, Paxton brings her subliminal life into the waking world and invites viewers to take on a new perspective while challenging the limits of reality.