April 17, 2023

My Story


Hi! I'm Leigh.

One of the most rewarding things for me about being an artist, is connecting with my community.

If you're here reading this now, you are a part of that! Thanks so much for joining me. :)

I thought it might be nice to share a bit with you, about the person behind the art and what inspires it...

Portait of Leigh Schneider

Leigh Schneider, 2022

Where It All Began

I was born and mostly grew up, in the Waikato region in New Zealand. Think: Rolling green hills, the scent of fresh cow pat in the air and plenty of trees to climb.

I also grew up travelling every year, to a small mining town in Queensland, Australia. Expanses of red desert, checking your shoes for Redback spiders and the occassional frog in the toilet, were staples of the Outback experience. It was always an adventure!

Travel has therefore been a part of my life from very early on. For many years I travelled with my Korean bear, 'Kim,' who was often gifted his own seat by a kind air hostess.

Some of the themes in my current work contain ties to my childhood, such as: flight, freedom, isolation and nature. I think the 'otherworldly' aspect to my work, can also partly be attributed to experiencing two very different 'worlds' from such a young age.

travel picture with kim the bear

Travelling to Australia with Kim

Creative Beginnings

My travels brought me all the way to Germany, where the art I make now, really got started. It was in Germany that I found my first models and began to focus my creativity.

I always had a fascination with portraiture, drawing charcoal portraits of models I found in magazines as a teenager. I also took film photography at high school and loved spending as much time as possible in the dark room. The sound of trickling water and the calm of the red light, fostered a unique creative space I still miss today.

I was drawn to Fine Art Photography gradually. My first inspiration was the work of Alexia Sinclair. She spoke at a conference I attended while at University, studying Graphic Design. I loved how elaborate her work was and that it was a planned art form, rather than a real moment captured. When I saw the work of Kirsty Mitchell years later, I was moved. They way she created many of the elements in her imagery by hand and how she told her personal story alongside the work, was beautiful.

But it wasn’t until a house robbery in 2017, that I seriously got started. I had lost all my Graphic Design tech and work to the theft, but was therefore able to reinvest the insurance pay out, into my first full frame digital camera.

Leigh Schneider Gone to Seed

'Gone to Seed,' 2021

child portrait

Felt Pen Portrait, Age 5

charcoal portrait

Charcoal Portrait, Age 16

fantasy portrait autumn

'Lady Autumn,' 2018 (Early, fantasy inspired photography)

The Evolution of my Art

Due to the initial inspirations I had found, as well as being drawn to the otherworldly, I started somewhat accidentally in the fantasy photography genre. I then went on to work commercially, directing and shooting creative concepts for a German design agency. It was via these channels that I developed all the skills I would need to refine my own personal style, which is now founded in conceptual storytelling.

What drew my art in the conceptual direction, was largely an underlying part of how I've always liked to work, in combination with my background as a Graphic Designer. My Graphic Design training taught me the principles and process behind visual communication and how to use symbolism to convey a message. This influenced the motivation behind my workto create with intent and not based solely on aesthetics.

Leigh Schneider Of the Light

'Of the Light,' 2021

What Motivates My Work

While my current work might appear on the surface to be dark aesthetically, the core of my concepts focuses on the light.

I’m inspired by the idea of a world beyond what we immediately see, as well as human emotion and the capacity we all have for transformation and growth. For this reason, I don’t really think of the work as ‘dark,’ as much as ‘stealthily optimistic.’ It seeks to ignite vision for transformation and growth—for a future beyond the shadows of current circumstance.

With some work experience in the social and mental health sectors, I'm driven to address challenging topics in hopeful ways. When representing heavier themes, I include positive symbolic elements for the viewer to discover and contemplate. My subjects are often in a process or posed with a choice.

Let's Connect

Thanks for taking the time to read about me! I'd love to hear more about who you are and what brought you to this page. Feel free to send me a message or follow me on social media via the links below, to keep in touch.

Leigh Schneider Pupae

'Pupae,' 2021

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