Adrienne Cedergreen was born to be creative and solve numeral equations. She is a photographer who studied math and engineering in college and then later used it to her advantage by starting a creative business in photography. Her parents didn’t want her to end up a “starving artist,” and neither did she. But to their surprise, she became a creative photographer. As a child Cedergreen began her exploration of art by drawing imaginary little girls in beautiful princess dresses that she had hoped to one day become. She broadened her skill set by drawing many other objects and taking art classes in grade school through high school. She attempted to take art courses in between her heavy engineering and math schedule but with such a rigorous workload, there was little time for creativity.
In her earlier years, Cedergreen remembers taking photos around the same time the cheap disposable kind came out. She later began to use a point and shoot and used that for a long time. As the cameras got better, so did her pictures, but she never thought she would become a “professional” photographer. It was more of a hobby and she enjoyed taking an insane amount of photos for no reason. In her final year of college, Cedergreen met someone who was, “super indie and artsy and pretty fantastic,” who introduced her to new music and local art stores, where she discovered screen printed t-shirts, stencils, jewelry, comics and many other random things that inspired her. Even though the relationship didn’t last, her passion for art grew. As a few years went by, she struggled to find her place as an artist, so she began exploring different photo apps on her iPhone. She heard about the “Hipstamatic” app and realized how ridiculously wonderful it was. She began selling photos printed on woodblocks and regular print photos. Shortly thereafter, she decided to open a business, so she picked a name, Lyse Bleu Designs, registered it and now sells her work in Portland as well as internationally.
Lys Bleu designs and photography can be described as redefining mundane and boring scenes by capturing the beauty within them. Beaches, cities, suburbs, mountains and the skies are just a few of the common places where Cedergreen ventures to find the unexpected admiration in ignored properties. Cedergreen has developed an eye for grasping objects that may appear uninteresting and turning them into unique pieces of art by playing with composition of light, angles and effects.
How did you decide to name your photography business?
Lys Bleu is “blue lily” in French. As I was thinking about starting my business and trying to figure out a name, I had the worst time trying to decide what to use and be comfortable that I wouldn’t decide I hated the name sometime afterwards. Then I realized that the name I usually use for my username, and have for as long as I have had usernames; bluelily, would be perfect, because I have yet to get tired of it, and it’s almost a part of me. It’s just my favorite color (blue) and my favorite flower (lily), but it’s me. I like the sound of it better in French, though.
Do you do the Mississippi Street fair each year?
I think I have done it every year since I started selling my photos. I have done First Thursdays and a couple Last Thursdays and some other street fairs, but last year I stopped doing everything except the Mississippi Street fair. It’s a great event, it’s fun to attend and fun to sell at. I’ve had my best sales there, but the atmosphere is also amazing.
Do you do any other events around the Portland area?
Not anymore, I sell my photos in a couple local stores; Tender Loving Empire and Nobel Home. I also have photos for sale in a cafe in Astoria; The Blue Scorcher, as well as a furniture store in Japan; ANTRY. I believe the store in Japan actually found me at First Thursday though, when they were visiting.
What kind of clients do you usually get hired to do photography for, any local businesses?
I don’t really do portrait photography, although I am just starting to experiment with it. I usually just take photos of anything that catches my eye, and then sell those. I have started to practice some portrait photography with my friends, but I did do my first hired event for Legacy, photographing their graduation ceremony for the resident doctors.
On your business website you talk about previous relationships and how they contributed to your creativity. Your fiancé, is he artistic as well?
He is a little, but he loves to go to galleries and other art-related events with me, which I love. I love seeing other art, so it’s great to have someone that will always go with me and enjoys it too. He helps me make decisions sometimes too, when I’m choosing which of my own photos to print, or which edited version is better, etc. He’s very supportive and amazing.
You majored in math and engineering. Do you have other work?
I started out in engineering but I don’t have a degree in it, I switched to math and that is what my degree is in. I’m working in insurance right now, not really using the math degree, but yes, I have a full time job as a benefits examiner for short-term disability.
What are your thoughts on being selected and featured at the RAW artist show?
I am super excited. I have been printing smaller photos that are great for gifts, souvenirs, or just affordable decorations for your own home, and I’m doing pretty well in that market. I would like to start selling bigger photos though, so I’m hoping to show some of those in the show and get more recognition in that area, so I can start branching out. I started printing photos on bigger canvas pieces, and will have several for the show. RAW is really supportive, so I’m grateful for all they are doing for us, and for the possible opportunities and recognition that may arise from the show. They have also been pursuing me for a while, so that makes me feel awesome. Since I have been taking photos of everything for most of my life just for fun and don’t have any formal “training”, it was hard for me to think of myself as “a photographer” for a while. I’ve been making that transition, and it’s so encouraging when someone really likes your work.
Lys Bleu designs and photography will be featured at the RAW artist show April 17 at the Bassanova Ballroom. Tickets can be purchased at www.rawartists.org. To see more of Lys Bleu designs visit lysbleudesigns.wordpress.com.
Featured photo by Shannon Wilkins.