Here is a mix of several interviews I gave over the last few years, further mixed back with more recent notes.
I hope it will shed some light at the process I follow when working on images.
Please tell us more about your art and design background
I have virtually no academic background in art. My dayjob is as software engineer.
I had been involved with graphical arts, but more as a catharsis thing. I almost never shared those works.
I started photography manipulation in 2004, when I stumbled upon UFO pictures and wanted to see how hard it would have been to fake.
While looking for tutorials I found the website Worth1000.com and I started to spend days and nights entering contests there.
It took a lot of trial and error and a fair ammount of constructive criticism from other members, until I could be happy with some of my images.
I've always been addicted to this moment when an idea/concept comes to life into something tangible. I don't think it's specific to art though. Software design and engineering in general is much like the same.
Can you tell us a bit about where you get inspiration for your ideas?
I guess my inspiration mostly comes from scif-fi short stories and novels. I have that huge collection of books, from Clifford Simak to Greg Egan via Phillip K Dick and all the others.
I always like taking a concept and see where it goes when pushed in one direction or the other.
I'm fascinated by a lot of things, nature, technology, science, cultures differences... I'll compulsively look for reference books everytime I stumble upon a area unknown to me.
The consequence is that when I design an image, I will often make connections between remote concepts and come up with (hopefully) something fresh or bizarre.
I will try to mix constrasting ideas and feelings. For example, I like to apply a domain-specific logic to think about something completely unrelated.
Could you describe for us your typical 'start to finish' workflow when working on a photo manipulation?
Well, when I start thinking of the theme, I try to isolate myself and let my thoughts wander. Pictures flow until I get to an interesting visual.
From there, I try to forget about the pictorial content and focus on the concepts. I try to push and stretch the concept in various directions, until I suck up the “juice” of the idea.
Once I have that elemental juice, I start looking for sources. It allows me some degrees of liberty on the scene setup.
I will collect various set of images to account for perspective coherence. Perspective is the most limiting factor when you don't shoot your own sources.
To overcome this issue, I'm working my way around 3D modelisation lately. Hopefully, this will allow me to use small objects exactly at the target perspective.
Merging the main parts will generally give me some time to think about the concept a bit more. I write down whatever potential nice additions comes to my mind during that process.
When the image structure is almost finished and I'm adding small bits, I try to take a step back and have a fresh look.
When I'm done with structure and local color adjustments, I'll generally apply overall adjustment and enhancing.
At that point I consider the final image as a photography and try to simply make it look pleasant to the eye.
What technical equipment do you use? (mac/pc, tablet, software, camera, etc)
I use a PC, and an optical mouse. I had a cheap tablet but never got the hang of it.
Even though I'm a free software enthousiast, I keep using Photoshop as it has some features I can't live without (like layers grouping).
I'm currently learning Blender3D to get more control over small objects in the scene.
Do you have any tips for upcoming artists and designers?
- Fix reality in your sources whenever you have to. Don't say "It was already weird in the original".
- Try to avoid foreground objects coming straight from an edge.
- If you can provoke the same emotion with less elements, it will have more impact.
- If something is supposed to be huge, balance it with some tiny people.
Original interviews :
- May 2007 for Worth1000.com
- Spring 2008 for Kamera & Bild
(Swedish photography magazine).
- Summer 2008 for Abduzeedo.com