As the Community Volunteer for Photomanipulation, it will be my honor over the coming months to share the community I serve with you all and to show you the vast diversity, expertise, and creativity that defines us as artists.
Tonight I wanted to share some voices of experience with you all. The individuals I have chosen to interview for this piece have all been a part dA for at least five years. They have all been leaders in the photomanipulation community by setting high standards of quality through their exquisite works, by being involved in the community, and by setting a positive example for us all to admire.
These artists are:
I asked them to share their insights as to how the Photomanipulation community has changed through the years and things they have learned and witnessed as artists. They were kind enough to oblige, and their answers (and stunning examples of their artwork) are below.
How has the photomanipulation community changed over the years since you've been a member?
I think skill-wise it has grown and flourished very well along with the adaptation of CS, which of course is constantly evolving. We are now seeing lots more new techniques and styles being incorporated; some of the results I have seen are visually stunning to say the least. The growth of the community is constant; even photographers and traditional artists are giving Photo-manipulation a go, which is very encouraging.
Since I joined in 2003, the community has changed in many different ways. From a close, small group of 10-15 manipulators who had strong connections, the photomanip community turned these last years into something enormous. And since it has grown larger and larger it’s sometimes not easy to find newcomers or to give them the support they need. Fortunately, since the number of groups and super groups dedicated to photomanip increased rapidly, we can connect together again and give each other feedback and support, which is to my opinion, the reason we’re here.
It has certainly changed--lots of trends have come and gone--but the big difference I see is that there's more resources than ever, be it stock photography, 3d renders, and even pre-made pictures of all sorts. Not to mention all the great tutorials around.
Hmm.. well I've been a member for almost 9 years now, so lots of things have changed through the years, not to mention the community has grown immensely in numbers! I think what stands out to me the most is how many new categories has evolved from the initial 'clean' photomanipulation. It is still an ongoing debate as to 'when' an artwork is called a photomanipulation and when it is a digital darkroom altered 'photograph'; also, in my case is the case where several digital medias are combined in the art work, such as photos, digital 3D renders, and digitally painted elements. That is why most of my art works are in the 'digital art; mixed media' category - because it no longer only has clean photographic elements in it.
Also, the past many years I have read the ongoing passionate discussion in art forums all over the internet, regarding photomanipulations being 'less of an art form' than digital paintings for example, and I have always had a hard time understanding why people have a tendency to see things in such a black/white perspective. After all, what art is and what it is not is a plainly subjective issue, and no one person has the right to claim what goes for everyone else. I always try to speak only on my own behalf, and I wish other people would try to do the same. I can appreciate all kinds of creative outlets for their artistic quality, it being sculptures, clothing design, doll making, even taxidermy art that is for some people more extreme, I would still call art, since I can see the artistic intention and creative work put into the progress of making it.
The community changed a lot with the tools given. I am watching new artists learning to make brilliant manipulations at a faster pace than they used to back in the day when I joined, and my guess is it has to do with the fact we were more limited in options with our older Photoshop versions and when most of the work was done by mouse instead of a tablet.
Plus, I have noticed a lot more "individuality," meaning artists have developed their own easily recognizable style. For example I could be browsing the manipulation galleries and tell from as much as a little thumbnail who the artist is.
I'm actually at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to this question, because I was on very little for the past couple years due to the birth of my son. As it is, I rarely have time to go through and look at others' manipulations, which I deeply regret. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I know there was some outcry in the community that folks needed to be more creative and not rely so heavily on those popular memes you see represented again and again. It may be my imagination, but I think people have heard that, and I'm seeing more creative, interesting, meme-busting stuff all the time. And I love it.
The community was a lot smaller, and I remember where there was so much monochrome, or overlaying of blue hues. I am really glad to see color make a come back! I feel like the talent here at DA has grown here leaps and bounds over the past 8 years. Like there is a new level of photomanipulation out there, and I love it.
What has been most personally fulfilling about your experience in the dA
photomanipulation community? For example, in what ways has your own art evolved?
For me personally, it would have to be the constant and loyal support I receive from my friends here; without that friendship I think the quality of my art would suffer in the long term. As artists, constructive feedback is important for our growth skill-wise, and I encourage everybody to do this for others as much as possible.
Connections with other artists, feedback and support through good and bad times is what matters the most, and it's the main reason I’m still here today. The feeling of belonging to a big community is also very challenging and keeps on impacting my own art. Each time I create something new I want it to be better than the time before and I also want it to be unique, like something that hasn’t been done or seen a dozen times already. That is a real motivation for me.
The most fulfilling part of my stay in dA is obviously being inspired by great artists and illustrators; I've met great people here and have been keeping track of them over the years. It is great to feel I “grew” with them, and see them achieve their goals or change their vision through time made me realize of what I really want to do with my work.
Well, joining DA was a great influence in my artistic path getting to where it is now and definitely the sole reason as to why I started doing digital art instead of keeping on my traditional 'non-digital' art form that I had developed since childhood. I first started out scanning my pencil drawings, and then colouring them in Photoshop, but soon I encountered the art form of photomanipulation and had to try out what that was all about since I had always loved photographing as well as drawing. That triggered my entire focus shifting from pencil drawings into what I soon saw as an art form that could transform my ideas of fantastical worlds into a more movie realistic result.
I love how all characters in this art form are 'real' people with real bodies/faces that one could meet if all the worlds in fantasy books and movies where available for one to visit. They are an alternative to the often more perfect depiction of the human form that is portrayed in many typical fantasy paintings. That is also the major thing the buyers of my art prints often tell me; They relate to the characters because they look more like the everyday people they meet, even if in a fantasy setting.
I wasn't even interested in art before I joined deviantART. But as I joined I noticed artists who could achieve such beautiful art pieces from simple photographs, that I was determined to learn how they did it.
I've grown a lot as an artist with the help of my fellow artists. Whether it was a good helpful critique, sharing different techniques I wasn't familiar with or the friendly pat on the back I needed on occasion to keep me motivated.
Aside from receiving my DD's--which was a thrill--I'd have to say the inspiration I get from other artists is the thing that tickles me the most about being here. I've seen photomanipulations that just out and out gutted me with their brilliance.
Going through my personal gallery, you can see the evolution of my work, the blending techniques, the stopping of a smudge tool, more detail, and less overlay in texture. It is nice to actually be able to see this and know I am still evolving. I don't think you can ever stop learning or growing as an artist with this medium--or any medium, for that matter. My own personal victory is just truly knowing I am growing, and I have built a great fan base as well as a client base in the past couple of years.
What advice would you give to photomanipulation artists who hope to be in your position (skill-wise but also experience-wise) over the next few years?
My advice would be to try and find your own personal signature style of art; that should be your long-term goal. I admit this is very difficult to do in a community of very talented artists. I always tell others to use the trial and error method; understand the program you are working with then harness its potential into your own work. The most important advice is to enjoy what you do; don't worry about trying to be like others--be yourself and stay creative!
Ten years ago, I would never have imagined that I could ever be a freelance artist, at the head of my own company. Everything happened without being planned. I worked hard, produced a lot of artwork, had the chance to become popular over here, and had good opportunities at the right moment. So the only advice I could give is to work a lot, to network with other artists (give feedback so you receive feedback) and to stay motivated and true to yourself.
Set your goals and practice a lot until you reach them. But above all, enjoy it!
Don't let anyone bully you into thinking you are 'less' artistic or that your art is minor to other art categories, but try to embrace and put into words what it is you love about your particular art genre. If you can put to words the passion you have for it, you will more often experience that people will respect you, even if you did not choose an art form they themselves did. And try to act accordingly in regards to
how you approach people with art forms that you may not understand. Respect goes both ways.
Keep creating, as experience is the best tutor one can have, and time will make you better and better all your life. Even the most famous of artists out there feels the need to evolve and be better than they are now; it never stops. So keep at it, and don't be afraid to experiment!
Don't let longer periods of artistic voids scare you! There can be times when nothing comes out as you wish or when you feel no inspiration. These can be the times where your mind takes in new ideas, perceptions and when you start doing art again you may see the result in changing of style or an increased level of skill. That is my experience at least!
Keep practicing. And don't be afraid to try out new things. If you go way back in my gallery you will see some pretty awful pieces from the days I could barely tell the Photoshop tools apart one from another. I keep them as a reminder of who I was starting out and to show how much I've improved over the years.
Look at other people's work. Really, LOOK. Note how they do things (like how they use light and shadow, how they draw hair). Buy a book or two, to get a good grip on the software you're using. Practice, practice, practice. I actually kept making art 'til it ruined my back. I wish I were joking.
What I would love to see is people taking more time to put together works, adding more detail and using more than a "personal" stock on a premade background and doing smudge, burn, and dodge. I think it is nice to challenge yourself, dream bigger, want more, dig into your imagination and get creative. I would like to see more attention to blending; blending is key to making a piece feel cohesive and fluid. Remember to play in photoshop because you have the option of going back and removing a layer or adding a layer. Play and color outside the lines. Think outside the box, The only limit is your imagination!!!
Thank you all so much for your kindness in participating in this feature.