Tag Archives: photomanipulation

Moustache Magazine Interview

The Australian publication, Moustache Magazine, features a detailed interview with me on art and other topics, as well as a look at some of my recent creations. I’m very honored to be part of this site, since MM consistently has compelling posts on great artists like Man Ray and many other contemporary creators as part of its constant stream of of appealing visual content.

Surrealist Photomontage Extraordinaire: Richard Smith

| September 8, 2014

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Words by Michelle Cha

RICHARD Smith is a self taught artist who creates the divinely freaky and macabre surrealist photomontages which will send you back to the time of The Blair Witch Project. The layering of different motifs, landscapes, and photo manipulation sends you in a dark spiral of which you want to keep going down in. A self taught artist, Richard has more than 20 years experience in graphic design work and his career is going from strength to strength. His images are internationally recognised and stands strong amongst the heavy load of photo manipulation artworks out there. He was more than happy to answer some of my burning questions.

MM: What have you been up to in the last month in terms of new artwork?

I’ve been making more of a conscious effort to go out and collect new photos for source material. Usually this takes place organically, but lately I’ve had good results when forcing myself to go out and make it happen. Sometimes, that’s just what you have to do to keep the creative process moving forward. I’ve also done more sketching for future projects and having fun with that, particularly on Instagram.

With over 20 years of experience as a graphic artist, what has been the biggest challenge for you so far?

The biggest challenge is the same as it has always been: staying motivated and putting forth the effort to continue growing in new ways. For me, discovering new apps, experimenting with themes in photomontage, and appreciating the work of others helps tremendously on this front.

The mind bending realities you create with photo manipulation is mesmerising and sometimes unsettling what causes you to take your work in this direction?

It happens quite naturally, really. I’ve always had a fascination with macabre or gothic-type imagery, and that comes out in my art. I often don’t intend a dark motif, although I can see how others have that interpretation.

What kind of photographic techniques do you employ the most? Are there any that you wish to explore further in your work?

I make extensive use of masking various layers and parts of images in creating my photomontages. It’s at the heart of what I create. I’ve dabbled in working with human forms, through some commissioned model shots, and that might be the next realm I would like to explore.

richard

I was overjoyed to hear you are too a fan of Dali and Man Ray (personal favourites of mine) and I see the influences of these artists in your work. Could you explain your growth as an artist?

It all goes back to one central place of creativity. I’ve been a musician, writer, and visual artist, and the three are always blending. For example, as a musician I would be the one in the band who would create the flyers, exploring the visual element there. That’s how I got into graphic design. Now, most of my day job involves writing, but I have the photomontage medium as a visual outlet for my personal projects. I’ve also created plenty of photomontage work professionally, using elements in advertising campaigns, websites, and so on. So for me, growing as an artist is basically continuing to be inspired and continuing to express that, learning in many areas all along the way.

Photomontage plays a big role in your art. Do you stick to a particular process or experiment with different techniques?

I have a vocabulary of techniques that I regularly employ, the main one being masking via layers. I also experiment with negative reversals, vignetting, the occasional border, and a few other arcane techniques. My hero and ultimate inspiration, Jerry Uelsmann , has a similar take on this, stating there are things he does that are like trying to explain to someone how to tie a shoe without actually showing them. That’s about the best way to describe it I’ve ever heard.

Are there places you absolutely love to keep going back to capture images for your next piece?

Not so much places, but motifs seem to reappear like a cast of characters in my images. It’s quite unintentional, but I just find certain elements fascinating: clouds, eyes, hands, trees, etc. Those all sound so plain and simple, but they really are evocative to me. I particularly like taking these basic elements and incorporating their everyday sensibility as a crazy juxtaposition to something unexpected for a metaphoric surrealistic effect.

Do you have any big plans for future in terms of your art?

I have an idea for an app that will foster more interaction with my finished works, as well as give subscribers a glimpse into the process and a look at what is forthcoming. Until then, my website, RSMITHINGS.com, is the main area of expansion for my art.

If you could have three famous people (dead or alive) over dinner, who would it be?

If you ask me tomorrow, I will have a different answer, but today I would have to say Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, and David Lynch. Not only do I respect them as artists and identify with their creative drive, but I am sure they would have endless, fascinating stories.

What would you cook for them?

Spaghetti. No doubt. It’s a family-type meal that everybody likes, and, importantly, one I can actually cook.

Has there ever been a time when you questioned being an artist?

Professionally, sure. But I keep it in perspective — I’m blessed to have found professional bill-paying outlets for something that comes naturally to me, and that is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

What’s the worst decision you ever made?

I’m still alive, so it’s probably yet to come.

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Could you describe your happiest moment?

I’m fortunate enough to say I can’t pick just one, really. I like to believe it’s yet to come as well.

For more on Richard’s super freaky and mind warping images visit his website.

New Works: Surrealism From Nature

Until We Meet Again Come view the most recent works added to the RSMITHINGS.com portfolio of surreal photomontage creations. Three new pieces have just been added: “Until We Meet Again” (above), “Transitional,” and “Be The Butterfly” (below, respectively). Each came about only in the last few weeks or months, and rides along a theme of nature and mystery, incorporating elements from my local area. Links to source files also illustrate the creation process in these pieces. “Be The Butterfly” is even available for purchase for a limited time through Fine Art International. Transitional Be The Butterfly


What do you think? Have you created any art lately? Ever thought about selling your artwork? Have you ever discovered a favorite new artist online? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Immaterial Angel

My Latest Surrealist Photomontage:

Immaterial Angel by rsmithing

“Immaterial Angel”
See full size and source files at Flickr.

Views of fire-scarred trees from Yellowstone, an aerial shot of the Potomac river, and a stylized angle of local sculpture (copy of Gloria Victis by Antonin Mercié) blend together in this surrealist photomontage. I chose the title to combine the multiple interpretations of “immaterial” meaning “spiritual, rather than physical,” or “unimportant or irrelevant under certain circumstances.” I like the notion that an angelic form can encapsulate these concepts and at the same time the viewer can take in the sky-bound point of view that an angel might have, with all of this framed among remnants of trees and new growth spawning from a forest fire — even such devastation can be immaterial in that it is required for new growth. Check out more of my photomontage art at rsmithings.com.

What do you think? Ever created a piece of art blending unrelated elements to achieve a unified message? Does this kind of art resonate with you? What is your interpretation at first glance? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Artwork Feature at Xaxor.com

Many thanks to XAXOR for featuring my photomontage art today! The lead image is my experiment in understanding the work of  Jerry Uelsmann, documented here at “Learning from the Masters.”

Xaxor.com features my artwork today

My art featured at Xaxor.com. Click to view. See more of my art at RSMITHINGS.com.

I happened upon XAXOR.com by way of Pinterest, and enjoy the mountain of interesting visuals there – all neatly arranged in categories. The site describes itself as, “a gallery of the most awesome pictures online. Our frequently updated database contains over 40,000 articles and 1 million photos.” Definitely worth a look if you’re into that kind of thing.

The Met goes Online for the Photo-Sharing Masses

Instagram, meet your ancestors: an exhibit’s digital version bridges the generations of old school photo manipulation and our social media-fueled image sharing obsessions.

There’s an astounding display of pre-computer-era photomontage and photomanipulation now exhibiting at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City: Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop. It’s got everything from vintage trickery to surrealist expressions, all done before the advent of digital tools like Photoshop. In a beautiful irony, the exhibition is made possible by Adobe, makers of the Photoshop software.

But you don’t have visit NYC to see it…

What’s amazing to me, and what inspired this post, is that there’s an equally astounding digital representation of the works available for your browsing pleasure – more than 200 in all. Online, for free. Which is pretty darned sweet.

Faking It - Manipulated Photography before Photoshop at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's website.

Click this link at the site and enjoy.

An innocuous “Works in the Exhibition” link just above the fold at The Met’s website takes you to an incredible look at what’s inside. I call it incredible not just for the content (which is beyond incredible to me), but because it exists online for our easy perusal and sharing. I’m thrilled not only to see such amazing art here, but also to see The Met’s embracing of the digital community in order to promote the exhibit.

The site features an elegant photo slide show, complete with sharing functionality to Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon and other networks. They even offer hi-res jpegs of some of the works for extra-close viewing or downloading via fullscreen mode.

Download select images from the exhibition

There’s an app for that, of course

Perhaps you would prefer to view these works on your iPad? No problem. The free iPad app accompanying the exhibition offers easy browsing of a handful of the included works and an interactive quiz exploring the motivations and techniques.

There's an app for that.The app’s target audience seems to be the kids, and I bet this would make a fascinating case to a young creative mind about the power of photo manipulation as art and the importance of questioning what we see – with the latter becoming ever more important considering the issues raised by digital photo editing and popular notions of beauty.

More than just “fakes”

Long before Instagram or Photoshop, there was darkroom wizardry. What got me interested in the exhibit in the first place was its inclusion of amazing photomontage art from the likes of Jerry Uelsmann (my all-time top inspiration) and Angus McBean:

More than just "Fakes"

Jerry Uelsmann, “Untitled,” 1976.                       Angus McBean, “Christmas Card,” 1949,

In my opinion, the app and companion website add tremendous value to the whole endeavor, allowing people to connect and interact with historically relevant art in ways that are common these days because of experiences like InstagramPinterest – and especially Photoshop. Huge props to Adobe for sponsoring this.

Thanks to the Met’s generous actions in the digital realm, I’m even more inclined now to physically visit the museum, see these works in person and probably buy a catalogue in the meantime (and speaking of catalogues, check out these other more than 300 Met Museum catalogues downloadable for free).

Having been a graphic artist for many years, I’ve practically lived in Photoshop as an operating system, and working there is my favorite part of design, more so than typography or arranging layouts – leading right up to today with my own iPhone photomontage creations:

The Aha Moment - Richard Smith

“The Aha Moment”
More of my stuff at RSMITHINGS.com.

I’m happy to have signed up for a My Met membership thanks to this excellent digital representation, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of what’s to come – something I hadn’t much considered until discovering the online component of this exhibit. Props to The Met for harnessing and embracing the power of the Internet for cultural benefit. Now go visit The Met’s site, metmuseum.org and discover something cool for yourself.

What do you think? Does such open sharing increase or decrease the value of museum offerings? Or is that a non-issue in our world of mobile photography, photo-sharing networks and interconnectedness? Share your thoughts in the comments.