Tag Archives: photomontage

Scattershot And All

A new photomontage blended from disparate compelling images:

Scattershot And All

Scattershot And All

Treetops from the west, Chiroptera from the east. This is the combined view of an overlook at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles juxtaposed with a bat skeleton from the Nature Science Center in my home state of North Carolina, all shot and assembled over a scattered period of time. See the originals at Flickr. Musical accompaniment: “All Is Not Lost” by OK Go. Poetry accompaniment by William Carlos Williams.

Spring and All
By William Carlos Williams

By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast—a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines—

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches—

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind—

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf

One by one objects are defined—
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance—Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted they
grip down and begin to awaken

What do you think? Ever seen a bat skeleton? Are you a fan of OK Go or William Carlos Williams (or both, like me)? What are you dressing up as for Halloween? Let us hear from you in the comments.

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

Be-The-Butterfly-1024x768

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.

In-Spatium-Appear-In-The-Distance-Richard-Smith-rsmithings.com_

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.

Outstanding Modern Surrealism

Check out the inspiring creations of these seven modern surreal artists working in collage and photomontage

As a photomontage artist myself, I’m constantly scanning Flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and other sites for examples of inspiring work. Every so often, the work of a certain artist consistently demonstrates extraordinary talent and style — in a way that appeals to my fondness for surrealism. I’m a fan of a certain kind of art, and these creators absolutely blow me away with what they regularly produce. Have a look at their websites, seek them out on your favorite image-sharing network, buy their prints, and get inspired by their talent.

Dariusz Klimczak

Dariusz Klimczak - Timer

Website | Flickr

Antonio Mora

Antonio Mora - Beauty

Website | Pinterest

Sylvia Grav

Sylvia Grav - Universe Project

Website | Flickr

Tommy Ingberg

Tommy Ingberg - Will

Website | Tumblr

Sammy Slabbinck

Sammy Slabbinck - Do you remember

Website | Flickr

Bob May

Bob May - Triangulated

Website | Flickr

Jarek Kubicki

Jarek Kubicki - 60612

WebsiteFacebook

What do you think? Do you enjoy a certain kind of art? Are there visual artists you’ve discovered online or elsewhere that you’ve come to follow? Where do you go for visual inspiration? Let us hear from you in the comments.

UPDATE: The artists speak!

dariusz

Only So Much To Say

Only So Much To Say - Richard Smith - rsmithings.com

Stream becomes portal. Tree becomes a mountain range. Leaf becomes Dalí’s mustache. Best viewed at full size.

This is a photomontage I created about a year ago, practically forgot about, then came back to appreciate more completely only later thanks to Pinterest. I remember it taking not very long to compose, and having all the elements come together serendipitously, which, for me, is my favorite manner. This one appears more abstract from a distance, so it doesn’t have the instant recognizabilitly, and therefore sudden popularity, of many of my other pieces — but the reward is there for those with an eye and desire for detail. The abstractedness gives way to a surrealist blending of natural scenes and forms, offering a rich level of intricacy not immediately apparent in a smaller view — which is just the way so much of our digital art world is at first blush on Instagram or many other image sharing destinations. And that’s the inspiration for the title: in the smaller format, there is only so much to say, just a limited amount, for a fleeting few seconds… while further exploration reveals so much more. Check out the originals at Flickr.

Originals at FlickrWhat do you think? Have you ever created something you thought was OK at the time only to come back later with a different appreciation? Do you regularly revisit art or music you’ve experienced in the past and come away with a new interpretation? Let us hear from you in the comments.

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.

Surreal Photomontage Creations from The Everyday

In Spatium (Appear In The Distance)

Check out the latest additions to the RSMITHINGS.com portfolio of surreal photomontage creations. Three new works have just been added: “In Spatium” (pictured here), “Divination,” and “Only So Much To Learn.” Each uses elements from my recent travels, neighborhood snapshots, and otherwise ordinary objects or scenes. My site also features the source images that comprise the final creations.

What do you think? Do you create visual art on a regular basis? Are you a fan of surrealism? Who are your favorite visual artists? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Fluster Magazine Features My Artwork!

Fluster

Fluster Magazine is an Italian-based publication covering art and artists worldwide. In this showcase with a very in-depth interview, they ask many insightful questions about creativity and my process. Fluster is a cultural creative project about personal expression, culture, reportage and recreation from the readers’ different perspectives through dedicated galleries and headings produced by the editors. The magazine is published both in English and Italian. I would consider this the definitive interview to date about my technique and thoughts on the surrealist photomontage medium. Interviewer Marinos Tsagkarakis asked some insightful questions, and I’m hugely grateful to have been featured. Here’s the article, with a few links interspersed to related rsmithing.com content:

Richard Smith explores unexpected interrelationships between everyday images through surrealist photomontage. Working with elements from nature, pedestrian objects, specially-commissioned photos, and scenes from his travels and neighborhood, he fuses these components into ethereal yet cohesive views that transcend their origins. A self-taught graphic artist with 20+ years of professional experience, Smith incorporates assimilated photographic techniques and modern photomanipulation approaches into his hand-crafted compositions at rsmithings.com.

Interviewed by Marinos Tsagkarakis
Up With The Sun - rsmithing

Hi Richard or do you prefer “rsmithing”? Really, what are the roots of nickname “rsmithing” that you chose to use as an artist?

Hello, and thanks for asking — just call me Richard. The “rsmithing” term is my quick online handle, giving some more personalization to my otherwise very standard name. It originated way back when Google rolled out Gmail. By the time I got on board, “rsmith” was already taken, so I added “-ing” as a concise means of personalization. In a metaphorical sense, I like to think of it as the verb form of my name, representing action. It also works for “Richard + Smith + Blogging = rsmithing,” which is my blog (rsmithing.com) and “Richard + Smith + Things = rsmithings” which is where I showcase my art (rsmithings.com). This is the most I’ve ever revealed in one place about the rsmithing handle!

Tree In A Moth - rsmithing

Richard, how did you come to photography and graphic art?

I’ve always loved art, and I remember getting a thrill from when my mom would post my drawings on the refrigerator. Come puberty, I discover rock ‘n’ roll and take up music, and I also get into producing flyers. Little did I know I was teaching myself graphic design. Finally in college, it all comes together at the university newspaper when I discovered Aldus Pagemaker — the digital way of doing what I’d been creating by hand with photocopiers and cutouts from newspapers. From there, I decided on a career in graphic design, and it’s been great. Along the way I continued making music and writing, but graphic art — and more so these days, photography, is the passion that sets me on fire.

The Aha Moment - rsmithing

Please, tell us more about the special technique you have developed for the composition of your images.

My technique is this: I constantly snap photos of whatever’s around that I find interesting. Once the urge to create strikes, I then start a synthesizing journey. Sometimes I know exactly where I’m headed; other times I’m just along for the ride, letting magic from the universe do the driving. 

My process is like carving a sculpture, with the edges of my fingers forming lines to define shapes and reveal serendipitous relationships — not unlike physically placing individual elements as in a paper collage — except I do this through masking, blending and mimicking established photographic techniques like solarization or vignetting. Each piece is meticulously crafted with these and other ingredients, using direct touch to form a hierarchy of narrative. A final composition is the culmination of fusing disparate elements into a kind of empyreal abstract union.

From a technical point of view, I mainly use a now-extinct app called PhotoForge2 on my iPhone, which functions much like Photoshop with layers and masking, only in what I see as a more personal manner. With a smartphone app, your fingers become the brushes; your movements become the brush strokes, and you literally cradle a creation as it comes into existence. Far from being impersonal through a degree of technology, I believe art created this way is extremely intimate. The end result taken in by viewers is something the artist has stared at, in hand, literally touching over and over as the elements come into place.

Star Power - rsmithing

Your images are constructed in many different levels, composed from multiple images. What is the visual message that you want to pass to the people who see your work?

I want people who see my work to understand that beauty is everywhere and that we should take time to notice it. Art surrounds us, whether in architecture, words, music, or just in nature. And having an appreciation for that can make life more meaningful. Through surrealist juxtaposition and taking artistic license with the limits of visual reality, I aim to slow down viewers’ processes of perception enough so that a “wow” moment can happen. Maybe I do that at first with something that’s just visually striking on an initial level, but then layers of meaning can emerge and previously unexplored connections can form. That’s really the most exciting thing for me about any art — experiencing meaning through new connections.

Reverse Ghosts Afloat - rsmithing

Do you prefer to create color or B&W images and why so?

I prefer creating and viewing black and white images. While there’s nothing wrong with color and I greatly respect many artists who use a full range of hues, for me working strictly in black and white is part of distilling intent and message down to the essence. Also, blending stuff happens faster when there are just two colors. =)

Reflection Two States - rsmithing

Richard, how long have you been practiced on this special technique?

I’ve incorporated collage and photomontage in my professional (non-artist-day-job) work for at least a decade now. Much as I do these days for personal expression, I would work montages into advertising materials wherever the fit was right for the client and project. But I’ve been in love with surrealism and, specifically, the photomontage format ever since I was a teenager.

Oneness - rsmithing

Are there any other special process/composition techniques that you have practiced, too?

Sometimes I experiment with rules. Working within a set of restrictions can be oddly liberating and extremely satisfying. What can you do in only one hour? What can you do only with photographs from this weekend? What can be done with photos only from one certain location? I’ve often thought, “why do anything if you can do everything?” So the idea of working within limitations and then pushing myself to do all I can in those paramaters is a process I enjoy and recommend.

On The Verge Of Something Of Course - rsmithing

Are there any specific photographers or artists who have inspired your work?

I owe everything to Jerry Uelsmann. He is the undisputed master of photomontage and my ultimate inspiration. I’ve even done some recreations of his work in my format just to grow my understanding of his vision. I always want to acknowledge Uelsmann wherever possible since his work has been such an inspiration. If anyone reading this likes my work, I recommend immediately seeking out Jerry Uelsmann. It was a mind-blowing experience when I first saw his creations, and hopefully others will have that experience as well.
My direct visual inspirations also include fine artists such as Dalí and Escher; photographers Man Ray, Francesca Woodman, and Minor White; along with contemporary creators like Sion Fullana and Tommy Ingberg.

Momentary II - rsmithing

As I know, you are a musician, too. You play guitar and sang. Do you think that your relationship with music has influenced your work on photography and how is that?

Most definitely, music influences my art. It’s as obvious as the occasional song title or lyric being adapted as a title of one of my visual compositions. Personally, I feel creativity comes from one area in the soul, and it manifests itself in different ways — be that visual art, writing, music, dance… or whatever captures your passion. I loved art before music as a child; I loved music before writing as an adolescent; I loved writing along with art and music as a young adult; and I’ve managed to make a living as a creative person as an artist and writer who also plays music for fun. Inspiration and expression can come from anywhere — you just have to be open to the experience and do what you can to get it out there.

Let Love In - rsmithing

A common characteristic of your images is accuracy and symmetry. We could say that this is mainly a special characteristic of European photographers and artists and that American schools of art are more liberal. As a man who has grown in an American thinking environment, how do you explain that?

Having a formal understanding of graphic design is now in my DNA, so I naturally consider grids, the rule of thirds, white space, contrast, and other traditional elements in my compositions. I employ elements of symmetry and accuracy in my own art as one more way of drawing a viewer in. The human eye generally seeks to understand and organize information, so things like balance and detail help make this happen — part of what I do is to establish this foundation, then take the mind’s eye even deeper through subtle deviation. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time in Rome, Florence and Paris, and have a deep reverence for the masters, so maybe that figures in my art at a subconscious level. I would sure like to think so.

Find What You Love - rsmithing

Do you thing that your images as a work of art, are closer to photography, painting, graphic design or something else?

It all starts with photography, but I certainly don’t consider or bill myself a photographer at all. I have a sense of what makes a good photo or interesting subject, but I’m always thinking in terms of ingredients for photomontages. It’s certainly not graphic design, since that implies a more formal structure than what my pieces have, and also implies missing elements like typography, lines, or mainstream commercial appeal.

My images are closer to painting or even sculpture, since forming the compositions is such a physical act of moving things into place, bending reality into new shapes.

Dream Catcher - rsmithing

If you had the possibility -only for one day- to photograph one famous person, one object and one place in order to compose an image, what would you choose?

My famous person choice would be Dalí just so we could hang out. Or maybe Jimi Hendrix for the same reason, and to see him play with my own eyes in the same room. An ultimate object photograph for me would be Stonehenge, right up close, really taking in the textures and incredible angles from inside and around the rocks. If I could compose an image in one place, anywhere? That’s easy: Hawaii. It’s paradise.

(Images © Richard Smith)

More about Richard Smith’s work here