During this time, I could get in touch with the whole process, from the concept until the finishing touches. When I finished university, instead of going into the advertising agencies I decided to take the path of image creator, which I still enjoy and do with a lot of pleasure.
You are a wizard of digital manipulation. What do you think are the limits, if any, of this form of art?
What is your main source of inspiration?
I think that the limits in terms of special effects and overloading the image with information have been reached. Also the way in which we view the images, like 3D, 360 and Virtual Reality. Only the hardware could be better, but this will come soon.
Probably most of the time it is Internet: Behance, Instagram, etc. Unfortunately I don’t have much time to search for new inspiration on purpose. Just things I stumble upon. Lately, I find curious and inspiring settings in my surroundings, urban scenes, color harmonies, shadows, lighting and reflections. I’m trying to learn more and more from nature and the environment.
I think that in today’s world, where we are surrounded by massive amount visual information, we should explore the limits in the aesthetics and image language.
In my opinion we should search for the limit in another direction: in reduction and subtleness. How far can we reduce the visual impact of an image without loosing the necessary expression? Is there a way to tell a story without screaming? Digital manipulation could still be there; maybe certain visual language is not even possible without it. These are the limits I would like to reach.
Mladen Penev is an artist based in Vienna where he studied Graphic Design and Advertising at the University of Applied Arts. He works professionally as a freelance art director, creative retoucher and photographer, with a focus on how digital manipulation can create a more dynamic and expressive form of image making. His practice is highly collaborative; often his involvement spanning from the initial phases of a campaign to its realization. Tell us about the path from your beginnings to the artist you are now. As a teenager I wished to become an artist. Around 1993, along with the other painting skills and techniques at the art school, I discovered Photoshop and other digital tools but more as a hobby. Five years later I decided that I wanted to study graphic design. That is when I came back to Photoshop as a tool for manipulating images. At twenty, I left for Vienna, Austria, to study advertising. There, I could explore and learn the way images work and communicate. Also one of the teachers (instructors) was the owner of a leading retouching company, so I could learn a lot from him too.
client: liechtensteinische landesbank agency: we make creative director: eva oberdorfer photography: stephan abry cgi: bus group retouching: mladen penev