To que magazine
Welcome to Toxique magazine!
As an upcoming artist, having my first solo exhibition at this moment, I have often experienced how immensely difficult it can be to have your work shown in the best media, have your name enshrined and your pictures respected and recognized. Since I moreover have a huge passion for art in general and through different social media have established contact with many very talented aspiring artists, it is obvious for me to create a free e-magazine where all kinds of talented artists - established as well as unestablished - have the opportunity to have their pictures featured without limitation as regards the number of pages in the magazine, and without prejudices if the artists do not have the appropriate artistic academic background. What is important are talent and passionate dedication. My hope for the magazine is that it - in addition to creating focus on talented artists - in the future might will help to create opportunities for donations to artists and artistic projects that need financial support. And of course it is also my intention that the e-magazine will help spread enjoyment of art in all its forms! In this first issue, Toxique brings focus on four artists who have a very different approach to (digital) photography as an artistic way to express themselves as artists, but they all have the same passion and enthusiasm for creating art in common. Enjoy an artistic journey in the company of Nihil, Mukti Echwantono, Dariusz Klimczak and Tommy Ingberg! Marie Wengler www.mariewengler.com
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Please give a description of yourself, Nihil - where are you from, what is your background, how, when and why did you start creating art? I’m 35 and live in Paris. I started writing when I was about eleven years old. I was just a solitary kid in dire need of an escape from the painful realities I began developing an imaginary, oniric, world that was about to grow more and more with the years. I think I’m still digging into it nowadays to expand the world, even though it’s a long time since my childhood ended. It was changed by my experiences and traumas, expressed differently according to my skills in different domains, but it’s still the same old inner compulsive pulsion to escape, and still the same shelter to protect me from mere reality. I am working on a dark, mystic anticipation novel, the images are another development of the same world. First I began making photos to illustrate the novel, then the images gained a life of their own and I began exploring different ways to express myself artistically.
Are you able to live solely from your art? What is your profession besides being an artist? Unfortunately, I have to work. For now, I manage to balance my budget and buy new hardware, which is good enough for me: I don’t think of art as a way to become rich. I’m not sure a lot of my fellow digital artists are able to live solely from their art unless making a lot of commission works (cd covers etc.) which is not in my plans because I don’t like to follow directions. So I works as an IT guy for now, and I used to work in medical healthcare. I was an animal surgeon, worked in medical research, in hospitals, in houses of old people, etc. I saw a lot of awful images in these jobs, participated making a lot of strange experiments. All of these experiences marked me for a long time, which you can track in my pictures.
Are you assigned to a gallery at this moment? No, I just work with some galleries for exhibitions. We, digital artists, have hard time being considered equals to painters or even photographers. People generally don’t get we that we do art on our own and not simple retouch work for others. By the way, I’m still new in the business: I had my first solo exhibition in a gallery a few days ago.
Why did you choose specific to create photographic manipulated art? It was rather random. I have not learned photo manipulation or anything related - I just tried a lot of different things. But I think I am clearly a visual artist: even when writing, my texts are full of visions and descriptions that follow each other without real coherence. I’m a worthless storyteller! For a long time I used every opportunity I had to play with scanners, webcams and free retouch softwares. I was just experimenting, but I managed to improve enough to be able to create interesting pictures when I got my first decent DSLR. I bought it just to have an extra creativity option, without any previous idea. After a few months, I thought it was more fun and less painful to make pictures than to write, so I progressively shifted the focus from one to another. I’d love to be a painter or a movie director but I have no skills in these domains. Photography is easy but not very interesting to me : it doesn’t separate art enough from mere reality to my tastes. People are ugly and the world is bland, no matter how much care you take. No need to represent that again and again and again. I hate these extremely sharp pictures that we are fed all the time, as if we would need to get even more real. I try to enforce an oneiric, surreal ambiance. So I guess photomanipulation was and is the best compromise for me.
Has your artistic style changed over the years and have you ever tried to experiment with other types of artistic genres? I started taking pictures of urban decay, but you don’t have that much room to express yourself in this genre of photography. A lot have been done already. I’m not exactly sure why I first decided to work on portraits, but since my first session I knew it would be my favourite genre. Since I constantly doubt myself I experiment a lot to improve or to mix my style with new elements and influences. I tried to collaborate wit a lot of fellow artists like Matt Lombard, Daria Endresen, Olivier de Sagazan to find new ways to work. I tried a lot of different genres (textures, urban, spontaneous portraits, etc.) Mostly, these experimentations helped me improve technically but didn’t revolutionize my usual style which is kinda living a life on its own, even against my will.
What or who inspires you when creating art? Are there other artists you relate to or consult with in your creative process when you experiment with new artistic ideas? I was formed and deformed by years of reading religious texts : the book of revelations and Upanishads would be my main influence, along with a lot of other ancient sacred texts. But that’s not a very direct influence. When I start to work on a project, I generally don’t think of a particular artwork or artist. But obviously, like everybody, I’m a product of cultural background and various influences, ranging from medieval painting or indian art to modern pop culture (mangas, videogames, etc.) I could cite Fra Angelico (and the inhuman grace of his characters) in the same sentence as Silent Hill, Gandhara Buddhas and Akira, Valhalla Rising and cathedral of Chartres, the lost identity in the paintings of Olivier de Sagazan or Eric Lacombe, the mystic visions of Alex Grey... My favorite painter would be Beksinski though, even if it’s probably not my main influence.
What is your creative workflow when creating a piece? (do you make any kind of research, sketches, drawings, etc. before creating your art? Do you carefully plan each image before a photo shoot or do you have a general idea that you work from?) I generally get the idea in a kind of ‘flash’ - a vision occurring during a daydream or at random times. These ideas are very precise, I only add or change a few things. Then a long process of degeneration begins : each step forces me to adapt my idea to obstacles and constraints of reality : the model isn’t looking like the character I saw, I don’t have the right costume, I don’t manage to recreate the same light etc... So I test a lot of variations on postures, accessories etc…I give up on some details that don’t work, add new ideas, improvise… And generally finish with a picture totally different from my first idea, but good nonetheless !
How do you select models for your images? Are you using the same models repeatedly and do you know your models in advance before a photo shoot?
I tend to work with friends, always the same two or three ones, because they understand my world and my references very well and don’t have conditions to work with me. Also, that allows entertaining photo sessions. If I can’t work with friends, I try to find a model that both have the look and attitude I’m searching for, and someone I can get along with : it’s easier to direct someone when you feel at ease with him.
Do you maybe even use yourself as a model in your images - if yes, why? Sure, very often, because I know what I want better than anyone ! always have very precise ideas, postures, expressions in mind. Sometimes, it’s simply easier to model myself than to explain someone else how to do. I don’t attach that much importance to who models what since I generally tend to erase everyone’s identity with masks of erased faces.
Furthermore, how do you get your models to perform the positions that you have in mind? Some of them understand very well what I want because they share my references and culture, and do this almost naturally. Some of them are experienced enough to improvise very convincingly and suggest great variations. For everyone else, well, we work our asses off and I try to enforce my idea by explaining and showing. Sometimes I move finger by finger, one centimeter on the left, one centimeter on the rightâ&#x20AC;Ś Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sometimes frustrating.
I assume you use Photoshop in your creative process. What are your favorite features in the program? (if yes, which version) Well, without Photoshop, I’d be stuck to material reality and would never have come to photography. I’m a clone maniac, I think I could do 95% of my pictures with this tool only … But obviously I use about every other tool out there, the awesome Liquify filter, the ‘Fill’ function of CS5, healing brush and so on… I tend to use a lot of masks rather than selections too.
I could not imagine a life without music and I always listen to music when I’m creating a new piece of art. Are you inspired by music and listening to music when you are creative? If yes, what type of music? I need specific music for writing (generally ambient music because I’d be disturbed by lyrics, guitars etc.) For pictures, I just listen my usual music (which ranges from industrial to black metal, neofolk, traditional indian music, noise etc). Creating pictures is ten times easier than writing for me, I don’t need to focus that much, I just let things flow.
What has been the most challenging part about creating your art? And on the contrary, what is the best thing about being an artist? I had to stop writing because that was beginning to be too complicated for me : my huge and ever growing quality standards were going crazy and killed me each time I wasn’t writing a perfect and awesome sentence. That was a pain. Also, I have lot of doubts and torments, because I’m never happy with what I do and always want to do better, or different. It’s a huge source of stress, anxiety and sometimes even depression. Good thing about being an artist is that you’re somehow forgiven for your eccentric behaviors and social awkwardness ! Also, my art allowed me to travel through Europe and to meet, work and sometimes befriend some of my longtime art and music idols : I am very lucky.
There are a lot of digital art on the market these days. Therefore, what do you do in order to differentiate yours from the rest? Well, I’d like to ask everyone else what do they do to differentiate them from me! I don’t really think about it. I have my own culture, my own references, and I know my mind is twisted enough to generate a completely personal and different world, something that will be only mine. I don’t have to force anything : being me is enough to be different ! And, as a matter of fact, I’m sure that in some sort of test, you would separate my artworks from other people artworks easily …
When I look at your pictures I feel extremely fascinated and drawn by the dystopian and quite disturbing mood that you create. Which themes in your art do you pursue so far? What is the theme behind each of your different series of images? I talk about mysticism : how to escape material form and human experience to dissolve in a greater truth. But obviously, that simple idea had to be declined in a lot of different forms : on one side we have the grotesque and suffering flesh, the sickness, the filth, the pain. On the other side, lighting, halos and serene expressions are there to show the way towards something greater. And between these two realities, there is sometimes a continuity and even a coherence, no an opposition every time : that’s what I try to depict in some pictures where divinity occur right into human body, like in yoga doctrines. I also talk a lot about anonymity and loneliness inside the masses, search for identity, perceptions and illusions and how to fight them… I generally flee the usual human feelings like anger or happiness, which are really small waves in the ocean of eternity. So I tend to direct my models like puppets : no need for expression besides a serene absence, everything has to pass through postures, hands etc.
Personally, I have experience that my own images have been analyzed in very different ways depending on viewer - and a few times the analysis of my images do not correspond with the ideas I originally had with the pictures. Have you ever experienced an analysis in an art review of your pictures that you couldn’t relate to? Not really, I’m open to any analysis. I’m a relativist : I think every opinion is valid and wrong at the same time, and mine isn’t more true than anyone else. Actually, I think the artist shouldn’t worry about meaning, message and analysis. That would be the best way to make indigent intellectual art. We’d better worry about what is beautiful and what is ugly, and let our subconscious work for us. Creating from an already shaped conviction is like canalizing wild rivers : it’s sometimes useful, but it’s a shame. For instance I did maybe ten or fifteen pictures with masks or erased faces before realizing I was probably trying to say something about identity research… And that was actually suggested by an interviewer. I don’t feel stupid of void when creating just ‘cool’ images because I know they are actually full of veiled messages and subconscious visions. I won’t let conscious convictions mold these.
Le Jour Blanc
In Denmark, where I live, I often find that galleries and art institutions only want to exhibit works by the already established artists or artists with the right CV. How is this situation in France? Same, I guess. Established art is a business, I have no chance in there. As a dark artist, and an emerging artist, I am only able to work with people who are willing to take risks, and there are very, very few of them. That’s why I aim for Berlin, Barcelona, London etc. In Paris, you can find some alternative places focusing on street art, surrealism etc. but dark art is only featured in metal bars and the awesome Langage des Viscères (an event featuring concerts, performances and art show). So I guess I will have to fight and get through the so-called handicaps that are dark art and digital art, and prove everyone that my stuff is valuable enough. But I’m sure I can upset expectations, because I use the Internet as a new kind of ‘weapon’ and that is pushing the establishment around !
I know you have a web platform called Le Ventre. Can you tell me more about this? How did you come up with the idea? How does Le Ventre relate to you series of images and their themes? Le Ventre (which means ‘the Womb’) is the name of the fiction world I develop. I use it as a context for my novel, my pictures and also theatrical performances. Let me quote my website : “The Womb - as it is called by those who live there - is an underground world, strange and dangerous. An endless maze of dilapidated dormitories, catacombs and abandoned medical rooms. Complex laws govern the area. Since a long time, ruin has fallen upon the central districts of the Womb, and men try to survive catastrophic collapses and decay of the facilities. For everyone, the Womb IS the world, and there is nothing beyond. Men spend all their life immersed in a deep sleep. This is their ideal: oblivion and emptiness. Conscience is a suffering and a curse. A caste of surgeon monks take care of the sleepers and ensure they never awake. On the edge of this weel-oild system, some wanderers, awaken by accident or by will, try to prevent the inexorable decline of their civilization. On the other side, hidden in deserted areas, ancient families of nomad insomniacs aspire to awakening of humanity, and prepare its comeback to the mythical Surface. It is in this unstable world, constantly threatened with destruction, that the story of STH401772, the first among the Dreamers, unfolds. Caught up in a web of intrigue, manipulated by factions with conflicting goals, he tries to find his way. But his initiation quest, fraught with pitfalls, leads gradually to incalculable consequences. Ancient powers, arisen from the mists of time, awake to claim their due. Soon, the Womb will burst as a rotten fruit, and its ruins will give birth to the hope of renewal.”
Extracts from novels by Nihil D uring his millennial slumber, the Firstborn (known to some as Christ Zero) began to dream. He saw a new
world, free of all taint. A still, white ocean surrounding a barren land, swept clean of civilization. Around his bed, a small group of starving children silently played with rocks and pebbles. Naked and blind, they would tirelessly re-enact the same scenes, over and over. Every time the Firstborn wished to speak, they would turn their faces to him and speak in his stead with one voice. Their features were bland and expressionless. They were him, the different aspects of his personality, his fragmented identity... ... When men awoke the Firstborn, his dreams perpetuated instead of dissipating. Everywhere he looked, the scenes from his dream contaminated reality, reshaping it according to his vision. For forty days an forty night, the eyes of the Firstborn remained open. The skies were swarming with myriads of metal insects spreading the echoes of his dream. Slowly but surely, the dream epidemic was infecting the world around the Firstborn, altering its structure. The fabric of reality, twisted by the unique vision heralded by his locusts of steel, was woven into new forms. The world fell into the grip of eternal winter, the stars died and their corpses were buried under thick ashen clouds. Thus night befell the Earth. Around the Firstborn, men silently fell, stricken by his blinding grace. The anointed soul had poisoned the ocean and irradiated the skies. Ancient cities were destroyed one by one. Carnivorous winds scoured the earth, chasing the last refugees. Only those who had joined the catatonic herd, gathered under the earth by the Entero-Prophet were spared. They were four times four thousand. Thus retired from the world, hiding in the bowels of the subterranean metropolis, they fell asleep, never to wake again... ... Beneath the toxic clouds, the Firstborn closed his eyes, putting an end to his schizophrenic dissociation. He had become the world itself and his great dream had devoured reality. The children of the Blank Day, who were part of the original dream, were born from the polluted womb of the last women. They all wore the Mark of the Firstborn, for they were his reflections, the smothered echoes of his individuality. Naked and blind the y populated the ruins of the ancient cities. Plague by anemia, they grew weaker with each generation. Poisoned by radiations, infected with the pathological glory of the messiah, they forgot who they were. They lived in ignorance and remained prostrated where they fell, as if awaiting death. Like their forefather they began to dream, spawning their own identical offspring. Thus they grew and multiplied like cancerous cells, and the identity of the Firstborn was shared among them. They only existed through their collective dream, the fragmented vision of the Firstborn. Little by little, they spread to the subterranean regions, and scattered unchecked about the lethargic metropolis, the Belly of the Enterode. There they learned to serve the great herd of the sleepers...
Then our lord with the hundred synchronized voices rose from the leaden plain. In moments he was breath-
ing and his heart beat to the pulse of the world. He began his rotation and never his nine eyes did close. Nine are the thresholds and nine the cogs of the subsomatic system, and they appeared beneath his skin, rolling heavily in their fibrous welkin like dead stars. The voice of the Firstborn boomed. He was talking to himself endlessly, making questions and answers. His mouth was alive with a devouring plague, his eyes afire with unending blaze. He spoke the language of blood coursing through the veins, the language of bowels ever coiling on themselves. As the egg bursting open, the air fled with a cataclysmic sound, and the plain itself reeled in shock and was marked forever. Nine waves of ash swept the earth. A thousand souls disintegrated under the impact, eardrums bleeding as a strident choir of alarm sirens blared. One by one, the voice enunciated the cancerous commandments. Each word was a new blow struck to the world. Eleven cities of steel were locked and crawled beneath the surface to escape the carnivorous winds. Only one survived, the others were lost forever. Black the skies, blacker the earth. On the bleak waste land, throngs of blind disciples stood still amidst the ashen clouds and turned to the Firstborn, forsaking their endless wandering. Threads of steel extended from his hands to dig deep in their faces, their necks, their shoulders. His words ran through these wires, and the vibrations bored deep in their flesh like needles, reshaping them, creating new organs, rearranging their articulations, obstructing their veins or creating new arteries. The subsomatic cogs inside them were spinning ever faster and they all started to moan in a inhuman, strident voice. When the spinning harmonics became unbearable, the cogs broke one by one, and hundreds of disciples fell to their knees. Then the Firstborn suddenly closed his nine eyes, and darkness fell upon the face of the earth. In an instant, all was swallowed by a death-like silence that nothing could break. [...] Alone, I am alone. There is no blood but mine, and all, all, all of you will share it. There is no soul but mine, and you will see it, once and only once, before you fall. The fruit has opened and ripened. What you are. You are nothing but me: echoes of my dream made flesh, cells of my organism. I am the One and the Many. The world only exists through me. You are the waves: dissimilar in appearance, identical in substance. I am the ocean: one in appearance, multiple in substance. The fruit has opened and ripened, three times three times three times ripened.
Translations by Matthieu de la Goule
You call yourself Nihil Sth - it this your artist name? if yes, what does it mean and how does it relate to your images? My artist name is Nihil (Nihil Sth is because Facebook forces me to take two names). It corresponds to an absence of identity, as ‘nihil’ means ‘nothing’ in latin. It could have been ‘no name’. I try to hide myself behind this absence and anonymity, it’s an important concept in my artistic world.
Noun, nihil (Latin):
Which of your own art pieces is your personal favorite? Saint-Cyanide is my preferred, but I am not sure I could really explain why… Well, on the picture you can track a lot of my influences. For a workshop I recently gave in Norway, I showed students how the picture relates closely to such diverse influences as the dark artist John U. Abrahamson, the fantasy artist Brom, the medieval painter Fra Angelico, the contemporary painter Ernst Fuchs, the video-game Silent Hill, the anatomy master Albinus, the fetish painter Saturno Butto etc.
Which art piece has been the most difficult for you to create?
Well, if you mean “difficult” as in “frustrating”, I guess the most toilsome are failed images which will stay unfinished… Sometimes (a lot of time !) you just can’t manage to make what you had in mind, and are unable to find other, valuable, ideas to save a picture… As everyone, I fail a lot, and hard ! If you mean “difficult” as in “technically difficult”, Soma would be the one. I spent six weeks on it, merging an anatomy drawing with a model. I tend to explore more and more difficult projects, but every once in a while, a simple picture completed in a day is refreshing too. Creating pictures is still entertaining to me, I try not to let the art drama spoil the fun !
Do you have a new series of images in mind for the future? Not really. It is very painful for me not to be more “organized” in my series, not to have an awesome coherence between my pictures… But I tend to think picture by picture, and not serie by serie. Each time I attempted to walk new ways (like my cancer serie, consisting of only distorted textures), I come back to my saints fast. I guess the religious portrait is the theme that is the more fulfilling to me…
Where do you hope to see yourself in the future? Hopes, dreams, reason… All of this conflicts a lot in my mind ! There are a lot of possibilities for my future, ranging from an ascetic monk in a desert to a standard anonymous employee in a mid-size service enterprise… I can imagine living the most awesome experiences and drowning in depression, maybe even both simultaneously… I seek wealth, comfort and happiness then dream to abandon everything to pursue greater goals… I hope to be able to continue creating and hope to be able to stop, since art is just licking my wounds again and again and again… I guess we’ll find out soon…
Dear Nihil, I know you have a solo show together with artist Daria Endresen at XLAB Corrosive Art Farm from 1.6 - 10.7, 2012, in Berlin. How did you get in contact with XLAB Corrosive Art Farm, how has it been to work together with another artist and gallery and w hat is the overall theme of the exhibition? The curator of the gallery found my works on the Internet and proposed me the show. Exhibiting in Berlin is a dream to a lot of artists, I jumped on the opportunity. This is a somewhat underground gallery, not at all the kind of places you’d find in Paris : a very young an alternative audience, the kind of place where you can have industrial performances and propose strange arrangements without problems. I loved it. The whole relationship with the curators was great, very friendly, they treated me like family from the start. I decided to invite Daria Endresen because it was a great opportunity to share. Also, as an anxious guy, I felt that joining forces was more secure… I could already envision myself alone in a void gallery for the opening ! The curators from the gallery fell in love with her works, so it was easy. We tried to isolate this serene, absent expression that you can spot in a lot of my pictures and to focus on these. I showed some classic and some unpublished works. We spotted the same kind of distant look in some of Daria’s works, so this was the theme we chose. The opening went great, and we had the chance to meet awesome people, like artists Karl Persson, Paola Verde and Welcome to Mars. Industrial performer Yann Keller played music for the show. We received a lot of feedback and compliments, that was great.
Le Grand Ordonnateur
What memorable responses have you had to your work? What has the publics reaction to your work been so far? A girl decided to cover her whole new apartment with some prints of mine, that’s really a honour for me to see this kind of dedication ! Other people spare money so they can pay for a print and I am almost worried that they prefer my image to some good food or nice weekend (that’s why I tend to sell my prints cheap, so more people can afford them). I recently had feedback from an anorexic who has been in hospital for seven months and explained me she cried a lot seeing my pictures… For my Berlin show, I decided to show a few English translations of my texts because people only know my pictures and I would like to enforce le Ventre as a complete, multimedia project... At the opening, one guy was fascinated by the excerpts and just covered me of compliments for hours about them. I have never experienced so many compliments before, even from the fans of my pictures. So I guess my texts touch less people but can touch them deeper.
Your art works reminds me of Daria Endresen’s art pieces. How and when did you and Daria Endresen start working together? Have you worked together before and do you have any intension about working together again in the future? Daria is very famous in Europe and I discovered her artworks like everyone else on the Internet. She’s a very impressive, sensitive and skilled artist. Our technic is similar, and even if the feelings we enforce are very different, we had a lot of similar elements : bald heads, wounds, blindness… A fellow digital artist worked with her on a collaboration, so I decided to ask her the same thing. It was early in my art “career” so I was surprised to find that she already knew my stuff and was happy to work with me ! That was an awesome opportunity for me. Everything went fine and we got along incredibly well. Now we share a lot of opportunities, shows and workshops… We often model for each other… I can’t speak for her, but for me she is an awesome model and know me well enough to play really well what I ask. I intend this to continue as much as possible.
How do French culture, politics, social environment, religion, etc. affect your art, if they do? Besides being French, I like to define myself as a European. I grew up in the shadow of cathedrals and I can’t imagine what I would be if I was born somewhere else. My pictures probably would express the same kind of feelings, but in a drastically different form. My pictures are the result of a long tradition of christian art, and even if I’m very influenced by a lot of different cultures, like India, I’m still the descendant of inquisition, monks orders, religious wars, crusades on pagans, church builders... As regards society and politics, I don’t feel affected by those. These are just small ripples in a very long history.
What role does an artist and art in general have in society according to you? An artist have to be no one in society. Creativity doesn’t blossom that much in conformity and social acceptance : artists are marginal, psychos, alcoholics, hyper-sensitive people. They have to stay outside the world, which works with a set of rules that they can’t understand. Artists are receptors that painfully ingest everything world show them, and spit it how they can. They probably can’t adapt that well to anything remotely close to society… On the other side, art itself is the heart and soul of a civilization. What you remember about previous ages is their art and sometimes only this. There is no better way to define Aztecs, ancient Rome, middle-age Europe, 19th century China or contemporary USA, than by their art.
Sister of the Birds
What is your dream project in the future? More saints ! My plans for my next pictures is to actually create real scenes with multiples characters and become inspired by the magnificent compositions of the renaissance religious painters, but that’s not a dream project anymore, since I am already beginning to work on it. I actually would like to work on a new, apocryphal Golden Legend with my saints and my apocalyptical texts, maybe make a book out of it, that would be a great accomplishment to me. Finishing my novel, expanding Ventre performances, exploring video… There’s still a lot to do ! If we want to talk about actual dream-like project, finding actual suitable places to shoot (like an abandoned monastery or old hospital) would be one. I like my neutral backgrounds a lot since I’m influenced by pious images, but still, using actual ruins as background would be a dream.
As I Lay Dying Mukti Echwantono
From the series of images As I Lay Dying
Please give a description of yourself, Mukti - where are you from, what is your background, how, when and why did you start creating art?
My name is Mukti Echwantono. I am a freelance photographer, born the 22th of September and live in the Malang City, East Java, Indonesia.
I have pursued the world of photography since 2007, and I came into the world of photography when I started capturing moments that surrounded me. Hereafter, I was addicted to continue taking pictures.
Are you able to live solely from your art? What is your profession besides creating art?
I work in stage lighting rentals and art is therefore my second job. Art is my true passion.
Are you assigned to a gallery at this moment?
No, but Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m planning on it...
From the series of images As I Lay Dying
Why did you choose specific to create photographic art?
Because I wanted to create works of photography that can be enjoyed forever, and I believe that photographic art may help to represent and express my feelings.
Has your artistic style changed over the years and have you ever tried to experiment with other types of artistic genres?
Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve tried several styles, but the last four years my style has not changed and I now feel comfortable with my artistic expression.
Do you use digital manipulation techniques in the process of creating an art piece - and if yes, to which extent do you use digital software to edit you pictures afterwards?
Yes, I use the digital manipulation of the extent of changing the color or add texture.
What or who inspires you when creating art? Are there other artists you relate to in your creative process?
I have been very inspired by the works of Toni Frissell, Franc- esca Woodman and Helmut Newton.
From the series of images As I Lay Dying
There’s huge amount of photographic art on the market today and it can therefore be hard as an artist to have the best media and galleries featuring your art. Therefore, what do you do in order to differentiate your works? I emphasize the powerful and emotional aspect in my art and distinguishes my work but making it dark - with a tends to gloomy.
When I look at your pictures in your series of images called ‘As I Lay Dying’ I get an association to dead corpses floating weightless in water, surrounded by darkness, drowned in loneliness. Therefore, I’m very curious to hear from you, which themes in your art you pursue? What is the idea behind each of your different series of images? (especially ‘As I Lay Dying’) In the series of images ‘As I Lay Dying ‘I was inspired by Ophelia .... and the idea to the series of images was created in my imagina- tion.
From the series of images As I Lay Dying
From the series of images As I Lay Dying
Personally, I have experience that my own images have been analyzed in very different ways depending on viewer - and a few times the analysis of my images do not correspond with the ideas I originally had with the pictures. Have you ever experienced an analysis in an art review of your pictures that you couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t relate to?
Yes, I have experienced it several times and since that I always choose the image that suits what I want to express.
What is your creative workflow when creating a piece (do you carefully plan each image before a photo shoot or do you have a general idea that you work from)? And what is been the most challenging part about creating your art (especially your pictures taken under water)?
When I get an idea I will remember it in my imagination and ar- chive each idea carefully in my mind. The challenges of shooting underwater is limited time and movement because the model I use is not an athlete diver. Therefore, each pose has to match the breath of the model.
Which photographic equipment do you use in order to take pictures under water (lenses, underwater house)?
I use a canon 5D MK2 and canon lens 17-40mm L. As underwater house I use Digapac.
I could not imagine a life without music and I always listen to music when Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m creating a new piece of art. Are you inspired by music and listening to music when you are creative? If yes, what type of music?
Yes. I am always listening to music. For instance, I always listen to Marilyn Manson, Radio Head and Soulfly.
How do you select models for your images? Are you using the same models repeatedly and do you know your models in advance before a photo shoot? Do you even use yourself as a model in your images - if yes, why? Furthermore, how do you get your models to perform the positions that you have in mind?
I use several models over and over again because they un- derstand me and understand my way of working. And sometimes I use my friend as a model.
Among the dream
Which of your own art pieces is your personal favorite?
A photograph that I gave the title of Remembrance
Which art piece has been the most difficult to create for you? I think the most difficult has been the making of the series of images â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;As I Lay Dyingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;.
Do you have a new series of images in mind for the future?
Yes. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m thinking about being alone in a forest or a savanna ...
Have you ever tried to work together with other artists and create a collaborative art project?
Not yet, but I want to try it someday...
Mukti, you live in Indonesia - for me that sounds incredible fascinating because I have never been there myself. How is the art scene in Indonesia (especially in the main city)? How will you describe the political incitement for supporting artists - established as well as upcoming - in Indonesia?
I hope that art will become more respected than it is at this mo- ment, especially in my town. Moreover, I hope that the govern- ment will establish an adequate art gallery.
From the series of images As I Lay Dying
In Denmark, where I live, I often find that galleries and art institutions only want to exhibit the already established artists or artists with the right CV. How is this situation i Indonesia?
I think the same phenomenon is also happening here. I hope that new talent one day will receive the opportunity to enter the art world and make it more colorful!
How do Indonesian culture, politics, social environment, religion, etc. affect your art, if they do?
Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m affected by some social conditions, the difficulties of life and the social gaps that I believe are too huge.
From the series of images As I Lay Dying
From the series of images As I Lay Dying
How do your family and close friends relate to your choice of career as an artist and to your art in general?
At first they did not support me ... But after they have see the seri- ousness in my art they have now started to support me.
Where do you hope to see yourself in the future?
I hope to experience a bigger development of my artistic career in my future.
From the series of images As I Lay Dying
What role does an artist and art in general have in society according to you?
As one of the media of expressions in society, art does only have a role in its existence. It is the medium of expressions. Art is a medium of expressions for the art itself. As regard what to express, who is expressing, and whom to express these elements are all standing on the other side of art as an art. They’re just elements of knowledge, of understanding.
The passion to create art for an artist is somehow free and un- tangled to the society, which is the ‘role’ of art, the ‘role’ for an artist. The topic, content or visual messages are hidden within an artistic expression and it’s up to the viewer to interpertate.
Moreover, the photographer who takes a specific picture, will never be ‘in charge’ of making people mend their scars or broken hopes. The pictures are all ‘a package of messages’ expressed in the form of art, which for me is through photography.
We might be able to move people with different kinds of arts. But as an artist, you never really have to ‘measure’ the art or look deep into it as a scientist does. Instead, I think the society should have the time and opportunity to understand the content, the medium, and the art the way they want.
Any words of advice for aspiring artists?
The beauty of photograph is not obligately about being clean and bright, we must learn to have a sense, a special touch for it.... so that we can create a photograph which present not only beauty to the eyes, but that also makes an impression to the heart. Therefore, ‘show it with a heart’.
From the series of images As I Lay Dying
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Theather of dreams
Dear Dariusz, you have graduated from an Art School in Zdunska Wola and have worked with photography for several years. This indicates that you must have been interested in art for a long time. But did you already start focusing on photographic art during you education or did you begin working with the photographic aspect of art after your education? (when, how and why did your interest for creating photographic - and specific digital manipulated - art begin?) I have been interested in art since my youth. I studied photography in school, I always liked to experiment and seek new solutions. I did a lot of photos up at some point where I felt that the mere registration of reality was not enough for me, I prefer to create photomontages. I started about 10 years ago and felt it was a new, unrestricted area. Imagination is unlimited, the only obstacle is time.
Besides creating photographic art, you are the former chairman of the association of photographers called FOTOSIS. Could you tell me more about the association? Several years ago, a group of photography enthusiasts gathered around me. We met spontaneously, organized meetings in open air and crazy photo sessions. It soon became apparent that the group had more than 30 people and we became organized in an association. We created an informal group - Fotosis. Unfortunately I moved from my hometown but met the mother of my child. I know that many of these people continues to photograph and I recall the moments we spent together.
At this moment you are a freelance photographer besides being a photographic artist. What genres of images do you shoot in you daily work as a freelance photographer compared to the work you do as a photographic artist? Do you become inspired by your work as a freelance photographer in relation to your artistic expression - or do your creative and artistic approach on the contrary affect your daily work as a freelance photographer? Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m totally independent, not accepting any kind of photographic orders, so I photograph only what interests me. These are mostly landscapes, which are then uses in my photomontages. I work from home - many hours I spend in front of the computer, creating new worlds based on my own photos. As for inspiration, it can sometimes just be a triggered by the smallest things: an interesting texture, component architecture, unusual landscape. It may sound presumptuous, but it inspires me.
You have had several exhibitions already. What memorable responses have you had to your work? What has the publics reaction to your work been? I have had several exhibitions, including some international. It is always a great experience and an incredible inspiration for further work. Most reactions are very positive, there are standing ovations. Especially I liked the reaction, that when you look at my work many people have the impression that theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re stuck with one foot in the dream world, while the other is in the real world.
Are you assigned to a gallery at this moment? For over a year I have been working with Gallery Napora in Kalisz, the oldest city in Poland (more than 1000 years old). I went to the gallery in the connection with an exhibition by Sarolta Ban, a Hungarian artist who creates photomontages similar to mine.
Has your artistic style changed over the years and have you ever tried to experiment with other types of artistic genres? Of course, the style is evolving, it is inevitable. For many years, I have been flirting with surrealism. This style creates unlimited possibilities. But I always tried to maintain a semblance of reality, even in the work of surreal. The ideal compliment for me is the situation where the viewer can be fooled. Besides photography Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m also writing and paly the drums, so - yes, I experiment with other types of work .
What or who inspires you when creating art? As I said earlier, you need a boost. It happens that sometimes I get inspiration from watching the work of others, but usually it is enough for me that I look at their pictures and inside of them find inspiration. But after so many years of working with my imagination, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really need to search for creativity. Music also plays a major role in my creative process. I listen a lot to music, from jazz to classic by Bach to death metal.
Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a lot of digital art on the market these days. Therefore, what do you do in order to differentiate yours from the rest? Unfortunately, there are really few good montages. You do not just paste an item from one image to another, so it is a valuable job. What is needed is an anecdote, humor, idea. Many people forget about the basic issues: the direction of light, proportion, composition. Photomontages, at least in my opinion, should be based on the same principles as the classical picture. What matters is both originality and technique. If the technical qualities are poor, a good idea canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t save it.
What is your creative workflow when creating a piece (do you carefully plan each image before a photo shoot or do you have a general idea that you work from, do you make any kind of research, sketches or drawings before creating art)? This can be very different. Sometimes I have finished a detailed idea in my head. Other times, the work evolves in the process. There are specific concepts and solutions, and sometimes I completely demolish original design. Sometimes I make a sketch to imagine the effect of a art piece before I start creating it and in order to prepare for possible difficulties. But it also happens to me that I throw a project into the trash, on which I have spent two days, because I did not meet my criteria.
How long time do you spend to create an art piece in average? On average, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m working on a project in about 8 hours. It all depends on the number of components and complexity of the composition. Several times it has happened that I have worked for 3 days.
How do you select models for your images? Are you using the same models repeatedly and do you know your models in advance before a photo shoot? Do you maybe even use yourself as a model in your images - if yes, why? Furthermore, how do you get your models to perform the positions that you have in mind? There are many “editors” benefiting from the stock photo. It is convenient, requires no effort or leave the house, but for me it is no solution. If you want to have style, be original and recognizable, use only your own photos. Form of stilt walkers, who are often put on their work, the Polish street theater actors Theatre of Dreams, which I photographed during an outdoor show. I try not to use the same form in several works, but if I sometimes do I modifies it, I add an item, change the proportions or the setting. Sometimes, the photograph of a character specifically for the assembly, but this is rare. Sometimes I use myself as a model, if you do not have other options. It’s a bit more complicated than taking a picture of another person, but on the other hand I’m the one who know the best what effect I want to achieve. My models are often strangers. The best solution for the imagination are characteristic gestures: reaching for something, bending, assassination, outstretched hands, etc.
What has been the biggest challenge and best experience in your artistic career so far? Ironically, the biggest challenge has been to make good, original pictures of my child. Unfortunately, parents lose their objectivity and fresh perspective when photographing their children as seen in many photographic sites - crowded family photos of children who usually do not present any artistic value. To this day, taking a picture of Nina, my 5-year-old daughter, is a challenge. She does not like to be photographed, and I really want to take pictures of her.
Your works are very surreal and reminds me of a dream. Many of your images contain hidden symbolism. Which themes and ideas do you pursue in your art? Which symbols do you often use in order to create a specific mood or effect among the viewers? And why do you choose to keep all of your images in black and white with square frames? My goal is to develop a pictorial Esperanto language understood around the world. The best way to this is by the use of symbols. One picture does actually replace a thousand words. The road, house, tree, lonely man, the desert - they are key words, clear and understandable symbols which the viewer intuitively reads as a message in my works and on this basis creates its own story. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fascinating how differently one can interpret a simple picture. It all depends on the viewerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s erudition, his/hers sensitivity, sense of humor, general knowledge etc. I like the square because it is perfect. It is also easier in the composition of the rectangle. Color sometimes diverts attention from the substance of photos, so I prefer black and white images.
You have a very significant logo - does it has a meaning/symbolism? I have two logos: one consists of the letters from my first and last name (DK), the second logo is a complex weave symbolizing infinity. It means the imagination which knows no limits.
Personally, I have experience that my own images have been analyzed in very different ways depending on viewer - and a few times the analysis of my images do not correspond with the ideas I originally had with the pictures. Have you ever experienced an analysis in an art review of your pictures that you couldn’t relate to? It has happened to me a lot of times, but I do not deal with this as a problem. As mentioned earlier, everyone sees an image differently. Even if you do not know how impose an interpretation of my work, the viewer understands it personally based on he/she’s knowledge and experiences. I often give my pictures titles that do not suggest anything specific so that the pictures aren’t imposed to a specific interpretation. I do not have a single version of history that I will keep and which I will defend. My job is just a starting point, the beginning of the way for the viewer to play with his/hers imagination.
Have you ever tried collaborating with other artists when creating art? I like creative collaborations with others. It is always a memorable experience that provides a lot of emotion. This year I had an exhibition together with Kasia “Kalua” Krynska, a great photographer, a portraitist from Warsaw. Together we prepared for the opening assembly of our photos (my landscape, her grandfather character sitting on a bench and reading a newspaper). The effect not only surprised us.
I assume you use Photoshop in your creative process. What are your favorite features in the program? (if yes, which version) I am a faithful fan of Photoshop for many years. This is a huge software program, still unrecognized in many aspects. At this moment I work in PS CS5. I do not have specific tricks, each job requires different functions. I like to experiment, test results, and not jus use ready-made factory solutions. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to the sitter and the denial of creativity. The thing is that the treatment is effective but invisible.
Which of your own art pieces is your personal favorite? I really like my pictures with people on stilts. Thanks to them, I became a recognizable and I sold many of these works throughout the world.
Which art piece has been the most difficult for you to create? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not a question of difficulty, only the time required for finishing the job. I try to bring this idea to the point where further work can only harm it. If the project is complicated, it requires more work. But I have noticed a pattern: when working on something a few days, the viewer appreciates not only the effect, but the time it spent on the installation.
Do you have a new series of images in mind for the future? A few. The first is a series of images based on the human body, such as an elbow becoming a hill on which stands the house or tree grows. The second idea is a continuation of the series of images Dead Symbols, which started some time ago and to which I gave up.
Dariusz, you live in with your family in a village in Poland. How would you describe the art scene in Poland and the political incitement in your country for supporting artists established as well as upcoming? The fact that I live at the countryside helps me to create, contrary to appearances. I have peace on my mind, more time and fewer temptations than in the city. The Poles have always been creative, even in unfavorable economic periods and during difficult political conditions. Polish art market is booming, but it lacks experience and infrastructure, such as those in Western Europe. Another important factor is the mentality. Few people think of photography as art, and thus, only few want to pay as much for photographs or photomontages as regards other genres of art. That is quickly changing for an artist. How do Polish culture, politics, social environment, religion, etc. affect your art, if they do? The point at which a man is born, raised and lives affect his consciousness from an early age. I value my roots which often inspire me, but I think that the era of the Internet and open borders, has lead to a great mix of influence and inspiration. The issue for a conscious artist today is to be able to separate the valuable from garbage.
How do your family and close friends relate to your choice of career as an artist and to your art in general? They support me at every step, motivate me to success and to stick to my chosen path in life, even if sometimes is difficult.
What role does an artist and art in general have in society according to you? Artists were in every society, from the earliest years. I would not overestimate their influence, but on the other hand if you look at works from the ancient Greece for example which still has a huge influence at many artistic aspects today. This gives food for thought.
Where do you hope to see yourself in the future? So far the future has not entered my thoughts. I like the rural life, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been involved with the Polish and do not want to move. I will certainly travel a lot, like I also do at this moment.
Any words of advice for aspiring artists? The most important thing is to look for their own language. Do not imitate anyone, question authority, experiment and do not be afraid to make mistakes. It is also important to work systematic, develop technical skills and continue to expand technical possibilities.
ear Tommy, please make a brief description of yourself. (where are you from, what is your background, how and why did you become a photographer, and how, when and why did you start creating photographic art?) My name is Tommy Ingberg and I am 31 years old. I am born and raised in Upplands Väsby just north of Stockholm, Sweden. As long I can remember I’ve been preoccupied with photography. When I was 15 years old I got my first system camera, a Praktica with two lenses, and it was then I decided that I wanted to do photography. I needed a way to express myself, and instead of playing in a band, painting or writing I chose photography as an outlet for my creativity. I have been doing photography as a small part-time business as well as a hobby alongside my day job. A couple of years ago I found my own expression in surreal photo montages. Today I work predominantly with these black and white, surrealistic photo montages in a series of pictures I call “Reality Rearranged”. I do my photography in a studio as well as out in the field, and then combine the source material into images on the computer. My pictures start off with a feeling, a story, a riddle for the viewer to think about. I strive for simple, scaled back compositions with few elements, where every part adds to the story, but where there are still gaps for the viewer to fill.
Are you able to live solely from your art? What is your profession besides being an artist? For me art is a serious hobby and I spend most evenings and weekends working on my pictures. For the last ten years I have also been running a small photography business together with a good friend on the side of my day job. By day I work as an IT-consultant focusing mainly on programming.
Why did you choose specific to create photographic manipulated art? I have been photographing since I was a child and tried all types of photography, portraits, concert photography, street photography, nature photography and everything in between. But I always felt like a piece of the puzzle was missing. The motives I sought simply didn’t exist, at least not in reality. A couple of years ago I started experimenting with photo montages and it was then I felt I have found “my” expression, when I allowed the images to grow beyond the camera I could produce the images I wanted and communicate without being restrained by what was in front of my camera.
Has your artistic style changed over the years and have you ever tried to experiment with other types of artistic genres? I’ve tried many types of expressions, like painting and drawing, but photography is what I’ve always come back to. When looking back at my old, non montage, pictures I can see how my current style of imagery slowly, but surely matured into what it is today. Subconsciously it’s been there the whole time in terms of lighting and the choice of a motive, but it was first when I allowed the images to grow beyond the camera that the pieces fell into place and I could refine my style further.
Which image would you characterize as your first real artistic picture? That’s a hard question to answer; I’ve always been drawn to artistic pictures rather than documentary, so without any quality aspects of the word “artistic” I would say I always tried to produce artistic imagery from the first time I picked up a camera.
Are you assigned to a gallery at this moment? No. It is something I have not yet pursued. Of course I want my work to be seen, but I feel that I just recently started to discover what I can do with these photo montages and am still early on in this development. Right now I want to focus my limited time on developing as an artist and finishing the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Reality Rearrangedâ&#x20AC;? series, creating a body of work I can be proud of.
What or who inspires you when creating art? I find inspiration in music, books, movies and art in any form. As for my influences, I’ve been into photography since I was a child and from age 15 and onwards I’ve been doing it as a serious hobby and a small business. I’ve tried all types of photography; street, portrait, concerts, product, stock and so on. Since I’ve tried so many types of photography my influences have been many and diverse, and from classic photography and arts rather than from digital art. Early on it was the great masters of photography like Cartier-Bresson, Leiboviz, Erwitt, Brassai and so on, too many to name. I consumed a lot of photography and had new favorites every day. When I started doing photomontages I started to learn about the great painters and artists from other fields, like Magritte, Dali, Escher and so on.
What is your creative workflow when creating a piece? (do you make any kind of research, sketches, drawings, etc. before creating your art? Do you carefully plan each image before a photo shoot or do you have a general idea that you work from?) My ideas often start out with a small seed, something I find in a song, a book, a movie, something I’ve seen or experienced or a photo I’ve taken earlier. For me creativity does not come easy. I can’t just sit around and wait for an idea. It is hard work, trial and error. Sometimes I can work for weeks and only produce pictures that go right into the garbage bin, but I know that if I keep working, just keep taking pictures and making montages, I will eventually get that one good idea/picture. I have found that if I keep my mind focused on creating it will eventually get the pieces together and produce a good idea for a picture. Often the good ideas appear when I take a break from the creative work and let my subconscious take over. I find this to be a good solution for all kinds of problem solving, not just creative. When I have a solid idea I start working by creating a sketch on paper, photographing and make a rough first draft on the computer. Sometimes I need to do this a couple of laps before I’m happy with it and proceed to make the final composite. I’ve been photographing digitally long before I started doing montages, and since I never really throw anything away I have a huge archive of stock images I can use in my montages. Nowadays I also shoot general stock images for use in future montages. When doing a composite I often combine images from my archive with pictures shot specifically for the montage I’m working on. Typically I shoot my main subjects in a studio with controlled lighting, or if too large to fit in a studio, outside during an overcast day and combine them with pictures from my archive. Even though I do create composites out of just images in my photo archive I find that the results are often better if you shoot with a specific idea in mind.
How do you select models for your images? Are you using the same models repeatedly and do you know your models in advance before a photo shoot? Do you maybe even use yourself as a model in your images - if yes, why?
In most of my images I use my good friend Marcus who is always kind enough to help me out whenever I ask. I use other friends as models too sometimes. I do sometimes use myself as a model. Typically when I need to take a picture right away and don’t have anyone else around who can model. Sometimes it can even be a plus to work with yourself as a model, especially if the subject matter is personal or if I need to experiment a lot to get just the right pose or expression.
Furthermore, how do you get your models to perform the positions that you have in mind? Since I’ve been photographing for a long time I’ve learnt a few tricks on how to direct a model, often the easiest way is to just show the model what you want her or him to do. Since there are so many things to keep track of in a model shoot, I found that it is a good idea to have someone assist you, keeping track of small details you may miss yourself. Some of the more interesting poses are more hit and miss though, sometimes when I’m looking for a more “dynamic” pose I ask my model to move around, like jumping up and down or spinning around really fast in different patterns. These shots often produce poses with really strong expressions.
I assume you use Photoshop in your creative process. What are your favorite features in the program? (if yes, which version) I use Photoshop (CS5) as a tool when creating my images, but Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not really an expert. I learn new stuff all the time, usually by googling when I need to do something I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know how. Photoshop is a fantastic piece of software with endless possibilities.
There are a lot of digital art on the market these days. Therefore, what do you do in order to differentiate yours from the rest?
I really have not thought about art in that way. I don’t feel I’m competing on a market; I just try to do my thing, communicating what is important to me through my art. Even if I do want people to like my images one of the things I learnt so far in my development as an artist is that I’m doing this mainly for me, because I love creating. If I was to change my expression to gain some kind of competitive edge, then it would all be just a big lie.
I could not imagine a life without music and I always listen to music when I’m creating a new piece of art. Are you inspired by music and listening to music when you are creative? If yes, what type of music? Music is a big part of my life, a really big one. I usually listen to Spotify (a fantastic service), but the music varies a lot. I listen to everything and do not have a favorite genre. I try to listen to music that expresses or even amplifies the mood I’m going for in the image I’m editing or shooting.
Your works are very surreal and actually gives me associations to the work of RenĂŠ Magritte. Which themes and ideas in your art do you pursue? Well since Magritte is one of the masters of surrealism it is hard to make or look at surrealism without drawing parallels to his work. For me, surrealism is about trying to explain something abstract like a feeling or a thought, expressing the subconscious with a picture. My current pictures in the Reality Rearranged series are my first try at describing reality trough surrealism. During the two and a half years I worked on the series I used my own inner life, thoughts and feelings as seeds to my pictures. In that sense the work is very personal, almost like a visual diary.
Dear, Tommy, I know you live in Sweden. How is the art scene in Sweden (especially in the main city)? To be honest, I have only had brief contacts with the Swedish art scene and have not developed an opinion about this. Not because of a lack of interest from my part, but I feel I just recently found my form of expression and want to use the limited time I have right now to be creative and develop as an artist.
Personally, I have experience that my own images have been analyzed in very different ways depending on viewer - and a few times the analysis of my images do not correspond with the ideas I originally had with the pictures. Have you ever experienced an analysis in an art review of your pictures that you couldn’t relate to?
I hope that my work can engage the viewer in hers or his own terms. I want the viewer to produce hers or his own questions and answers when looking at the pictures, and I think it is very interesting to hear different people’s interpretations of my images, even if it’s an interpretation I can’t relate to. I think one of the main characteristics of surrealism is that it forces the viewer to think.
Have you ever feel uninspired (a lack of creative thoughts) and have been unsure of your career as an artist, or have you always felt a need to keep on developing your artistic expression and constantly be creative? Of course. I think that this is something that all creative people struggle with. I have a very strong drive to keep developing and creating, and I treat my creative work very seriously, as a parttime job. Often when I feel a lack of creativeness I just force myself to keep working. Another trick I can use is to defuse the seriousness by trying to find my way back to the joy I felt when first exploring the world trough my camera. Just last week I spent an evening wandering around taking very trivial pictures of flowers and such with instagram.
Where do you hope to see yourself in the future? I hope that I can keep being creative and making art, or even support myself by doing creative work in some form.
Do you have a new series of images in mind for the future?
I am planning to finish the Reality Rearranged series this year. After that I plan to make a new series where I will try to change focus from my inner life to the world around me. But this idea is still in a very early stage of development. I am also working on a series I call “Stranger”, the reality rearranged series is very much surrealistic and “out-there” with headless people and scaled back compositions with few elements. With the stranger series I want to keep doing surrealism, but with more complex stories and with a more complex style of imagery. I have also tried to mix in more realism, drawing inspiration from Pictorialism.
Have you ever tried working together with other artists creating collaborative art projects? I have often worked together with other photographers and designers on commercial projects, but never on pure art projects. I’ve had some ideas for collaborative art work, but nothing that’s been realized yet.
How do your family and close friends relate to your choice of career as an artist and to your art in general? I am really lucky to have fantastic friends and family that has always been supportive and helped me in every way they can.
Any words of advice for aspiring artists? Well, I would still call myself aspiring, but the main thing Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve learnt so far is work hard and do not give up. When looking back at my old pictures I can see how my current style of imagery slowly, but surely matured into what it is today. For me this is an ongoing process that so far has taken many, many years and a lot of hard work. Also, sharing your work on communities, giving and receiving critique is a great way to learn and develop.
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