EWW: Richard, your websites shows both digital art and photography. In your opinion, what do you see as the difference between photojournalism or just some digital graphic and Photographic or Digital Fine Art?
Richard: Photojournalism is the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast in order to tell a news story. A digital graphic can be art or not and “digital graphic” covers a lot of ground. A bar code is just “some digital graphic” but could also be used in Digital Fine Art or photography. It seems to me that the difference is in the use of the graphic. How the vision of the graphic relates to it’s use and if it’s use causes the viewer to see the bar code in a different or interesting new way then it is not just “some digital graphic” but art.
EWW: This may be a little redundant but in your opinion, are there any elements of digital art that move from simply being a digital creation into digital fine art?
Richard: Yes, I think it’s all about use of a digital element. Think of a circle or straight line and consider during a day how many circles or straight lines you see all day long. These are possible elements of digital art but it is the use of them that makes them art, in my opinion, or possibly how you see them. Some people are more aware of design, shapes, gradation and color than others. Art is really everywhere.
EWW: I have spent some time looking at your website. You appear to be all over the map in terms of subject matter as well as techniques. Do you have a favorite subject matter or technique?
Richard: Yes, and it changes through experiment and time. Consider that in the early 70’s an Apple or PC computer with multiple processors and lightning speed were not available. As time goes by my choice or subject matter and techniques have changes. I dabbled with oil painting while still a teenager but at that age I could not find the patience to learn how to create what I wanted. I liked photography and taking snapshots. In the early 70’s I bought a 35mm film camera and set up a darkroom. I taught myself how to develop film and make prints. Fabulous fun and the darkness of that room made it a bit mysterious and magical to me.
I use elements from my past photography or art in current projects occasionally. Currently I am working on writing, producing, shooting & editing a short film where I can use some 3 dimensional animation I created with live action footage I will shoot using greensceen techniques. I create computer images most days.
I also like to just create an image for fun, like my “famous people pop-art portrait” series where I take a concept and just run with it to see how I can have fun with it.
EWW: If you consider your whole body of work, do you see any consistent themes such as choice of color pallet, movement, style, etc.?
Richard: The consistent thing that I see is my love of color and depth. I look at my work and no matter what I am working on I strive to keep the viewers eye within the image and make the eye strive to find some reference point, while searching deep into the image and back to the front. Creating a play on the viewer’s eye is done by the composition of elements. There can be a pulling of the eye by negative space or some other elements, which trap the eye inside the image and will not let it leave the space. If I can cause some interesting vertigo and uniqueness or familiarity with a shape or combination of elements that evoke a feeling to the brain connected to the eye, then I have succeeded.
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EWW: Tell us about your training in both digital art and photography?
Richard: A very artistic friend told me when I was first getting into photography to “find things you like in my images and put those things into all my images”.
I studied at the University of Arkansas but never enrolled in class there. I knew the sculpting instructor and he arranged with the photography instructor for me to sit in on the photography class. I didn’t really care about a degree I just wanted to learn. I went to the College library and found Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work and Life Magazine, which inspired me. I started working with a company shooting parties and groups. I set up my own darkroom and got freelance work with an ad agency doing commercial work and started shooting events and portraits for myself. I loved landscape photography and started selling my work at art shows and won the largest photo contest in the area with “Best of Show”.
In 1977 I moved to Los Angeles and worked at freelance photography and did art shows. I found work as a still photographer on several movies and continued to shoot landscape images and freelance. I set up my darkroom and continued to experiment with graphic darkroom effects and multiple exposures in the camera. Putting separate images together on the same piece of film became my passion. I found a process with a 35mm and 6X9 still camera that allowed me to create fun images. My work was featured in magazines and newspapers and even used in Movie Advertising. Special Effects all done in the camera, sometimes up to 21 exposures on one piece of film. I experimented with matt painting effects also.
I continued to shoot landscape photographs and freelance clients hired me to create architecture, event and advertising images. I worked with Mitsubishi, Honda, Kia and Hyundai shooting technical photographs for training manuals.
When I finally got a computer in the early 90’s I started doing what I call “Scantography” which is the creation of art using a flat bed scanner. I scanned live flowers and had a part time job as a computer image color corrector for Giclee printing using Adobe Photoshop. I started selling my Scantography images at art shows along with my landscapes and some air brushed painted darkroom images that I had crated. http://scantography.com.
I studied video production at UCLA, which I did enroll, this time. I shot some short films with a friend in Hollywood on 16mm black and white film.
I taught myself Adobe Photoshop in the days when there was only one undo and storage space was scarce. I wanted to learn 3 dimensional computer programs, which came much later. I secured a 3d program and started creating elements to put into my Photoshop creations. I won First Place prizes in Digital Photo Contests and continue to submit to contests.
I am a member of the Culver City Art Group and still sell art at art shows as well as in selected retail shops and restaurants. I continue to learn about 3 dimensional graphics.
To answer your question – I am self-taught with the help of others.
EWW: What do you see as major challenges today for photographers and digital artists?
Richard: Today there are billions of images competing for everyone’s attention and millions of people creating or capturing them. Today, just like in the past, making time to be best you can be, while standing out from the crowd is a challenge. Just like in most things, you have to know what you are doing and the more “right people” you know the better and of course being lucky helps.
EWW: What are the major challenges you see for photographers and digital fine artists in terms of promoting their work and how do you see them meeting these challenges.
Richard: Today, like yesterday, art can be a tough market but some people are doing well. I wish I had a good answer for that question and I would write a book and be more successful.
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EWW: In your photography do you use film or digital? If you have a preference one way or another, why?
Richard: I only shoot Digital currently; as a matter of fact I am putting a list together of my medium format equipment to sell. I never use my Mamiya RZ camera any more and a digital back for it is very expensive. Digital cameras are much lighter to carry and the end product doesn’t have to be developed and scanned to be used in either current print or web publications. Digital storage and printing technology has come so far and will continue to become less expensive and better.
EWW: Are their any “must have” equipment/software that a photographer or digital artist needs to have in order to be successful.
Richard: You know when I started working with computers I didn’t have one of my own, so I either rented time or went to a friends house to do a project. That went on for what seemed like a long time and at that time the technology was changing so fast that it was probably best to just rent. Funny thing, when I finally got my first Apple computer I didn’t know how to turn it on or off but I knew how to use it.
If someone wants to be a photographer then you will need a camera and if you want to be a digital artist then a computer is in order. I think that Adobe Photoshop is a “must have” program for either endeavor. Maxon’s Cinema4d is a great drawing program that I use and Adobe Photoshop. It really depends what you want to create.
EWW: What advice would you give to a photographer or digital artist just beginning their professional or artistic career?
Richard: Find what you like and put that something into all your art. Don’t be afraid to fail and educate your eye to really see what you are looking at. Keep it simple; don’t try to make many statements with one piece of your art. Practice your art in your head, without a camera or computer. Visualize what you want to see when you are finished with the piece and don’t worry if you are lead somewhere else, that’s probably where you should be going.
Get deep into what you are creating and get out of anything that distracts you from creating your own style. Create images of what “you like”, be true to yourself.
EWW: Is there anything else that you think our visitors to our blog would be interested in knowing about you?
Richard: No matter what I am working on I strive to keep the viewers eye within the image and make the eye strive to find some reference point, while searching deep into the image and back to the front. Creating a play on the viewer’s eye is done by the composition of elements. There can be a pulling of the eye by negative space or some other elements, which trap the eye inside the image and will not let it leave the space. If I can cause some interesting vertigo and uniqueness or familiarity with a shape or combination of elements that evoke a feeling to the brain connected to the eye, then I have succeeded.”