DigitalFruit is an interview series from Adafruit showcasing some of our favorite digital fine artists from around the world. As we begin this new decade with its rapidly changing landscape, we must envision our path through a different lens. Over the next few weeks we’ll feature many innovative perspectives and techniques that will inspire our maker community to construct a bold creative frontier. The only way is forward.
1. Where are you based?
2. Tell us about your background?
I didn’t actually start making visual arts until the last half of 2019. I never had the dexterity for drawing or painting, and as a kid, I just left it at that. Instead, my creative outlets have always been music and cooking.
Last year was one of the most difficult years of my life. In the end, it left me with nothing but a bag of clothes, and living on a friend’s couch in St. Louis. I had my phone, though, and I turned my attention toward using it to make art. I just couldn’t deal with everything I was going through. It was overwhelming, and I needed to find a way to step back and process things. In a lot of ways that’s what digital art has become for me. When things get rough, and 2020 has been just about as bad as 2019, I can just pick up my phone and create something I’m proud of.
3. What inspires your work?
That’s a pretty difficult question for me to answer. It’s hard to pin down because making art feels like a drive, or a reflex to me. Sometimes it feels like a compulsion.
When I first started making digital art, I felt really limited by the set of tools available to me. I didn’t feel like I, or anyone else would take it seriously. Heck, I don’t even take it *that* seriously, but I realized pretty quickly that there was another way to look at it, that it’s not necessarily that limiting.
As an undergrad, a poetry professor of mine had us write constraint based poems. For the exercise, we couldn’t use the letter “e.” I wasn’t that into it at the time, but over time I’ve grown to appreciate the concept. That exercise taught me that constraints are always a part of the process. No one has every skill and every tool available to them. It’s exploring the possibilities within constraints that’s so interesting.
I like to think about it as the difference between checkers and chess. Checkers isn’t that fun after a while because there are only so many possibilities for gameplay. When you add rules for each piece, that’s what makes chess more complex and interesting. The possibilities in a game like chess are almost beyond comprehension, but with checkers, you can predict the winner based on who moves first.
4. What are you currently working on?
I’m not really working on any kind of project in particular. I’m still just learning and experimenting. I guess you could say I’m focused on making art that doesn’t look like I made it on my phone, or that I’m investigating the possibilities that exist within what I can do on my phone. I have a long way to go, especially considering everything I’ll have to learn when I can finally afford a computer to work on. But, even if I did have a computer right now, I don’t think I’d stop making phone art.
5. Describe your process and what tools you like to use.
It’s not that exciting, to be honest. I’m typically lounging in my comfy chair on my phone. I primarily use Glitch Lab and Snapseed. Color palettes are my usual jumping off point. Once I have a palette, I dive into breaking it up and distorting it until I like what I see.
I like making multiple versions of an image using a different effect for each one, and then layering them on top of each other. I usually create each version using Glitch Lab first, and then put everything together using Snapseed. I probably use Snapseed’s “double exposure” tool more than anything else.
That’s essentially it. It doesn’t sound too complex, but I’m talking about making anywhere between 5 and 20 images before I even start figuring out how I want to combine them.
Another important thing about me process is that I like to start and finish pieces on the same day. Once I take me attention off something, it’s difficult for me to pick it back up. I think that’s just how my brain works.
6. What does your workplace or studio look like? Do you work in silence or listen to music while you work?
My comfy chair or my bed. I usually have some kind of true crime on. I’m a little obsessed with serial killer profiling right now. Otherwise, I usually have the news on. That’s probably more because of the pandemic than anything else. Part of why I like making art on my phone is that I can create art from anywhere that I have electricity, and I’m sure I’d be working on all sorts of different settings, if I wasn’t high-risk.
7. How has technology shaped your creative vision?
Without technology, my phone in particular, I probably wouldn’t be making visual art right now. I’d probably still believe that I have no talent for it. At the same time, it puts a boundary around my vision, daring me to discover everything possible within that boundary.
8. Any tips for someone interested in getting started in the digital art form?
I always tell people to make art and have fun. Make as much art as you possibly can. If you have any digital tools available to you, even if it’s just a phone, see what you’re capable of. I think the phone might actually be a great gateway into making digital art. It definitely was for me. If you have a phone that can run art and design apps, then you have a lot more at your fingertips than you might think.
And don’t let constraints hold you back. Learn to use them to your advantage.
9. Where do you see generative and digital art heading in the future?
I honestly don’t have a clue. I’m just getting into the world of digital art. There are so many things happening, from kids modifying old tape decks to distort music, to other people coding their own tools, and huge interactive pieces. It’s incredible that there are so many artists working from one end of the spectrum to the other. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I hope to see more accessibility and collaboration.
DigitalFruit is curated by Adafruit lead photographer- Andrew Tingle