I'm speechless with this one.
I wanted to start off this post with an image because words couldn’t describe the image above when I first saw it. “HOW IN THE HELL?!!!” I have many creative visions in my head, but I only go forward with my ideas if I feel like I can execute it. It’s not the retouching part that I’m concern with, although I probably couldn’t pull this off…it’s the tracking down the right pieces to photograph to composite together the image that’s in your head. I’ve been sitting on a couple of ideas for over a year now trying to find that perfect location. I guess the photographer part in me wanted everything to be as real as possible, but then I see something like this and I wonder if I should just try and composite my image together.
So fluid in his retouching!
Some times it's all about the X's and the O's
Meet this week’s Artist Spotlight, Erik Johansson, the 26 year old talent that’s blazing the industry.
The Artist himself.
Some of the bigger brands he’s worked with are Google, Microsoft and IKEA. Oh, and he also did the big illusion in Stockholm, sponsored by Microsoft. If you don’t know what I’m talking about? Check this:
Holy crap! Imagine riding a bike here, I would freak the heck out!!!
“I’ve always been quite fascinated by perspective illusions and some time ago I got an idea of trying to realize one in a public space. My idea was to put up a photo in an environment and actually trick people that it would have depth. Street illusions aren’t new, but I wanted to try and make it as a photo instead of a mere drawing” – Johansson
Here’s how he did the above illusion! How much ink and paper did it take?
The Interview with Erik Johansson
I got a chance to sit down with Erik to dig a little into his mind. Perhaps he’ll reveal some great secret!
Q-How long have you been a photographer?
E-I’ve been photographing all my life, but professionally for just a few years.
Q-Were you a retoucher before you became a photographer?
E-I learned retouch myself when I was about 15 years old, I thought it was a lot of fun and I experimented a lot. That is how I learned and became good.
Q-Did you go to schooling for this?
E-No, I am all self taught, except from some tutorials on th web.
Q-What did you do before that?
E-I’ve always been very interested in computers and I have been studying computer engineering. But photography felt more fun in the end so that is what I wanted to work with.
Q-Do you do all your all your work or do you collaborate with other artists?
E-Sometimes I help other photographers out with the retouch part. But otherwise I usually prefer to work on my own, I actually think it’s hard to show something that isn’t finished yet, I think that is why I find it hard to work with others. The process til perfection can be quite ugly.
Q-Your stuff is amazing, how do you come up with such magnificent ideas
and how much planning does it take to execute it?
E-Well, I don’t really try to look for ideas, they usually just find me. I get inspired by all things around me and things I see. The planing part is what takes up most of the time, that is very important to produce high quality work.
Q-Would you mind telling us the process and perhaps show us step by step
creation of one of your pieces? I love the fish image, maybe that one?
Simplified the process it’s divided into three different parts. It always starts with a sketch, as simple idea. Not many ideas get realized, but if I think it’s good enough I decide to realize it.
The first part is planning. Once I’ve come up with an idea that I think is good enough to realize I need to find the places I need to shoot to put the photo together. This can take anywhere between a few days to several months. I’ve had some ideas on hold for a few years before I found the perfect spot. This is the most important step as it defines the look and feeling of the photo. This step also includes problem solving, how to make reflections, materials etc. realistic.
The second part is shooting/collecting the photos. I never use stock photography in my personal projects, I always want to be in complete control of my photos and feel like I’ve done everything myself. It limits me in a way that I can’t realize all ideas I have, but limitations are good sometimes to define the work. I usually shoot places close to where my parents or I live. The light and perspective is extremely important to create a realistic result.
The final part is putting the photos together. This takes anything from a few days to several weeks. This is actually the easiest step, if I did a good job in the first and second part. This part is like a puzzle, I have all the pieces, I just need to put them together.
The fish took about 6 months to create as it was winter and I had plenty of time to plan where to shoot the different parts, it’s composed of images from about 10 different locations. I’m afraid that I don’t want to show too much from the source images, it takes away a bit of the magic. But I can show you the original fish image at least.
The original fish!
Q-For your pieces of art, do you just use photoshop?
E-Yes, but I would like to learn some more 3d and video softwares
Q-For your personal projects, are you a one man team? Or do you have assistants?
E-I usually work on a tight budget on the personal stuff so it’s often on my own, shooting friends and their friends as models.
Q-Do you use strobes or just available light for your photography?
E-Usually soft light, either available light or sometimes my elinchrom flashes.
Q-I see that you don’t use stock images for your personal work, how do
you find all the missing pieces?
E-That is the big challange and what limits me! I like limitations and I like to feel like I’ve done everything myself in the photo.
Q-I see that people can purchase your art, how much?
E-Reproducion prints are available here: http://fineartpub.com/artists/erik-johansson/
Q-How much do you charge for commission work, I’m not talking about
commercial work, but let’s say a photographer needed your retouching
E-It depends, contact me if you have a commissioned project and I’m sure we could work it out.
Q-What camera do you shoot with, what lenses? What’s your fave lens?
E-Canon eos 5d mark 2, mostly with the Canon 24-70/2.8L
I’m Not Too Proud to Beg
I begged a little more and finally Erik gave up and decided to give us an inside look at one of his projects. Enjoy!
Let's zip around the city!
Here are the comp images:
Thank you so much Erik for taking the time to share with us! Don’t forget to check out Erik Johansson’s website.