Adobe Character Animation Panel at San Diego Comic-Con International

When I made “Innocence of Seduction” in 2016, it was a total labor of love- it combined my love of Golden Age comics weirdness, old timey radio dramas and a collage aesthetic, largely made possible because of Adobe’s Character Animator software.  I posted the work on Adobe’s forum and by virtue of having a big fan on Character Animator’s development team, I was invited to take part in a “Motion Comics” panel at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con!  The panel is at 1 P.M. on opening day, Thursday July 20th, but you can check out the short film Innocence of Seduction here…

…and my corresponding tutorials on how I made the film, and operate within Character Animator, are on my Udemy instructor site!

See you all at Comic-Con International!





Inspiration + Influence: Grete Stern

Grete Stern
Grete Stern

During my recent trip to NYC I caught a gallery showing of German photomontage artist Grete Stern at the Museum of Modern Art.  Stern fled the Nazis to Argentina in 1935, and produced a stunning series of images that are impressive for their creative weirdness as well as technical precision in the pre-computer, pre-xerox machine days.

Grete Stern
Grete Stern

The sense I get from Stern’s ideas is what I really want out of “assemblage” kind of art- a concept, completeness to the piece, and out-and-out craft and composition.  As many modern collage artists show up on my Tumblr feed, few can pull those elements as tightly together as Stern did.

Grete Stern
Grete Stern

If you enjoy any of this work I encourage you to like it and share it!  For more photoworks goodness peruse my Etsy shop, follow on tumblr and twitter and instagram, and rummage around on my full site.

Visual Appropriation

Model Aly F shot in Seattle. I scanned a couple vintage postcards and added the elements on top of the photo, with a pulpy texture to hold it together.

Appropriation in the art world is a fact of life.  Every time someone:

-gets an idea from a movie, tv show, lecture, song, other piece of visual art

-creates a work that features a pop culture character, for example drawing a picture of the X-Men, or a character from religion/ myth/ shared culture (Jesus, Zeus, Dracula)

-samples a sound from another recording, or a visual reference from a film or tv show

there is some level of appropriation, or “borrowing something to recontextualize it”. Why this is controversial in some types of art and not others is a big mystery to me. I don’t know anyone who decries movies for basing films off of books or fairy tales. Disney built its empire on appropriation, not bland old Mickey Mouse.

Olive + key
The original image by me, featuring Glass Olive, hair by Vicky Buge and makeup by Claudia Aguilera
collage by Tomek Dakiniewicz featuring part of my original image

Appropriation is a technique I probably couldn’t live without. Sometimes it definitely is about building works on the shoulders of giants- for example, in music, you could capture the spirits of Jimmy Hendrix and John Bonham by sampling their sounds and making them part of your band, if only for one song. Most of the time it’s about making use of pieces that I simply could not replicate. I cannot find a giant cockroach to menace a model and I can’t draw one, so appropriation is the only way to get the image to work.

Mosh battles a giant cockroach. Cockroach image came from a Smithsonian site which I projected on the wall.
A sample from my “Foto Fables” series, which was about 75% appropriated imagery and 25% parts I photographed on my own. The background to this harpy image was from a wall scroll I photographed at the Phoenix Art Museum, and the eagle wings were from a statue in downtown Chandler- so even the parts I shot were appropriated from the works of other artists.

One of my favorite works of appropriation by others is the early 80s film “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” starring Steve Martin. Martin interacts with old film clips and the noir tale is built around the pieces.

Model Glass Olive, bodypaint and background image by Jamie Graden, hair by Vicky Buge. Another creative use of the projector, which used art by the bodypainter projected against a wall. One could argue that a huge chunk of this photo is Jamie’s painting.

It’s incredibly common in music and illustration, and collage is completely about appropriation, but many photographers jealously guard their ideas and secrets and look down on the technique. The only kind of appropriation I dislike is the unimaginative time- the very literal use of an idea, like Led Zepplin playing Robert Johnson songs and calling them their own, or repetitious monotony, like comics artist Greg Land reusing the same images of glam women over and over. There is no substitute for imagination, honesty and hard work.