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Artist Tricks Museum Into Handing Over $84,000 for a Blank Canvas

Artist Tricks Museum Into Handing Over $84,000 for a Blank Canvas

Artist Tricks Museum Into Handing Over $84,000 for a Blank Canvas 1

A Danish museum recently loaned an artist $84,000 to use in creating a new work of art. Instead of using the cash to create what the museum expected, however, the artist delivered blank canvases titled “Take the Money and Run.”

NPR reports that the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, Denmark, gave the money to well-known Copenhagen-based conceptual artist Jens Haaning for recreations of two previous works.

“An Average Danish Annual Income” and “An Average Austrian Annual Income” were works by Haaning from over a decade ago that showed framed banknotes amounting to the average yearly income of Danes and Austrians, respectively. Those frames held 328,000 kroner (~$37,800 at the time) and €25,000 (~$29,000 at the time), respectively.

Instead of using the money he received as banknotes for art pieces, Haaning decided to keep the cash and send blank canvases to the museum as a new work of art that’s a commentary on low wages.

The museum staff was surprised when they cracked open the large crates Haaning shipped and pulled out blank canvases.

“I actually laughed as I saw it,” Kunsten CEO Lasse Andersson tells NPR. “It wasn’t what we had agreed on in the contract, but we got new and interesting art.”

“It is a breach of contract, and breach of contract is part of the work,” Haaning tells Danish public broadcaster DR. “The work is that I have taken their money.”

“Everyone would like to have more money and, in our society, work industries are valued differently,” Haaning said in a statement, according to CBS News. “The artwork is essentially about the working conditions of artists. It is a statement saying that we also have the responsibility of questioning the structures that we are part of.

“And if these structures are completely unreasonable, we must break with them. It can be your marriage, your work – it can be any type of societal structure”.

The museum is now demanding its money back, but it has decided to exhibit the new unexpected artwork anyway as part of its exhibition titled “Work It Out“, which focuses on the future of work.


“I encourage other people who have just as miserable working conditions as me to do the same,” Haaning told the DR radio program P1 Morgen, translated by Artnet News. “If they are sitting on some s**t job and not getting money and are actually being asked to give money to go to work, then take the box and [run] off.”

Haaning now has a contractual deadline of January 16, 2022, when the exhibition concludes, to return the $84,000 to the museum. The artist says he has no plans to return the money, but the museum is waiting to see what happens when the deadline passes before deciding on its course of action.


Image credits: Header photo by the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art.

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The 5 Biggest Mistakes a Seasoned Photographer Made as an Artist

The 5 Biggest Mistakes a Seasoned Photographer Made as an Artist

Photography is an art form, and sometimes, we can forget to treat it as such and to help ourselves grow as artists. This excellent video featured a seasoned photographer detailing five mistakes he has made as an artist and how to avoid or fix them.

Coming to you from Serge Ramelli Photography, this interesting video details the five biggest mistakes he has made as a photographer. By far, the most common mistake I see people make is forsaking their creative ideas and voice to pander to whatever the latest social media trends are. Of course, if you are a professional, there is something to be said for being aware of popular looks and being able to offer them to clients, but when it comes to your artistic voice, not being true to yourself is a dangerous road to walk down. First, you will have trouble establishing any sort of recognizable personal style, which may make it difficult to distinguish yourself in the long run. Second, and maybe more importantly, you will start to fall out of love with photography, as you are not being true to yourself, and isn’t love of the craft the reason we all picked up a camera in the first place? Check out the video above for the full rundown from Ramelli. 

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A Powerful Tool To Keep Your Spirits up Even in the Uneven Life of an Artist

A Powerful Tool To Keep Your Spirits up Even in the Uneven Life of an Artist

Making a living in an oversaturated marketplace can be a challenge even without a global pandemic present to further shrink the marketplace. It takes a lot of tools, even some unexpected ones, to make it the distance.

There I was. Flat on my back on one of the most comfortable mattresses ever created. Just about five feet above me was a skylight, running maybe six feet on the long end. The skylight was slanted a bit so that debris would roll easily off the roof. Over the previous days, I had found it nothing less than Zen-like to awaken to the soft glow of that skylight as the sun began to emerge through pillowy clouds. At that particular moment, those clouds had something extra to offer and my view of the skylight was decorated by heavy rain which rolled down the slanted glass drop by drop.

Of course, I could have moved to a different bed. The log cabin which, as best as I can guess, serves as a camp dormitory during the summer seasons, was outfitted with seven different beds spread out around the house. And while I usually found the second-floor bed underneath the skylight to be the best overnight location, I did make a point over the course of the long weekend to at least take a nap in every bed on the premises. It was a lost weekend in a sleepy town on the coast of Oregon. A terrain and a locale I don’t often get to see. A moment of solace I don’t often get to experience in the hustle and bustle of life.  

Those few moments when I didn’t find myself tucked carefully beneath a litany of blankets would find me strolling carefully along the edge of the town’s single main road. I had a rental car. So, it’s not like I had to walk. But the rocky beach was literally less than a half-mile away from the cabin. Another quarter mile up the road was the town’s only real commercial strip were the closest thing I could find to a supermarket was a small convenience store, which, while quaint, had about as much inventory as a gas station pit stop. Luckily, there were a number of small restaurants, most touting freshly caught seafood, to quell my hunger.

About another mile up the road was a hiking trail. It seemed like the type of place that would be mostly empty even in the busiest of times. Hiking there in the cold and damp winter months left me with most of the grounds all to myself. The proverbial walk in the woods. A clear moment to be alone with my thoughts and to take in events of the year led me to be standing both literally and figuratively atop a mountain, staring off at the beautiful crashing waves in the distance.

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Now, at this point in the essay, you are likely starting to think that you have accidentally landed on a Travelodge or that I am auditioning for a role as the host of a new vacation-themed reality show. You may also think me the laziest man on Earth, following my dedicated prose on sleeping options and my apparent cruelty to the Airbnb host who would have to remake every bed for a single occupant. But as I was standing on that mountaintop, listening to the waves crashing beneath me, the thought running through my head didn’t include the exact thread count of the blankets in the cabin, nor was I calculating profit margin or planning my next shoot. No, at that very moment, there was only one word running through my mind. It is both an end result as well as one of the primary reasons I found myself on that mountain top one cold December day. My only thought was of gratitude.

To be successful at anything in life, especially an entrepreneurial pursuit, requires you to have an excess of ambition. Unless you accidentally trip over a hidden oil well in your backyard, it’s highly likely that whatever success you garner will be the result of hard work. People who get more out of life tend to be people who put more into it. And for those efforts, they expect a lot in return. 

But there is a downside to ambition. For the truly ambitious person, success, or their chosen definition of success, may very well be within grasp. But the cruel irony is that no matter how much you succeed, human beings will always find a way to want more. Success itself can be addicting. Like a powerful drug that you can’t seem to stop injecting. Every time you taste success you will want more and more. And, if you are fortunate enough to receive a great deal of success, you may soon find yourself unfortunate enough to experience the diminishing high associated with each successive accomplishment.

You’ve always dreamed of seeing your work on a billboard. Now, it happens, and the only thing you can think about is having your work on the bigger billboard across the street. You finally win that prestigious photo award. In fact, you win it three years in a row. But, while the first time was a rush, by the third time, the win has simply become an expectation and no longer gives you the jolt of electricity when you receive the news. Worse yet, when you inevitably don’t win the award one year, rather than your mind receiving the news as normal to not always win every award, you instead start to think that the fact that you didn’t win a five thousand to one bet is a personal failing.

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Success is a moving target. It’s impossible to pin down. And the very minute you think you’ve achieved it is the exact moment you will find yourself wanting more.

It doesn’t help that we live in a society that increasingly values success, or more specifically,, the performance of success, real or imagined, over the substance of hard work. We are surrounded 24/7 by social media imagery highly curated to present only our happiest moments to the world. We live in a world where we only encounter each other’s greatest hits album while the deeper cuts remain hidden for fear of a deficiency of likes. We are both victims of this newfound artifice and its perpetrators.  

Personally, I have been fortunate to accomplish more in my photography career than I ever thought imaginable when I first picked up a camera as a hobby. Put all the accomplishments together and they paint a decidedly positive picture. But, even I feel the pangs of jealousy when I see a succession of my colleagues booking big jobs in one post after another. Forget about the fact that I have no idea how long it’s been between big gigs for them in reality. Forget about the fact that the job they booked may not even be one that I would want. The innate competitiveness of an ambitious person can trick the mind into thinking that every bid you don’t win is a personal loss. That’s nonsense.  

On the flip side of the coin, while we are all quick to post about our victories, how often do we honestly post about the gigs that didn’t go our way? Even for the most successful artist, there are more losses than victories. Why isn’t everyone’s feed overrun by posts about assignments that weren’t successful, awards not won, or days spent filling up your outbox from dawn to dusk with emails to clients with the only messages actually landing in your inbox being those from marketers trying to sell you products that you couldn’t afford even if you wanted them.

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We tend not to talk about the in-between days because we are taught to put the entire onus onto results. We are awarded respect and adulation as a result of being able to say that we accomplished X. But we are rarely patted on the back for the millions of tiny steps which we took to get there. At the end of the day, you are going to spend far more of your life taking those tiny steps than reaping the rewards. So do the math. If you only allow yourself happiness in the moments of triumph, you are dooming yourself to a feeling of chronic failure.

So, what’s the answer? For me, it is to actively recognize not only the big moments in life but also the small ones. It’s easy to feel fortunate when you are standing on a mountain top in a magical location on a day sandwiched between two assignments for one of the biggest companies in the world and in the midst of one of the best overall years of your life. But what about those days when the mountain top is traded in for a seemingly insurmountable valley? What happens when, just twelve months after you stood on that mountain top, the entire world and the industry you love is brought to a shuddering halt by a global pandemic? What gets you through days, weeks, or even years like that?

The secret is to recognize that, even in the darkest of times, amazing things are happening to us every day. Not every win announces itself with a prestigious award or a cash infusion to your bank account. Sometimes the win is simply that you created a work of art that you previously lacked the craft to bring to reality. Sometimes the win is not that you booked a job, but that you have reached a level where your work was in consideration. Sometimes, the win isn’t business-related at all. Sometimes, the win is simply the fact that you got out of bed this morning and continued to fight.

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Regardless of what you want from your life, take a moment to cherish what you have. Have a look at all the special people in your life. Not everyone feels that level of love. That is something to be grateful for. So, maybe you didn’t win the most prestigious photo award this year. You are still an artist. You have the talent and the tools to create. You have the power to express your emotions through art. Not everyone can do that. That is something to be grateful for. Have you been down for a while? Does it seem like life is really kicking you in the teeth? Well, if you are reading this, it means that you woke up this morning. And if you can look up, you can get up. That is something to be grateful for.

Focus not on what you don’t have, but on what you do. Recognize that, while we all have struggles, we are also all gifted with the ability to hope.  We all have things we can be grateful for.  Remember those things the next time you feel overwhelmed with temporary struggles. Our successes aren’t permanent. But neither are our struggles. And, in either scenario, we can make a conscious effort to acknowledge the good things. Gratitude helps us weather both the sunshine and the storm. Gratitude helps us see the sun shining, even when it rains. So next time you find yourself standing on a mountain top, or lying in a valley, just remember, it’s a beautiful day.

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Being an Artist Is About Being a Producer, Not a Consumer

Being an Artist Is About Being a Producer, Not a Consumer

An overabundance of junk email this morning reminded me that turning a passion into profit sometimes means returning to one very basic concept.

I am a fan of the clean inbox. For years and years, as I sat behind a desk at one day job after another, sifting through the bottomless pit of unnecessary emails seemed determined to consume my day. I would always look forward to those brief moments when I could look at my inbox and see absolutely nothing. Just a clean white page to the right of the folder structure. A visual representation of the fact that, at that very moment, I was completely caught up.

The fact that I enjoy an empty inbox so much could be just another result of my O.C.D. Or it could be a reflection of my lifelong approach to task management, which boils down generally to “why to put off until tomorrow what you can do today?” I was the kind of kid in college who always had his homework assignments completed within an hour of them being assigned, and as far as I can recollect, I’ve never pulled a last-second all-nighter in my life. I like to get things done early so that I don’t have to worry about them later. I like a clean inbox because it denotes the fact that there aren’t any pending tasks hanging over my head and I can sit back and watch Turner Classic Movies in peace without feeling there is something I’ve forgotten.

Of course, now that I am a professional photographer whose jobs generally arrive via emails from potential clients, it’s safe to say that I don’t want to stare at a barren inbox for too long. I do look forward to spotting a sudden flash of text out of the corner of my eye and turning my head to see that a new message has arrived. Yet sadly, not every email I receive is from a client or colleague. In fact, if I could substitute in a client for every piece of stray email I get from vendors asking me to buy something, contests asking me to pay money for a slim chance to win an award I’ve never heard of, or publicists sending me press releases for products that have nothing to do with photography because they apparently found my name on a mailing list, I would find myself a very rich man. I might even go so far as to say the vast majority of pings to my inbox are emails destined to land directly in my trash bin wholly unread. Of course, this quick disposal does satisfy my yearning for having a clean inbox. But it also is a constant reminder of one of the biggest dichotomies I’ve found during the course of my photographic career.  Simply put, we become professional photographers to presumably earn money and make a living. But, many aspects of the industry itself seem far more designed to have us spend money than actually make money.

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There’s the big one, of course. The latest and greatest gear that most people spend more time studying and debating than they actually spend actually using on assignments. There are constant test shoots that may or may not cost you money depending on your subject and level of ambition. Then, once you’ve created your masterpiece, there are the presentation costs associated with building websites, sending promos, and printing portfolios (although that last one is somewhat less in the age of zoom meetings). Since marketing is a rather obvious and necessary part of growing a business, there are entire cottage industries built up around getting you noticed. Some are clearly transactional. You pay X amount to your rep. That may or may not be worth the money depending on your rep. You pay Y amount of money to enter such and such “prestigious” competitions for a chance to have your work seen by “the right people.” Assuming that you are specific about which contest you apply to, as opposed to simply clicking enter on every contest that hits your inbox, this can be a fruitful way to get your work seen. But, even as someone who has won several such awards through the years, I can’t help but think about the sheer number of photography contests that are in existence and wonder if the majority of the contests themselves aren’t just ways for the company holding the contest to transfer wealth from my pocket to theirs without really offering me much in return aside from a fleeting hope. Then, there are the one million and one different conventions and photo expos that you can purchase a ticket to. The how-to courses you can enroll in. The preset and LUT packages promise to make all your images amazing with the click of a mouse button by apparently substituting your own creativity with a one-size-fits-all aesthetic of cool.

Don’t get me wrong. Every item listed above has its place. And spending on any of those things or all of those things is not necessarily a waste of money. I only reference those things because I’ve spent money on all of them at one point or another over the last couple of decades of building my photography career to varying degrees of return. And with so many potential opportunities to spend your money, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that your job as a professional photographer and business owner is not to spend money, but to make it.

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I remember several years ago before I was a full-time professional photographer, I was having a chat with one of my best friends. He was an aspiring graphic designer. I was an aspiring photographer. Both of us were working dead-end day jobs and spending far more money on our “hobbies” than was being returned in revenue. That particular day, he had just finished designing a book project for a client/friend only to be paid in exposure. He’d clearly put far more time into the project than he was being compensated for, and he jokingly said that he and I were in the same boat in that we were both “paying to work.” It was an offhand comment, not meant to linger, but linger it did, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he was right. At that moment in time, I was so focused on buying the latest gear, buying my way into every shooting situation I could afford, and spending what was left on whatever opportunity I could find that made me feel more like part of the photo community, that I had forgotten that the objective was to actually make money. Looking the part is all well and good. But, at some point, you need to put up or shut up. At some point, you need to stop being a consumer and start being a producer.

The old adage that “it takes money to make money” is sadly very true. If you are running a business, you will need to make strategic investments. But what you can’t do is substitute spending for doing the hard work of building a business. You can’t buy a career as a professional photographer. You have to earn it. Spend less time looking at gear you can buy and spend more time searching for clients who might buy your product. You have to sit down and crunch the numbers and understand concepts like costs of goods sold. While those jobs that allow you to be creative, but don’t pay enough to cover the costs, may sometimes be beneficial, if you do too many such jobs you will find yourself incredibly busy yet still somehow losing money. Spending money on gear is fun for all of us. It’s like crack for photographers. An instant boost of joy that lasts at least as long as it takes the credit card bill to arrive. But one thing that feels so much better than spending money is making money by producing work for clients that will allow your bank account to grow rather than shrink.

Is everything I’ve said above obvious? Yes. But, in an industry that seems designed to have photographers spend money rather than actually make it, is it easy to get your balance wrong and end up on the wrong side of the ledger? Yes, it is. Learning to make the mental shift from someone whose job it is to make purchases to someone whose job it is to make a profit is a simple lesson, but one that will pay dividends for years to come.

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Former Editor of Photo Life Magazine Argues That Artist Intention Still Matters

Former Editor of Photo Life Magazine Argues That Artist Intention Still Matters

A lot has changed in the photo world over the past decade or two. One big change has been how the focus has shifted from artist intention to end product — the photograph. A good photo is a good photo because it is a good photo. Or is it?

Guy Langevin is the former editor of Photo Life Magazine. Unfortunately, Photo Life, which was Canada’s premier print-based photography magazine, did not make it through the pandemic. Despite his recent misfortune as the gatekeeper over a magazine’s deathbed, Langevin has a lot of praise for his time at the helm of the famed magazine. Indeed, he claims that one of the most impactful things he learned during his tenure at the magazine is that artist intention still matters. 

 What makes the difference is the intention of the person behind the camera. That [a photograph] doesn’t have to be in focus to be powerful and that you cannot please everybody with your images, which is a good thing. Everything has been photographed, but not everything has been photographed by you. Photography is a language. If you have something interesting to say, it will show in your work.

Langevin is very passionate about the idea of photographer intent, partly because his own work centers on this very idea. Langevin makes his own lenses, from parts of other (old) lenses, and shoots street photography. If one is to simply casually look at his photos, with no knowledge of the photographer’s intent (or process), one may not quite understand what they are viewing. Or, one may think they are viewing rather casual or pedestrian images. It is not until one uncovers the fact that these images are made with old, broken, and then reassembled lenses that one becomes more engaged and enraptured by the work. The homemade lenses are central to the whole idea — the whole vision. 

I’ve always been interested by how things work. One day, I dismantled an old lens that was gathering dust to see its insides. Of course, I went too far and couldn’t put it back in its original state. Instead of discarding it, I built a new one using the parts. The result was a disaster, but I was hooked. I’ve accumulated quite a few orphan lenses over the years, so I dismantled a second one, then a third and built more horrible lenses. I kept at it for so long that slowly I got something interesting out of them. 

Langevin was hooked, for sure, as he reports that he now owns hundreds of these discarded lenses and has assembled many “Frankenstein” lenses as a result. But the trouble he encounters is in the end result, is in getting people to understand the resulting photograph within the right context. Indeed, that is an issue that many contemporary photographers face. Today, more than ever,  photographers are presented with a range of ways to alter their photographs and realize a unique vision. This can be done in a very passive way by applying digital filters, for example, or a very laborious way by using bespoke lenses (like Langevin) or (analog) developing techniques. By the way, I do not mean to suggest that digital is always passive and simple, and analog is always difficult and deliberate. Yet, many simple filters are digital and many more difficult techniques (like wet plates) are analog. So, it is not just Langevin who faces an uphill battle when they go to present work made in an unconventional way — a way that requires some explanation. And, an explanation of the artistic process is not so well-tolerated today. Many people base their judgment (which is almost always immediate) on what they — on the image as it presents itself. But, as Langevin explains, he cannot simply allow his work to just be the result of a casual point-and-shoot experience. 

There’s more than meets the eye, and it’s important to stay curious because you may find what works for you is off the beaten path. Technology made it so easy to create beautiful, well exposed, well composed, in focus images. That’s a good thing, but as a photographer, the feeling of being involved in as many aspects of the image-making process as I can is important. I couldn’t just point and click to take ownership of my work. I need to get my hands dirty.

I get it, but I was still not convinced. I mean, why can’t we, if the end product is the same, just get these results from a filter process? Why do we need to break and remake lenses and do all this “analog” stuff to produce the same result? I pushed the question with Langevin. 

 A filter’s a filter. You can apply it to any photo that you want until you’re happy with the result. That’s not what I’m after. Again, it’s about the process and about how the idea is executed. I need my images to be true to the scene I captured. Granted, my lenses alter the reality, but what I see through the viewfinder in the fraction of a second I take the shot is what appears on the image. I cannot ‘undo’ the blur or hide the fact that I distorted the lens so much that there’s vignetting.

I think what Langevin is feeling is partly nostalgia for an old way of making photographs. The hands-on manipulation of bygone eras was, in some way, interesting, and that story added value to the resulting photographs. I’m not sure we still consume images in the same way today. Some people still care about the process yes; some people also still use typewriters and gramophones too. Most people judge based on the final product, on the photograph itself. In this way, I feel Langevin still faces an uphill battle when it comes to explaining that his work is unique because it was made with a unique lens — a one-of-a-kind lens that he created by hand. But Langevin has been an image lover for all of his life, as far back as he can remember, he tells me. He has not been in this for a short ride. He is prepared to take the long road to success for his work. And, from his work as editor of Photo Life for many years, he is confident that artist intentions still matter. Intent still marks the difference between good work and bad, or interesting work and hackneyed junk. Yes, he says, the intent is important. The story of how the artist made the photograph is important. All I can say is that I hope he’s right, because what a world it will be when we only care about the photograph in front of us and not of the story behind it. 

All photos used with permission.

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Christmas Prize Draw Day 12 – Win Either an XP-Pen Innovator 16 or Artist 13.3 Pro Holiday Edition Graphics Tablet!

Christmas Prize Draw Day 12 - Win Either an XP-Pen Innovator 16 or Artist 13.3 Pro Holiday Edition Graphics Tablet!

Enter day 12 of our Christmas Prize Draw extravaganza for the chance to win an XP-Pen graphics tablet! We have two to give away.

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Competitions

Christmas Prize Draw

Either An XP-Pen Innovator 16 Or Artist 13.3Pro Holiday Edition Graphics Tablet!

Enter today’s Christmas Prize Draw for the chance to win either an XP-Pen Innovator 16 or Artist 13.3 Pro Holiday Edition Graphics Tablet!

 

Introducing The Artist 13.3 Pro Holiday Edition & Innovator 16 Graphics Tablets

XP-Pen are honoured to be giving away their best-selling Artist 13.3 Pro holiday edition and the Innovator 16 as prizes in the ePHOTOzine Christmas Prize Draw!

The Artist 13.3 Pro holiday edition features specially-designed packaging that XP-Pen introduced recently and, as well as offering professional features and portable size, they have included lots of extra goodies including a poster and jigsaw puzzle. The Innovator 16 is another popular graphics tablet that has a unique, stylish design and excellent performance. 

XP-Pen also has a wide range of other graphics tablets for you to take a look at this Holiday Season. 

Buy Now From The XP-Pen Store

 

Christmas 2020 Prize Draw Calendar

Artist 13.3 Pro Holiday Edition & Innovator 16

Win either an XP-Pen Innovator 16 or Artist 13.3 Pro Holiday Edition Graphics Tablet!

XP-Pen recently introduced the Artist 13.3 Pro holiday edition to its graphics tablet line-up and it’s equipped with professional features such as 8192 pen pressure, pen tilt and a wide colour gamut. Plus, with its reasonable price, the Artist 13.3 Pro holiday edition will make a great gift option for beginners and professionals alike.

As well as the Artist 13.3 Pro, XP-Pen also offer the 15.6″ Innovator Display 16 with its industry-leading 9mm profile and a sleek black/silver design. Perfect for drawing on the go, the Innovator Display 16 equips both a mechanical and a virtual wheel with full lamination technology, allowing you to zoom in/out of your canvas. Plus, by using two wheels, it creates a minimal parallax visual experience.

Buy Now From The XP-Pen Store

 

Enter below to be in with a chance of winning an XP-Pen Innovator 16 or Artist 13.3 Pro Holiday Edition Graphics Tablet!

P.S. a huge ‘thank you’ to all of our members for being part of our amazing community and to those clients who have supported us through these unprecedented circumstances. It’s been a tough year, so ‘thanks’ – we couldn’t have made it through 2020 without you! 

Wishing you all a lovely Christmas and here’s hoping 2021 will be healthy and happy all round. 

The ePHOTOzine Team.

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The Incredible Work From the Artist Behind the Photoshop 2021 Splash Photo

The Incredible Work From the Artist Behind the Photoshop 2021 Splash Photo

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You may not realize it, but you’ve already enjoyed the work of Photographer and digital artist Ted Chin. He makes some of the most eye-catching, surreal composite images you will likely ever see, and one greets you every time you open the latest version of Adobe Photoshop.

Chin has been making photo manipulations for the last six years, one of which you’ve very likely already enjoyed. In 2017, Chin helped put together this helpful tutorial on creating a double-exposure effect.

For the launch of Adobe Photoshop 2021, Adobe reached out to Chin with interest in one of his manipulations.

“Adobe is one of my all-time favorite clients to work with,” Chin tells PetaPixel. “They always let me have as much creative space as I need. They usually trust their artists and just give honest feedback on the directions we want to go.”

Any photographer or filmmaker would jump at the chance to work with Adobe, and Chin explains how he got that opportunity.

“I was reached out by the Adobe team and told that they really like one of my artworks called “Flamingo Cloud.” They wanted to use it for the Splash Screen and I was super excited about it. It was a moment when my dream came true – for my art to be recognized and also by one of my favorite programs that I used every day.”

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The way Chin describes it, this final step was easy compared to the many he had to take before it. In this particular case, Chin had already created the digital art piece and was not commissioned to make something specific. As such, it was just a matter of proving he was the owner and had the right to license the image.

“The process with Adobe just made sure that I’m the one who created it and was allowed to give them permission to use it.”

While this last stage was a simple approval, getting there required years of creating noteworthy images to get noticed by the software giant. Now, Chin’s work not only appears every day for him as he opens the software that makes his work possible but does the same for millions of photographers and graphic artists around the world. It’s the top of the mountain for an artist like Chin, and it’s hard to imagine a better platform to showcase his years of hard work.

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Looking back on how he arrived at this pinnacle, Chin explains how that journey started.

“When I was exploring my options to become an artist in college, digital art was one of the mediums I was interested in,” Chin says. “So I took my first ever Photoshop and photography class. After I moved to San Francisco for Grad school, I started to get involved with local photography communities.”

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Because of the nature of his life at the time, Chin wasn’t able to travel as much as he wanted and photograph the places he dreamed to visit.

“Most of the time I’m too busy with school and I couldn’t really travel a lot,” he explains. “One day I came across Erik Almas’ work at a local art event, and I was really inspired by his dream-like romantic composite photography. Since I have both knowledge of Photoshop and of photography, I decided to give it a try.”

Chin’s first step into fantasy photo manipulations started there.

“I wanted to make my own surreal fantasy world. From there, I just watch endless youtube videos and find all kinds of online tutorials to polish my skills. To this day, I’m still learning new things. The photo below was from Mt.Tamalpais back in 2014. I think this is the fourth months into my photo manipulation journey.”

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Castle in the Sky, 2014

Chin combines images he shoots himself with photos he licenses from Adobe Stock and from Unsplash. With the amount of manipulation he applies to the images he works with, by the time he finishes, the photo is something wholly unique from the original. Still, the conversation of who owns the rights to images is touchy, and Chin clarifies his stance on it.

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“I believe since the artist created the new art piece, it is no longer the “original” photo that was owned by the photographer,” he explains, speaking about his process. “But this only works if it is legally licensed/ granted permission to use from stock websites or from the original owner and if the artist added their own concept/interpretation and changed the concept/message from the original photo.”

Chin is originally from Taiwan and has been working in San Francisco in recent years. He’s really enjoyed his time in the United States thanks to the opportunity presented to him here.

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“I’ve been working with my friends as a digital artist in SF for about 5 years now, I spend most of my life in the state and I really enjoy being here. I get to be a creator and do what I love the most. It’s pretty hard to do that back at home.”

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Chin’s prowess has grown significantly since that first image of Mount Tamalpais through years of practice, but he says he’s still always learning.

“I think around one and a half years in, I started to try more advanced editing and really trying to push my skills more. I’ve edited one to three photos per week for the past five years, and most of them don’t make it to my online portfolios,” Chin says. “Sometimes I will go back and re-edit some of my old work just to see if I can make it look better and if I learn any new tricks. Nowadays I work on my concept more than my skills, but I’m always looking forward to learning and trying new things.”

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You can see more of Chin’s incredible photo manipulations on his Instagram as well as his website. You can also follow him on Twitter.


Image credits: Images by Ted Chin and used with permission.

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Canon Partners with Artist to Make Lens-Inspired Drinking Glasses

Canon Partners with Artist to Make Lens-Inspired Drinking Glasses

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Canon has partnered with a Japanese craftswoman to produce drinking glasses that are designed to look or feel like using the company’s lenses. There are three sets being produced: one modeled after the look of lenses, one after how light interacts with them, the other modeled after the sound of a shutter.

Canon is working with the young and talented artisan Noriyu Yamada who works for glass studio Saihou. The glasses are hand-crafted using a technique called Kiriko and are designed not only to be beautiful to behold but to elicit a visual or tactile response to those who shoot with Canon.

For example, in the above design, you can clearly tell it was made with the idea of an aperture and how it captures light. But in the example below, the pattern is called “Sasaha” and is designed to be a visual representation of the sound of a shutter.

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And in this one, the pattern is called “roe” and is designed to mimic the feel of the dial in your hand:

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If you want to “imagine the beautiful appearance of a clear lens that is not eroded by anything,” then the designs below are for you:

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Edo Kiriko is a uniquely Japanese tradition of hand-cutting patterns into glass that produces spectacular light reflections depending on how the glass is held or the angle at which it is viewed. It was developed during the final years of the Edo period and faithful reproductions of the style are still made today.

According to the description of these Canon glasses, the pattern of Edo Kiriko is not just a design, but each cut is a “flow line of light” and the expression of light from both entry and exit is carefully considered by the artisan while it is being produced. “Some conditions are set to use the name ‘Edo Kiriko’ and one of them is ‘handmade by craftsmen’ because Edo Kiriko emphasizes the sensibility of such craftsmen.”

In the video below, you can see how those hand-cut patterns are made:

The glasses will be available to purchase by the end of December and will be priced between 13,000 yen ($123) and 18,000 yen ($170) depending on the chosen pattern. You can sign up to be notified when the glasses become available for sale here.

(Via Spoon Tamago)

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Artist Invites Skaters to Destroy Photos of Women, Sparks Outrage

Artist Invites Skaters to Destroy Photos of Women, Sparks Outrage

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Dutch photo artist Erik Kessels has sparked outrage with his latest art installation, titled “Destroy My Face.” Kessels covered the ground of a skate park with portraits of women who have had plastic surgery and then invited skateboarders to shred them up by riding over them.

Kessels began installing the “interactive” exhibition on September 7th.


The installation was opened to the public on September 9th, and the launch was publicized by Kessels, the skate park (Pier15 Skatepark in Breda), and BredaPhoto Festival (the largest international photo festival in the Benelux).




“Plastic surgery has become something pretty normal in today’s society. However, when taken overboard, these surgeries can result in deformation and transforms mankind into monsters,” BredaPhoto writes. “Dutch artist Erik Kessels will showcase these archetypical faces in a grid, to be seen in a very unusual spot, where visitors can interact and interfere with these faces. As easy as they were once made beautiful, as easy they are now destroyed.”

Dazed reports that the installation has already received a significant amount of backlash, with many denouncing it as misogynistic and art that encourages violence against women.

A group of photographers and other creatives have published an open letter denouncing the artwork and calling for its removal.

“With a title like ‘Destroy My Face’, we assume that the point of this work was to elicit a response like this,” the letter reads. “It is in your face, pointed, and most of all, violent.

“This title, as well as your decision to place this work on the floor of a skatepark where female-presenting individuals can be trampled and skated over by skaters, reproduces this sentiment. By placing this work in a public space like Skatepark Pier15, another insult to injury is added. Skateparks and other public spaces should be places that are open and free to use by all who wish to come, and where people should not be ridiculed or judged based on what they look like.”

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The installation’s page on the BredaPhoto website.

“[W]e are frustrated with BredaPhoto,” the open letter states. “As one of the more prominent photo-festivals in the Netherlands, BredaPhoto has the potential to talk about and stand against stigma and toxic systems in our (visual) culture but has nevertheless decided to fund this project. A work that does nothing but reinforce clichés in our visual culture while it shames and degrades the choices that people have made in regards to their own bodies.

“We cannot excuse the rampant sexism, racism and other biases that are still so ingrained within our cultural institutions – especially not in the difficult financial times of today where it is already hard enough to get projects funded. We do not understand how BredaPhoto accepted, financed and executed this proposal – and know that you can do better.”

The letter calls for the installation to be removed, for an explanation, and for transparency and accountability moving forward.

You can read (and sign) the full open letter here. We’ve reached out to Kessels for comment and will update this article if/when we receive a response.


Update: Here’s a statement provided by Kessels in response to the controversy:

Plastic surgery has become something pretty normal in today’s society. However, when taken overboard, these surgeries can result in deformations. The representation of oneself and what is real seem to blur more and more. The same can be said for how we present the image of ourselves online. Being insta-perfect can become the norm instead of the exception and we can manipulate our image in several seconds. The deformation that once started with plastic surgery will continue in this installation while skaters create another uncontrolled reality. Machine learning, as another artificial intervention, was used to generate the selection after entering all, male and female, available online plastic surgery portraits.

The intention of this work is ironic and intends to evoke a dialogue about self-acceptance. Of course it doesn’t mean to encourage violence against women. With this work I never wanted to offend anyone, but when reading recent comments online, I understand I’ve done so and I apologise for that. In my opinion the function of art in society is to start dialogues and I continue to believe in that.

Kessels says the festival will be releasing a longer statement shortly.

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