Do you understand and recognise digital art? After seeing an amazing piece of digital art on Facebook, I contacted the artist, British digital artist and photographer Adrian McGarry, to find out more about his life, work, talents, and pieces of artwork.
Well, my career within the creative and publishing industries has spanned almost 40 years. I've always been interested in art, photography, computer design so it's no great surprise that my life has been spent creating graphical output in one form or another!
During that time I have been extremely fortunate to work alongside and learn from extremely talented individuals; from my early mentors to gifted collaborators on design and photography projects.How did you start out?It started with my love to create images but my early work was mostly creating graphic design for brochures, catalogues, in-store retail promotions.Did you train / qualify or are you self taught?I'm mostly self-taught through a lifetime of experience!
Manchester's industrial heritage overlooked by contemporary architecture.
How long have you had your own design business?I have run my own business for the last 12 years and I have worked with a varied customer base that includes blue-chip corporates, national retailers, property developers, recruitment agencies, travel companies and private clients.
At one stage I employed full-time staff and drafted in freelancers but I now prefer to work on my own from my home in the leafy suburbs of South Manchester.How did you shift over from straightforward design to digital art and photography?I have always enjoyed all forms of photography from film and dark-room processing to today's digital revolution.
So, I began introducing my photography into the workflow about 7 years ago when I realised that the early growth of online retailers would give me an opportunity to add 'table-top' photography to my list of services. Quickly that grew into providing shots for product backgrounds and in-store promotions etc. and eventually I was photographing for full publications such as property development brochures.
Where has your work been used or published?My photography, artwork and design has appeared in many publications, high street stores, local galleries and on the web. I have worked both directly and indirectly (through agencies) for Next, Cotton Traders, Marks & Spencers, B&Q, Littlewoods, Evans, Virgin Wine and Manchester Art Gallery.Have you received any awards?A recipient of the Royal Photographic Society's LRPS distinction; my photography and art continues to evolve and win approval.Has your work taken you to any interesting places?Over the years I have been fortunate to visit many European cities on business and as recently as last year had photo assignments in Bilbao and Madrid.
Venetian Ambiance. The canals of Venice
Has the way you approach your work changed over the years? Recently I have begun to alter my approach to the assignments that I take on. The artist within is gaining an ever-increasing voice and is convincing me that I have untapped resources that will not be explored within my commercial workload. However, at the moment, a lot of my photographic time is spent creating commercial images for my clients making it difficult to devote time and energy to create nature, landscape and travel images which I love to do. In addition, I have a desire to further express myself within my photography that goes beyond a camera's capabilities. So, I have started to balance the time I spend on commercial work with time spent on my personal projects. When did you move into digital art and why?I have been creating digital art for over twenty years. I wanted and needed an outlet to further express myself beyond the capture of a photographic image. Whilst my earlier creations were never destined to be shared with the world, I did gain an appreciation of what this then emerging technology had to offer and how I could adapt it to my particular style and taste.What is Digital Art? How do you create digitised paintings?I create images that are a fusion of conventional photography and painting. I refer to these images as 'Pixel Painted.' Using a graphics tablet and pen, I recreate each pixel in an image by hand, utilising digital paint media to express myself in the overall appearance as it takes on a painted look. My images are a transformation of one or more of my photographs and sometimes are a fusion of multiple elements from my shots. The ambiance of an image will change and I can allow my imagination to play a much greater role in the final result. I don't apply 'one-stop' painting filters or apps on the images, I prefer recreating the image from scratch and building textures from within rather than letting computer algorithms decide the outcome. Over the years I have painted in traditional oils, acrylic and watercolour and this experience helps me when creating digital art. What technology do you use?
Adrian McGarry, photographer and digital artist
I work on a Mac, I'm a huge fan of Apple hardware and software and have always used the equipment since the late 1980's. I have a 27inch iMac in the office, a 15inch MacBook Pro laptop, a 13inch Macbook Air laptop and an Apple iPad - even my phone is an iPhone so you could call me a Mac-addict!
The software I use is mostly Adobe PhotoShop and Corel Painter. I use the full and latest versions but for someone just starting out both software packages have 'lite' versions and are available on both Mac and Windows platforms. Which camera do you use?I use Canon camera equipment. I mostly use a Canon 7D camera and a range of Canon lenses: generally speaking an 18-200mm lens for travel, a 100-400mm for general hand-held wildlife shots and I hire a longer lens (500mm, 600mm etc.) if I anticipate that wildlife subjects will not allow me to get close.How long would it take you to create a piece of digital art?Digital art can be time-consuming. The recent Manchester image took about 30 hours spread over a couple of weeks. The Eagle took about 3-4 hours in one day. The process can be intense and I tend to work on one piece at a time. Normally I will complete a piece and then leave it for a few days, when I return to it I can be more objective (fresh eyes and perspective) and make final amendments and tweaks.
But really my work-flow changes from image to image depending on the complexity of my composition. My Christmas Card image this year was a painting using up to 10 separate image elements combined to make a single scene. This one took about 10 hours in total.Do you print your work yourself?My prints are usually output by a professional lab onto high quality fine-art paper. I use a textured paper that is similar to a watercolour artist paper. I also print onto high quality canvas. I have plans to sell prints through various on-line galleries in the new year as well as from my own website. I'm currently looking for galleries in the North West UK to partner with and sell through.How popular is digital art?My more recent work is beginning to find a market and I have an emerging customer following. Digital art is becoming a recognised art-form and I believe that the future of creative photography lies in the potential of post processing. Many leading graphic artists are creating work solely on a computer. More and more galleries are exploring the genre and artists such as David Hockney are creating work solely on computers.So do you consider yourself a graphic designer, artist or photographer?For a while I have asked myself "Am I a photographer or an artist?" The answer is that I have reached is that I am both. When I'm behind the camera I am very much a photographer utilising the camera and lens to create a perfect record of my subject. When I work in software then I'm an artist and I can approach a piece of work exactly the same as working on canvas with paint. The magic of the traditional artist will never be replaced but the craft of a digital artist cannot be ignored and I believe will both will sit alongside in galleries of the future.Where does your inspiration come from?My inspiration is taken from traditional artists from old masters to modern contemporary artists.Any future plans?Next year, I hope to embark on a tour of North West UK camera clubs to introduce my work to a wider audience who may wish to add my techniques to their work-flow and hopefully workshops will follow. I have plans for an e-book and I have begun a dialogue with the Royal Photographic Society to recognise my work within their visual arts category.Do people commission pieces?I have had a few commissions, it's not something that I am actively looking for at the moment but never say never!Where can people find you and your work?My website is a great starting point for checking out my portfolios, latest images and news. My Facebook account is another way to keep-up-to-date with me. I don't use a business page on Facebook as I love to interact with people and not just 'sell' to them, so I encourage adding me as a friend or subscribing to my posts. I'm on Twitter and I also have 500px and Flickr accounts - these are photo sharing sites where I share all kinds of different images. Finally I have a wildlife portfolio at the Royal Photographic Society. At the moment I am not selling art through any agencies but I plan to in the New Year and details will appear on my website and Facebook.Any other hobbies or interests besides photography?You've heard of Manchester United right?
Tribute to Manchester United Football Club. We Three Kings.
So, if you want an early morning tea break or afternoon visual delight - do as I have done, start by 'friending' Adrian McGarry on Facebook.