How important is Photoshop and post-processing to your works? How would you compare the time spent working and shooting in camera versus editing in Photoshop afterwards?
I always try to do as much work as possible in camera. Well-planned and photographed source pictures are a much better option than doing excessive work in Photoshop. In my opinion, camera work will always have better quality and look better than something put together in Photoshop. If you do the photography really well you could technically just print your pictures, cut out the parts you want with scissors and paste them onto an empty piece of paper and be done with it. This is of course not possible, but I find it to be a good reference to have in mind when planning my composites. In reality, I would say I spend about an equal amount of time behind the camera and in front of the computer, although sometimes I can fiddle with the finishing touches in Photoshop for hours.
Do you have any habits that are part of your creative process? When conceptualizing ideas for a photograph, what do you usually do to best translate your thoughts into images?
I don’t believe creativity is something that “strikes” you, but rather something you have to work actively on. I’m nowhere near close to fully understanding my own creative process, but I do have a workflow I follow.
I try to schedule creative sessions of one or two hours a couple of times each week where I don’t do any actual work. In these sessions, I shield myself from the outside world and the distractions of everyday life and try to come up with ideas. I believe for creativity to happen I need to be in a calm, playful and open mindset where I can focus and hear myself think. This is easier said than done; it takes a lot of effort to force yourself to take this time to not think about or do anything else.
How I come up with specific ideas is hard to describe and very different from time to time. Basically, I just let my mind wander and sketch down ideas in a notebook. Sometimes I start with a visual aspect, like something I photographed or something in front of me (I’ve noticed there are a lot of hands in my pictures for this reason), but most of the time I start with a thought or a feeling and take it from there. It is very much an unconscious flow and all I really can do is try and make time for it.
When I have an idea for a picture, I let it rest for a couple of days, keeping it in the back of my head. It’s seldom the absolute first idea that is the “best.” If I keep thinking about it, I can usually develop it into something more.
When I have a somewhat finished idea of what I want to do, I proceed by photographing the source material and then putting it all together in Photoshop and proof printing.
What do you do when you hit a wall during your creative process?
I usually take a step back and try to fill up on inspiration. Another trick I use is to just keep creating, without any pressure or goal, just going through the motions. I find it better to work with directions instead of goals; “Today I am going to spend four hours working with pictures,” instead of “Today I am going to create some really good work.”
Do you have a quote or mantra that always gets you fired up?
What you do with the time that is given you is so important, and that is a concept that holds strong to me. Time is the only resource that is guaranteed to run out for you; you can’t get spent time back. I try hard to keep in mind that time is invaluable, and that motivates me to try and do the best I can of each moment. It helps me being motivated, but it also helps me appreciate, and be present in, any situation.
What book would you recommend to other creatives/artists?
It’s hard to recommend a book for someone else, since we are all in different places and needs different things. A universal tip would be to learn something new, to add something new to your skill set that can be usable. Maybe a book on sales, marketing or economics?
When we first interviewed you back in 2014, you had recently finished the series titled “Reality Rearranged” and were working on “Solitaire.” What was your biggest triumph making these series? What was your greatest struggle?
The “Reality Rearranged” series was my first try at describing reality through surrealism. During the two and a half years I worked on the series, I used my own inner life, thoughts and feelings as seeds to my pictures. In that sense the work is very personal, almost like a visual diary. This was my first try at working focused with a coherent body of work over a longer period of time and I learned a lot both technically and about how to work as an artist.
As for the biggest triumph, in this work I found something I love doing. The greatest struggle, I think was, and still is, time. There are only so many hours in a day, and to be able to practice my art I have had to sacrifice a lot of other things. My kind of artistic work can also be lonely, by its nature it’s something I can’t do together with other people. In the end though, it’s worth it because I love doing it and as the years have gone by, I’ve become better at balancing my life.
When the last interview was made, I had just become a dad to a wonderful little daughter. The four years that has passed since then has been a time of profound change for me, and I am in many ways a very different person now than I was then. I think that this is slowly starting to show through my art as well. I have just ended a period where I took six months off from creating to clear my mind and to explore other parts of life. I have now started on a new project, in color, that I will release after the summer.