When it comes to photography, Photoshop, and all things related, I tend to lean towards the stylised work. Not just my own, but in people whose work I admire. So I am pleased to bring you the work of Mark Rodriguez a.k.a Godriguez. I always hear people complain that they don’t know how to find inspiration, or can’t find it. Well Mark must have stolen their share, because it feels like every other day a new image is released on his social media. If there is such a thing as an inspiration tree, Mark has silently ripped it from the ground and hidden it in his wardrobe! Maybe this was his secret to winning 2015 Photoshop world Guru!…….or maybe it was just his amazing talent, meh, I prefer the tree story haha.
Here is a little about Mark in his own words
“I am a Tampa, Florida based artist. I am a photographer, animator, graphic designer, illustrator, woodworker, screen printer… to sum it up i’m an artist and i like to create things. I spent my studies at the Art institute of Atlanta where I earned my BFA in Graphic design with minor studies in animation. I own my own freelance design company called Eclectic Anima and create animations and do character voice over work for WHYU.
I have received awards for my animation and design work from both the ADDYs and Communication Arts magazine as well as being the recipient of the Best in show at the 2015 Photoshop world Guru awards for my photography work
I am married and have a set of beautiful (and crazy) twin girls. I try to take a different look at the world and see what I can do to push myself as an artist in my various mediums. in my work I like to explore conceptual and creative thinking pieces, as well as ones that just make you laugh…I for one am never afraid to laugh at myself via my artwork”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark, so here we go!
DIYP: Tell us a little of how you got into photography, and who your influences are.
MR: I got into photography for the ladies–to be more specific–by “ladies” I mean the birth of my twin daughters and the need for a camera to capture their lives. I had always done traditional art and was on my journey into the digital world of art as well and photography was one aspect that had always eluded me. I loved the immediacy of photography once I started doing it and kept pushing myself to learn it more and more so that the technical aspect could go away and I could focus on the creative side of it. As far as photography influences, Joe McNalley is my main influence and what I always call my “lighting god” I love how he communicates story through light in a way that many could never dream of and his sense of storytelling that he creates within the scene is awesome.
In the world of composite artists like Renee Robyn, Von wong, Erik Johansson, Roderique Arisaman, you (Clinton lofthouse) are major artists that inspire, but I also get a tremendous amount of influence from my friends and fellow composite artists that I have met via social media that might not be as well known….yet. People like Gilmar smith, Sam Breach, Ricardo Williams, Eric Raeber, Chistopher Germano, Stefan Riss, just to name but a small sampling as there are way too many to mention here and I have probably already made someone upset for not naming them here. I love that comradery, help and support that I get from all of them through social media sites like G+ and Facebook, it is a great sounding board having artists you know, trust and respect giving honest opinions about your work
DIYP: Your images sometimes feature elaborate setups. How long does it take to create an image from start to finish?
MR: Depending on the shot it can take as little as 5 minutes or as long as days as was the case with my “ride the lightning” shot in which I built a full scale electric chair. I once put well over 40 hours into a shot I created that was an homage to the comic book character Spawn. I created the entire costume from scratch including his signature living cape complete with an elaborate wiring system to keep it up and shaped how I wanted it during the shoot. I have no issues with putting the time into my work because it is ultimately a representation of me and I will not sell myself short when it come to the art I produce and share
DIYP: How important is Photoshop in your workflow. Does your work rely on it or could you still create your images without it.
MR: Photoshop is essential in the work I create. I for one don’t consider myself a photographer but rather an artist that happens to use photography as another tool to get my story across. I have heard flak from the photography “purists” about using photoshop so much and frankly have no time for it, because I would rather be creating my own art than worrying about how someone else creates theirs. Though I do some non-photoshop dependent portrait shoots, for the stories I create in my personal art, photoshop is an essential tool
DIYP:What would be your best piece of advice to people just starting to use Photoshop for the first time.
MR: It is a cliché, but just get in there and get your hands dirty and make mistakes. I have learned so much from just seeing what this button or slider does in photoshop that it gains you knowledge that you might ever learn through a tutorial. If you only ever learn the “correct” way to do things, then you won’t know what to do when something doesn’t go as planned. Along the way I have also used sites like KelbyOne.com, Phlearn.com and youtube tutorials for when I get to a point where I need to go beyond what I know or perhaps something I want to do is outside my realm of current knowledge.
DIYP: What are your influences, your work is usually dark themed, so i’m guessing horror movies play a big part…or something altogether different?
MR: Yes, horror, dark comedies, pop culture and my own life experiences and observations all coalesce into what I call my art. Story is always the main goal in my art and how I go about telling it is what drives me. Music is a big motivator as well as often times a song will resonate something in me and an image will form based off of it or will at least be the soundtrack in my head while I am creating it, also I listen to music while I am shooting as well as while I am editing–once again–it guides my head through the artistic journey
DIYP: Some of your images have multiple composited elements, on average how long does an image take to complete.
MR: A simple composite can take maybe half hour or so, but I have had some editing sessions run 4, 6, 8 hours depending on the level of detail I am trying to achieve or the amount of experimentation I am doing during my edit. Though I do usually plan out my shots before I ever pick up the camera, experimentation during editing is another part of the problem solving process that I love. I even include all of that in my speed edit videos as I want people to see and know that it is never a simple process and that experimentation is the key to finding that right balance of elements within the piece
DIYP: With the rise of Photoshop, and most people these days having access to it, do you think it is harder to stand out from the crowd?
MR: Yes and no. I once thought it was making work all around become stale, but then I would see something completely fresh from someone and it reignites the notion that art is perpetual and ever evolving. I think the innovators will rise above and stand out even among those who try to copy their style. When someone is genuine in their art it is something you can feel when you view it. It doesn’t seem forced or manufactured in any way.
DIYP: Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years time.
MR: I would like to take my photographic art to a more commercial level. Currently all the work I produce and share is all personal work done simply because I love doing it and if I could turn that love into a potential second career, it would be a wonderful thing. I would love to do things like album covers, book covers, editorial imagery, anything that would involve being able to tell a story and convey it through my art. My day to day profession is currently is that of a graphic designer and I do logo design, illustration–and my main medium–an animator creating math videos for the non-profit www.whyu.org. I would love for my photography art to join my other artistic endeavours as a means to make a career out of doing what I love