Blending photography with a touch of surrealism, alyZen Moonshadow stands out from the crowd with her unique vision for design. Vibrant and fun are constant themes throughout her work and it shows in every piece. Using mainly Photoshop, she seamlessly combines subjects with a dream-like vision to take viewers on a trip through Wonderland.
KIH: Your artwork has a fun blend of mobile phone photography and graphic design flair. When did you discover your passion for photo manipulation?
alyZen Moonshadow: I bought my first iPhone 3 in 2010, shortly before I emigrated from Ireland to Australia. Whilst job-hunting in Australia, I decided to experiment with photo editing on my iPhone. I started out with some Apps for Lomographic effects, then got into textures and grunge, and the whole thing snowballed from there. I practised a lot in the early days, averaging between 5-10 manipulated images a day. The more I practised, the better I got, and also the more selective about effects and filters. In 2012 I discovered some graphic design-type Apps, and for a while I was really into Swiss-style graphics. I even designed some mock CD album covers using these, and some t-shirts. In the same year, I switched from the iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy S3, and discovered Android Apps. These days I use my Samsung Galaxy S4 and my iPad 2 for my photo manipulations, so I really have the best of both worlds.
KIH: Your pieces are very colorful and use unique color pallettes. How do you find color effects your art pieces and how do you develop color choices while making a new composition?
alyZen Moonshadow: I usually start by uploading a photo to an image editing App on my Samsung Galaxy S4, then just playing around with various filters and effects. When I find one that appeals to me, or that I think merits further processing, I then move on to the next step, which is finding other elements to add to the image. Sometimes if I’m not satisfied with the colour scheme, I will edit it again to change the hue or saturation, until I’m happy with the result. I went through a brief phase early on in 2011 when I tried faded, vintage, old postcard styles, but found I’m more drawn towards bright, vibrant colours. This may come from my love of flowers in natural surroundings. If I have a favourite colour, it would be turquoise. Whenever I find a filter that gives me the colour turquoise, I try my best to keep it in the final edit. I like colours that are translucent rather than matte, so whenever possible I try to create my pieces with a sense of depth in them. I also like an element of randomness in my work. I have a folder of colourfield backgrounds that I created using photos and a very simple Android App called “Impressionist Fingerpaint”, which gives me the colours I need. It’s perfect for giving me 2 things – a sense of depth and translucency, and the element of randomness when blended with other images.
KIH: Your latest collection of art pieces showcase stacked teacups as an homage to Alice in Wonderland. Where did your interest in this subject spark?
alyZen Moonshadow: I’ve always been fond of Alice in Wonderland since I was a little girl, and I got the idea of stacked teacups from surfing Pinterest online. I had a couple of teacups and saucers lying around, and some real and silk flowers, and I posed them together and edited a number of images. The flowers soon fell by the wayside, as I decided the teacups and saucers made very interesting subjects in themselves. I went through a phase buying vintage teacups and saucers on Etsy, then stacking them up higgledy piggledy for staged photoshoots. I had the idea of creating my own Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (I spell my series The Madhatter’s Teaparty), so an entire series of 100 images was born in 2012.
KIH: What is your favorite piece (on KESS)? How did you develop the composition?
alyZen Moonshadow: It would have to be images from my Madhatter’s Teaparty. For the photo manipulations, I used predominantly Photoshop Touch, especially the “Difference” filter to bring out the colours and to introduce an element of serendipity, as I was never sure what the results would be using that filter. Before Kess InHouse found me and my Madhatter’s Teaparty, I’d printed 35 of the images onto stretched A3 canvasses, varnished and all…in case I ever held an Art exhibition. I like to think that Alice herself would’ve been proud of my teacups!
KIH: Your artistic process generally starts from your mobile phone. What do you enjoy the most about utilizing cell phone cameras and applications when creating your artwork.
alyZen Moonshadow: I think the best part is the portability of it all. I have my entire Studio in the palm of my hand, literally. No expensive paints or equipment to buy, no messy paintbrushes, no splatters on the carpet, no clearing or cleaning up to do. If I make a mistake, or if I don’t like an effect, there’s the handy Undo button, or even in extreme cases, the Delete button. I can transfer my work between my Samsung Galaxy S4 and my iPad2, or even to my desktop Mac for resizing. I can work almost anywhere, anytime – on the bus, on the train, while waiting for my coffee to percolate. Every now and then I download an App and test it out; if it adds anything to my creative process, I keep it and use it. If not, I uninstall it. Some of my fellow mobile photographers like the idea of having thousands of Apps to utilise, and bemoan the fact that the Android platform does not have half as many Apps as Apple iOS. However, my personal view is that in reality, you only need a dozen or so decent Apps to be able to create a wide variety of effects. The magic is in finding the right combination of effects. Sometimes less really is more.
KIH: Many of your pieces have abstract textures and psychedelic imagry to build up the subjects of the piece. Where did you pick up this artistic style and what other artists made an impact on your work?
alyZen Moonshadow: Colour is important to me, followed closely by depth and texture. I like to introduce an element of the surreal into some of my pieces. An early series that I created in 2011 is titled “Dalienutopia” and is based around photos of the Baigup Wetlands near where I used to live in Perth, Western Australia. The title is a combination of my homage to the artist Dali, and the words Alien and Utopia…and the images are surreal and weird. Another series titled “Surrealism” in 2012 came from when I was experimenting with strange objects and juxtapositions. I learnt about Dali and his contemporaries funnily enough in Music History when I was a student at college, and the ideas just stayed with me. Another artist that inspire me is Georgia O’Keeffe, you can see her influence in my photo manipulations of flowers. When I was creating my flower photographs, some friends told me my images reminded them of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings.
KIH: Where do you do most of your work?
alyZen Moonshadow: My trusty workhorse, the Samsung Galaxy S4, is rarely out of my hands, and it is also my portable Studio. So basically, I can and do work almost anywhere. For printing purposes, I have my printers (an ink-guzzling Epson Artisan 1430 and a mellow Canon Pixma MX870) in the spareroom/storeroom, which during the summer months is shared with an ongoing succession of baby Japanese Quails, that I incubate, breed and sell. The room is too small for a proper worktable, so I simply spread butcher paper over the carpet on the floor, lay out my prints on that, and do any gluing, varnishing, etc right there. It’s easy enough to tidy away again afterwards. Someday I hope to have a traditional gypsy caravan installed in my front garden, where things can be more permanent.