Most of us have heard about this website called SurrealPSD in the last couple of months. We have seen people posting about it in journals and we have seen people recommending the site during critiques. We have seen so much of conzpiracy
's tutorials going around. People writing, "Check this tutorial out, it will explain to you exactly you do achieve the effect you are after" So I guess it's needless to say that we all would like to know a bit more about the guy behind this movement. conzpiracy
is a Digital Artist from the UK. He mainly designs book covers and runs the Photoshop tutorial site SurrealPSD.com. Previously he taught Advanced Digital Imaging at the university level in the UK for a number of years. He got involved with Photoshop at the young age of 14 and started freelancing shortly after that. At first and for a long time he created event flyers and album designs for artists and promoters in the Drumm n Bass scene. It was only later on that he went on to work in the horror industry, designing book covers.
"Horror is my first love, but I also go crazy for Sci-Fi and Cyberpunk!!" - conzpiracy
My first question to conz was how he first got involved with deviantArt and the PM community. He said,
"DeviantArt really took me to the next level. Even though it's a deeply flawed site, it will always have a special place in my heart!!I signed up in 2005, because I wanted to learn more about the 'grunge' style of photomanipulation that was popular. I submitted some devs, got talking to like-minded artists and it just snowballed from there. It came to a point where I was creating art just to post on DA, and get feedback - so in that respect it's a tremendous engine for growth."
I noticed that he had a lot of dark artworks in his gallery, obviously I know, but I wanted to know from him what it is about dark artworks that inspires him? He answered,
"The obsession with dark stuff and monsters goes right back as far as I can remember, so there's probably some deep-seated freudian reason for it haha..
The macabre is transgressive, it illicits a primal response - the crazy chemical dump of fight or flight. Violence is in our DNA, and it doesn't hurt that skulls and bloody vixens look totally badass!!"
Obviously I had to ask about SurrealPSD.com!!! I can imagine that starting something like that and growing it takes a lot of hard work. So I wanted to know from him how much work he has to put into that to make it a success.
"Wow, it's great to be perceived as a 'great success', so thank you very much for that. In all honesty, the site is still in it's early, humble beginnings. In the grander scheme of things, we're still pretty small, but the site is establishing itself well as a niche site for creative photomanipulators.
The site started as a university project, and started to gain traction in the PM community, so I continued to build the brand - focusing on ALL the core skills photomanipulation. I was annoyed at how the on-line and magazine tutorials just seemed to ignore essential fundamentals such as composition, scale and stock selection, so I set out to remedy that.. It's not all theory though, we also put out lots of fun walk through's with a specialism in monster effects!!
Running a website requires two major ingredients: Consistency and Resilience. This includes working when you're hungover, missing out on paid gigs and undertaking repetitive tasks such as content syndication. At the back-end, it's not that glamorous - but I do love it
As things are progressing, the site is becoming more of a 'business' now as opposed to a hobby, so I've had to sharpen up my professional approach in many respects. I still consider myself a noobie in 'content marketing', but having great fun with the journey."
So it is now very obvious that everybody who receives advice from this guy should value it tremendously, he knows what it takes. But what advice does he have to all the new comers in our community and to deviantArt."This depends on the goals they'd like to achieve.. Would you guys like to earn from your creative endeavours, or would you like to gain notoriety / be the best photomanipulator you can in the hobbyist sense?To build a name, you have to be consistent, and always improve your skillset. Create frequently, post across all platforms. Interact with your peers, leave comments, be decent. Share with others.It's not the most glamorous advice in the world, but two hours practice a day over a number of years will definitely move you toward your goals."
mippieArt - "What are the 3 most important things you think a dark photomanip needs to consist of?"
Conz - "There's no real 'checklist' for creating dark works, as with any creative pursuit. What I will do however, is give three general pointers for succesful photomanipulation work:
1. Stock Resources - Studio-shot, high resolution images will instantly improve your work. There are many stock artists who post first-rate stock photography, for free on DA. Train yourself to be incredibly fussy with what you use, and everything will leap forward in quality.. INSTANTLY.
2. Scale / Composition - The number one stumbling block I've found with my students hasn't been Photoshop operation, it's composition. Look at your favourite photomanipulation works and identify how large the various elements are. How big is the 'focal' element (usually figurative), in relation to the supporting elements and the overall frame. Keep this in your mind at all times, an image has 'hierachy' - too many focal points can distract the eye and lessen impact considerably. Hardly anyone puts any thought into this, but it's a phenomenally important aspect of the game - a well composed manip screams out from the thumbnail!!
3. Learn the Pen Tool - I've had many arguments about this online, but I'll stick to my guns here. The Pen Tool, without doubt is the best compositing tool for 'cutting out' elements in Photoshop. There is a learning curve (excuse the pun!), but once you have it mastered, everything just looks so much better. I have a trained eye, and can instantly see ragged edges when a manipulator uses inferior techniques. In raster software, there's no substitute for the good ol' Pen Tool."
(Authors note: Please note that not one of the things he mentioned was about theme or specific elements, like a gothic girl in a dress in a cemetery.)
Lastly I asked this great entrepreneur and artist what the greatest lesson he learned was, with regards to this industry and generating and income. "Diversify your income streams.
With such a ferociously competitive marketplace, it makes sense to have multiple revenue streams, so think seriously about other avenues where you can earn from your skill-sets.
For me it's working as a commercial artist, lecturing and the revenue generated by SurrealPSD.com - with those three together, I just about make a living from this crazy art stuff!!"
On behalf of the entire team I would like to thank conzpiracy for agreeing to do this. We all can learn a little something from him. Please visit SurrealPSD.com and improve your photo manipulating skills today!!!