Determined to be an artist he worked on his childhood dream to be good at drawing and found his very unique style. I am very pleased to show you an informative interview with digital artist Michael Oswald.

First of all we would like to thank you for taking the time to provide abduzeedo.com with this interview. Please tell us more about your art and design background and what made you become an artist and designer?

I think I always knew that art was in my future. Even as far back as preschool I can remember drawing pictures in class and wondering why no one else put as much time and effort into it. I do believe that the focus and determination it takes to be a successful artist is something people are born with so I don’t really see it as something I was in control of. My job was to nurture it and remember not to take it for granted.

Over time I considered graphic design as possible career, mostly because I never thought it would be possible to become a professional artist. So, I went to college for graphic design. The projects were mostly centered around commercial logos and advertising which felt too much like work to me and not a passion. While sitting in the back of the classroom, I would often play around in Photoshop and 3D Studio Max, creating images that I thought were cool but in my teacher’s words, had ‘no commercial appeal.’

Photo Manipulation by Michael O.

How did you come up with your style, what made you explore more this style and what in your opinion is the main characteristic of it?

I knew that if I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist, I would need both a unique style (that I could perform consistently) and a style that was within my limits. Yes, all artists have limits. My biggest roadblock was getting an idea from my head and onto the screen. I found that using photographs as references was the simplest solution. I never expected that process to become part of my eventual digital art style, let alone the main focus like it has become. Using photos as reference helps me set the foundation of an art piece which allows me to focus on other aspects of the artwork.

Photo Manipulation by Michael O.

How would you break down your workflow in steps?

The first and most important step is coming up with a concept. I feel the best way to make interesting art is to have a good reason for making it. Just creating a pretty picture isn’t enough for me. Currently, I have about twenty ideas on my list and they are graded by how strong the idea is, how beautiful it looks in my mind and how easy or hard I think it will be to create.

The next step is finding the right model and setting up a photo shoot. Depending on the concept, I may need a model with dark hair or blonde hair, dark skin or light skin. These attributes are also broken down on the list. It is important to me to find the right model for an image and there have even been times when I have traveled to faraway places in order to find them.

During the photo shoot I try to pose the model as close to what I have in my head as possible. I keep the lighting setup very simple. This makes the transition from ordinary photos to unique artwork more interesting. I usually take around 400 shots at a photo shoot and end up keeping 3 or 4 of those shots. Inevitably, the photo is not exactly what I was hoping for but almost any changes needed can be addressed later.

In the computer I manipulate the image by first breaking it down (changing the color tones, moving body parts around, changing the backgrounds out etc…). Then, in so many words, I paint over the top of the image to make it look like a painting. This is done in a variety of ways (blurring, smudging, airbrushing etc…). Those who are interested in my style would be surprised to know that it takes very few tools and tricks but rather a lot of tedious detailing.

Technically speaking, I use a Canon 5D, usually with a 50mm 1.4 lens, a PC (quadcore with 6gigs of ram), CS2, and no, I don’t use a pen tablet. When hearing this, most professionals would just call me stubborn and set in my ways but I would say to you, find the components that work for you, not what someone else says you should. Let your output speak for itself.

Photo Manipulation by Michael O.

What's the importance of the computer in the creative process?

I am trying to imagine how my artistic process would work without the aid of a computer. I do not think it would be possible. I would say that it is the most important tool in my arsenal but it is just that, a tool. I do not expect it to be a miracle worker. Prior to using a computer I dabbled in airbrushing and I think that is the closest thing to what my work would look like if I did not use a computer. I am glad the technology is available and now I sat sit at a desk eating Cheetos and not have to move for hours!

Photo Manipulation by Michael O.

Apart from the profits, what type of satisfaction do you get from your work?

It became clear to me a long time ago that inspiring others to create art is the most fulfilling aspect of my career. I’m happy to say that my work is not something I do selfishly. In fact, there are many times when I do not feel like working but I continue on knowing that some digital art fans are waiting to see what I come up with next and aspiring artists are looking to me for inspiration. Reading their comments and accolades is very gratifying …and addicting! I also enjoy the people surrounding my business including other photographers and artists that I collaborate with, companies I work for and meeting new models from around the world. It helps bring the feeling to my work that it takes a community to make art and that I am not alone in its creation.

Photo Manipulation by Michael O.

What are your favorite 5 websites, and why?

My two favorite websites are constantly jockeying for the first place position in my mind… DeviantArt.com and ModelMayhem.com. DeviantArt [ http://michaelo.deviantart.com/ ] is a wonderful community website full of aspiring artists and colleagues. The ability to comment on and ‘favorite’ individual artworks gives me a lot of information as to how art fans approve (or disapprove) of my new work. I highly recommend this site for those who are looking for critiques of their art and to possibly build a network of friends or a fan base. ModelMayhem.com [ http://www.modelmayhem.com/198781 ] is a very simple and efficient site dedicated to matching photographers (or artists) with models. Since models are such an important part of my style, this website is an invaluable tool to creating my work. I would also say that this is the only part of my work that gets me off of the computer for a while. Bringing real people into the creative process is a great benefit to my style.

My third favorite site, which I am a bit new to, is Facebook. Unlike my own website, I can easily add new artwork or news updates here, plus I can also learn a little bit more about those who enjoy my work and contact them if I am visiting their area.

Forth would be istockphoto.com There are a number of stock photo sites out there these days but I have always been partial to istockphoto (although I am not too happy about the higher prices these days). If websites like this didn’t exist, my job would be a lot harder, particularly for background imagery and effects.

Lastly, if I had to pick a favorite non-art related website, I would say Rhapsody Although more of a program than a website, Rhapsody is a music site similar to itunes that lets you stream music in full clarity and length of just about any song you can imagine. I always like to have something playing in the background while I work – particularly the kind of music that puts me in the right emotional mood for whatever image I am working on.

Photo Manipulation by Michael O.

Any advice for those who are starting out their career? What kind of references are important for those who want to work with this kind of style?

In my experience, a lot of the details surrounding my style worked themselves out over time. By not following in another artist’s footsteps or reading how-to books I was open to finding any technique. Through luck, I stumbled into one that is unique. This is the method that I suggest to all artists. Find a style that satisfies you.

The reference material only needs one crucial element. It needs to inspire you!

Where to find this artist

http://www.bymichaelo.com/ - Official website and portfolio http://www.facebook.com/MichaelO.Digital.Artist - Facebook Page

More work

Photo Manipulation by Michael O.

Photo Manipulation by Michael O.

Photo Manipulation by Michael O.

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