This time, we have a very special interview. Joan Charmant is a software engineer who started doing photo manipulation very good. In this interview he explains us how he works on these and we show you the images he used in her files. Enjoy

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

1. 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?

Thanks to you for the interview. Sorry it took such a long time for me to deliver. I have no academic background in art. My dayjob is software engineer. I started photo montage in 2004, when I stumbled upon UFO pictures and wanted to see how hard it would have been to fake. While looking for tutorials I found the website Worth1000.com and I started to spend days and nights entering contests there. It took a lot of trial and error and a fair ammount of constructive criticism from other members, until I could be happy with some of my images.

2. Your work is pretty unique and full of creativity. Where does your inspiration come from?

Thanks :-) I'm fascinated by a lot of things, nature, technology, science, cultures differences... I'll compulsively look for reference books everytime I stumble upon a area unknown to me. The consequence is that when I design an image, I will often make connections between remote concepts and come up with (hopefully) something fresh or bizarre. I will try to mix constrasting ideas and feelings. I like to apply a domain-specific logic to think about something completely unrelated.

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Material used in this picture

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Material used in this picture

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Material used in this picture

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

3. Could you describe for us your typical 'start to finish' workflow when working on a photo manipulation?

First I get some sort of insight. An interesting concept, a funny thought, anything... Then I try to push and stretch the concept in various directions, removing everything not conveying the core idea along the way. (This is my favorite step :D) At one point, I'll have a bare bone idea that should be interesting in itself. Then starts the image hunt for the main subject. (several -boring- hours) I will collect various set of images to account for perspective coherence. (you can fake everything but not perspective) I may do low res tryouts to assess pictures matches. Once I'm confident with the images I have, I will start the blending. Smaller parts can be added afterwards with lesser quality images. Blending the main part will generally give me some time to think about the concept a bit more. I write down whatever potential nice additions comes to my mind during that process. When the image structure is almost finished and I'm adding small bits, I need to take a step back and have a fresh look.. When I'm done with structure and local color adjustments, I'll generally apply overall adjustment and enhancing. At that point I consider the final image as a photography and try to simply make it look pleasant to the eye. It ties things together and make the image pops.

4. What are your tools of the trade, both hardware and software?

I have a fairly standard setup : - PC under Windows, Photoshop CS2. - Optical mouse, no wacom, one 19" screen. - 2GB of RAM but I only use them when the picture involve faery powder :-) I almost never shoot sources myself.

5. What, for you personnaly are the pros of designing in contrary to your dayjob in software engineering ?

The most gratifying thing is when you know you provoked warm or strange feelings to your audience. In software we design complex systems from the ground up to build something new... Creating a graphic scene is essentially the same process for me, except that the end result is not aimed at your pragmatic skills, but directly at your imagination. Telling a story with a bunch of pixels is really an efficient way to communicate.

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Material used in this picture

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Material used in this picture

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Material used in this picture

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

6. What are your favourite 5 websites, and why? - Worth1000 (www.worth1000.com) : Where I learnt everything. - Charles Krebs Gallery (http://www.krebsmicro.com/) : Probably the best microscopy photographer on the internet... - Atmospheric Optics (http://www.atoptics.co.uk) : Nature can be such a beauty. - Astronomy Pic of the Day (http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/) : Daily dose of wonders. - Chris Gilbert Gallery (http://www.christophegilbert.com/) : Some fantastically disturbing montages from a pro. Love it.

7. Once again , thank you very much for the interview. As a final word, do you have any tips for upcoming artists and designers?

- Fix reality in your sources whenever you have to. Don't say "It was already weird in the original". - If in doubt, it's better to mask too much than not enough. - Try to avoid foreground objects coming straight from an edge. - If you can provoke the same emotion with less elements, it will have more impact. Thank you !

for more manipulations watch his website JoanCharmant.com

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Material used in this picture

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Material used in this picture

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Material used in this picture

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

Material used in this picture

Photo manipulation work created by Joan Charmant

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