In continuing with with my initial series of interviews, I’m happy to bring you Jean Hutter, the talented (and wildly prolific) artist whose work was featured in Issue No. 2 of our magazine Living the Photo Artistic Life. Jean’s work has figured prominently not only on the Photoshop Artistry Facebook page ever since its inception, but also repeatedly as a subjects for training videos in AWAKE, Photoshop Artistry Fine Art Grunge, and Creative Black & White Photo Artistry. So let’s jump into the interview!
Q: What inspires you as an artist?
Jean Hutter: I guess I would equate inspiration with excitement. I draw my inspiration from many things. Sometimes a song title or line in a book will create a vivid image in my mind and I know it is something that I want to try to recreate digitally. (“Into The Mystic” by Van Morrison, and “Roots and Wings” by Miranda Lambert offer two immediate examples.) Another time it might be my mood, or a particular color, or lighting on a subject, or a model’s pose, or even at times viewing other artist’s work that strikes me in some special way. And there are other times that I am not inspired at all – but that does not mean I do not work. Sometimes my best pieces come about with no preconceived idea at all – just sitting down and grabbing a background, a few other images, textures, and some stuff … and then just playing.
Q: What does “Living the Photo Artistic Life” mean to you?
Jean Hutter: I think the key to this question is the word “living.” For me, I would have to say “living” it means working at my craft. Thinking about art, looking at art, and making art. I don’t feel you have to be actually seated at an easel, or behind a camera, or sitting at your computer to be living an artistic life. It is more a way of seeing and enjoying the beauty that is all around us. It is important to expose yourself to art in all forms — music, literature, photography, the theater, galleries and museums. And I try to do something art-related every day, even if it is just creating images in my head.
Q: What are the most important things you’ve learned in your journey as an artist?
Jean Hutter: I have been doing this a long time. I was first a fine artist painting large abstracts on canvas, and I have also been using Photoshop since Version 5. So one important thing I have learned over the years is that art is relative — my idea of beauty and yours might be (and probably is) completely different. I don’t think any two people see the world (or art) the same way, but in the end it is all good. I feel you need to keep an open mind; this is how you grow. It is a mistake to continually fall back on the familiar and easy way of doing things, your comfort zone. You have to move ahead, shake things up, learn new things, but most important have fun. This is one thing I have to keep reminding myself of all the time — don’t take it all so seriously.
Q: What is your usual method of working? How do you approach your craft as a digital artist?
Jean Hutter: Well, that can differ at each sitting … especially now that I have started using my iPad Pro to do some of my digital work. I almost always work on one image at a time, and I work fast. I like to bring it to conclusion before I start thinking about something new. I have a huge selection of source material and I do have a definite idea of what type of art I like to make. I like creating images that tell a story or evoke a strong emotional feeling. And I suppose my work often leans towards the dark side …
When I begin a piece, I will gather quite a few photos and other images that are loosely based on my initial idea or photos that I think will work well together. I bring them all into Photoshop and decide on the size and orientation of my image. I then begin to look through the source material and add or discard elements, building my image layer by layer … I want to say usually from back to front: My background, the model, any props, then textures, blending modes, lighting, grunge or spatter elements, adjustment layers … then my signature. It’s a building / layering process. Sounds simple, but it never is.
Recently, now that I am using my iPad Pro more often in my work (and getting to know some of the amazing apps and what they can do), I can see myself splitting my process. I may take images over to the iPad and run them through some apps and play around there to establish some artistic starting points to work from … but I will always then come back into Photoshop for compositing it all and applying the finishing touches. I just feel there is so much more control of the final fine-tuning that only can be done in Photoshop. With what can be accomplished on an iPhone or iPad and within programs like Photoshop, there really is no limit to the amazing art that can be made. The sky is the limit, and I am just so happy to be part of it all.