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Ask yourself this question..are you being employed as an artist or a photographer?
In this short documentary, Thomas Dodd explains his views on what it’s like to be an artist and why he doesn’t offer his services as a photographer. He also explains the thought processes behind the transformation of a standard portrait into a piece of fine art, which explores feminine beauty with a mythological feel.
Interview with Thomas Dodd
Who did you become involved in digital photography and art?
When I first began taking photos there wasn’t even such a thing as the home computer let alone Digital Art… My father was an avid photography enthusiast and from him I learned the basics of the craft; composition, depth of field, lighting, and most importantly, how to capture a good portrait. However I left photography behind in my late teens when I became a musician. For two decades I was a working musician playing in bands, touring and putting out albums. It wasn’t until the advent of the internet and home recording becoming available on the computer that I became aware of the intrigued by editing programs like Photoshop. Editing other people’s pictures on the net got me back into photography again and I bought a digital camera shortly thereafter.
What is it about mythology that inspires you to create the images that you do?
I look at mythology as a kind of universal psychology. Every culture in the world throughout history seems to have had the same underlying concepts and principles to their myths. When you consider that most of them were doing this with no awareness of each other, you have to come to the conclusion that there really is a deep well of archetypal symbolism that we are all drawing from. If you read the writings of Joseph Campbell, Robert Graves and Carl Jung, they are all saying exactly the same thing. I believe strongly in the power of symbols and allegories. When I see a cup in a piece of art, I don’t just see the object, I see it as a metaphor and depending on how it’s presented it may represent the divine feminine principle or prehaps even the Holy Grail, and I definitely use that kind of mythic thought process in my art… It is a language that we all instinctively know, and one which I consciously invoke when I create. However sometimes I find that it is only after a piece is finished that I realize exactly what I was trying to depict. Even with the amount of staging and planning that I use for my creations. I still find these little moments of symbolism and synchronicity occurring along the way.
Why do you think spiritual themes translate so well into art?
Both art and spirituality deal with the hidden forces of the mind. Wherever the sat of consciousness may reside – be it in the brain or “the soul”, both mystics and artists seek to reveal it’s inner workings. Art can lift the veil and show us the way someone’s mind works, the hidden fantasies and emotions that propel their thoughts, their deepest desires, dreams and nightmares. It is all there in the great art of history – from Bosch to Goya to Dali to Frida Kahlo to Picasso. Name a great artist and I’ll show you someone who portrayed the inner workings of the consciousness. And what really makes this interesting is the interactive process that continues with the work after the artist is dead (thus they achieve a kind of immortality), because all art is ultimately a mirror held up to the should (or “psyche” if you’re more comfortable with the non-spiritual term) of the viewer.
Do you have any advice for people just getting into Photography or people who want to advance their skills?
I would like to see more people “step outside the box”, especially when it comes to what influences are showing through in their art and what they are intending to convey with it. In a lot of photographic or digital work I see, you can tell the person putting it all together doesn’t have any references other than mainstream Hollywood movies or other Photoshop art, so as a result you get a lot of this Horror and Fantasy stuff that all looks the same. I say why not depict an intense dream you had or try and recreate a traumatic or vibrant childhood memory? That would be much more interesting to look at and I think much more personally gratifying to create!
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you and your art?
I have recently begun moving into the fine art field and displaying my work in galleries. Through promotion my work I have become a passionate advocate for Digital Art and Photo-Manipulation and I have found that there is a lot of ignorance or misconceptions directed towards these fields, not so much from the general public, but from other people in the Art scene. Although most photographers are beginning to understand it as a valid tool, many traditional painters, collectors, and gallery owners are still unsure about the validity and longevity of digital art. It is up to us as pioneers in a new field of art to educate out audience and fellow artists about our work. That is why I am constantly mentioning how I photograph all the elements of my pieces as well as stressing the importance of influencers and intentions on our creations. I want this genre to grow and to be taken seriously in the Art world and thankfully I am seeing that happen more and more each day!
Images Credits and Interview © Thomas Dodd
Images used with permission
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