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Interview with Stephen Burns – Photoshop Artist and Trainer

Stephen Burns - Photoshop Artist and Trainer
What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are? & What inspired you most to become a Photographer?
I don’t know if I have a title per say, but let me share with you a bit of my artistic life and how it has transitioned.  I consider myself a digital artist which includes being an author and instructor.  By the way, I have just signed a contract for a new book that will be focused on 3D in Photoshop.  In addition to books I create digital tutorials and inspire others through my traveling presentations.  My deeper love is creating art that is personal to me.

I began painting and drawing but I felt that I needed a camera for taking reference photos for my paintings.  After buying my first SLR camera which was a Minolta X700 35 mm, I quickly realized that I had no idea as to how to use it.  I chose to take a beginning color photography class at a local college.  I was hooked.

Within that same year my girlfriend and I decided to take a camping trip to Yosemite Valley.  We decided that since San Francisco was so close that we would take a detour to see the city.  It would be my first time in San Francisco.  It so happened that the work of Ansel Adams was being exhibited at the de Young Museum and since he was one of the photographers that my instructors encouraged me to read about, I had to go see the work myself.  Keep in mind that at this time I am also taking “Darkroom Techniques 101” which focused on the fundamentals of B&W Film processing and paper processing.

In front of me stood mural sized B&W work that exhibited a symphony of luminance values and compositional impact that had me stunned.  I stood there trying to understand why his work was so great and mine sucked so bad! After that experience I dedicated myself to mastering as best as I could B&W photography as an art form.

Why did you pursue this as a career?
All artists do what they do because the medium addresses their particular personality. Why do some sculptures choose clay while others favor stone or steal?  And why do some choose the canvass while others relish mixed media? For me, the combination of the artistry and the technology is fascinating.  In other words photography is a technology that represents and defines my day and age as an artist.  At one time the canvass was the means of expression, then the printing press and now it is the camera which gave way to the proliferation of digital.  In all honesty, photography and digital choose me.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
I feel that the biggest obstacle is the inability of establishing one’s own uniqueness artistically and creating a following based on it.  You see, it is always easy to follow someone else who has paved the way or market for a particular style of art.  I could have followed Ansel in what he did but the more that I studied his life the more it became clear that he was an innovator or maverick who was trying to break his own established mold.  So, in essence, I wanted to be true to myself.

With all the new versions of Photoshop what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
I began with version 2 and I have seen a lot of changes.  Now we have Photoshop CC 2014 and I am proud to see that Adobe continues to push the envelope that will assist artists to create in unique ways more effortlessly. When I began there were no layers then in version 3 layers revolutionized Photoshop.  In version 4, I remembered gaining more filters.  Of course this continues to adjustment layers as well as a whole new nondestructive workflow. Today I feel the more important addition to Photoshop is the ability to import, create and now print 3D content.  That is a game changer for Photoshop.

What Photographers & Photoshop artists/creatives do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion?
Let me answer your question with a little more insight into my personal experiences and influences.  After I finished the photography program I was exhibiting my B&W fine art landscape and texture compositions internationally in a series of group and solo shows.  I originally focused on B&W artists that we now consider master photographic greats like Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Ruth Bernhard, Bruce Barnbaum, Ray McSavaney, Brett Weston, Aaron Siskind, John Sexton, Paul Caponigro, Josef Sudek and Michael Kenna to name a few.

Then I ventured in the work of Joel-Peter Witkin and the Starn Twins.

One year I had a solo show exhibiting 50 of my gelatin silver prints at the International University in San Diego.  I know that it was in the early 90’s because this was before my presidency at the Art Institute in Balboa Park.  I noticed this short man with thick glasses intently looking at each piece of my work. My curiosity got the best of me and I had to find out who this guy was. I introduced myself and he proceeded to tell me that he was Irving Lefson and he was 92  years old and he thought my work was quick good.  I thanked him for saying so.  He then proceeds to introduce to me to his wife and shares that I need to see some unusual photographic techniques that he was now willing to share for the first time.  I was invited to dinner.

When arriving I saw some very interesting paintings on his wall.  I asked him if they were his and he joyfully says yes and corrected me by making it clear that they were not paintings but photographs.     I was so intrigued that I spent and entire 3 years before his passing getting a foundation in the foundation of modern art and the American Abstractionist movement.   Why that particular movement?  Because that was the time and place that he grew up in as an artist.  You see I met him at 92.  During the depression Irving had a thriving business that sustained him in New York.  He had the opportunity to met and know artists like Jackson Pollock and many of his fellow abstractionist.  Part of my training with him was to read the book title “Pollock” which had just been released written by Naifeh and Smith.

Every day we covered a different artists beginning with Cezanne and progressed well into the movements of the Impressionists, Expressionists, the Pointillists, Abstractionists, Cubitsts and Futurists to name a few.  It was impressed up me that the reason these artists were great was because they found a way to express themselves uniquely with the medium that best represented their time as an artist.

So, today I am fascinated with how this digital medium has created a whole new breed of artist so I love the work of:  Brian Haberlin, Meats Meier, Andrew Jones, Scott Spencer, Marcel Dejong, Jennifer Hachigian and Dave Jerrard to name a few.

What social networks do you like most? Which present good examples of Photoshop and Photography the best?
The best social network is always face to face interaction!  This is a concept that some have relinquished in favor of mass media interaction.  You cannot replace the strength of a personal relationship with your clients.  However, if you want to more of a superficial interaction then consider social networks like Facebook, LinkenIn, Twitter and now I am getting into Instagram.

My favorites for Photoshop and photography are:,

What is your prediction of the evolution of social networks?
I believe that television, telephone and radio will combine into a single network experience for worldwide interaction.

How do you think these networks will showcase artists and Photographers better in the future? What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop and Photography?
In my opinion Photoshop will continue to address the needs of a wide variety of artistic traditions in a single version.  It already addresses the needs of photographers, painters, 3D and designers and it will improve upon these areas as well as integrate film making and film editing to a larger degree.

Follow Stephen here!  &

Interview with Dave Clayton – KelbyOne Evangelist for the UK and Europe

Dave Clayton - KelbyOne Evangelist for the UK and Europe

What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are?
I am the official KelbyOne Evangelist for UK and Europe and that role mainly consists of sharing and promoting information about KelbyOne and its products and services to the UK and European community via social media, my own website (currently being completed). I attend shows and talk to people about KelbyOne but I am also an Adobe Community Professional so this dual role allows me to ‘evangelise’ both products which compliment each other.

My day job is as a Digital and Creative Manager for a telecommunications company, my hobby is graphic design and I am lucky to work with some really cool people outside of work using my design and social media skills. I also assist Glyn Dewis and do most of his design work, including his new branding and have just been commissioned to design the cover of his new Photoshop book with Peachpit. I really have to pinch myself sometimes how all this has come to be over the past 4 years, a lot of thanks goes to Scott Kelby, Richard Curtis (Adobe) and Glyn Dewis.

What inspired you most to become a Graphic artist? Why did you pursue this as a career?
I’m of an age where I only had paper, crayons, felt tips and coloured pencils to work with. Art and technical drawing were my strengths at school and i have always loved designing. I love old books of retro art and advertising. It’s something that naturally developed and in my teens, early 20′s I really found a love for desktop publishing. Self taught on Quark Xpress in the early 90′s developed into using graphic programs on the early computers. I started using Paint Shop Pro and it just grew from there, relaxing to me is being creative or reading/watching creative content.

These skills took me into the world of marketing in my 30′s and I have never looked back. I also love photography but much in the same way as I love football, I’m not too hot myself but I admire and love the work of great photography and photographers, not a big fan of pretentious photographers, its not about them, its about the images.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
Probably opportunity. Getting doors to open for you. The Adobe Creative Cloud has allowed more people to have better access to all the best creative tools, there is a plethora of online training content and on site training centres such as Certitec in the UK (where I passed my InDesign ACA) and so the community has a LOT of creative talent starting very young. So opportunity and a good break is what will help. Getting out there and connecting via events, social media and having a strong portfolio is essential. Good things will come to the talented people, too many times I see people on social media trying to be ‘social celebrities’ but look at their portfolios, no quality or content.

Be honest and be yourself.

With all the new versions of Photoshop what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
I love that with the Adobe Creative Cloud we have the best tools at our fingertips and that new additional features are rolled out when ready, giving us better workflow and collaboration. I am a huge fan of the Creative Cloud because back in the day it was hard to own just Photoshop, let alone all the other tools. 90% of the people I know who use Photoshop have at some time used a pirate version. now its affordable to people who are good enough to use the tools to raise the funds to pay for it at its highest price. The way Adobe are rolling out new features such as the new features released on June 18th is such a huge benefit to the creative community. More learning, improving and more collaboration. It’s a great time to be a designer.

What Photoshop artists/creatives/Graphic artists do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion?
I’m a big fan of Scott Kelby, he got me on this path during the digital age, I still have copies of Mac Design, Layers and Photoshop User going right back to the 90′s – back then I never thought for one minute i’d ever meet him or even be a NAPP member (as it was back then). I have his books and always used to watch the early podcasts. Long story short, that path has led me to meeting Corey Barker who is hands down my favourite graphic artist, not because he’s the best out there, more because he is pretty awesome but he shares his methods, he teaches and makes me want to learn more. All the Kelby team have inspired me and this journey has enabled me to meet many awesome artists and photographers. All offer me something, be it friendship or teaching, i admire them for making a career form their craft and sharing. Finally, my best buddy Glyn Dewis. I can’t speak highly enough of him. I met him because of Scott Kelby on October 14th 2010. What we’ve achieved together and individually really is a dream come true. He’s my best mate, my other brother and a great guy to work with and for. Special mention also goes to my other, other brother Aaron Blaise – sometimes you meet people in life that make your jaw drop by both how awesome a person they are and how talented they are. I really feel so lucky and blessed having all these people in my life.

What social networks do you like most? Which present good examples of Photoshop and Graphic design the best?
Social media is a funny creature for me. Google+ is the best platform for creatives but I am not that busy on it and i should be, just time gettign away with me. Facebook is great for keeping in constant touch with the people who I consider real friends and ‘social friends’. Twitter is great for sharing and direction your audience. Despite its constant annoyances I find myself on Facebook the most, it just seems easier to connect. I’m not a great fan of people who post statuses which enables responses but they don’t then engage, more of a “look at me, my life is so awesome that I feel sharing here makes you have a better day” – engage people, engage (I should give Jean Luc Picard some credit there!!). Behance for creatives is a great addition to the creative cloud but i don’t really share much of my work, I should really.

What is your prediction of the evolution of social networks? How do you think these networks will showcase artists and Photographers better in the future?
I think Google+ will continue to evolve for the creative community, with Google hiring John Nack and having Brian Matiash on board, plus the acquisition of Nik, will make that eco system become the place to share and connect. It’s also good for SEO! More people will use video as well so I see that just naturally becoming the place to hang out. Maybe some brave person will create a new social network but it’d be a tough job, maybe Adobe will venture that road one day. The future is pretty exciting.

What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop and Graphic Design?
Photoshop is delivering for me as a designer. I still like doing things myself, I don’t want Photoshop doing too much for me but the tools allow me to be more efficient and creative. I use Illustrator and InDesign alongside it. The introduction of apps and the ‘on the go’ mindset will help. I personally like the new iPad apps and the Ink & Slide hardware available from Adobe. Glyn’s logo started as a sketch on the iPad and then I took it to Illustrator. Even the Wacom range is enabling creatives to work better – the Cintiq’s are wonderful kit, sadly out of my price range. The mood is definitely aimed at being able to work anywhere and linking it all up. There’s a saying we use at work, “work is what you do, not where you are” and Creative Cloud is taking us on that journey with its evolution.

Reading this back the words I notice I have said a lot are enable. evolve. engage (don’t nick that people) !!!

Thanks to Andrew for giving me his fantastic community platform to share my thoughts, I hope i made sense along the way.

Follow Dave here! on Twitter on Facebook on Google+  &

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