From time to time, we come across someone who blows us away with the things they create using Pixlr apps. We deem them follow worthy — and hope that you do, too. This time around we’re profiling Evan Brown, who turned his work commute into an opportunity to create beautiful art on his phone. He calls these pastiches of images Interludes, and they’re worthy of being hung in a gallery. We poked him via email and asked him to tell us more about his art….
What is your name? What do you do in your everyday life?
My full name is James Evan Brown, and I am a communications director for a NYC private school. Sounds nebulous, but it’s really a generalist position where I support various school departments with their copy, editing, graphic design, art/photography, and marketing needs.
Do you have a background in visual art? Photography?
I received my MFA in 1995 (Penn State) in printmaking. My expertise was with intaglio. I knew how to do it all from relief cuts, reduction blocks, silkscreen to lithography, but I enjoyed etching the most. I took up drawing after graduating, eventually working my drawings on Photoshop. I have been engaged with photography for a number of years but really never more than as a novice. Turns out I had to use a great deal of photography and design work in my communications job. Not to mention smartphone use. I use my mobile phone in my job and in my personal life, and you get accustomed to trying out photo apps, manipulating filters, etc., and then throwing those images up on social media channels.
Do you use multiple apps to make your images? What’s the basic process?
I mostly use Pixlr. Or at the very least, these images are assembled in Pixlr. I use the generic Samsung apps that come with the Galaxy 5; I use the image control features in Instagram; a photo app called Vignette. I sometimes just use the screen cap feature on my phone to grab images. I also sometimes use Autodesk’s Sketchbook to include some drawing detail layers. All of these are composed in Pixlr using the Double Exposure option — as in many, many layers of double exposure. I also use various other settings that might be useful: focus, contrast, vibrance, overlays, filters. Whatever I think builds the image toward something interesting. Once an image is selected using double exposure, I scale the image, rotate it, and play with its opacity.
How did you start making these lovely images?
These images started out of boredom. Boredom of taking the train into the city from Queens. Normally I would bike to work, but it’s been a long, cold winter here in the city. I was spending plenty of time on buses and trains in the last two months — and honestly, I read enough bad news or tweets that I needed to try something new. I started layering the many images in my phone in Pixlr. And, as I have little space and little time in my life right now to take on larger creative projects, working on a mobile phone during commuting time seemed an ideal way to be creative. The images were, for me, interludes between being at work and being at home helping to raise the kids.
What do you call these images you make or what’s a good way to describe them?
I call these images “Interludes” because the are done in the time between when I am “on stage” in a way. These are photo collages, but built more by creating layers than actually fitting pieces together into a collage. One image may have between 10 to 30 layers, scaled and dropped into place. The beauty of this image-making process for me is that I am no longer thinking about just one key, gorgeous shot. Instead, I am always collecting images for use in making an “interlude.” Patterns I see in my home or out walking in the city. Or signs, or shapes, or textures, or people, or forms. Either bathed in light or in shadow. I collect an image and use it in conjunction with other collected images and piece a work together.
I kind of remain true, I think, to my printmaking origins in that I choose a particular technique or image in a similar way — building up things like texture, color, shape, contrast, and layering in images for abstract or representational possibility. Sometimes the Interlude is random in its composition. I just let the layers build up and the dynamic of the image tell me when it’s time to wrap it up, and maybe the finished piece will be about the experience of it (color, angles, lines, repeating motifs, whatever). Other times are specific, built with intent toward conveying a message or metaphor of something I feel, something internal.
These images seem worthy of being hung on a wall or exhibited in some way. Any plans for that?
Currently I am showing these on Instagram and on my Tumblr, but when I get enough of these I might put them into a book. I may also print off a few. I had a buddy tell me these would be ideal with back-lit frames. He’s right; they would look great illuminated. That’s how they were created, but I would need a grant or something to afford that kind of presentation hardware. And honestly, where in our small NYC apartment would I put a bunch of illuminated images and frames waiting for a show. They live on my phone and in the cloud for now.