Design Splat | Interviews with Awesome Designers and Creatives

SIMON SMITH – PHOTOGRAPHER AND BODYARTIST/PROSTHETICS MAKER

Posted February 1st by Design Splat in Artists, Body Artist, Body Painter, Photographers, Prosthetics

I first met Simon when I fancied trying out some modelling. He was the first person I had a photoshoot with. Hes a fantastic and crazy guy who produces some amazing work! He is now interested in Body Art & Prosthetic Making! His work is mind blowing for someone who has only just set out doing Body Art and Making Prosthetics!

I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I did!

Amazing work!

Hello and Welcome to the Design Splat Blog Simon!

We have two interviews for you today! One on Simon and his Photography and one on his Body Art & Prosthetics.

Lets start with the Photography Interview:

Tell us a bit about what you do:

Until the last week of 2009 I was employed by a charity to teach Digital Inclusion, including photography, image manipulation and studio work. We also did some body art and other stuff to try and engage deprived members of the local communities.

I have been doing some semi-professional traditional photographic artwork as a side line for a number of years as well.

How did you get into Photography?

I’m actually a Lithographer by trade. That covers every aspect of commercial reproduction from artwork origination, through photography and digital manipulation to commercial printing and packaging.

I did an apprenticeship more years ago than I care to remember, and that brought me into the photography and art disciplines.

What aspect of Photography?

For a very long time my photographic work was commercially based. Pretty boring stuff really, industrial, weddings, catalogues that kind of stuff. Since I was made redundant in 2003 my photography has taken on a much more artistic leaning, portraiture, figurative and artistic nude along with body art and other photographic art forms including abstracts.

Since meeting John Davis in 2006 I have found a new interest in painting and photographing the human body from a body art point of view.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Older, poorer and maybe a bit wiser. Seriously I am intending to concentrate far more on the art and artistic photography side of things. It would be nice if I could shift more towards the art and less on the photography. We’ll see what the new year brings.

Freelance / Own business or working for a company?

I may have to try and find a part time income so there is regular money, but ultimately I have sort of been my own boss for so long that going back to working for someone else is likely to be difficult. I’d like to be a freelancer running some sort of company.

What drives you/gives you the ‘go’ to keep at it and do everything?

I love to create images, on canvas or paper, the human body or in the camera. I never get bored of it. There is a real buzz when you get a nice reaction from the client, model or your peers.

I have an over active imagination and often ‘see’ images in my head and then try and go about converting them to real images.

Also I have had a load of fun doing them!

Can you recall the first photo you took that made you go WOW!?

Yep, under the old ‘wet’ process, the first time I saw an image appear in the developer solution before my very eyes. I thought ‘my god, I took that, developed the film, printed it and ….. it ALL worked!!’. The image wasn’t fantastic, but there was a certain magic to the way it all came together.

I also thought ‘WOW’ when we pulled the images of ‘Blue Robot’ off the card. I again thought ‘I’ve done this from start to finish’. That included a 6 hour paint job, the shoot and the manipulation.

Does fame attract you?

Fame? Ha ha ha, not in the slightest, in fact I’d find it quite scary to have to deal with total randoms who think they know you everywhere you go.

Recognition is a different matter, I would like some recognition for some of my work, mostly the art as opposed to simply the photography.

Of course I’d welcome FORTUNE if it happened to come my way.

How do you feel about photo manipulation?

Anyone would think this was something new. Image manipulation has been around as long as photography itself. It’s just that it was a chemical / mechanical process before. Now it’s digital it makes everything so much cleaner and easier. I love manipulation, especially where it’s been done well or as a concept from the outset. However, I hate manipulation for it’s own sake. Take the best image you can FIRST, then do manipulation. Don’t rely on it to get crap photos to be acceptable, do it to make good images into great ones.

How do you rate yourself as a photographer?

Average, I’d hope I’m better than most run of the mill wedding photographers, but I tend to treat it mostly just as a tool. There are loads of far better photographers then me around.

What makes a good photographer?

Same thing as a good artist, the ability to ‘look’ and see what’s there and NOT what you THINK is there. Patience is a good trait, and an innate sense of what looks pleasing to the eye.

A lot depends on the subject you are interested in; a landscape photographer will approach their subject differently from a war reporter or an art nude studio photographer. I like working in the studio, but all photographers have a ‘dabble’ in other areas.

Of course it always helps to understand what the camera is doing and claim mastery over the equipment. Playing with light can be a lot of fun, but very frustrating too.

Do you think the Photography Industry is difficult to break into? Are you worried about the amount of competition with more and more people becoming photographers?

In the UK there are currently more photography students than there are jobs for photographers in the whole of Europe. A lot of people are going to be very disappointed. Paradoxically, it is the rise of digital technology that has caused this. In the past a true photographer needed to invest in a darkroom, a lot of equipment and use of some pretty noxious chemicals, this deterred Joe public from getting involved in a fairly small industry.

Now anyone with a computer and a second-hand DSLR can produce images and call themselves a photographer. This has led to the extraordinary situation where publications such as NUTS, FHM etc don’t pay for most of their images since so called photographers and models send them in for FREE for the publicity. Crazy.

Unless you know you have a market, or can get into it through a salaried position, I’d say it’s going to be more and more difficult to make a decent living from being a jobbing photographer. It’s one of the reasons that I am using the photography more and more as a tool to move towards the art side of things.

Three words to describe yourself?

Disorganised, untidy and a bit silly.

Hobbies and other interests?

Far too many than is good for me, or to list here. I am interested in everything and anything. I love the human condition, and part of that curiosity is the reason that I have so many hobbies. I love making stuff out of old crap, getting broken things working again, and that means I’m a bit of a hoarder, much to the wife’s dismay.

Favourite photographer?

Oh a juicy question to be sure. All my heroes are from the 50’s and 60’s. Bill Brandt (possibly the best British photographer of all time), Bresson, Bailey, Donovan, Duffy, Litchfield, they changed the way photography was seen from a curio or reportage medium to a truly artistic form. Bailey, Duffy and Donovan especially captured the mood of the 60’s and made celebrity and fashion photographs cool. They were the first celebrity photographers.

Today I like the work of Annie Leibovitz (although she’s American), and grudgingly the contemporary work of Rankin is exceptional.

Any Tips and tricks you want to share with aspiring Photographers?

Oh dear …. Firstly I am appalled at the courses currently being run for photographers. ‘Just snap away and we’ll fix it all in Photoshop later’. No, no, no, no, NO! If you’ve bought a camera – read the bloody manual and learn what the controls actually do! There are only 4 elements to making a convincing image, shutter, aperture, focus and composition. The first three are technical and can be learnt. The fourth is possibly the artistic element an has an instinctive quality that may be more difficult to grasp.

Everything else on the camera is bells and whistles. I learnt my photography on a manual SLR with an under and over meter. It would still take a convincing image if there were no batteries in it. It made you THINK about what you were doing before you pressed the shutter. Learn to play with the light, that’s the essence of photography.

Tools of the trade?

Another good one. There is a hell of a lot of snobbery and rubbish talked about cameras and kit. Any reasonable DSLR from any of the major manufacturers is capable of taking a world beating image. I’ve had students turn up with 20 grands worth of kit who didn’t know their arse from their elbow.

I have used Pentax cameras and lenses since I was 17. I’d pitch Pentax lenses against the best in the world, they’ve always been good. I have a *ist DL, a 20D and a Samsung GX-10 which I use on a daily basis in the studio.

I also have a Canon 450D mostly because that’s the current ‘hot’ manufacturer and I needed to know the functions for training.

For outside work I hire a camera, it’s not worth the money for me to buy something I won’t use that often. I normally hire a Canon 5D but it weighs a ton and is totally unwieldy in my chubby little hands.

90% of my work is done on a Pentax that could be bought second-hand on e-bay for £150.00, I love the camera, it’s small lightweight and I know all the functions and controls blindfold.

Best and worst photo you’ve taken??

Erm …… the next one.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Now for the BodyArt/Prosthetics Interview:

Tell us a bit about what you do:

I paint artistic designs onto the human body. It’s a fantastic way to go about making art. The designs are fleeting, washed of in couple of hours of completion, the reactions and feedback are immediate, and where else can you have a conversation with your artwork?

I also like to make prosthetics for my body paintings, it can transform a person into something outlandish, sci-fi or horror, a role-playing game if you like. A bit like movie SFX make up except that I only do it once and then all that’s left are the photographs. I love the way it forces you to complete the work.

How did you get into Body Painting/Body Art?

I was doing a shoot with a model who wanted a huge Japanese Tattoo down her body, but didn’t want to actually have a tattoo done! I searched around to see if I could find someone to paint it on, and as a result I met John Davis.

John asked me to photograph a couple of events for him and I ended up being the official photographer for the Welsh Face and Body Painting Festival in August 2008. The idea was to cover the costs of the photography for the week long event by selling some pictures to the visiting public …….. it rained all week.

At the end of the event the organisers presented me with a load of paints, brushes and sponges, I think they felt sorry for me. Anyway, the paints languished in a cupboard for a couple of months, then we had a model ‘no show’ on us and my assistant, Jess, said, ‘get the paints out and paint something on me’. I was hooked.

How did you get into making prosthetics?

We did a ‘Blue Robot’ design on Tara Farthing, she later emailed me and said, ‘Can you do a homage to HR Giger for me?’. That meant making a tail, ribs and other body panels. It took me two months to construct everything, but by the end of it I had come up with a system that could make almost anything, within reason, and for a fairly low outlay. That opened up a whole new area to compliment the body art.

Where do the images come from that you paint?

Inside my head. Something will trigger an image in my minds eye, and the trigger could be almost anything, which will then be developed with a rough sketch. From there on I may go searching for some images that form part of what I want to achieve. For a big project the collection of odds and ends can get quite big. From all that rubbish I will distil the end result, then paint from that.

For some paintings, an odd idea will start the paint and it will just develop as I paint. I have to say I prefer the former to the latter.

Where do the ideas for your prosthetics come from?

From the painting design. I try and decide what can be painted on and what has to be made. I love the occult, dark images, horror, paganism and old religions, mythical creatures, that kind of thing.

What is your inspiration for these images/characters you create?

Basically, if the end result is sexy in both the real sense and the ‘cool’ sense then it inspires me to want to create the image. There is nearly always some sort of eroticism to the final result. However the characters can come from anywhere, history, literature, movies, legends and myths or just an idea that comes up.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

No bloody idea! I have spent the best part of the last 30 years trying to decide what I want to do with my life. I still don’t know …

What drives you/gives you the ‘go’ to keep at it and do everything?

The alleviation of boredom.

Can you recall the first body paint that you created that made you go WOW!?

Hmmm the WOW factor sort of grew as I felt I had progressed. ‘Blue Robot’ was the first truly confident full body – I went WOW when I did that one. Then ‘Horny Devil’, the first proper prosthetic back I made, again I went WOW when I saw Jess wearing it. ‘Steampunk Robot’ made me go WOW, I think it’s my best paint only job so far.

What is the most memorable body paint that you have done and why?

Tara’s homage to HR Giger, with the exception of the headgear I thought it was comparable to something you might see in a movie.

Tell us about your first body painting experience:

We had a model ‘no show’ for a shoot. Jess said, don’t waste the day, get those paints out and paint on me’. I did a small tribal on her ankle, then one on her tummy, and then a big tribal snakes head on her chest. I was totally hooked, painting on skin was so different. Plus the fact of her reaction, it was immediate and she was delighted. That was it for me.

Does fame attract you?

Nope. Some recognition would be nice and of course FORTUNE would be great.

How do you rate yourself as a body artist / prosthetic maker?

This is a very small art form globally. There are probably only about 50 or 100 good body artists in the world. I’d like to think that I could put myself in the top 50. We’ll see at the World Championships in July, that’s if I can get sponsorship, so any of your readers would like to help?

As for the prosthetics, there are even less doing that within the body painting world. If we discount the big studio Make Up Artists who specialise in this, then I would hope to be in the top ten.

What makes a good body artist?

You need to have some artistic talent, but imagination, stamina and a good sense of humour usually help. Oh and a bit of confidence, never say ‘Oh shit!’ while painting. You’ll scare the model to death.

Do you paint anything else apart from people?

If you mean do I paint ON other things? Then yes, I do traditional art on paper and canvas. I also paint wall murals and have a contract to work on Bridgend Rugby Club. I take commissions too, and make life cast body sculptures. I am a member of the Guild of Erotic Artists as well.

Do you ever feel upset that once a body paint is done and after images are taken it’s all going to be washed off and you have nothing to show for your hard work apart from some images?

No, never, it is one of the things about body art that I love. You are forced to stop at some point and that’s it. Each and every paint is unique and original; I couldn’t recreate it if I wanted to. It’s great.

Favourite body artist?

Ah another good question.

I like lots of painters work, but the ones I can give reasons for are;

Raph Fieldhouse, who has won the world championship twice but NEVER blows her own trumpet, and is a really nice person too. Alex Hansen who is the master with the airbrush, Mark Reid (but I wouldn’t tell him), Pashur because I love his organic abstract works. Bibi Freeman, for her delicate and beautiful brushwork,

Nick and Brian Wolfe, because I’ve spent a bit of time with them and enjoy their style.

Most of all though, John Davis, not because he’s the best body painter, but because he is completely giving of his time, enthusiasm, ideas and knowledge. I’m proud that he’s a friend of mine.

Any Tips and tricks you want to share with aspiring body artists?

I had a long think about this one.

I would recommend to any budding bodypainter to find a good local model, not a relative or friend (trust me), who is small in stature but ‘perfectly formed’ (trust me). He or she should be willing to allow you to experiment and understand what your aims are. If you can negotiate a deal with them, especially if you can get them some good images, then cost should be negligible.

I couldn’t have done half the work I have without my assistant and muse Jess Fry, who has been tireless in her enthusiasm and has let me try stuff out on her at the drop of a hat.

Be prepared to take constructive criticism on board and to be shown simple stuff that could make your work easier, faster and better.

Ask for help and advice, a good mentor or fellow painter to bounce ideas off is a great fillip. Most of the painters I have met have been more than willing to share.

Go to as many ‘Jams’ as you can, don’t be daunted by the level of the painters around you, they all started somewhere too. Try and have the attitude ‘I wish I had painted that’, rather than ‘I wish I could paint that’. As your confidence grows, the techniques and improvements will show in your work.

Keep images of everything you paint including the ‘bad’ ones. As long as you feel there is improvement in your work you will be encouraged to continue.

Never be afraid to ‘have a go’, what’s the worst that can happen? It all washes off in ten minutes anyway so you can always start over.

Tools of the trade?

All body painters need to use PROPER face and body paints, some good soft high density sponge, and some decent brushes. I also use 8 different airbrushes plus a small compressor. For the prosthetics I mostly use theatrical latex, and 300 bloom gelatine (the SFX make up type). Plaster and some imagination.

Best and worst painting you have done?

Always the next one ….

————

Contact Info:

Email: simon@maesifor.co.uk

Website: www.maesifor.co.uk and  www.marshon.deviantart.com

Facebook Profile Link: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=826467491&ref=ts

Contact Number: 07800636144

Net-Model: coloursthekey or marshon

Purestorm: coloursthekey or marshon

——————

Images of Simon’s Work:

Some truly stunning images and creations by Simon!

————————————–


Comments are closed.



© 2009-2012 designsplat.com | Showcasing Young and New Design Talent