About the artist
This week’s artist interview is with composite portrait artist Bader Qabazard. Bader is a Kuwaiti national born in 1961. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Motion Pictures and Photography at Brooks Institute, Santa Barbara, California. He is currently working for a TV station in Kuwait as a creative consultant.
Bader started experimenting in Photoshop with photos he had taken over the years. Over time, he developed his own technique and style in manipulating the images through the process of collage and finishing by adding textures and colour. Being stylized and personalized, his work is always open to interpretation; most importantly it revolves around the idea that sometimes you just need to do something for the fun of it and express a certain vision of one’s own. It is a collective journey through moods and phases that have elevated and digressed.
How did you first get into digital art?
It started back in 1992 when I met and became good friends with a person working as an art director for a world-wide advertising agency in Dubai. One day I visited his office to get a brief understanding about the work he does – advertising was new to me, I came from a background of analogue film and photography. The software he used to finish the artwork fascinated me; he manipulated images using Photoshop. Someone had created a tool that can do what was in my head back then in collage times!
In film school all students had to start taking still photography classes. Part of the process was to develop the film and print the final using chemicals, dark room, etc. Later on I started to experiment and tried to manipulate images through this process; it wasn’t easy but the results were satisfactory. I began to play more with digital art when I moved back home in 2002, since then I never stopped.
Why did you choose digital art as your medium?
Time was the essence: I was and still am busy working full time in television. The digital artwork you see is all created in my free time, basically during my days off. All my finished artwork starts with a photo I take and manipulate. The other reason, of course, is it’s much easier to fix things or redo digitally during the process – there’s always Cmd Z! 🙂
Which artistic styles are you particularly drawn to?
When I started playing with Photoshop it was a mix of everything: still life, landscapes, people and so on. It was a learning process to get to know what Photoshop is capable of doing. Gradually I began focusing on portraits, making faces my subject. I started to experiment with different styles, developing a look that’s different from the rest of what you see in the digital art world.
So, to answer your question: the style I ended up with begins with a mixture of different parts of people’s faces, manipulated and exaggerated. After that, I add textures to give the image a rough, grungy or organic look; it depends how I feel in the moment. I finish off by adding colours to certain areas. The goal is to have a piece that looks like a painting and I think it works! People are often surprised when I tell them the images are digitally produced. I don’t know if the technique or style I use has a name; tell me if there is! ?
What inspires you?
Music, music, and more music!
What is your artistic motivation?
The challenge with myself – a mind game to see how far it can go; to create something from nothing, or to create a character from objects and shapes or sometimes to produce different finished art pieces from one single photograph. It’s a playful process I take, like a kid placed in a room full of toys.
Of all your images to date, which is your favourite and why?
I would be lying if I said I love them all. Naturally I like some pieces more than others. Most artists start with an idea in mind before creating an art piece; they have a vision that they then apply to their chosen medium. It’s different for me as 99,9% of my finished art work starts with nothing: no idea, no vision whatsoever. I sit in front of my computer and start playing with images, things just slowly start to evolve until the finished piece appears. I have no idea how, what or why, it just happens! The works I usually favour are the pieces that tell me why I’m doing what I’m doing half way through the process; it talks to me in a way, guiding me what to do next step by step all the way to the end.
Which three words or phrases would you use to describe your work?
It is all around a continuous momentum of thoughts, the balance that allows the mind to thrive and sway. Ascended from moods, and where time is of the essence.
What memorable responses to your artwork have you had?
One of the memorable responses I had was from a well known old time Kuwaiti artist, he said “Bader’s work is breath taking and so original, with his unique style.” This made so many people and art collectors in this region appreciate digital art work.
Name three artists who inspire you.
How do you think you’ve improved as an artist compared to when you first started?
Naturally everything you love to do improves with time. In my case I believe my recent work is much more defined and detailed compared to when I started.
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to when you started making art?
I’m not really sure, it never crossed my mind before. All I know is I’m so grateful that I gave myself time to learn and create.
What devices/equipment do you use to create your art?
Apple Mac Pro, Intuos Pro Pen Tablet.
Which apps/programs do you use to create your art and which are your favourites?
Adobe Photoshop, Nik Collection, Topaz Labs.
Do you use images from stock sites as well as your own photos and if so, which are your favourites and why?
I favour the images I shoot myself because they are more connected and personal. The only time I use stock is when time is not on my side for going through the process of the photo shoot production.
And finally, do you find that digital art is often dismissed as a valid art form?
It used to be. Not any more.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and insights, Bader!