About the artist

A photo of artist Simone Riley

Simone Riley was born in South London and is currently living in Lewes, East Sussex. Simone, who initially qualified in graphic design, has subsequently been involved in many different creative disciplines. She describes her current work as ‘Digital Photomontage’ and has developed her style and technique to produce images that sit comfortably between photography and fine art. Amongst her work, you will find subtly textured still lifes and abstracts of local views. Along with her professional artwork, Simone is a former Chair and a Director of the artist-run Chalk Gallery in Lewes.

“Whatever the subject matter, my images always involve a combination of textures, layers and subtle colours.” – Simone Riley

How did you first get into digital art?

I have always enjoyed photography. The advent of digital cameras and computer programs for editing digital images, along with the emerging websites where I could share my artwork opened up a whole new world. I loved being part of the online artist communities and, although things have moved on for me, the feedback I received back then really helped when I was working alone and finding my way.

Why did you choose digital art as your medium?

I used to create a lot of paper collage type artwork; discovering this could also be done with digital photomontage using my own ‘found’ material (i.e. my photographs) was far more appealing! Being able to control the size, shape, colour and position of each component made the process of creating my collages so much more sophisticated.

What inspires you?

Wherever I go, I am always on a ‘treasure hunt’ to find lovely textures to photograph. I look for worn surfaces, peeling paint, rust, old walls, bits of dilapidated buildings; general ‘urban decay’ that I can use for artistic purposes. When you look closely at the detail of these sorts of things, they can be like abstract artworks in their own right. I also love the idea of using something that many people would see as ugly and transforming it to become more visually appealing.

Of all your images to date, which is your favourite and why?

My favourite image is always my latest one – until I do the next one!

Which three words or phrases would you use to describe your work?

Subtle, calm and painterly.

What interesting responses to your artwork have you had?

The best and most recent response was getting my artwork accepted into this year’s RA Summer Exhibition in London. This honour was followed by being awarded ‘Best Overall Artist’ at this year’s PURE Autumn Art Fair in Battle, Sussex. I also had my work recognised by The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, who selected a piece of my work for their exhibition: Masters – Screen & Stone at Bankside Gallery, London. This year has been an exciting one for me and also an excellent endorsement for digital art; seeing it now acknowledged and accepted as a serious medium in the art world.

How do you think you’ve improved as an artist compared to when you first started?

I think my work has become more subtle and more sophisticated, as a direct result of practice and experience – and it is forever evolving.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to when you started making art?

Believe in yourself!

What devices/equipment do you use to create your art?

Depending on the situation, I use a Panasonic Lumix compact digital camera or my Samsung Galaxy phone’s camera. For my editing work, I use either my PC or a laptop.

Which apps/programs do you use to create your art and which are your favourites?

I only use Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Do you use images from stock sites as well as your own photos and if so, which are your favourites and why?

No, I always use only my images to ensure my artwork is entirely original.

And finally, do you think people dismiss digital art as a valid art form?

Yes, I have found this on occasion. Digital art is a relatively new medium; it takes time for people to feel comfortable with things with which they are not altogether familiar. But when faced with comments like “Anyone can use a computer”, I respond with “Anyone can use a paintbrush – but it doesn’t mean they’ll produce something nice with it!”

Thank you so much for sharing your insights and artwork with us, Simone.

Where to find Simone’s work online

Website

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