This week’s interview is with previously featured artist Val Peter. Val was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. He has travelled the world extensively and has lived with various cultures. At times, he has sustained himself in those travels through creating and selling art. All this has given him a broader personal capacity to communicate with the world. Val is a self-taught digital artist and street motion photographer – a technique using intentional camera movement. Val manipulates these images and expresses himself in a way he loves.
“To me it’s all about turning the ordinary into the extra-ordinary.” – Val Peter
How did you first get into digital art?
In the summer of 2014, I co-founded a web series that promotes local Toronto artists, called Artist Unknown. I figured that people were tired of knowing about headlining mega-artists. They were more interested in learning about local artists. These artists are just as amazing and they are people you could actually meet someday.
One of my roles in the Artist Unknown team is creative editor. By ‘creative’ I mean that I not only do straight editing but also manipulate images and create animations to bring the artist’s story to life. This role led me to investigate various digital platforms: Sony Vegas and Adobe Photoshop to name a couple. My collaborator in the series is a music producer, so I also created surreal music videos for him. I have a natural desire to work with this new digital world; since I have a need, I found myself experimenting for endless hours.
Why did you choose digital art as your medium?
Digital art seemed to be the logical choice to meld my love of photography and painting together. I love its versatility, efficiency and of course there’s no mess!
What artistic styles are you particularly drawn to?
Generally speaking: collage, photo impressionism and expressionism, dark grainy silhouettes and painterly abstractions. I guess it’s anything that catches my eye because it inspires me.
What inspires you?
To be recognised for a certain creative style as a digital artist in the eyes of many. I’d like to find a true following that is motivated and inspired by my work.
What is your artistic motivation?
Discovering an image just taken that contains the qualities that draw you into the creative editing process. And the challenge of the creative process in itself, of course. Letting go of the fear of what is and is not good as far as what other people think; to create by instinct alone, free of inhibitions and discover where it takes me. I love what intended camera movement (ICM) and long shutter speeds can do to an image. The process of disfiguring it into something unique to each and everyone of us.
Of all your images to date, which is your favourite and why?
I have no one favourite; they are all special creative journeys that hold their own magic and learning experience. Images that come to mind are revolvinglight, pluggedin, tailight and separateways. They all possess a special luminance and energy.
Which three words or phrases would you use to describe your work?
Expressionistic photography. Ghost-like photo impressionism. Street motion blur photography.
What memorable responses to your artwork have you had?
Meeting the buyers of my work in person. I like watching their faces when they see the work in the printed form. Comments on my work that really penetrate my being because they mean something personal to me through both life experiences and creative inspiration. Someone once said that “I create ghosts”, I thought that was so cool! I had never thought of my work in that way. It showed me a certain quality that a lot of my images possess.
Name three artists who inspire you.
So many different artists do from conventional to digital. I would like for anyone to know who reads this interview that I really don’t have any pecking order. All artists and art inspires me! That said, to do away with the niceties and answer the question: @salopalo, @fuzzybee51 @olga.karlovac on Instagram.
How do you think you’ve improved as an artist compared to when you first started?
I think I have improved considerably. Having learned more digital platforms I’ve become more versatile in my editing. My shooting techniques have also improved; I know what ambient shooting conditions favour my style of work.
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to when you started making art?
Back to making art as a child, it would have to be not to waver from what you are doing; to carry on developing and experimenting with different mediums and techniques’. In the 8th grade my school selected me to attend a special art high school because of my artistic talent. I chose not to because I didn’t want to leave my friends. One of the few regrets I have.
What devices/equipment do you use to create your art?
My iPhone is my camera. I mainly work on an iPad with a Wacom Bamboo stylus but also have my desktop PC. I interchange between these devices depending on the application at hand.
Which apps/programs do you use to create your art and which are your favourites?
I use a wide array of applications and programs. These are, in no particular order, the onboard iPhone editor, Flickr, Mextures, Adobe Photoshop, Carbon, Argentum, Sketch Master, Whitagram, Prisma, Procreate, Distressed FX, Unsplash, Metabrush, iColorama and BeFunky. I’d have to say Procreate, Whitagram, Mextures and Photoshop are my favourites, though.
Do you use images from stock sites as well as your own photos and if so, which are your favourites and why?
I rarely use images from stock sites. I do occasionally dibble and dabble with the free stock image site, Unsplash; usually when I want to create an image with a theme that I can’t get using shots in my native environment.
And finally, do you find that digital art is often dismissed as a valid art form?
I had mentioned that I promote local artists with my web series ‘Artist Unknown’ here in Toronto, Canada. We have grown to have a fairly large community following. I think it’s because we are surrounded by open minded artists, that I never get any negative input about using digital as an art form. Most conventional artists tend to use some type of technical aid nowadays, be it a computer, projector or tablet.
Thank you for sharing your art and insights Val!
Where to find Val Peter’s work online