Mobile photography keeps street artist's work alive
In our continuing series featuring people in professions other than photography who incorporate mobile photography into their creative process, Misho Baranovic talks to Brisbane-based street artist Guido van Helten, one of a new wave of practising artists who use their smartphone cameras to inspire or capture their public artworks.
Throughout the world, street art is growing in terms of its recognition as a legitimate art form. In my hometown of Melbourne, Australia, the city’s street art scene has become a key tourist attraction, with once seedy laneways transformed into busy thoroughfares filled with visitors snapping the many stencils, paintings and sketches covering entire walls. There are now dedicated festivals and gallery shows which celebrate the creativity of artists who use their urban surroundings as a canvas (some of whom, such as British artist Banksy) have acquired celebrity status.
He tells me that he has been painting for over 10 years, and that his earlier “graffiti” style has evolved during that time into something more sophisticated and personal, encompassing portraiture and other image-based work. “I’ve been working on developing my own style based upon developing a unique visual language,” the artist says, “communicating with pictures but also in a way that represents myself.” Guido van Helten, 25, is a painter and street artist from Brisbane, Australia. During his recent visit to Melbourne, we sat down for a coffee in the grungy inner city suburb of Fitzroy—the epicentre of the Australian street art community—where van Helten was working on a large outdoor mural.
Although van Helten recently celebrated his first solo exhibition of paintings in Brisbane, bringing the “street” indoors, typically his canvases are the walls of cities and towns throughout Australia. Often he is commissioned or invited to create a mural for a business owner or government-sponsored client, and such murals can be anywhere from a few feet to over 1,600 feet (500 meters) in length.
I was particularly interested to know how and why van Helten uses his smartphone as part of this creative process. Although I had seen via his Instagram feed that he uses his phone camera to document his finished works, I did not know that he also uses his phone to “sketch” out his subject ideas. He started using his phone out of convenience, realizing that he could recreate similar editing effects he’d previously done on Photoshop.
“I have worked out a method of ‘posterizing’ a photo to create a deconstructed version which creates an abstraction. Otherwise I end up painting things literally. While not wanting to reveal too many secrets, van Helten mentions that he found a posterization app which has helped inform his style to date. “I don’t paint directly from the posterization, but is it a base to elaborate from. It started out as a simple three-layer process and has become more elaborate over time. I switch between programs; I twist, rotate, invert and overlay other images over the top.”
Van Helten also uses his phone to capture photos used for his murals.
“I prefer to use my own images, but it’s not always possible so I do use ones from blogs as well. I’m always changing the base image so much that it’s hard to tell what images it actually came from.” He notes that his own images are often of people he knows. He stresses that he is not trying to represent them, rather, he explains, “I’m looking for the face, the emotion in the image I’ll use.”
When developing a concept for a location, van Helten notes that “I’ll definitely need to see the space first and then look for an image that I think will fit and express what I want to express. It all works together as one. I’ll need to have all those elements together before I start.” As part of his recent works, he’s particularly looking for patterns and materials that reflect the sense of place of a specific location.
Van Helten kindly shared a couple of images which show this progression from photograph to mural. The mural, titled Surface Level is painted on the wall of Jugglers Art Space in Brisbane and was one of eight works for van Helten’s solo show Veneer, held in September.
Van Helten also uses his smartphone to document and share his work, the painting process and the finished work.
“I use Instagram to display my works and my travel,” he says. “I don’t use it for anything else other than my art or to represent myself. I share a process shot, a finished shot, a photo of where I am at the time.”
I ask whether there are any specific tags being used by the street art community.
“I pretty much always use the #streetart tag on the photos as well as my name #guidovanhelten. I usually do get a few hits from a few people I don’t know. But I usually follow people who already know me and add me. There are a couple of exceptions – street art fans from Melbourne, a guy from South Africa. I connect with them that way. I’m not overly concerned with finding new work on Instagram, I use it for myself.”
I ask van Helten whether photography plays an important role in preserving his works, in light of their ephemeral nature.
“Yes definitely, especially today at this time in Fitzroy, murals aren’t staying without being tagged over for whatever reason that is. Even today, I painted over an old work that had been tagged over and probably will be tagged over again, not because they dislike me. It doesn’t even really bother me, as long as I get the photo. I’m looking to do a job, get a photo and that’s the end of it.”
Canon's mirrorless EOS R5 comes with a ton of features and capability stemming from its design inside and out. Come along with us on a guided tour of Canon's new high-end, high-megapixel camera and check it out for yourself.
Announced alongside the EOS R5, the R6 offers a lot of the same technology but in a more affordable, slightly more enthusiast-focused model. Take a closer look.
Alongside the EOS R5 and R6, Canon has announced a brace of lenses, all in the short to long telephoto range. Filling out the 'long' end are one L-series zoom, and two innovative primes.
Alongside a trio of telephoto lenses, Canon also announced a new 85mm this week. The RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM is a compact, affordable alternative to the pro-oriented 85mm F1.2L.
The EOS R5 has been a long time coming – we knew it had 8K and we knew it had an AF joystick. But now that's it's here, what is it really like to use? Find out in our initial review based on hands-on time with the camera.
The R6 doesn't promise quite such headline-grabbing specs as its big brother, but it still packs a punch, whether you shoot stills, video or both.
Think you've read everything there is to know about the new Canon cameras? Chris and Jordan share eight important things you may have missed from today's Canon EOS R5 and R6 announcements.
We've been shooting around with the new Canon EOS R6. Initial impressions of image quality are positive, and out-of-camera JPEGs appear similar to that of the gold award-winning Canon EOS-1D X III. Have a look for yourself.
Canon has officially released the long-awaited EOS R5, the company's top-end full-frame mirrorless camera. Featuring a new 45MP CMOS sensor, Dual Pixel AF II system, 8K video capture and 20 fps bursts, this is the RF-mount camera we've been waiting for.
Although the Canon EOS R6 doesn't have the 45MP sensor and 8K video capture of the higher-end R5, it's still an incredibly capable camera with specs that outshine similarly priced peers.
The Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM is the company's first super-zoom lens for RF-mount. Despite a relatively slow aperture range, it's very versatile, offering five stops of stabilization, weather-sealing and compatibility with Canon's new teleconverters.
Canon's RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM is an inexpensive telephoto prime lens with a minimum focus distance of just 0.35m (14") and a 0.5x magnification. When attached to the new R5 and R6, it offers a whopping eight stops of shake reduction.
Canon has announced a pair of super-telephoto fixed-aperture primes. The 600mm and 800mm use diffractive optics to keep their size and weight down. They'll also be compatible with new 1.4x and 2x RF teleconverters.
Canon has announced a new small-footprint inkjet photo printer, the imageProGraf Pro-300. it will produce prints up to 13 x 19" and it goes on sale later this month for $900. A new textured photo paper will also arrive in July.
The new compression standard is set to reduce video file sizes by half to save space and speed-up transmission, paving the way for more portable 8K footage.
Sony recently confirmed plans to launch a successor to the video-centric a7S II. We don't even know the name of the camera, but Jordan already has a feature wish list for the new 'a7S III' – and it doesn't include 8K.
The Profot B10 is the first studio flash system that can be used when shooting with an iPhone camera.
The Pixii camera is an interesting little rangefinder camera that features a 12MP APS-C sensor and lacks a rear LCD display, opting instead to pair with your mobile device, which can be used to view and transfer images.
Sirui is launching an Indiegogo campaign for a wide-angle answer to its existing 50mm F1.8 anamorphic lens. The 35mm APS-C lens will come in a Micro Four Thirds mount with adapters for other systems.
Sony has added a 12-24mm F2.8 to its top-shelf 'G Master' series of lenses. It's the widest constant F2.8 zoom currently offered for full-frame, with a hefty price tag to match: it will sell for $3000 when it ships in mid-August.
Take a look at the view from Sony's new ultra-wide F2.8 zoom – we paired it with the a7R IV for some initial shooting.
Canon's EOS-1D X Mark III is one of the best DSLRs ever made. With fast burst speeds, great video quality and impressive autofocus, the 1D X III is equal parts cinema rig and sports shooter. Find out how it fares against steep competition in our full review.
Nikon Rumors is reporting that Nikon will announce successors to its Z6 and Z7 camera systems by the end of the calendar year.
Canon says the event, set to take place at 14:00 CEST in two days on July 9, will be its 'biggest product launch yet.'
The Verge Video Director, Becca Farsace, shows how she built a custom Raspberry Pi camera with effectively zero coding knowledge over the course of just three days.
The EOS R5 has been in the works for some time, and Canon has published a handful of specifications, but there's still plenty we don't know. What are you hoping to see from Canon's forthcoming flagship camera?
Canon's CE-SAT-IB satellite camera was destroyed alongside six other satellites during Rocket Lab's ironically-named 'Pics or It Didn't Happen Mission.'
This sample gallery includes images from our recent review of the Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 Di III RXD zoom lens. Check out these photos to see how it performs, from wide-angle to telephoto and everything in between.
The Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 Di III RXD provides a wide zoom range in compact, weather-sealed design. Find out why it's Chris and Jordan's new favorite travel lens.
Kodak Portra 800 is a wonderful and versatile color film. And any rumors of it being discontinued, we're pleased to report, are simply untrue. That's a good thing, because it's capable of producing lovely results in all sorts of conditions.