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.”
|First, Let me check its expiry date. by rajeev22675|
from Best Photo of the Week
|Dairy Way by BodkinsBest|
from Best Astrophotography Landscape #4
Residents of a Paris street plagued by Instagrammers, selfie takers and music video crews are asking the city government for a weekend and evening ban to give them some peace.
The adapter plugs into the Osmo Pocket's USB Type-C port and features a 3.5mm TRS jack to plug in various external microphones.
Checkout allows Instagram users to select products for purchase and make payments directly in the app.
GauGAN as it's known, can create photorealistic images from basic drawings using the power of artificial intelligence.
The EOS RP is Canon's latest full-frame mirrorless camera, with diminutive dimensions and a diminutive price. Find out how it stacks up and get our thoughts in our early review.
Montana judge Dana L. Christensen has ruled the Republican National Committee did not infringe upon the copyright of photographer Erika Peterman after they took a photo from a Democratic candidate's Facebook page without permission and altered it to use in a derogatory promotional mailer.
Nikon has launched updates for three of its programs to address various bugs and glitches that could cause crashes and unwanted results.
LEE Filters has launched the LEE100, its next-generation filter holder that improves the design and looks in all the right places.
With the arrival of some much-needed sunshine and final production firmware for the Panasonic S1, we've been able to get outside and really start putting the camera through its paces.
Importing, culling and tagging photos is about to get a whole lot faster and look a whole lot better with the impending arrival of Photo Mechanic 6.
On its own, the FTZ adapter retails for $250 and when bundled it dropped the cost to just $150. Now, Nikon is offering it for free with all Z6, Z7 purchases in the United States.
Profoto said it spoke with Godox back at Photokina 2018 and continues to contact Godox in an effort to stop it from marketing its V1 light.
Product renders in Italian publication Notebook Italia show an unusual design that conceals all cameras with the help of a slider mechanism.
Canon says its new EF 400mm F2.8L IS III and EF 600mm F4L IS III lenses can suffer from an intermittent flickering when shooting video in M or Av modes with certain cameras.
Leica recently announced the Q2, a digital rangefinder with a fixed 28mm F1.7 lens. It's a heck of a lot of fun to shoot with, but is it right for you? Based on our time with the camera, and its specifications, we've examined how well-suited it is for common photography use-cases.
Now that our Panasonic Lumix S1R has final firmware, we couldn't wait to get out shooting with it - and we also tried the high-res mode, which combines files to get 187 megapixel images. Because sometimes, 47 megapixels just isn't enough.
In this article, travel and landscape photographer Mitch Green encourages us to spend more time in the the field.
the lens lacks any electronics whatsoever and is constructed entirely of glass and metal. Of course, that comes at the expense of weight — this thing weighs in at 1.1kg / 2.43lbs.
Drones can be useful tools in urban areas, where they're utilized for everything from news reporting to building inspections, but flying in these areas requires careful preparation. Here's what you need to know to do so safely.
Hasselblad has released a new cable release and USB double battery charger for its X1D medium format camera .
After a report published by NBC News, Flickr has taken heat for allegedly letting IBM 'scrape' photos for use in its facial recognition datasets. But the problem isn't what it seems on the surface.
Samyang has announced the impending arrival of the AF 85mm F1.4 FE lens for full-frame Sony cameras.
Some Photoshop shortcuts are simple and obvious. Others, not so much. Here are 15 shortcuts that are actually useful.
Twitter has redesigned its in-app camera for easier access from the timeline screen.
Independent cinema lens manufacturer SLR Magic has announced it will offer all of its existing MicroPrime range in the Fujifilm X mount and has even created a Fuji-specific 12mm lens.
We've updated our buying guides with three more cameras: the Canon EOS RP, Nikon Z6 and Olympus E-M1X.
CFexpress 2.0 cards will come in three different form factors, each of which will offer different maximum speeds.
Lensbaby has added a third tilt lens to its Optic Swap system, this time a 35mm lens, adding to the existing 50mm and 80mm options.
Sigma has released firmware updates for a number of its lenses as well as its EF-E adapter to address various errors and features with Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras.
We've added the Fujifilm X-T30 and Sony a6400 to our 'Best Cameras under $1000' buying guide. These two mirrorless models pack in a lot of features for just $900 body only.