Open Road with Josh Johnson by Bridgette Shima
If you’ve been on Instagram as long as Josh Johnson has been, then you can pretty much say that you’ve been around since day 1.
JJ runs one of the most active communities on Instagram. He and his team post daily challenges, features, tips and more. His involvement within the app is over and beyond – all because of his passion for photography and his love for Instagram.
I got the chance to meet JJ in person Wednesday night along with Kevin Kuster and the FIAT crew. Seattle was the first of their four city tour throughout a five day course. Photographers met near the EMP and walked around Seattle Center taking photos while getting in a few words with JJ.
Personally, I wanted to see for myself who the man behind the JJ name was and find out what he’s been up to since his last interview with Dave. I have to say though, that I wish we had more time to talk. There’s way more to JJ than what you read here…
Did you ever imagine you would become such a well know figure within Instagram? How do you keep going strong?
It’s all due to the power of the app itself – the ability to share and interact and be creative. From personal experience, I remember taking pictures with film. Shooting the pictures, taking them to the drug store and picking up the photographs and showing them to my my friends. I was proud of what I did. I messed around with different filters, the whole process was exciting. Now take the work that goes into that process and cut down the reward into minutes and seconds. Snap the picture and get the reward right away by people appreciating your work right away.
I already had experience doing workshops so I decided that this was a big deal and I wanted to be a part of it, so every day I put in a little something.
My success is due to my passion and consistency; the way that Instagram works resonated well with what turns me on and because of that I’ve stuck with it. I’ve been lucky enough to have been with it from the beginning.
We both know that it’s not just about the photos, it’s about the community as well. With so many people that you engage with, how do you keep that under wraps? Do you have time for an online conversation?
I take the whole process very seriously. This is what I do. This is my job. I don’t take any one piece of it at a time very seriously.
How do I not get overwhelmed? I recognize that I use Instagram very differently than other people. There are very few accounts and relationships that I think long and hard about protecting. Whatever comes across my screen I pay attention to. I may not interact with a conversation but I will repost images on my account even though I’m not commenting on a lot of pictures. I do make up for this by participating in other ways.
What’s your criteria when featuring photographers?
For me, I would be the first to say that a huge portion of it is personal esthetic. #1 would be for the subject of the image to be clear and relatively isolated – it’s about cutting out the background and distraction. It feels good to me when I can look at an image and say to myself, this photographer knew what they wanted me to see and took the time to frame it and expose it accurately in a way that makes it easy for me to understand what they’re trying to say. It feels like it’s been thought out and given a little bit of love.
This even includes street shots. This means that the person that shot the image thought about the background, and even though it looks spontaneous, the street photographer deliberately wanted to catch that moment in an esthetically, pleasing way.
I want to find pictures that have a clearly defined subject.
Tell us about “collaborative marketing”. How are you making it work for you?
I want to do something significant, to make an impression in the world.
A lot of times the opportunities that we get to make this impression happen when there’s change. There are changes happening now that can lead to something significant where our creativity is being sparked because of technology and more specifically, mobile technology.
There used to be a certain amount of experience and effort to be a photographer ten or fifteen years ago. There was the purchasing of the camera and film, whole process of shooting the picture and having no idea what it was going to look like and not being able to see it for three or four days. That’s what it took to realize the creative buzz.
Well, nowadays you don’t have to buy a camera because it’s in your pocket. You don’t have to buy film because it’s obsolete. You don’t have to learn about exposure because you can look at your screen and either it looks good or it doesn’t. And so, we’re saying we’re looking for change and the opportunities to make a difference. People that didn’t see themselves as being able to feel that creative buzz, because they didn’t have the time nor talent, can now get it on Instagram and feel creative and feel good. And I think this is happening to a lot of people. There’s an opportunity to help people through that process and to lead during this change. And this is what I want to do and how I want to position myself and my company.
2nd opportunity is anybody that’s in the marketing world will say that everything is changing. Certain rules don’t apply anymore. There’s been a mixed bag when it comes to internet advertising. I think maybe the human brain has the natural ability to block out ads. Marketers don’t know how they’re going to connect with us consumers down the road as this trend continues. There are billions of dollars out there that used to go towards, and not necessarily, into making this world a better place. And because the rules have changed, society has the opportunity to reset the rules. We get to decide for ourselves where these billions of dollars go.
As a community it’s fairly easy – we want to make connections, make friends and meet each other face to face. This is the very beginning. I’d like to see this grow and grow.
I’ve seen it with Alt Hotel, now that was a huge success!
Right, we had over 100,000 images submitted and 5,000 on the wall, sponsored by Alt Hotel and Polaroid.
People will have this experience for a lifetime, to say that their photo was part of an art installment is worth more than an ad somewhere.
Engaging with the community is about creating relationships, which is much more valuable than paying for 30 seconds to try to convince someone to buy a product. What do you see happening with this new wave of marketing?
Marketing is more and more about relationships.
Companies are starting to avoid talking about their product. This is because of their existing relationship with the community and the presence they have already. It’s about catering to their experience.
Do you get tons of partnership offers?
We’re not especially active trying to get business. People find us. We focus on community more than anything.
Who’s on your team?
There are 4 of us on the core team:
Kevin was the 1st person I was in contact with, he emailed me about two years regarding the shooting at the Colorado movie theater. He reached out asking if we could do something and from that interaction, we kept in touch. I was at a point where I knew I needed a business manager, which is what he does, running these kinds of events. He was the first person I brought on the team to take it to the next level.
Emily is my Director of Operations.
Michael is a lawyer and he handles the books.
Tell us more about the Open Road Challenge with FIAT.
This is our second one. The first was last fall and we went from Chicago to New York, 5 different cities total.
It’s a photowalk tour to bring everyone in the community together to meet face to face, take pictures and have a good time. We’re driving in a FIAT and they’re giving away a car. Last year there was a nomination process and there was a team which chose some photos to post for public voting. This year, it’ll be done differently.
Tag it with one of the daily hashtags for a chance to win. For example, #fiatwaterpromo.
Enter as many images as you wish – @littlecoal won it last year!
Have any future projects you’d like to share with us?
We can’t announce anything yet but we’ve got a couple of accounts that we’re working on.
One final question… which company would you dream of working with at the moment?
Roadtrek Motorhomes. I lived in a Roadtrek Motorhome for about a year, ten years ago. I’d love to spend some time in another one. How about a giant caravan trip?!
Josh Johnson and his crew are currently touring the west coast.
For complete details please visit his Instagram gallery to find the meetup location nearest you so that you, too, can be a part of the Open Road event!
Thanks to FIAT and the JJ team for putting Seattle on their map. We had a GREAT time!
And, if you ever get that RoadTrek Motorhome, be sure to reserve one for us! ; )
Image by Bridgette Shima
A special shoutout goes to Michaela with Instagramers Seattle for getting the word out.
To see more photos you can check out the hashtag or Facebook album.
Find Josh Johnson: Instagram | Website | twitter
We Are Juxt Rewind: this article was originally published July 29, 2013
What if you had the chance to drop everything and travel the world? That’s what Joe and Kevin did a month ago when they decided to explore the USA and meet Instagramers across the country.
I was lucky enough to meet them both, thanks to Scott and Susan, over at Gas Works Park here in Seattle last week. I got word from Scott the day before their arrival that they would be in town.
“Face Off” by Susan – Seattle, WA
To be honest, I hadn’t been following their #roundaboutusa adventures but once I heard about it, I had to look through the gallery. I read about their meetups with photographers they met along the way but what really drew me to them was this story by Breanna Mueller:
“Lately I have been following along a journey of two amazing photographers and Instagramers who are making their way across the US. Every day is a beautiful new place, picture and story that leaves me feeling as if I were there along with them. Thank you @sittingingodspalm and @sweatengine for taking the Instagram world and myself along with you thru #roundaboutusa. Following your inspiration, I will attempt the same on my mini 10 day journey up the Chesapeake Bay on board the 52 foot GB3. Although my journey and overnight stays are planned, I hope I still find some adventure along the way just as you have, on my own #roundaBOATusa :] My first instagram video of our wake departing from the Lynnhaven inlet. Hope you’ll come along with me… calm winds and following seas.. xoxo”
So awesome, isn’t it?!
“All American” by Bethany – Seattle, WA
Being from the east coast myself, I found an instant connection between them. I wanted the world to see and listen to what they had to say so I asked if they would take part in an impromptu interview. Needless to say I was stoked when they accepted the idea!
The following is my first video interview so bear with me… I tried to edit it as best as possible ;]
As a special tribute, photographers across the USA were kind enough to send me their favorite image of their meet-up with Joe and Kevin which you’ll see throughout this article – pretty spectacular!
These are for you, guys! Continue to follow your dreams!
B: Bridgette // J: Joe // K: Kevin
B: How has traveling together been so far?
J: So far, traveling has been very easy for us. We’ve been able to get along very well, and surprisingly, we still like each other!! The funniest part of this is, we met only 2 weeks before we decided to go on this two month trip together. So, I’m amazed that not only do we not want to strangle each other, but we actually work so well together, that it would seem we’ve been friends for years.
K: Traveling together has taught me a lot. Every decision on this trip has been a group decision – and this something I had to get used to. Other than that, it has been a major blast since our departure from New York City. The trip has evolved into something way more meaningful and dynamic than had anticipated.
“Joe and Kevin’s first visit to the very small town of Columbia City, Indiana .
From the first day of this groups meeting, long-term friendships began.” by Dave
B: What have you learned about each other?
J: What I’ve learned about Kevin, is that now, he feels free. I’ve been lucky enough to have done a lot of the things we’ve been doing, traveling, jumping out of planes, cliff jumping, etc.. He has not. So to see this new found, childlike, zest for life, it actually is quite endearing. I’ve also noticed how driven, passionate, creative, thoughtful, and sensitive he is. I can see how he is searching for not only the perfect sunset, sunrise, or cityscape, but he is also looking and hoping that he will find the one, who he can call his own. He’s a very sweet guy.
K: I had only known Joe for 2 weeks prior to this trip. But from his photographs I thought he would be my perfect “partner in crime” for this trip. And I’m glad I was right about that.
During our time together, I’ve gotten to know Joe very well. He’s driven (pun intended), focused, and adventurous. His energy and enthusiasm pushed me to places I would never thought of going. Joe’s very vocal about making the most out of every minute – so that’s definitely a major contribution to this trip’s success.
“J0-bombs-Joe Murray style!” with Jolene – Columbia City, IN // Photo by Kevin
B: Has this trip been what you’ve expected? What has surprised you the most?
J: This trip has taken on a life of it’s own. It’s been incredible. I originally was supposed to take this trip alone. I had an Investor who was willing to give me a lot of money to take a lot of pictures of landscapes, and my bike. I was going to write a book, and he was going to push it. When I met Kevin, he told me how much he dreamed of doing what I was about to do, and I said, “come along.” When I went back to the Investor, he didn’t like the idea of us going together, because we would have a lot of the same shots, which would make images harder to sell. I was sort of forced into an ultimatum. The money, or Kevin. I took Kevin. We put our savings together, and decided to live out our dream. We originally thought this trip was about pictures. It evolved quickly into something more. The people. The people is what made this trip worth while. The connections, and relationships we have made, are more important than any picture I have, or could have taken.
K: Absolutely not. This trip is much, much more than anything I had in mind. Initially my plan was to explore and experience some of the most beautiful places this country has to offer. I wanted to go home with unique, refreshing photographs that are worthy of being put in a portfolio or photo album. And I also wanted to meet people and get to know their stories.
“Into The Unknown” by Ryan – Chicago, IL
B: What cities have you been to so far?
K: We’ve visited many major cities along the way since our departure from New York. Some of the most memorable ones include New Port, Augusta, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, Jackson Hole, Seattle, and Portland.
“Touch and Go” by Ivan Vega – Chicago, IL
B: Where do you plan to go next?
J: After today, we will head to San Francisco, to hopefully get into the Instagram Headquarters. What we’ve realized, now a month in, is that this whole trip would be nothing without Instagram. It’s amazed us each, and every day, how the community that makes up Instagram, has skyrocketed our idea, of living for today, and getting out of your comfort zone, to live that life you’ve always wanted to live. So, we want the people of Instagram, to know that because of the community they’ve created, they’ve helped in changing our lives. We want to work with them, to push others to do the same. This way, everyone can just be a little happier!
“In Instagram We Trust” by Jason Peterson – Chicago, IL
B: Tell us about Skydive Chicago and any other adventurous things you’ve done.
J: My whole life I’ve been extremely adventurous. This is a trait I attribute to my beautiful Mother Sallie. I was always climbing trees to the highest, most brittle branch, climbing mountains with no ropes or nets, jumping from cliffs into clear and murky waters, skydiving, etc. I’ve always been that type. So, adventure has always been very important to me as a way of life. I need it to feel happy.
I thought I had it all figured out until I realized I actually didn’t, back in Chicago. I was taught a valuable lesson from the crew Skydive Chicago. They made us seem like being there, was just the perfect way of life. I walked through the Hangar, day one, after a long drive, tired, sweaty, probably frowning, while everyone inside had a smile, ear to ear. I quickly realized why. For them, this was heaven.
Skydive Chicago is very unique in the sense that it actually is a community. Not only can you camp there, but the people who work there, live there. What I quickly realized, is that these people, were no different than me. They were chasing something, and that something was happiness. No matter what it was, all they wanted to do was jump. I asked Alex, head of Marketing, what they did in the wintertime so that they can keep that happy grin, and he replied, “we chase the summer.” That quote is going to stick with me forever, and I’ll mold it to make sense for me, and my life. They’re travelers, thrill seekers, but most importantly, they’re ALIVE. I’ve skydived before in New Jersey, but this place was different. This place opened my eyes. It reminded me what I was here for, why I decided to leave everything behind. It’s because in order to really be happy, you need to find that passion, whatever it may be, and fight tooth and nail, to make it your life. I walked out with a better understanding of what I already thought I understood, and it makes me think, now that I’m following my dream, the “sky” is no longer the limit.
“A Skydive Chicago Sunset” by Holly – Ottowa, IL
K: Skydive Chicago has changed my life in a drastic way that was completely foreign to me. Never before had I imagined jumping off a plane at 13,500 feet above sea level. I was so eager to try yet extremely hesitant about it.
I can’t say I remember much of it to be honest. For the first few seconds after jumping off the plane, my body was in a state of total denial and confusion. I was disoriented, shocked, and overwhelmed by the foreign sensation of free-falling. The sensory overload was an experience I can’t properly describe – yet I’m sure I’ll remember it forever.
There have been many exhilarating moments like this throughout the trip. For example, I went cliff jumping for the first time in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. That was similar to skydiving in terms of free-falling, yet completely different because of the intensity of diving into Phelps Lake at the end.
Photo by Sam Bakshian – Minneapolis, MN
B: Where do you sleep? How do you find places to stay? Do you pre-book?
J: The sleeping issue is one that has become a complete different way of life for us. I was used to sleeping in a nice, comfy queen size bed, waking up to a nice breakfast, and hot cup of coffee. I miss those days, haha! Now we do a lot of camping, and sleeping out of the car. Before I met Kevin, my idea for this trip was to live very simply. I wanted to see how I could survive, living with nothing but the clothes on my back, sort of, and out of my car. I soon realized that the idea I had, was a better, more glamorous story, than what reality has shown. Kevin still laughs, because I actually am very comfortable sleeping out of my car. I don’t know why that is, but its true! We often will pay for a camp site, and he will use his tent, snuggled up cozy in his sleeping bag, and I will very comfortably sleep out of the drivers seat. This has occurred more often than not. I think it actually really bothers him that we are paying for the site, yet I sleep in the car, but to each his own. We will also, very often sleep in parking lots of hotels, and thanks to the community of Instagram, we’ve slept in many homes of people we don’t know, and even tented on people’s lawns! It hasn’t been the Ritz, but who needs the Ritz, when we’re meeting and experiencing all we have thus far. I don’t!
K: We have a large selection of lodging options – and by that I mean we don’t have any plans at all. Let me explain what I mean.
This unsponsored trip is largely based on serendipity and kindness of others. With the help of Instagram and other social media – we have been invited to people’s homes or backyards where we’d camp. Because our funds are limited and our budget is extremely tight, we have yet to stay at a hotel. I’d say camping in a campground once every few days is what we’ve been able to afford. And there have been times when we slept in our car (mid-size SUV) for 2~3 days in a row.
The way we’d connect to people is that we’d often announce our arrival or plans prior to entering a city or location. We would ask if anyone wants to hang out and show us around, and we’d tell them our stories and about our trip. Quite often people would come forward and offer lodging suggestions after getting to know us. And there have been times when complete strangers opened their doors to us as well.
“CAUTION” by Kevin Kuster – Chicago, IL
B: How are you documenting your travels? Where can we find your images and videos?
J: In order to see our pictures, you can find them on Instagram, by either our names – @sittingingodspalm (me) or @sweatengine (Kevin), or you can find each shot of ours from this trip under the hashtag #ROUNDABOUTUSA. We both have a passion for pictures, and I have always had a passion for writing. You can read all about our daily adventures on each post that we show. What I’ve noticed, and Kevin agrees, is that he is an Outstanding Visionary. He sees the picture way before he takes it. That makes him, in my opinion, the better photographer out of the two of us. I learn something new from him every, single day. When it comes to writing, I find that to be more my passion. Together, we are a great team, because we both bring a different passion to the table, which helps us reach greater heights each day.
“Cheese Balls” by Kevin Kuster – Chicago, IL
B: Have you traveled outside of the USA? If so, which was your favorite place to visit?
J: I have never been out of the country. My dream though, is to see the world the way it was meant to be seen. Not through others pictures, or stories (though others’ journeys are what inspire me), but through my own experiences. I want to live everything first hand. The world is way to big for me, or for any of us to stay put. This trip is step one of a thousand. I cant wait for step 2!
K: I haven’t been out of USA for about 20 years – believe it or not. And this is my first time traveling since entering my adulthood. I would love to spend a lot more time seeing this country if I had another opportunity like this. And also I want to see the rest of the world one day.
“May your travels be safe, and your adventures wild.” by Eric Mueller – Minneapolis, MN
B: What’s the meaning behind your usernames: @sittingingodspalm & @sweatengine?
J: A lot of people often have asked me why I chose @sittingingodspalm as my username. The truth is, @Joe was taken. So, I went with my second choice. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become very faithful, in the sense that I feel that everything happens for a reason. I don’t believe things happen by chance, I do feel I’m part of a plan that I will never be able to predict or understand, so I’m going to go with the flow. The “flow” is the Palm Of God. It doesn’t matter what God you believe in to me. It doesn’t matter what higher power you believe in either. To me its all the same. God will put me where he wants me, so in the mean time, I’m sitting in his palm, waiting for him to place me.
K: Prior to this trip, I was a biomedical engineer, designing orthopedics devices. I am also very passionate marathon runner. When I signed up for Twitter, I picked @sweatengine because I’m a sweaty (from running) engineer. Here’s something funny about my username: someone once thought I was “Sweet Eugene”.
“Little Bro Lu” by Kristin – Minneapolis, MN
“Had the pleasure of meeting up with two inspiring IGers who are living the dream and traveling around these great United States. I’m still amazed at how @instagram is bringing so many interesting and wonderful people together.
Have a great and safe rest of your trip @sittingingodspalm and @sweatengine!”
by Matt Treiber – East Calhoun Beach, MN
“~ lights, camera, action! ~” by Michael – The Badlands, South Dakota
This was a Behind the Scenes look at me getting a shot of Joe setting up his shot of me on that windmill.
Joe’s gallery has the final product.
And Kevin was the consummate DP on the set.
“Insta Pals” by Bridgette Shima – Seattle, WA
“Union Station Hangout” by Fayth – Chicago, IL
[ Gold Stars, Part 2 ] by Dana Marie – Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, MN
“Rise Above” by Eric – Toledo, OH
Joseph D’Amelio 3rd
Joe is from NJ, the only boy, and youngest of four, with three older sisters. He currently lives out of a 2013 Ford Edge. While in NJ he was working as a Butcher, trying to be a NYC Police Officer, but decided to leave everything behind to live the “American Dream,” to see the world through his eyes.
A personal message from Joe:
“I’d really like to mention, that the generosity of people has been incredible. The Relationships I’ve made through this trip, has blown my mind. For us, the trip really took off in Ohio. A fellow IGer, Eric (@Littlecoal), let us not only camp on his lawn, not only show us all his favorite spots to shoot, but he also introduced us to a few really good guys. Dave (@Kewiki), Kevin (@KevinKuster) and Jason (@JasonMPeterson). These four guys have pushed this trip so much for us. Eric made us feel like we were a part of his family. He is a very faithful good person, and to me felt like a big brother. Dave took us skydiving with his amazing family, who also made me feel like I was a brother, rather than a stranger he had just met. I wish we could have spent more time with Kevin, who featured us, and our story on his feed, along with giving us a ton of advice. Jason is a powerhouse. He has pushed this trip more than we have, hooking us up with more people to meet, and for me, he’s been a bit of a mentor. These four guys, have made this trip better than it ever possibly could’ve been. My favorite city thus far has been Chicago. They welcomed us with open arms. @Ivanvega, @relaxocat, @brandonexplores, @ryanpostal… these people made us feel like family. I miss them.
What I came to see, is that though I occasionally miss home (always miss my family), I often miss people who I’ve met along the way, and who I only knew for a day, or two. That amazes me more than anything else. This trip for me is just the beginning, I want everyone to live the way Im living, through their own eyes, and experiences. I would never say, “everyone should quit their jobs” to do what we do, but taking a day, or weekend trip, and step out of their comfort zone, to do things they’ve never done before, I feel would make the world a little warmer, a little happier.”
Email // Instagram
Kevin Lu is a biomedical engineer and marathon runner from New Jersey. He loves photography and enjoys outdoors activities. He’s left everything behind and taken a huge leap of faith to be on this road trip around USA, in hopes of inspiring people to see and experience the world differently.
Tel: 201-696-5366 // Email // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram
It has been two years since my last trip to New York City.
I went to see the “Art Meet Technology” exhibit which featured one of my photos. I was super stoked to say the least. I reached out to friends, former colleagues and high school friends to join me in the event; it was great to see those who showed up.
Seeing everyone got me talking about life as a photographer. I think that this was the first time I actually called myself a photographer. Let me explain…
As I’ve been documenting my life through images I just categorized myself as someone who enjoys taking photos, casually. I never really saw myself as a photographer since I feel I still have so much to learn and there are things that I’d still like to try and do to push my limits; I suppose that goes with anything in life. But what I do know is that something changed for me that night. Seeing my image up on a wall, in the city where I grew up, made things different and official, unlike any other time. It was a combination of people asking me about this whole mobile photography business and what it is that I do, all of them intrigued by how this came about using a mobile phone.
They asked questions which made me think about my role and why I love the scene so much. I’d like to think of myself as a magnet, bringing everyone together under one roof. This is what makes me happy and keeps me going. Meeting people face to face that I’ve “met” online or randomly in person – whether at a coffee shop or event – add to the power of connection.
I was in NYC for one week and did my best to get out and about despite the freezing cold. I felt like such a tourist, in one of the most amazing places on earth – my home away from home.
I felt like a kid in a candy shop, trying to figure out which treat to try first as I planned my week. I was on the subway more times than I could count and probably more times than I ever did in a year when I lived there.
The first thing I wanted to do was take a walk down 5th Avenue. I wanted to be in the midst of all the fashion and glamour and submerge myself with all the visitors while getting lost in the sea of tourists. I noticed many of the same stores and of course, some high tech billboards which were new. But what caught my attention was the restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Looking at it made me think of La Sagrada Familia, all caged up under construction. I wondered what was going on so I went inside.
There she was as beautiful as ever even with the metal frames.
People were walking in for the evening mass, taking a seat on the pew, while others prayed and left. It felt so calming and rejuvenating to be in there. It gave me a sense of belonging.
At night I’d stare at the skyscrapers, with their flashing lights as they illuminated the sky. It got me excited and the thrill ran through my veins. I felt like I was twenty again.
And then I was reminded of home…
and started to miss my husband and son dearly. It was the first time I had left them for this long since SuperMax was born and it felt strange. Being in the big city without them made me feel empty even though I was so happy to be home again. This feeling was so new to me so I coped as best as I could and continued to have fun and enjoy the moment.
One of the things I enjoyed the most was visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was so nice to spend a few hours there and really take notice of the people and exhibits around me. I wanted to capture the beauty of the architecture and art, all of which makes the Met so special and grand.
So I stood there for a while as time went by.
As I mentioned it was super cold the week I was there. Snow was still on the ground and the wind chill made it almost unbearable to stay outside. As the sun started to set, people swiftly made their way home and the streets became empty again.
A rare happening in New York City.
On my list left to do before heading back to Seattle was to go see the 9/11 Memorial and the Brooklyn Bridge so I did just that.
It was the first time I walked around ground zero since the attack. I could never face it nor come to grip with how I felt about the Freedom Tower project.
Stepping on sacred ground, where so many people lost their lives made me feel a bit uneasy, as if it were wrong of me to be there. As I looked at all the people gathered around the memorial sites, a darkness came over me, and seeing the names of those lost was heavy on my soul.
Having gone through such an experience and seeing our city rebuild itself makes me try to process it all. I will never recover from such a horrible event but what I do know is that no one can take away the love I have for the place I grew up in.
I continued my quest til the very last minute. The morning of my flight I made it down to the Brooklyn Bridge, recounting my week as I mentally said goodbye to my home away from home. Not knowing when I’d be back again, I wanted to get a good look at my beautiful city.
As I admired the architecture all I could think of was how proud I am to be a native New Yorker.
All the images were taken with a Lumia 1020 as part of the Windows Challenge.
An interview with David Ridgway by Bridgette S.
It is with great pleasure to introduce David Ridgway, a local artist who resides here in Washington State.
I was first drawn to his gallery because of his abstract art and then found out he has been painting most of his life. The images you see below are samples of his work created using Decim8.
A collection of his artwork along with other Northwest artists is currently on exhibit at the Karla Matzke Gallery and Sculpture Park, so if you’re in the area be sure to check it out (details below).
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Whereabouts do you live now?
I was born in Seattle and lived in the area until I was 14, at which time my family moved to Boothbay Harbor, Maine. I lived in Maine until the mid 80s when I headed to the Caribbean to work on a friend’s ketch. Met my wife in St. Croix and we headed for Maui with a friend. Ended staying for 5 years and it is where I studied color with Richard Nelson and got my start as a professional artist. We then spent several years in Maine and Maryland near family and friends. A CBS Sunday Morning feature about a local sculptor inspired a move to Orcas Island in the San Juan’s in 98 and we were there for 12 years. Bellingham is now our home.
Has art always been your passion? How did it develop?
I was always interested in drawing and painting as a child. My family had a strong interest in the visual arts and many painter, sculptor and photographer friends. I majored in Art at college but am primarily self taught.
How would you describe your art? How has it evolved?
The oil paintings I have been doing for several years have developed from an attraction to architecture in the landscape and how man relates to place. The work seems to get more simplified at times and then veers back to details. While on Orcas I did quite a bit of on site painting. Lately it has been more studio work.
Describe your workspace. What gets you in the mood to create new artwork?
I work in our converted 2 car garage which we finished during the remodel of our mid-century ranch home in 2010. It has track lights, heat and a small wood shop.
Seeing a new intriguing architectural situation in the landscape has always been an inspiration. Lately, creating something visually compelling on my iPhone or iPad has also been a strong impetus.
What are some of your inspirations? How do you keep the momentum going?
Seeing other work of painting’s I admire is always an inspiration, especially those whose work leaves some of the process visible. Visiting a new location is always stimulating. I recently went to Palm Springs to see the Richard Diebenkorn Berkeley Years exhibit and found the trip rewarding. Having shows scheduled is also a good reason to keep moving forward.
How much has digital art influenced you? Were you open to it from the very start?
I got my first Mac in 97 ( 2GB drive) and started playing with Photoshop and Painter using a graphics pad. I used some of those images as reference for oil paintings early on. While on Orcas, I used my PowerBook and graphics pad for life drawing. Now I use an iPhone 5 and iPad to draw, paint and manipulate photos digitally and am using some as reference for abstract/non-representational paintings.
In the digital era, everything is at one’s fingertips. I wonder if this, in turn, makes you lean toward creating on your mobile device(s)? If not, how do you balance both mediums?
I have found my iPhone and iPad to be convenient tools for capturing a scene or moment, sketching and creating abstract digital imagery. Useful more as sketch pads or preliminary drawing media, as opposed to creating an end product, when I’m using them for reference. My ‘for Instagram only’ pieces may show up somewhere else eventually and I have sold some prints made with PrintStudio and canvas prints through twenty20.com. Having new tools with which to work does create the need to keep things in balance. The ‘always with you’ aspect of the iPhone adds to the immediacy and freshness of imagery. Many of my paintings lately have used iPhone images and digital sketches. Hands on, paint to canvas does remain my first love.
What app(s) do you use most? And why?
A year and a half ago a friend on Instagram, Julie, posted an Android glitched image and I asked her about it. She mentioned Decim8 and I tried it. Since then I have tried many apps and have several I use regularly: Snapseed, Picgrunger, Superimpose, Artrage and lately Photoshop Touch. I occasionally use Hipstamatic and Oggl to capture or post edit. Decim8 remains my favorite editing tool using Sigstop and Graboid effects. It creates a broken collage effect that I find appealing. Combining Decim8 with the weathered grunge effect in Picgrunger adds depth and visual interest.
What do you foresee for the future? Will you continue to transfer digital to painting?
I am intrigued by mobile photography/graphics manipulation apps and particularly what artists, fine art photographers and designers are doing with the medium. I plan to continue interpreting my digital images in oil and mixed media. Some of the digitally referenced work is informing my more representational paintings as well.
Do you feel that art enthusiasts appreciate digital art as much as fine arts? What are your thoughts regarding this topic?
New tools and media are often adopted early by painters and photographers. The advent of smartphones and tablets has created a revolutionary movement in the visual arts. Art enthusiasts are becoming more aware and accepting. The younger generation has already embraced it.
Have you been in any exhibits showcasing your digital art? What response have you gotten?
I had several digitally referenced abstract paintings in a show with two other painters entitled ‘Driven to Abstraction’ at Simon Mace Gallery in Port Townsend, WA in December. The show was well received and it was inspiring talking with people about the new work.
Which painters do you admire?
Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Mitchell, Picasso, Lois Dodd, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Peter Doig and many more.
Which digital artists do you admire?
I was born and have spent most of my life in Western Washington.
I enjoy painting the local landscape on-site or in studio. My work often is about the places where man and the landscape coincide. Architectural and other man-made objects feature prominently. My compositions are more about interlocking colored shapes than a realistic depiction of a specific place.
I occasionally enjoy working in a series based on a favored location. The series often acquires more simplified and/or playful imagery over time.
The path I have taken in making my paintings resembles meandering stepping-stones that often take an unforeseen turn. Conveying my pleasure in the process of painting is a primary intention. Lately I am also interpreting abstract digital imagery created on mobile devices in mixed media and oil. I have been working digitally since 1997.
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My work is included in the recently released book ‘100 Artists of the Northwest’ by E. Ashley Rooney and Karla Matzke.
An exhibit with 25 of the included artists is currently at Karla Matzke Gallery and Sculpture Park, Camano Island, WA.
March 1st-April 23rd.