Saturday Salon - Marie Otero

image created by Marie Otero

Starting this Saturday - the first in a once-monthly series of 'Saturday Salons' - where I'll be introducing and sharing the work of other artists who I've met along my journeys here on this great world wide web.

Today - I am thrilled to be interviewing Marie Otero whose beautiful work you can see at: Lost Aussie.

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"One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them."

-Virginia Woolf

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I see you live both in Australia and here in the U.S.A. Would love to hear about that..and how living in two such different and remote cultures informs your art.

I moved to the US about 13 years ago and then about 5 years later, for various reasons, decided that my two sons would thrive more successfully in the Australian Education system.  This meant lots of travel and time spent with them at home (in Perth), as well as being here in the US with my husband.

Immersing myself in both cultures for extended periods of time has broadened my perspective and enabled me to experience quite diverse vistas and points of view.

Perth is a quiet and remote place with beautiful beaches, forests of towering trees, colors so vibrant you can hardly imagine and delightful flora and fauna of sorts that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world.

Here in New York, I find hustle and bustle, a wealth of eye candy be it in the form of formal museums and galleries, or the thousands of graffiti adorned walls that you can walk by on a daily basis as the City hums around you.

In either world, my camera is never asleep and whether I pull bright blue hues from one picture snapped in Perth, with harsh lines of spray paint from New York, each finds a place in the artwork I love to create.

Can you tell me what first ignited your creative spark and love of photography?

Many moons ago when I was in my 20's, I left Australia to go and work in Switzerland.  I knew I wanted to take a good camera with me and saved and saved so that I could buy (duty free) my first real SLR.  It was a fabulous little Pentax and I LOVED it even though I knew little more than how to focus the thing and then take the picture.  It still did the job.

Fast forward to 7 years ago when I attended an Art Fest Retreat and acquired my first digital camera to take on the journey, a tiny Pentax Optio that revolutionised how I thought about picture taking.  I was still fairly green in the photo editing department but it did not take me long to realize the possibilities that existed between the digital format and creative explorations.  And I don't really think I have stopped exploring since !

You definitely have a particular 'signature' style that is all your own. Can you speak to how it is this has evolved?

My photography has never really been about taking the "perfect" picture.  It's only recently that I have learned much about shutter speeds, aperture and all those things that professionals tweak to get that sweet shot.

My shortcomings in that regard lead me to hone my "Post Processing" skills, where I do all of my image adjustments and creative manipulations in Photoshop.

I also take lots of photographs for stock to use in my digital artwork.  I became frustrated with copyright restrictions, image attribution problems and decided that the only way to create "original" digital art was to use my own images.  SoI take pictures of ANYTHING and can often be seen stooped over something quite weird in order to capture color, texture or some other eye catching moment knowing that the image may have some use in a further art project.

As I have become more proficient with my camera I am now happy to marry the "better" image with my photoshop skills and enjoy the marriage of the two.

Do you have any favorite artists that you believe have impacted and influenced your work?

I would have to say that I am inspired and influenced on a daily basis by the wonderful list of blogs that are fed to my Google reader each day - too numerous to list.

If I had to narrow down a few well known "names"....

In the digital arena, Maggie Taylor's work is superb.   My friend and colleague Richard Salley is also someone whose work inspires me.

I enjoy Shepard Fairey's graphic style as well as that of the Eastern European poster artists of the 1920's David Carson's inventive use of typeography is always a good jump start for a museless day.

And Richard Tuschman's combination of digital and photographic style is nothing short of inspirational.

And the artist's work at 5Pointz in Long Island City - well they just float my boat!

You offer a number of online photography classes. Can you tell us more about them?

Well, I love to teach.  Last year I taught several workshops at various US retreats but came to understand that access to these sorts of venues was not achievable for everyone.

The online class format seemed like a fabulous alternative and one that is really suited to presenting digital and photography instruction.

It's been an interesting learning curve for me, figuring out how to create screencast videos and master the editing interface as well as construct lessons that work on multiple computer platforms and software generations.

I've now developed three classes, Digital Magic, Journal Magic and the newest class which starts in June is called Photo Magic.

The response to the first two classes has been incredible and I have been thrilled with the feedback that I have received.

Whilst the classes are fairly intensive for me to manage, the pay back is in seeing the growth of the student's work as they master their Photoshop tools and delve into the world of digital and photographic manipulation.

The first two classes, Digital Magic and Journal Magic now run as self-paced packages that you can sign up and take at any time.

Photo Magic will debut as an instructor led class with video lessons and pdf instructions delivered weekly for the duration of the course.

Further information on any of the classes can be found at my website and blog: Lost Aussie.