An Interview with Photographer Ronan Spelman
had decided that art school was not for him, and he had given up painting altogether. In recent years, however, he has returned to art with striking digital photographs that combine the surreal with the sexual. His work has been featured in galleries in Los Angeles, and in Skin & Ink and Erotic Ink Magazines.
What tools and techniques do you use to create your art?
I use digital photography as the first step in the process. Then I take
the images and bring them into programs like Photoshop and Painter, and
many other Art plugins. From there, it is a juggling process until I
have achieved the desired result for the Art. The techniques vary from
piece to piece, but the overall approach is the same. I try to use my
formal art training as much as possible. Painting in the traditional
way for me was a long process, and when finished, I was too attached to
the piece and never felt like parting with it. Now, with digital, I
still work more or less the same way. I start with an idea and a blank
file, then I start to build the piece. I focus on the main subject
first, then, when I am happy with that, I work on light and color. So,
in that respect, the process is the same. I use a lot of Layers to get
the desired result, a background in one of my pieces may be made up of
5 or 6 different photographs. Then it is also made up using digital
brush stokes on my "GOD designed" Wacom Pad. There really is a God you
see, and he is ALL for Artists!
What do you think about the computer as a creative tool, as opposed to a paintbrush or more traditional media?
The computer is hard to mix with water, that was the the first thing I
Honestly though, I would be lost without my computer. The change over
for me was an interesting one. I had studied art most of my life. I
moved to digital painting as it was more convenient for me. The
computer lets me try variations in my digital work that traditional
media does not allow. If half-way though a piece I do not like the
colors, I do not have to start again. I just add a color adjustment
layer and then carry on. Computers do crash and sometimes take for ever
to complete a task and that's when I miss the traditional route. Maybe
in the future I will do more mixed-media work.
I love my computer as a creative tool, but the ideas still come from
within myself, which is the important thing. At this point in time,
digital is best for me, but stay tuned, I may shock everyone and give
it all up to get HIGH on turps, and then cut off an ear that does not
belong to me!
What artists and photographers are you influenced by, and whom do you enjoy?
I am always finding new and exciting artists and photographers, whose
work I like. Some that spring to mind right away, are: Chad Michael
Ward, Steve Diet Goedde, Gilles Berquet, Robert Ballagh, Dave McKean, and many many more. Of course, Andy Warhol is a scream. I try to not let them influence me. I want to have my own style, I will continue to work in my own way, and as an artist I want to grow.
Each of the images in your portfolio "A Diversion in Perversion" has an almost ethereal presence, contrary to most sexual imagery. What does an image need to take it from naked photo to erotic artwork?
The most important thing for the image is the presence or the dynamic
of it. Form is important. I don't look to take an erotic image, it's
personal. What's erotic to me is not necessarily so for some-one else.
What I capture is a moment in time, and for Diversion in Perversion, I
wanted to take the photographs, and then use the raw images , the ones
with presence, and then elaborate on the light and texture to magnify
the essence. 3 glasses of wine and the images are done!
The second image in "Dark Work" is especially fascinating, creating the illusion of several different pictures merging to create one image. How did you create this image and what inspired you?
One model, Analyn, has a cherubic quality about her. I asked her to
pose for me for an exhibition I was putting together.
This picture came about as I had most of the pieces in Dark Works
completed, and I wanted an image with a religious undertone. I asked
her to pose praying, and then smoking a cigarette, and then kissing
another girl. It came together, and it just worked. It's a fab piece,
and I do like it.
You've taken some great photos for Skin and Ink Magazine. Do you
meet a lot of weird or eccentric people in that line of work?
During my time with Skin and ink, I have had the pleasure of meeting a
wide variety of people, all of whom have something different to offer
myself as a photographer. They are all individual, and if I was to say
that any of them were weird or eccentric, I would first have to point
the finger at myself. Imagine that you were walking down the street, minding your own business and a stranger with a mohawk and bondage pants came up to and said " Hi! I noticed that you have tattoos, I am a photographer with Skin and Ink magazine, and was wondering if you had any unusual pets! You see I'm doing a project and am looking for people with bizarre pets." As you can imagine, I got some strange looks. Some people do not know what to make of ME when I approach them. I must say though that most of the people I have met while working with the magazine, I have kept in contact with. I find them to be down-to-earth people, with, in most cases, interesting lives and great personalities. So in a nutshell, YES! we are all weird and eccentric. I thank them all.
So what's next in the pipeline for you?
I am currently working on a book called The Tattoo Nation, with Del Weston, and Chris McAlister. It will be a collection of some of my tattoo photos, as well as some of my personal art. It is due to be released very soon, so make sure to go out and grab a copy or two.