Hello everyone! Today we meet Christophe Kiciak, a young, but wise and talented French artist. He will show us into the world of digital art, both photography and photo-manipulation.
The following exclusive interview reveals some interesting things both about Christophe – the artist and Christophe – the man. He manages to combine art and technology, urban and rural life, career and family. What a man!
Q: Hello Christophe and welcome to pxleyes.com community. Please tell us a few words about yourself.
Hello Giulia! First of all, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to show my work at pxleyes.com, it is much appreciated.
I am a 33 years old man, living in France, a bit to the west of Paris. I am married, and my wife and I live in a small town lost between a forest and a river, far from urban activities.
While we both work in big cities, we like to stay at calm when the evening comes. I work in the IT security field, performing penetration tests for big companies.
While this has nothing to do with photography, creativity is often required to hack into applications and systems: I suppose this kind of “out-of-the-box” thinking shows a bit in my images.
Q: When and how did you discover this amazing talent and passion that you have for digital art?
I have always been very inspired by performances that require much work. I have much respect for anyone spending lots of time on something, just for the sake of the “Perfection Quest”.
This is something that really guides my life and personal choices: I have great difficulties to not do something passionately. Or I just don’t do it at all.
Photography was no exception to that. I started it in June 2009. Before that date, I had no camera, zero processing skills, no knowledge in general about creating picture in any way.
At that point of my life, I was searching for a new hobby: I was feeling that something was lacking.
Photography came to my mind, mostly because it seemed to be a good way to satisfy my thirst of technical perfection, while also creating hopefully good looking images. I started to look at several tutorials on the Internet, learned about theory basics, and ordered a camera.
Quickly, I knew that I wanted my pictures to be a medium for messages, for thoughts. While I do like great and beautiful landscapes, there is not much I would ever been able to add to them: I don’t have the talent nor the interest for that.
I still shot some of those from time to time, but what really attracts me are unusual scenes, strangeness, surrealism. I believe one can embed more personal thoughts and meaning in such work.
Consequently, I am often deliberately ignoring realism and just let ideas go freely.
Q: Which is your favourite software and what is the tool that you consider the most important?
I spend more time thinking about my pictures than actually creating them. Finding ideas is often a long and painful process: some of my pictures depict thoughts that I’m wandering with since childhood. Some were found in a few days of brainstorming, but almost never less than that. Therefore, I would say the most important tool is the will to think about a precise concept for hours, until it is adequately translated to something that can be shown with a picture.
From there, I can’t deny the fact that many of my images wouldn’t exist without Photoshop, which is of course a fantastic piece of software.
Q: Natural talent or hard work?
I suppose I am relatively quick at learning technical stuff. Understanding how all the different photography settings work together, how to fine tune a lighting setup, or how to handle software is not particularly hard to me. However, composing an image, finding which colours to use, what to put the focus on, in a word, the artistic part, is something I work very hard on. I do spend a lot of time looking at others’ work, trying to analyze why it is a good picture, and how it was conceived. It can be photos, but also paintings, sculpture, movies, music, etc.
From there, I build in my head a list of good recipes, that I use and mix to create my own stuff.
“Life is Not a Straight Line”
Q: Do you have a favourite artist who particularly inspires you? Or a muse?
I try hard to not get under strong influences, in order to be as original as possible. That being said, I like a lot Storm Thorgerson for example: his very famous album covers are often crazy creative, and he even has the luxury of achieving them mostly without Photoshop tricks.
That’s really an approach I like, because the pictures just look better (unless you are extremely good at CGI). Unfortunately, building extremely elaborated setups come at a great financial cost that I can’t afford, so Photoshopping items together is often the only viable solution.
As for a muse, we often discuss my ideas and composition with my wife. She is not much into the technical part, but her opinion and feelings do guide me a lot to the final result.
Q: Please share some of your experience and give some piece of advice for the beginners who dream to be as talented as you.
Don’t listen to anyone’s advice, and just do what you like. But if you want a result, do it like no one else would, and don’t count your time. For my first significant photo (published on 1X, featured in their 2010 book, called “Boom boom” and depicting a collision of milk droplets in a coffee cup under stroboscopic light) I spent about 4 full week-ends trying and trying stuff endlessly, until I was satisfied with the result. Everyone was telling me that droplets was an overdone topic, but still I wanted to give it a try.
Although it is not the best photo in the world, I am somewhat proud of how it turned, and even more since I was the only one to believe in a satisfactory outcome.
If you don’t believe in what you can accomplish, no one will for you!