Shifting smoothly from abstracts to landscapes to portraiture and more, Ralis (@rvlis) does not hesitate to take on new challenges or editing styles. His personal photography tends to focus on toning and grain while his abstract and surreal work tends to be a playground for his imagination and each are executed in such a way as to produce stunning pieces. Because of the massive expanse of diversity found on his feed, it’s beyond easy to be captivated by each image and the emotion and personality communicated in those images. Ralis was kind enough to chat with us so that we could learn about him and his goals before we passed the info on to all of you! Read along!
For starters, my name is Ralis (weird I know) and I live in San Diego, California. I’m a recent high school graduate and right now I’m just chasing down every opportunity I can. Currently, I’m creating artwork for a start up fashion label as well as administrating for a photography business. From being in the office all day, to creating all night, and trying to fit school and sleep in somewhere in between, I don’t have much free time. Whenever I do find myself with free time however, I’m out shooting and making friends or in my bed until 3pm creating on my phone. Either way, I need to be creating. I get anxious and annoyed if I’m not.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET IN TO DESIGN AND PHOTOGRAPHY?
I first started getting in to design during my sophomore year of high school. I had a lot of family issues going on at the time and spent a lot of time alone. I'd just be on my phone and one time when I was browsing the app store I found out about Union and was so psyched as I couldn't afford Photoshop at the time. I learned about the Summer Pixite Challenge and entered through Instagram simply out of boredom. It was so inspiring seeing everyone's submissions, mainly @triglyyy's. His work was so rad and I wanted to start making stuff like him. I found out about the @RSA_Graphicscommunity and learned about Mextures. Union and Mextures were hands down the best set up. I started making these surrealistic manipulations and adding more design elements. Students and teachers at my school started seeing my work, people started asking me to make their album covers. It felt amazing that my work was being noticed. I was so inspired by artists like @oskadesign, @slimesunday, @casualtyofcool and so many more. I absolutely loved it but I always wanted to create exactly what I wanted rather than working with other people’s pictures. That's when I started looking in to photography. I got a job and fast forward half a year, I had enough saved for a Canon 6D. I started shooting my friends and turns out I loved taking portraits. It just kept building and I'm so grateful for the many friends I've made from it online and in person. I've got so much love for Instagram's community.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
My default style is a darker and washed out vibe. When I did more edits, surrealistic is definitely a term I'd use and I hope to keep that more conceptual style in the future but lately I've forced myself to experiment. No matter what I want my pictures to tell a story.
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR WORK?
When I first started this journey, it was all about painting my emotions and hoping it resonated with others. I felt deep heartache, insignificance, and disconnection that I never wanted others to go through, but I realized that they do.
I believe there's a fine line that separates solitude and loneliness. Solitude is often a choice, for some even a preference, while loneliness leaves people yearning for a connection. I never want people to feel left behind and helpless. As much as my conceptual work sort of hyperbolizes the vastness of our world and how one can feel such disconnection, I hope it serves as a see-through mirror revealing how others feel the same and how that alone can connect us.
At the end of the day though, I hope my work is subjective and that what people take from my work is their own interpretation.
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN DEVELOPING YOUR WORK?
I think the biggest challenge I’ve faced (and I’m still dealing with right now) is making time for it. I want nothing more than just to create for and with other people. I have so many ideas for projects, places I want to go and people I want to meet. Being 18 and already having to move out, balance two jobs and school, is making it really difficult to focus on my own goals. I’ve seriously considered dropping my traditional office job and jumping to work on my art/photography and marketing myself, but it feels too risky, especially since I haven’t been able to accumulate any “safe” money.
As much as I stress over it I know I’ll be alright. There’s no way I’m letting myself sit in an office doing work I’m not passionate about for the rest of my life. I’d go insane.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT MAKES A PIECE MEMORABLE?
The biggest factor for a piece to stick with me is its uniqueness and whether or not it sparks any emotions. Someone's execution could be absolutely perfect, but as beautiful as the piece may look, I'm not going to think about it again in a couple of hours if it's something I've seen before. When someone's work makes me feel sad or hopeful, whatever it may be, it's something I remember when I feel that emotion again. It's like, in my brain, I have a huge catalog of photos separated with a bunch of tags and whenever I feel a certain emotion I can recall all of the related images.
WHAT DOES YOUR EDITING PROCESS GENERALLY LOOK LIKE?
For my photography, my process is sweet and simple. I upload all of my pictures into Lightroom and export all of my pictures from Lightroom. Sometimes I'll use Photoshop or Affinity Photo in between, but it's rare.
However, for my edits I generally start off in the Pixelmator app. I'll get the photos I want to work with and do all of the cutting, blending, and such in Pixelmator. After that, I'll bring the photo into Lightroom mobile and do any color, hue, highlight, and shadow adjustments. Lastly, I use Mextures to glue it all together with some sharpening, fading, and sometimes a final gradient depending on what works with the photo.
CAN YOU SHARE SOME OF YOUR MEXTURES FORMULAS?
Of course! I really love using textures from the X-Film pack, so most of my formulas have those overlays in them. Here are some of my favorites:
Cassie - QDBXRDX - This formula gives photos a very subtle, dark and earthy tone to help make details pop in portraits while keeping it clean and simple.
Color - WNLVSYG - (I really should've given these cooler names) This set is a concoction of blue in the highlights and a filmy orange in the shadows. Really only useful when you're editing pictures a little more abstract.
Morning - NXZVHRD - As you can guess from the title, this set gives photos a moody dark blue look. My favorite for those dawn and dusk shots or bringing down those super bright orangey photos that most people like.
Falls - WPIRXGT - Alright, so perhaps I'm a hypocrite because, with the right photo, this formula is going to produce a glistening, orange sun as well as turn those royal blues into soft cerulean.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE MEXTURES OFFERS ANYTHING UNIQUE TO YOUR EDITING PROCESS?
With photo editing apps completey over-saturating the market it really is difficult to have tools that other apps don't have, but I do think Mextures offers a very unique set of filters and has the best execution of a layering system. Also, I've praised it before and I'll praise it again, the sharpening in Mextures works wonders. Not sure how, but it's just better. Now, even though the app is wonderful, I think the biggest thing about Mextures is its community. It's such a talented and supportive group and I've met so many friends through it.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PIECE TO CREATE SO FAR?
I remember sitting in art class and making this piece. It wasn't actually my art class, I just hung out and helped my art teacher when needed. I was listening to some new music including Tame Impala and PVRIS (my favorite band to date). There wasn't much special or different about the day. I think I just enjoyed making this picture and I was proud of it for quite awhile. As I'm looking back at it, I really don't see this as something super amazing or unique. In fact, I remember a bunch of images like this one popping up when this image got featured on @RSA_Graphics.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH VIA YOUR WORK IN THE NEXT YEAR?
The biggest thing I hope to accomplish with my work is just making more of it. When I'm shooting or making art, it doesn't feel like "work" and It'd be really rewarding for it to fund itself. I feel like it's a long shot but I also believe it's doable.
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE MOST INSPIRED YOUR WORK?
The people that have most inspired me are other artists, musicians, and photographers such as @slimesunday, @agnes_cecile, @lynngunn, and @bleeblu. I didn't really have any sort of mentor but these people really helped to shape my style in the beginning.
Look into more of Ralis’s work right here!