For a healthy dose of digital manipulation we shift to the work of Natasha Essex (@essexn). Her art is easily recognized and for good reason. The thoughtfulness and blending work she puts into each of her pieces is absolutely impressive and certainly makes them pop of the screen. As you learn about Natasha and the ways that she uses Mextures to set her work apart, enjoy her amazing artwork!
My name is Natasha hope Essex, and I live in Sydney Australia.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN HIGH SCHOOL?
I was pretty shy throughout both primary school, and high school. But outgoing at the same time. I was bullied a lot, but didn't let that change who I am. I use to stay behind in the classroom at lunch, writing kids stories and drawing. My stories were usually about animals that could talk lol.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
As I was growing up my ideas I had as to what I wanted to be, were forever changing. However each one had a creative side to it. At one stage it was a story writer, An architect, An interior decorator, And a photographer. (Landscape/nature)
When I was 18 I wanted to save up for a camper van, and a professional camera.
I wanted to travel around Australia, just me and my camera. Pulling up anywhere that caught my eye, and take pictures.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD?
Oooh!! that has to be dark chocolate. And chips.
I always have a stash of packets of chips, and a slab of dark chocolate in my bedside dresser. I go through withdrawals if I don't haha.
WHAT IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL?
Hmmm! A part of me feels the Bear would be my spirit animal.
While I can lack in confidence, I will stand ground, and take action when needed.
I like a challenge. I'm stubborn. I like to try something new, even if I have no idea how to do it. I like to figure it out on my own. I don't like having help. I won't give up until I've got it done.
WHAT TWO CELEBRITIES WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BE YOUR PARENTS?
If I am anything, I'm old fashioned. I'm a classics kind of girl too. So this question is a tough one lol. I admire a lot of celebrities from the past. I love Kathryn Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Julie Andrews, and Grace Kelly. If I could roll up certain qualities of each of these amazing women all into one, then we would have one heck of a woman lol.
And as for a male role? Gregory Peck, Carry Grant, and Dean Martin. Each all had amazing qualities, and a heart of gold. I would love to have met them all.
WHAT'S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN'T LEARN FROM YOUR INSTAGRAM ALONE?
That's also a tough one!
I may start out shy, but get to know me. I'm energetic personality wise, this won't show through social media. Like I said I'm old fashioned, so I like my communication face to face. Not by typing or phone calls and so on. You'll never catch me on my phone in public. I'm the type of person who would call a great night by sitting around a fire with music playing, and just spend the entire time talking, listening, and laughing.
WHAT ACCOMPLISHMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
While some of my goals have been put on hold due to life, and family, I am at the moment focusing on digital art. For me spending my time creating, is therapeutic. I get lost in what I'm doing. I can look down at my iPad to start on a piece, or two...or three, and the next thing I know, hours have past. I love the challenge of being able to create what I have on my mind, and to see the outcome at the end.
I think one thing I can say I'm proud of is that I have had a few offers to create album covers for a band. Hearing that pretty much made my day lol. It showed me not to underestimate myself, and what I do.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO PHOTOGRAPHY AND DESIGN AND WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT KEEP YOU INTERESTED?
There has just always been something about nature and particular subjects that catch my eye, and gives me the urge to capture it on camera. I love to fool around with the image after, giving it a mood or to just simply make it stand out. But I am mostly drawn to photo manipulation, and digital editing.
While I will come up with an idea for any image that catches my eye, I'm mostly fascinated by portraits of people, there is something about the structure of a person's face that intrigues me. I love to work with portraits, and create something mysterious. Combining something realistic (the persons face) with something surreal. Something that will make you stop and stare.
HAS SOCIAL MEDIA PLAYED A ROLE IN YOUR WORK?
It definitely has helped. As not only inspiration and encouragement, but it's also a great source for finding other editing platforms. But mainly, and most importantly It has also lead me to meet some amazing friends, and artists from around the world. I love that we can share what we create, and view a persons personality through their work. I have met a lot of people through art groups, and it's amazing to see what so many people can come up with, with just one app. It's shows it's endless creativity.
IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU TRY TO COMMUNICATE THROUGH YOUR WORK?
Depending on what it is that the viewer sees. I think it's just that I love, and appreciate art itself. Then I (depending on my mood at the time) like to combine old with new, realism with surrealism, and nature with people.
HOW DO YOU GENERALLY APPROACH YOUR EDITING PROCESS FROM START TO FINISH?
Each image I create, all depends on wether the original image captures my eye, and I immediately come up with an idea. Or I can just be doing anything, and an idea randomly comes to my mind. While I can't wait to start, I try to take my time trying to find the right source of image (coming up with an idea is one thing, but trying to create what you've imagined, is another) I love portraits, and a person's face structure. My images can contain anywhere from 2-5 original sources. I try to keep it as Minimal as possible though. Not only to keep the quality, but sometimes less really is more.
I generally start out with Icolorama, and occasionally PicsArt. Then after a process of blending, and applying I head straight over to Mextures.
HOW SPECIFICALLY DO YOU USE MEXTURES IN THAT PROCESS?
Mextures has always been my go-to app. With Mextures endless use, I will use either the additional formulas by Mextures and or by other artists. Or I will come up with my own. Creating depth, lightning, textures, moods and bringing out colors that the image originally didn't show. I always make use of the rotating tool on each preset that changes from top to bottom, and corner to corner, Bringing focus to particular parts of the image, toning down one area and giving vibrance to another. No matter how happy I might be with what I've originally created, Mextures really sets the mood of the image and gives it the finish that it needs.
CAN YOU SHARE SOME OF YOUR FORMULAS?
Destination unknown: JJXMBCK - This is two toned with blue, and brown. Giving that rustic look, and early dawn feeling.
Galactic: LQDLSFH - This is a minimal formula, but it works well with an image with a black background, and a colourful subject. Bringing it vibrance and texture.
Leaf it alone: (<- pun intended) ZBLSLVR - I really like to use this one for photography. It darkens the background, and brings focus to the subject, and dulls any parts looking saturated. (Hence the name of the formula lol).
Check-mate: ARKHBWF - With pink, and brown this can give a landscape shot a sort if mysterious look as though you have stepped into another world.
Translation: YDFCQNZ - This is more vintage, And works great with mutual colours Making darker areas darker, brighter areas brighter and texture giving it that real vintage feel.
FOR YOU PERSONALLY, WHAT IS IT ABOUT MEXTURES THAT MAKES IT A VITAL PIECE OF YOUR EDITING PROCESS?
For me Mextures is what MAKES the image. Wether it be for photography or digital art, I like to run my image through mextures to set the mood, to bring out colours that couldn't be seen originally, and give it texture to give it more of a realistic feel. No mater how happy I am with my work originally, I can get the exact look I'm after wether it be minimal or dramatic. I don't consider my work finished until I have run it through mextures.
PICK TWO OF YOUR FAVORITE PIECES THAT YOU'VE CREATED: WHAT IS IT ABOUT THEM THAT MAKES THEM STAND OUT TO YOU?
I have always been proud of these pieces. While they might not stand out to others, they are the ones that will give me the urge to attempt to create more. It is hard to create something that you have pictured in your mind. Yet I was able to make exactly what I had imagined. It is my favorite type of art. Combining people with nature. And it was a challenge to me. A lot of effort went into these pieces. Not only finding the right portrait, face, and background. But the actual method to creating them too.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CREATE MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE?
It doesn't really take much to get me inspired, to suddenly get up, and create something. I could just look at a person's face who stands out, or something with just the right color palette. Or even something vintage, and rustic. All of those can immediately put an idea to mind, and I'll get started.
IF YOU COULD STEAL CREDIT FOR ONE INSTAGRAM FEED, WHOSE WOULD IT BE?
Haha! While I hate putting the word steal into any sentence. There is actually more than one person I can mention, whose work I admire. That would be Matt Mills (@stockandrender), Kristina Reese (@shadow.boxer), Fulton Hobbs (@fultonhobbs), And Beeple (@beeple_crap).
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE MOST INSPIRED YOUR WORK?
There was a time where I had almost given up on posting, and creating. Due to depression, and a lot of other things that were going on at that time.
But thanks to my mum, and my two friends Jan, and Bridget. Who encouraged me to continue, With their words, and reminding me of how they feel about my work, gave me the convenience to start again. I would definitely say they have inspired me.
See more of Natasha's work here!