We're in love with the surreal digital artwork of Ashish Jose (@tarqeeb)! For years his work has entranced and enthralled us and his ability to utilize Mextures to give his work a polished feel still amazes us. We caught up with Ashish to discuss his love for curry, ballet, Mextures and digital art. Read along!
My name is Ashish Jose and I live in Bombay, India. I'm originally from Delhi and completed my secondary and higher education from St. Columba's School where I was a budding metal head with a keen interest in ballet! I'd like to think I was funny and popular, but I'm not sure anymore.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
I want to be responsible, loving, fair and kind in everything I do. I think it's more about the "how I want to be when I grow up" rather than "what"!
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD?
My comfort food would be my dad's prawn curry and rice. He's an amazing cook and his food can make my day so much better!
WHAT IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL?
My spirit animal is a Humming bird! I've always had hummingbirds follow me during my travels in the US and once an elderly Hualapai Shaman from Arizona told me that I see them because they are my spirit guides. He also happened to take 2 cigarettes and a couple of bucks from me after our conversation!
WHAT TWO CELEBRITIES WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BE YOUR PARENTS?
I actually really like my non-celebrity parents, but if I absolutely had to then it would be Elon Musk and Beyonce I guess! No idea why I said that...
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO PHOTOGRAPHY AND DESIGN?
I've been into photography ever since I started traveling around the age of 16. It was never really serious but for the past couple of years I've been consciously trying to learn new techniques and understand perspectives as I feel it's a great form of self expression and story telling.
Design was much more recent and really kicked in while I was living in New York and was surrounded by art, type and interactive art installations. That was around the same time that Mextures launched and, now that I think of it, the Mextures app played a huge part in me getting into design as that was the first time I tried to manipulate pictures.
HAS SOCIAL MEDIA PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR WORK?
I think Instagram had a big role to play when I started out with making iPhone art which was actually the first medium of art I ever got into! All my inspiration and desire to learn different styles and techniques came from the people I met and connected with on Instagram and the communities and hubs that constantly featured my work (Mextures Collective, Double_expo, RSA).
Instagram also made it possible for me to collaborate and work with artists from across the globe and gave me a family that supported, helped and encouraged my journey as a visual artist.
IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU TRY TO COMMUNICATE THROUGH YOUR WORK?
A lot of my work was/is surreal and inspired by my favourite author, Haruki Murakami. As I slowly started to learn different techniques and styles, 2 things that really fascinated me were scale and minimalism.
I like messing around with the scale and size of my subjects in order to shock the viewer out of their comforting assumptions. I like the displacement of my subjects from their usual context.
I also endeavour to use the simplist way to communicate what I want to say which is what minimalism taught me.
HOW DO YOU GENERALLY APPROACH YOUR EDITING PROCESS FROM START TO FINISH?
My editing process usually begins either with a firm idea or by looking at stock images. Then I collect all the elements I need for my composition and start putting them together on one art board. I try a few versions of the same elements by mixing and matching them. This process takes place on my phone and is usually done in Union app and Pixomatic App. From there I sometimes use apps like LensFX, Assemby, iColorama to add geometry and effects or I use apps like Circular, Alien Sky, Glitché for more detail if required.
The final part that brings the whole thing together is the color correction and textures. I use Mextures during this step to determine the mood and ambience of my composition. Sometimes I even go back and add or remove elements based on the results I get in Mextures! This is the part that kind of ties the whole thing together.
WOULD YOU SHARE A FEW OF YOUR FORMULAS?
So I'm gonna list a few of my formulas that were selected for the Mextures Collective!
Up - SFMGMMW - This formula adds some tone and a slight greenish-yellowish tinge that kind of brings the whole image together in a surreal vibe.
Better Fly - NZTVZUP - Very minimal formula that works like a glue and brings together a composite.
Gibli - DBKTZAC - This formula is very texture heavy and has a lot of the PebbleBeach overlay from the intensity pack to add grit and Pother from the Anomaly pack that adds a blueish tinge to the image.
Para - NHLDTRL - This one is from 2015 and was one of my first Mextures Collective features! I loved doing the edit because these were the early days of my editing and I loved how I could change the vibe of a composition with Mextures. Use on Road shots.
Supercell - XBFGTTY - This is also an older one which had 7 layers and lot of texture. It has a supercell cloud in the original image so I gave it a lot of yellow and red to bring out the clouds.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT MEXTURES THAT MAKES IT A VITAL PIECE OF YOUR EDITING PROCESS?
I feel the biggest value that Mextures adds to my editing process is that it helps me determine the vibe of my composition really quickly through my formulas. I can determine whether my image is sad, happy, melancholic or surreal by applying different formulas. This is quick and also helps me in the conceptualize of the piece!
PICK 2 OF YOUR FAVORITE PIECES. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THESE 2 PIECES THAT MAKE THEM STAND OUT TO YOU?
Lion Face - I feel attached to this piece as I feel I was able to create something that resonated with a lot of people around me and also communicates emotions like courage and wisdom through imagery. This was one of the first compositions that I was proud to call my work.
This one is inspired by a Haruki Murakami book called Hard Boiled Wonderland and I love the way it eventually turned out!
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CREATE MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE?
I try and take inspiration from everywhere and everything. I also feel that being surrounded by like-minded people whose work inspires you plays a very big part in pushing your own skills and vision.
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE MOST INSPIRED YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY?
Oh man! There are so many Instagram feeds that inspire me to do what I do. I definitely cannot can't pick just one so I'm gonna list 7 (for each day of the week).
Slime Sunday - @slimesunday
Ben Huges - @rek0de
Oska - @oskadesign
Molly Scannell - @a_collage
Siddhant jaokar - @hyperthalamuscorp
Arushi kathuria - @swineflew_who
Aniruddh Mehta - @thebigfatminimalist
I follow a lot of photography hubs that inspire me and give me new ideas about composition and perspective (@agameoftones, @symmetricalmonsters, @artofvisuals, @unsplash). My biggest mentors have been YouTube and Skillshare and i learn as I as go every day.
See more of Ashish's work here!