Sam Atmore (@dfassn) is a purveyor of excellent digital manipulation pieces. His deep love of science fiction combined with his admiration for other digital artists has led him to create art that exists as gorgeous and enticing no matter how unbelievable the scene may be. His method of composition together with truly excellent blending and a delicate Mextures touch ensures that his imagery remains both inviting and stimulating. We spoke with Sam about his ever-changing style of creation and also about his drives and passions. Read along!
Hi! My name is Sam Atmore and I live in Wellington, which is the up-and-coming technology Capital city of New Zealand. I’ve been living there for almost 8 years now, originally moving here to study Digital Design at Victoria University. And before all of that, I grew up in a small rural town called Feilding, which is about two hours north of Wellington.
By trade I am a Digital Product Designer working for a Silicon Valley based startup company that focuses on creating location-based experiences for large indoor spaces. I like the fast paced, exciting nature of working with startup companies and getting to see the entire business inside and out.
Outside of work I’m a keen outdoor photography enthusiast. I love night photography and really enjoy finding new landscapes to capture (you can see some of my amateur photography here - @samatmoremedia). Apart from that I am an avid basketball fan (OKC all the way!) I’m a huge fan of science fiction and basically just a massive child at heart - Star Wars, Marvel, DC, DBZ, Pokemon, you name it - I’m a fan, and it’s where I draw a lot of inspiration from with some of the images and design work that I put together. Music is another driver for me, and I can’t speak more highly about Spotify Discover Weekly - it definitely helps keep the beats fresh which helps a lot with creativity.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO PHOTOGRAPHY/DESIGN?
I’ve always been a massive fan of all things creative and in particular photography and design. I love seeing something and thinking to myself how I might approach it differently. Whether it be a photo, drawing, painting, animation or whatever, I will often make it a challenge to try and create a similar piece once I’ve seen something that I really like. I think this is an awesome way to learn new techniques and processes when it comes to editing and design in general. You know, for me I always knew that I wanted to be in the creative industry, but I didn’t know specifically which part of the industry, so I’ve basically dabbled in a lot of different areas and that has really helped me to develop the skill set that I have today. Then, when I came across the editing community 4 or 5 years ago via Instagram, I really couldn’t believe it, so much creativity & inspiration. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of this ever growing group of insanely talented creatives.
HOW HAS SOCIAL MEDIA PLAYED A ROLE IN YOUR WORK?
Well, to be honest, when I started using Instagram (which was only about 5-6 years ago) and began to gain a bit of a following, it really gave sense of joy knowing that there were so many people out there that appreciated what I was creating or trying to create. You know, before that I really had no intention of sharing much of what I was doing, it was just something that I did for fun in my own time. Now I love trying different things/techniques out and then seeing how well it is received in the community. But, apart from that, the Instagram design community is so positive. There are so many like-minded individuals out there that are willing to share their techniques, imagery and then also collaborate as well. It really did open my eyes, people can be awesome! Some other Instagram accounts that I often draw a huge amount of inspiration from are @fultonhobbs, @slimesunday, @lvnatikk, @casualtyofcool, @crazymtbkr, @oskadesign, @thegraphicspr0ject and then of course @mextures just to name a few. Aside from Instagram, I do share this work via Facebook and the likes of Twitter, but I feel they both pale in comparison to the Instagram community.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
I would describe my style as being, well, all over the show. But, if I had to narrow it down a bit I'd say that I'm a massive fan of anything that is even close to surrealism, I look at a normal image and think, “what could I do to make that look as though it was from a dream?” Whether it be a cosmic sky, a giant floating animal, or whatever, I'm trying to create a piece that leaves people wondering, “what the hell am I looking at?” Where I can, I also like to incorporate geometry and text - and I think to some extent this is my day job shining through, as the design that I do there is lot of text, positioning and iconography work involved. I guess I'm not intentionally trying to follow a particular approach or approaches, more so I just want to continue to grow and develop my techniques and understanding of what is possible with all the amazing digital image manipulation products out there.
IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU TRY TO COMMUNICATE THROUGH YOUR WORK?
Like I said, I just have a lot of fun doing this type of thing and what I create is what my imagination is seeing versus what is reality. I know what I'm doing isn't everyone’s cup of tea, but all I ask is that you use your imagination and go back to your own childhood. I guess one 'hidden' message, is that different ideas/objects that don't necessarily relate together can still combine to create something engaging and meaningful. And I would go as far as to say that this philosophy could be adopted into many areas of everyday life (to some extent). Lately though, I have been trying to incorporate more of my design profession into some of the pieces that I create. I want people to see the importance of good design - UX, UI, interaction, layout, composition, the things that if done well aid in creating a joyful experience for whoever is viewing or interacting with your work. That is probably the main thing that I am trying to achieve.
WHAT DOES YOUR EDITING PROCESS GENERALLY LOOK LIKE?
My process most of the time, goes a little like this. Firstly it's over to @Unsplash to browse through the absolutely outstanding stock imagery they have to offer, I generally look for 2-3 images that I think would go well together, or images that I know somewhere down the line I'd like to incorporate. Once I've got the source material sorted, I like to try and establish, in my head what I want to do and the apps that I want to use. Generally speaking it's a mix of the following - anything from the Pixite and Brainfeverapps teams, Mextures of course, VSCO and Phonto. But in terms of order or process, a lot of the time the way I incorporate the different apps is pretty random. One of the things I really struggle with is knowing when i think something is complete, so that's kind of why I like to sign off using Mextures as a final step.
HOW SPECIFICALLY DO YOU USE MEXTURES IN THAT PROCESS?
Like I mentioned above, Mextures is kind of the final step for me. I find that the filters really help to set the mood for the piece that I am working on. To be honest though, I really struggle to come up with my own Mextures overlay combinations. Instead, I am a huge fan of the guest formulas section. There are some seriously cool overlays in there. The color, the grit, grunge, fades, they are all really cool in their own unique way and I generally end up picking from one of these and then adjusting until I'm happy with the outcome.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE MEXTURES OFFERS ANYTHING UNIQUE TO YOUR EDITING PROCESS?
I definitely think Mextures offers a unique step to the editing process. It really helps to set the mood of the image and depending on the overlay it can really change the whole dynamic of the image. As far as I can see, there are no other apps available that offer the range and control that the Mextures app does. I think the way the app is constructed with the inspiration section, the guest formulas and the ability to share formulas really allows for maximum creativity. You can't ask for much more than that
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN DEVELOPING YOUR HOBBY AND TRADE?
My biggest challenge would definitely be trying to recreate some of the styles that other people are demonstrating on Instagram. Not to say I am trying to copy directly, but rather learn how something is done and then somehow add and develop to make it my own. Some of the time, I just can't get the effect that I'm after, so I do end up going in a different direction. I guess another huge challenge for me is going to be to be able to keep producing new and fresh ideas. I definitely have patches where I feel a bit deflated in terms of creativity and struggle to come up with something meaningful. So I'd say going forward these are and probably always will be my biggest challenges.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH VIA YOUR WORK IN THE NEXT YEAR?
I want to continue to expand my social media reach (which is something I have really struggled with over the last 12 months) and then hopefully start using some of my artwork for more than just my own satisfaction. Whether it be album art or giant posters, clothing, etc, it would be cool to see some of it in the real world and not just in the Instagram community. I also want to get more and more into video type pieces and animation.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT MAKES A PIECE MEMORABLE?
For me, what makes a piece memorable is when I create something (most of the time unintentionally) that is stylistically something that I haven't done before. I mentioned trying to come up with new styles based on what other people produce as a major challenge for me sometimes. When I do finally achieve this for the first time, that is what helps to make the piece memorable. Or if I have specifically done something that has slightly more emotional meaning - like my good friend passed away a few months ago in a car crash and for me it was really a way to help me process everything as I had never experienced anything like that before. So I decided to create something for him as a tribute and a way for me to honor and remember who he was. That is definitely one of the more memorable pieces that I have put together.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PIECE TO CREATE SO FAR AND WHAT MAKES IT YOUR FAVORITE?
I'm not sure that I could confidently say that I have one particular favourite piece, but one that stands out to me would have to be the image above (top left). The reason being is the composition I was able to create with essentially two images that are completely unrelated. The piece itself is something that you would never see practically, but it still feels as though it could be real in todays messed up world. For that reason, it is definitely one of my favorite pieces.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CREATE MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE?
What keeps pushing me to create is probably more than anything other people’s work. I'll be scrolling through Instagram and come across something that really amazes me and straight away I'm like I want to create something similar, which in turn helps me develop my skill set as well. But yeah mostly I'm continually inspired by other designers and editors and constantly wanting to better my work to get on the same level of some of the people that I follow. But yeah, not only that. I do it because I love to create, whether it be this type of medium or something else, it's what I love to do!
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE MOST INSPIRED YOUR WORK OR PEOPLE YOU FEEL HAVE MENTORED YOU IN YOUR PROCESS?
That's a tough one: @fultonhobbs (a fellow New Zealander) was one of the first guys I started interacting with when I discovered this community. He was really positive towards my work and in turn I gained a lot of inspiration from his pieces.
I guess one dude that has really inspired me lately is @bosslogic. His work is absolutely amazing. His eye for detail and composition is 2nd to none and the subject matter that he mixes is right up my alley (ie. super heroes).
In terms of mentorship, to-be-honest everything that I do is self taught. The internet is an endless resource and it makes learning a breeze. But yeah let's just say it doesn't take much for the light bulbs to start going off in my head and when I get interested in a particular style or technique, my hunger to learn strikes again and it's at that point that I pick up my phone or whip out my computer and get cracking.
Wander through more of Sam’s worth right here!