Sam Woods (@samwoodsiv) has long been one of our favorite artists. His inventiveness and frequent use of surrealism always makes for a fun scroll. Sam’s talent for making the unreal seem real is one of the things we love most about his Instagram work. We finally caught him during a lull in his hectic schedule to chat about his journey into iPhone editing and Mextures. Read on for all of the juicy facts!
I’m Sam Woods. I’m a follower of Jesus. I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma with my wife Angie and our two daughters Amelia (6yrs old) and Ruby (3yrs old). My wife and I are on staff at Church On The Move. I am a part of the Student Ministry team and have the privilege of communicating to teenagers on a regular basis. I enjoy basketball. I don’t play too much these days - it hurts me old bones - but I do have a love for the game. I enjoy Instagramming. I feel like God has given me a voice and I intend to use it. I absolutely love spending time with my family doing whatever. I hate traffic. I hate when things don’t work like they’re supposed to - like technology, cars and people.
What first attracted you to Instagram?
Honestly I first got an Instagram account because it was starting to gain popularity. I kind of wanted to see what all the hype was about.
I had no idea that photo editing on a phone was even a thing, much less something I'd find myself doing.
I started really exploring different feeds and began to come across people who were adding shapes, unusual colors, and other elements into their pics. People like @six37, @frozen_light, @1_of_8, @nghbrs, @nois7 and @abcdebes to name a few.
I was seriously perplexed and couldn't figure it out. Plus, it was in the days when no one would share their friggin' secrets!
I finally came across a few apps that helped with editing and adding elements into my images. And so the journey began.
Did you have any background in design, composites or blending when you first started?
I had absolutely NO experience when I first started doing iPhone edits. Still don't. I outsource that crap.
I first picked up an app called PhotoForge and started messing around with merging multiple images. It was too difficult for me at the time. I found a simpler app called ImageBlender and that is the app that I learned to blend images together with. Most recently though I've been using the Union app. It's very intuitive and user friendly. It also has a masking tool that is hard to beat.
Your work tends to be pretty diverse. How do you typically use Mextures in your editing process?
It certainly depends on what I'm going for with the edit. There are certain edits that I do where I start with Mextures. These are the edits where I typically need a darker skyline because there is something lighter that I want to blend in. There are others where Mextures will be the last stop on the editing bus. It all just depends but I can tell you this: there is not a single post I do that hasn't gone through Mextures at some point in the process. Even if it's for one filter. The app has changed the game.
Care to share any secret formulas with the Mextures community?
Sure! Here are four of them!
CRYSTAL CLEAR - CTFURCC This is great for making pictures look better than they already are. And that's a fact.
BRIGHT - RDSSEMX Light, bright, and airy. That's what this formula brings to the table. And by table, I mean picture.
STORMS A BREWIN' - UZDIQGG If you like your images like you like your vampires - dark, moody, and brooding - then this formula is for you. Nibble on it. Nibble on it sideways.
LOST - ELHVAER If you like dark and colorful tones, then get lost.
What’s your favorite type of edit to create?
I think my favorite type of edit is… well… man, that’s tough. I’m sure you’ve noticed I don’t stick to one particular style. I think it’s because I admire and love all types of design and art. Many of my posts are inspired by something that I’ve seen and just want to try and replicate. I suppose if you were to force my hand to tell you what my favorite edit I’ve ever done was, I think it would be the edit with a whale floating through some clouds or over some mountains. I guess I like trying to make the impossible look possible. Surrealism. There. We found it. That’s the type I like.
You really do incorporate so many different styles and elements with your edits. How do you keep those creative juices flowing?
I honestly draw inspiration from tons of stuff - music, album covers, photography, billboards - actually, I was at the beach once and saw this dude in a really cool pair of board shorts that had a setting sun or something on it, and I thought, “I wonder if I can recreate that on my phone” so I tried it. I get inspiration from all over the place.
What do you hope to accomplish with Instagram?
Well, aside from total world domination, I suppose that I’m hoping to extend my influence. It sort of dawned on me recently that I have this platform to speak from with my art and I’d be misusing my God-given gifts, talents, and voice if I didn’t post with purpose. And so that is what I intend to do. My faith is everything to me, so instead of just leveraging Instagram to scratch a creative itch I have, I want to share God’s love through my art.
Who are the people that have inspired your art the most?
When I first got started on Instagram I came across an Instagrammer, @frozen_light. He had a pic on his feed where he put a whale in the sky. A WHALE IN THE SKY! It blew my mind - not only the concept, but also how real he was able to make it look. And all on a phone! It was the likes of him and @nois7 and @digital_editz that really got me interested in surreal edits. Then there are just great designers out there that I greatly admire. People like @nghbrs and @1_of_8 and @mekaridho who have a great eye for lines, shapes, and movement.
Make sure to follow along with Sam’s artwork at @samwoodsiv!