FeatureMerek Davis


FeatureMerek Davis

Roberto Cuevas (@iamcued) commandeered our attention with his wildly interesting creations.  Drawing inspiration from all forms of fiction, Roberto has constructed a fresh, creative corner within Instagram that is as beautiful as it is intriguing.  Literally using the atmosphere as his landscape, Roberto builds scenes with jaw-dropping color schemes and vantage points.  We wanted to know more about his artistry and the way in which he uses Mextures to achieve such incredible hues and moods in his edits and he was kind enough to submit to our inquiries.  Below you'll discover the truth! My name is Roberto Cuevas, and I am Cued. Often confused with "Cute", which is both fortunate & truthful. I'm from Atlanta, GA and currently live in Blacksburg, VA. From time to time, I take trips to the atmosphere & outer space.

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Like many millennials, I'm a freelancer at virtually everything. This includes graphic design, photography and administrative stuff. I enjoy making music, video and shooting hyperrealistic mobile photography.

Over the past year, I've dived into the world of social photography and art, which has been a blast. It's refreshing to learn from others and bend creative limits. I'm looking forward to more opportunities for travel and connectivity with other creative individuals worldwide.

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What first attracted you to design and photography?

It's hard to pinpoint where it really started. Somewhere between instameets, art shows and various school projects, photography and design became increasingly visible and accessible to me. Over time, the social aspect of community building and interaction surrounding the whole thing started to grab my attention. My perception of it all shifted from it seeming like an exclusively introspective process to being a fun activity that could be collectively engaged in with other individuals. The idea of accessing all of this through a mobile interface was such a rad prospect.

After seeing work from established artists like Scott Hansen (@iso50), Chuck Anderson (@nopattern) and Mark Weaver (@markweaver) a few years back, I became so inspired by how they, along with others, were pioneering a new wave of graphic media and design. As I connected with more creative individuals I started to see a small community of social artists who were at the front lines of a similarly expansive and growing wave of new art. It was a cool opportunity to take a look at what I do and how I could contribute as I joined in on the fun. Plus, it's incredibly convenient to make your own mixtape art when you're a designer.

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Your current Instagram work is pretty unique.  What attracted you to that concept?

The idea that you can reshape genres of art with a social media post. It's something that has stuck with me since the start of this year. I figured I'd try making new material with that in mind, because challenge accepted. Material that makes people do double takes, triple takes, quadruple takes, quintuple takes. ALL the takes. Stuff that makes people "tag a friend below" and also want to "do it for the gram". The end goal being to create something unique, that can change the game. Something that won't get lost in the noise, but start it. The prospect of raising the bar, collectively, is something that pushes me to create with intent to mutually inspire. Bonus points for getting to connect with and learn from others who have that on the brain, too.

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What about Instagram?  How did you get in to that?

Originally, I liked Instagram, but didn't really consider implementing it as a tool in my creative process at all. It was just a cool way to share photos with a click. Then, at about this time last year, I decided to get a bit more invested in sharing material through the mobile community. Instagram became a great testing ground for trying out new visual concepts - seeing what worked and what didn't work for me.

What I didn't count on was how many connections would be strengthened and built through this community or how woo-boostingly energizing that process would be.

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What does your editing process look like?

It starts with going out and taking pictures to use in various edits and then pulling from my camera roll to see what I've got. Sometimes the shots are brand new, other times they're buried in past archives. I shoot with the native iPhone camera in conjunction with the Camera+ app. I'll then import images into editing apps like ArtStudio and Matter and then cross process in various color grading apps such as VSCO and Mextures.

I do weekly livestreams on Periscope, Fridays & Saturdays at Midnight EST, where I share tutorials, app breakdowns and show a little bit of my process.

I enjoy reimagining old stories, movies or fairy tales and using those themes as the inspiration for my work. There's just something about incorporating motifs from older media that adds a level of fun and excitement to the overall brainstorming process. Then bladow! Everything is primed for a solid editing session.

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How do you use Mextures in your process?

I typically like to import a white image template, add some presets and then pull it back into other editing apps for assembly. It's a fun way for me to demo potential combos for future images and edits.

The ability to create your own filters, presets and color grading shortcuts is a big part of why I enjoy the Mextures app. Having access to all those blending modes and film presets is pretty much the photo editing equivalent of an exciting toy store.

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Do you have any formulas that you’d be willing to share with the community?

Of course!

SURE - PQBKFJS - A darker purple gradient, fading into blue tones, satisfying your inner late 80s.

SEEMS LEGIT - TVGUFJL - A subtle, tasteful blend of green and purple, primed for those captivating shots of the red sky after the sun sets.

I MEAN SORTA - MENRJJX - Lighter red hues and blues are a welcome addition to photos with warm temperatures and darker yellows.

BECAUSE - ELQLKAT - A set of nicely balanced desaturated colors making for a grounded, wonderfully equalized color grading scale.

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What has been your favorite image to create so far?

I'd have to say this was the first image where I completely hit the desired look. I had just created the "dual reflects" concept in an effort to do something beyond my limits, which was really challenging. It was a rewarding experience to see everything fall into place exactly as intended.

I have lots of respect for artists who can create things on the fly through experimentation - I also have massive respect for artists who can visualize their idea and execute it precisely as they mean to. The process of learning how to get better at both can be an insightful experience and it's an opportunity I always want to have while pushing my own creative limits.

But if my phone crashes while editing that's a different story. Forget "insightful experiences" and "pushing creative limits". The only thing I will be doing is raging in agony, resisting the urge to shout every expletive ever.

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So who are the people that have inspired or are inspiring your Instagram work?

I'd definitely have to say @huseyintaskin has been my biggest inspirations as of late. His work offers an incredible cinematic view of his adventure and travels. With golden hour scenes, dynamic fields of horses and stellar landscapes, he somehow captures glimpses of a fairy tale.

I’d also like to shout out this group - @jonathan_swinney, @jonweizy and @joshrouton. They've been a truly massive support to me from early on. They are a rad example of how awesome the social photo community is.

It's always so refreshing to see people continuously creating opportunities for collective networking while encouraging others in the process. And as the community keeps growing those chances for encouragement and growth continue to fuel creativity. And then before you know it, you end up with the next generation of leaders, pioneers and influencers, headlining that cycle all over again. It's so cool to be friends with and learn from people who embody those values as it is a big part of the inspiration behind what I do.

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Check out more of Roberto’s intriguing Instagram work here and get updates about his Periscope livestreams here!