We talk to master manipulator and S6 artist, Josh Dykgraaf about his artwork. Amidst a highly creative blend of photocollage, illustration and 3d stylings, he manages to bring his own photos to life in ways most can't imagine. With a growing fanbase and clients like the Australian government, this dude stays busy. And when he's not illustrating with Photoshop, he's writing tutorials to educate the masses. I caught Josh just before a London trip to see his work on display in the Underground (aka the Tube). Here's the quick exchange with this Aussie living in Amsterdam.
Ben: Why the move to Amsterdam?
Josh: I studied in Germany and visited here a couple of times during that period and pretty much fell in love with the place. I moved here in 2013 and, for the moment, it's base camp.
What's the quick n dirty of how you photo manipulate/illustrate?
Short version? I'll cut 20-30 items out of photos as a starting point. I'll warp and distort to create a basic shape - playing around until I have a basic structure. From there I add more detail pieces progressively and build a scene around my subject. Towards the end of the project I use adjustment layers and layer masks to shade each object individually. Lastly, I sprinkle some envirmental effects like water, smoke or earth to help blend it together or perhaps add a sense of locomotion.
The pen tool, transform and puppet warp are my best friends.
You photograph just about everything you use. How do you know what angles to shoot?
Angles can be tough. For example, in the "My Siberia" image, the face is actually a manipulation from an eye level shot of the engine. Sometimes I'll model it in 3D if I need an unusual angle of a key piece - like facial elements.
Very often I'll get an idea of what I want to do while I'm walking around experiencing a city, and get relevant angles of the content. More often though, it's more of a case of getting a good variety of angles and generating the idea later. Sometimes I won't have a concept until I start mixing and matching.
How did you discover this blend of 3D, illustration, photography and collage was your "thing"?
I basically developed this style while procrastinating. Not doing the uni work I was supposed to be doing in my final year. I eventually managed to turn it into my thesis project.
How long are you spending on these?
My work takes anywhere from 40 to 100 hours to complete an image. At the end of the process, it's always supremely gratifying to actually finish an image.
What are some big clients you've worked for or collab'd with?
I do a fair bit of advertising work but my biggest and by far favourite job, so far, was actually for the Australian government in my home city, the capital of Canberra. They commissioned me to illustrate the outsides of a fleet of buses to help celebrate the 100th birthday of the city last year. It's hard to top the satisfaction of watching your work go by on the side of a bus on a daily basis.
Dream collab or client?
Dream collab would be fellow Australian Justin Maller. His work got me interested in Photoshop years ago and he still impresses me. My dream client would be producing artwork for a major music festival - the considerable creative freedom of music work with a budget. There are numerous cities on my "to-do" list to remix too in the Americas like Rio and New York. If someone wants to pay me to do that, that'd be ok too.
Sasquatch Reborn (Seattle, United States)
Mechanical Phoenix (Toronto, Canada)
Hamburg Behemoth (Hamburg, Germany)
Any advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Work hard and don't give up.
Any cool personal projects? Gallery showings? Upcoming events? Etc?
My work is on show at the moment on billboards in a few London Tube stations as part of "Art Below London" and at a show at "The Framer's Gallery" nearby. You can see it at Regent's Park and Pimilco stations. I have some London themed work on Society6 as of now!
Josh beside "Old Reliable" for his participation in ArtBelow
Old Reliable (London, England)
The Towers of London (London, England)