Mattijn Franssen is an amazing photomontage artist from The Netherlands who has created unbelievable surrealistic fantasy photomontages with castles, mountains, imaginary creatures using Photoshop techniques. His photomontages are made with combination of his drawing skills and photography. He is very quick and tidy in his art and can create an artwork on demand. He is also into animation, music, song writing etc. The best thing about Mattijn is that he is a completely self-taught artist and has never had any formal training in fine arts or computer graphics. He shoots extensively with his camera and creates photomontages of surreal or magical journeys and landscapes portraying himself and his pet cat in the scene. We asked him about his life and his art and he gladly answered the mail with sending some of his amazing works to feature in the post:
I’m from The Netherlands where I live in a small town surrounded by forest. I never attended any art school and learned everything through my personal efforts.
When did you start photography? How do you create your photomontages?
I never really liked photography that much and focused more on oil paining but things changed when the digital cameras came around. When I came to know about Photoshop, I realized that I could create with it whatever I wanted. The first thing I did was I checked if I could use it with my oil-paintings, but I never got to that because playing with photos had so many possibilities.
I struggled a lot in the beginning and I had a lot to learn and take the right photos, which slowed me down too much, so I started drawing the compositions in Photoshop. These were not great drawings but combined with real people it was fun. Then I replace them with photos, once I got the right ones.
Since then there is no turning back. I think these photo drawings are a bit silly but it’s how I learned to create surreal scenes. Then I was finally ready to make photomontages. I got a better camera and started taking photos of everything: trees, houses, animals etc. In the beginning I took photos all day everyday, but now I am more organized. I make a quick decision about the use of a particular image before pressing the shutter release.
For my montages I only use Photoshop. It helps me in doing the think I want. I don’t use any special camera equipment or lenses. I am never trying to make a perfect photo with my montages. I try to create images that look like a combination of photography and oil-painting.
And what about the creative process which runs through your mind while you create your art?
I develop some ideas in my mind and then I make a small drawing about it. Then I go out to see if I can shoot the right photos to bring this idea to life. Sometimes ideas come when I am looking at some of my photos and sometimes I get ideas when I am taking photos.
Photography has made me more aware of myself, how I move and stuff like that, which is good because I had no idea in the beginning. I did not like to take photos of myself and asked others to pose for my works but no one was interested, so I began using myself as a model. In my first montages I looked bored/annoyed but it slowly grew on me and now it seems natural. Making these montages and putting them online have changed my life a lot. I am able to make a living out of this. My works are sold by a gallery in London and a gallery in Amsterdam. I also have had exhibitions in many countries.
With my photomontage I can be inspired by anything even a nice window or some steps give me inspiration. I like browsing photos on Flickr. I don’t have any favorite photographer as such and I am not very much into fantasy worlds. I prefer seeing pictures of real landscapes with mountains.
Please give some tips to aspiring artists and photographers:
My advice would be… create something original. I see a lot of copying, which is a good way to learn something but how many pictures do we need of a girl in a dress holding a balloon or someone sitting on the wing of a plane? I should say everyone must define and create his/her own unique world.