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Nick Baxter: Photo/Digital Manipulation

By Nick Baxter 
I’ve always been just as in love with photography as I am with painting. Because I paint in a highly realistic style, they’re two disciplines that go hand in hand in supporting my overall aesthetic and conceptual goals.

Photography is arguably the most convincing lie of the visual arts. It intersects with cultural conditioning and social norms in a way that I find intriguing and inspiring. What I mean is, as 20th and 21st Century human beings, we’ve been more or less culturally and socially trained to accept the photograph as a factual–even scientific–representation of physical reality, due to its ubiquitous use and massive omnipresence throughout our entire lives. This belief, which can approach the level of faith, presents an irresistible opportunity for manipulation of perception by illusionists and countercultural provocateurs such as myself… 

Long having been an artistic obsession of mine–to subvert the audience’s assumptions and paradigms–the advent of Photoshop was a digital godsend. I’ve spent years honing my craft of button-pushing and mouse-clicking in order to take my illusions one step further into disorienting believability. Whether the end result is a reference image for a painting, or a finished piece of art in its own right, the aesthetic I attempt to achieve is the same. This is how the two mediums work in concert for my overall artistic advancement.

This practice of “wanting-to-be-believable” manipulation to the visual field is also quite important to my conceptual mission as an artist: to inspire the viewer to question everything, to dig deeply behind the limiting surface appearance of not only reality, but their own selves, to take nothing for granted. In this way, I hope to make my art the embodiment of one of my favorite quotes:

“Art is the lie that tells the truth.”
–Pablo Picasso

Here’s my latest experiment combining photography and digital manipulation:

Glass & Dust

“Glass & Dust”, photo/digital, 2012

And a few other favorites from recent years:

Call It A Day

“Call It A Day”, photo/digital, 2010

Archetype

“Archetype”, photo/digital, 2009

Capsized

“Capsized”, photo/digital, 2008

(Nick Baxter is a tattooer and blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine. Nick can be found here: www.nickbaxter.com)