24 Apr 2020
In Conversation with Mischelle Moy
Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do:
I’m a Brooklyn-based visual artist with a focus in digital photography and post-production manipulation. I use photographs taken from my travels and edit them later to give them a different way of seeing, whether that be a change in colors or by perspective.
How do you sort out your creative process in between the photography, drawing, and digital arts?
I think they all merge fairly well in my process; all these modes play key roles in the creation of my work. I was trained in drawing and painting in my younger years which taught me how to apply a medium on a canvas and make something from nothing. And then I learned about photography which taught me how to alter what is in front of me by controlling the light and exposure. Combining the two and converting that knowledge into pixels on a screen allows me to produce things more quickly and be more experimental without being wasteful and having the entire color wheel to play with at the tip of my fingers. I also have more fun figuring out my style by working with everything I know!
What role does digital art play in your creative process? When would you say it comes in and fades out?
Digital art allows me to create something anywhere whenever, simply with the tools that a software provides and your imagination. But unlike traditional mediums, I can experiment with a tool I haven’t used before or combine it with others through many various modes, and continue to discover something new which I can later apply to my style or themes. It is more forgiving and definitely allows me to explore paths of my process that were not uncovered to help make my vision come to life.
Interestingly, with all these digital tools at my disposal, I do occasionally hit dead ends and feel frustrated with trying to make something. The constant consumption of other digital art online sometimes makes me overwhelmed and feel like I have to fit in with current trends, which may or may not align with my work. I would feel either inspired or annoyed–– where the latter means I need to get off the internet and do something else until the creative block is over. I would instead go back into books or watch an old film for some inspiration, as long as they have nothing to do with the process that I practice. This would help me view other artists’ way of seeing and get an insight into how their creative processes might be which would encourage me to think of ways to translate those ideas into my digital world.
Some people think that digital software programs can either present limitations or help enable artists to express their creativity. What do you think?
As an artist who studied and practiced both traditional and digital mediums of expressing creativity, I agree with both! I think it depends on each person and what they feel allows them more control. I really enjoyed getting my hands dirty with making sculptures or charcoal drawing but also really liked the science and mechanics of how a camera works and how a photograph is made. However it was never enough for me to shoot a perfect photograph and leave it straight-out-of-camera––I must play with it more.
In photo school, the most fun I had was in the darkroom where I was able to physically produce something with my own two hands. Or in the color darkroom playing with the knobs on the enlarger to manually produce a print. But I think if I didn’t practice either of these things, I wouldn’t know or understand anything where I am now with programs like Photoshop and Lightroom. Sliding the color scale adjustments and manually masking layers to create my edits is a familiar yet more accessible way for me to express what I see. I think it’s the best of both worlds for me!
Your art seems to be mainly inspired by outdoor photography; how do you stay creative during this lockdown?
I shot all if not most of the photographs in my artwork so I have several years of photos to work from. My typical process was taking a trip somewhere and capturing loads of images to edit from when I get home. Luckily, I was able to take two trips in the country a few weeks before the lockdown so I have all those photos that I can still work from. When I want to switch it up and challenge myself more, I will use license-free images to edit with. Another thing that helps me keep sane is finding creative communities on the internet where you can talk about similarities in struggles, share and inspire, and try daily challenges!
Are there any recent projects that you particularly enjoyed working on?
I finally finished the cover art series for Big Gigantic earlier this year! I did five or six covers including their album; it was a lot of fun and I’m grateful they allowed me to have so much creative freedom with it. I also shoot studio work (instagram.com/mmstudiomm) for my favorite Asian-American businesses so that is something I work on when I’m not making landscapes. My photographer side kicks in more when I produce those and I am always excited to edit them immediately after the shoot.