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Jan Esmann

Jan Esmann

Jan Esmann

Please tell us about yourself, your childhood inspiration and how did you first get into the world of digital arts?

Ever since I was a small boy I wanted to become an artist. Making pictures fascinated me. I later trained and became a professional artist (see my website at I worked part time in the DTP business with Photoshop/QuarkXPress lay-outing a magazine and also with Pagemaker for a publisher. But my main program is of course Photoshop. I began with Photoshop 4 because I needed to edit scans of my paintings for printing invitations and other PR material. I made this material my self in Photoshop.

Do you exclusively use Photoshop for your work? Tell us your experience about Photoshop. What are the most appealing features you found in Photoshop?

Later when I set up a website, I needed to edit pictures of my paintings and I soon discovered that Photoshop could not do, what I wanted to do in order to make the screen images look like the real paintings. This began almost ten years ago now and after some years of continual frustration, I began dreaming of writing plugins to do the jobs. Alternatively I could have dreamt of a whole new graphic application, but with Photoshop advanced layer editing options and the fact that virtually any professional uses Photoshop, I decided to write additions to Photoshop.

When and how did you start thinking of making this amazing PowerRetouche plugins for photo retouching? What was the first reaction of this plugin in the digital art world?

Three years ago I founded Power Retouche. The first major filter was the invention of a sharpening algorithm that did not create edgelines like unsharp mask does. Then in the years to follow I developed the other filters partly from my own ideas and partly from the suggestions of photographers who were so kind as to ask if I could solve some problem or other - like the radial density correction.

Digital Photographers have provided me with constant encouragement and kind suggestions for improvement and for new filters, and I can truely say that without the many enthusiastic emails I have received, Power Retouche would not have been what it is today.

As an artist what is your philosophy about digital art? How much you are inclined toward orthodox styles of painting? Can you describe the pros and cons of digital and traditional painting?

My artistic medium is traditional painting. For some reason I have always loved the smell of oils and the texture of paint, so I have never done much artistic creation in the digital media. My working experience in the digital media is and has always been, retouching - both in my parttime job in the DTP/Publishing world and with my own art. So the name Power Retouche came naturally out of my intentions and talents.

But when I create, I need the feel of manipulating solid mass, paint. I miss that with digital imagery. I have begun exploring printing on various media like cottonpaper and the new printers can produce lovely textural images on ragpaper, but I think I will reserve this for doing a crossover between traditional graphic prints and digital imagemanipulation.

Somehow toned prints or pure black and white retain more papertexture than full color prints do, so in terms of making artworks where the texture is as important as the subject matter, then toned prints or B/W prints are superior to color - but this will probably change as pigment based printers become more available and affordable insted of dye based printers. Dye based colors have a translucency which sinks into the paper fibres and robs the paper of texture. Pigment based prints are more dense.

Traditional art has always values texture immensely. Something which too few modern artists are aware of because we mainly meet art in books and completely miss that aspect. Look at Rembrandt or any other old master and you will see how texture brings the subject to life.

Can you define the relation between the spirituality and an art? How your spiritual inclination does affect your art? Please advice our visitors who would like to take digital art as a career.

Spiritually I am more at home in hinduism than in any other religion. I meditate daily an hour or two and have done so for 25 years now. I met my first guru in 1983. My main practice is kundalini meditation and the shaktipat lineage of Anandi Ma and her master Dhyanyogi ( I always strive to embody something spiritual in my works, even when the subject might seem morbid.

But this springs from contrast: in works of art contrast is everything: If you want to praise life, include some representation or symbol of death or eternity. To render light, your images must be dark. If you want to hint at the intangible, as I aspire to, your art must be tangible and full of pinterly texture.

This is how it is. Digial art is about to catch up on this, so I can only advise any aspiring digital artist to devote much attention to the print, the ink and the paper.

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