Creativity Magazine

Tracy J. Thomas–A Sordid Affair with an iPhone

Posted on the 02 March 2013 by Art Of Mob @artofmob

Tracy J. ThomasAttending the L.A. Mobile Arts Festival last year opened my eyes to the possibility of creating art with an iPhone.  This is where I first discovered the work of Tracy J. Thomas.  Oh, what an adventure it would be if I could borrow Tracy’s imagination for just one day!  It is an honor and my pleasure to present this conversation with a very inspiring and talented artist.

© T. J. Thomas

A Day at the Zoo (above)

© T. J. Thomas

Under the Parasol (above)

Geri:  What is your name and in what part of the world do you live?

Tracy:  I am Tracy J Thomas, born and raised a California girl and currently reside in Northern California.

© T. J. Thomas

The Little Angles 2 (above)

© T. J. Thomas

Rubber Band Man (above)

Geri:  Do you have a traditional photography or art background?

Tracy:  I have a traditional photography background. I have my Master of Fine Arts in Documentary photography from the Academy of Art University and work as a professional photographer and freelance writer. I have had a camera in my hands since I was a young girl.

© T. J. Thomas

Illuminati (above)

© T. J. Thomas

Time Flies (above)

Geri:  How long have you been creating mobile art with your iPhone?

Tracy:  I purchased my first iPhone only a year ago this month. I had convinced myself I would rarely use the camera feature since I shot readily with my Canon DSLR. That all changed when I stumbled across the amazing work at iPhoneart and I began to understand the creative possibilities of this little rectangle of metal, glass and plastic.

© T. J. Thomas

When House go to Heaven (above)

© T. J. Thomas

Once Upon A Time There Was A Boy (above)

Geri:  Do you use the native camera app, or another specialty camera app like ProCamera or Camera+?

Tracy:  I use every camera but the native camera app. My go to camera apps are ProCamera, 645 Pro and KitCam.

© T. J. Thomas

Baby Borg-osaurus Rex (above)

© T. J. Thomas

The Lost Widow (above)

Geri:  Who or what inspires your work?

Tracy:  My work tends to be a bit on the quirky side and reflects my love of the bizarre and on occasion my sense of humor. Most often I am inspired by the humans, movies, animations, or writing that exist outside the box of society’s idea of what is “normal.”

© T. J. Thomas

Mr. Sandman (above)

© T. J. Thomas

The Judge (above)

Geri:  Your work incorporates elements of digital collage - how did your style evolve?

Tracy:  I spent five years in my master’s program shooting a documentary series that culminated in my thesis project. The focus of my project was a serious social issue and the subject matter pretty intense. I recorded audio and video interviews and photographed hundreds of homeless individuals on city streets. My use of composite photography, “photomontage”, “digital collage”, or whatever you want to call it, was my way of taking a breather from the intensely serious side of my craft and creating an alternate reality that was fun and quirky and refreshing. I had studied some of the Masters of photomontage like Uelsmann, Rejlander, and Renau during my time at the Academy and always secretly envied their ability to create such amazing and impactful art. While I was living and working in the world of black and white straight photography, my inner surrealist kept banging on the door of my soul just screaming to be let out. The iPhone was for me the perfect tool to free that frustrated artist.

Geri:  Do you create your own textures for your images or is this done using apps?

Tracy:  I always create my own textures and backgrounds via a photograph I take with my iPhone.

© T. J. Thomas

The Undertaker (above)

© T. J. Thomas

The Day the Circus Came to Town (above)

Geri:  When you create a piece do you have a plan or does it evolve as you work?

Tracy:  Although I was trained to work from a conceptual space and shoot in series of photographs, I tend to allow my intuition to guide me whenever I shoot an image and especially when I create my composite pieces with my iPhone.

Geri:  What are some of your favorite apps? 

Tracy:  I adore Juxtaposer and use Image Blender, Pixlr-o-matic, ScratchCam FX, Lenslight and Modern Grunge.  I have also been experimenting lately with KitCam and Glaze for fun.

© T. J. Thomas

Surf’s Up (above)

Geri:  Please share with my readers a little about your editing process.

Tracy:  I take photographs wherever I go, especially landscapes of beach scenes, rock formations, colorful walls, interesting material, oddities like masks and doll heads, hats and the quirky people that cross my path. When an idea for a piece first pops into my head, it is usually triggered from perusing my eclectic photo library. It’s then that my quirky creative mind takes over and I pull a background and a subject photo into Juxtaposer and cut out the parts of the subject that speak to me and then save them as a stamp. I then begin to piece my scene together in an organic manner by adding other stamps and cutting out new pieces from other photos. Once I am happy with the constructed image, I take it into Pixlr-o-matic to add either a color or light effect, then occasionally back into Image Blender to bring back parts of the original image, into Lenslight to add lensflares or a moon or two, and finally into Scratchcam FX and/or Modern Grunge for texture and that grungy appearance.

© T. J. Thomas

The Bearded One (above)

© T. J. Thomas

Lagniappe (above)

Geri:  I saw your work at the L.A. Mobile Arts Festival.  Have you exhibited elsewhere?

Tracy:  I have been extremely blessed to have my iPhone work exhibited in numerous galleries and exhibitions over the past year. My work was exhibited twice at The Lunch Box Gallery in Miami, Florida in both the “iPhoneography: Updated Visual Dialogs” and the “Summer Photo Show.” Several of my pieces also appeared at the Overpass Gallery in Loano, Italy and at the Nuovo Film Studio in Savano, Italy in “Physical Streams;” the Rebekah Jakob Gallery in Charleston, North Carolina in “Ways of Seeing: Phoneography;” the LA Mobile Arts Festival in Santa Monica, CA; and I had a solo show with 30 of my iPhone pieces at Gallery 1075 in West Sacramento, CA this past summer. I was recently a finalist with nine of my iPhone images in the Digital Arts: California “Wide Open Digital” competition, am currently a finalist in the Digital Photo Pro Magazine’s “Emerging Pro Photography Competition” with my piece “Illuminati” for the Fine Art category, and just received two Honorable Mentions for the Mobile Photography Awards in both the Visual FX and People/Portraits categories which will be shown along with the winners at the Soho Digital Art Gallery in New York City in a few weeks.

© T. J. Thomas

When Tempest Tossed (above)

Geri:  Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Tracy:  Yes. An iPhone is nothing more than another tool in a photographer’s arsenal, though a highly portable one with all-in-one editing and sharing capabilities. It is not some magic machine that turns every user into a Cartier-Bresson, an Adams or a Picasso. You still need to understand the conceptual and technical aspects of photography in order to move towards that next level on the playing field. But the most important thing to remember is to have fun. Shoot and create because it makes you happy.

© T. J. Thomas

Balancing the Red Moon (above)

Geri: Thank you again Tracy for allowing me to feature your work here. 

To view more of Tracy’s work please visit the links below:

Flickr: Tracy J Thomas

EyeEm: @TracyJThomas

IPA: tjthomas

Website:  iPhone Art by Tracy J. Thomas

Blog: A Thousand Words

Facebook Page:  Tracy J. Thomas Photography

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