Wednesday, 7 October 2009

3.4 / Spitting images / Kjartan S Waaseth

What: Photo retoucher
Where: Oslo, Norway
Website: Layers

Kjartan Sebastian Waaseth

I grew up in the middle of Norway, in Tronhein and went to a photo school when I was 17 years old because I wanted to study photography. I was always interested in the arts before that. My parents were hippies and had all sorts of strange friends coming over to our house and a particularly influential one called Kjartan Slettemark. He was a brilliant artist (he passed away a few months ago) and a great source of inspiration when I was growing up.
Parents…
My father is an architect and my parents have always been interested in the arts. They're free-thinkers and have been very encouraging and supportive of me. I suppose my unconventional upbringing shaped my mind. I don't think in a 'square' way.

Kjartan Sebastian Waaseth
Right now…
I do a bit of photography but I am mainly a retoucher and my retouching involves all sorts. Retouching is made up of manipulation, beauty retouching, creating abstract light effects and graphics (although I don't really do the graphic side of things).
Learning…
I leant everything after school. We had a few lessons in retouching but I didn't really learn that much. The things I know now are things that I picked up from other people. A guy called Grant Keats taught me a lot before he moved back to Australia a little while ago. There are also tutorials that I've done online, mainly Photoshop tutorials on Psdtuts+.
Free time, work, things…
It's all a bit of a melting pot. I do work-related things and personal stuff at the same time. There aren't strict boundaries. It's nice to work with different things. I enjoy working on my personal projects, then working on commercials and then coming back to what I was doing before. It's good to take your mind off work and similarly take a break from other projects. I really enjoy manipulating images and making surreal images and scenery.

Kjartan Sebastian Waaseth
Pride and joy…
There was one commercial, which wasn't all that hard-core but it was the simplicity that made it cool. It was manipulating an image of a young girl standing on a beach. It was taken in a studio and I just manipulated three versions of the image so she has a different sized ice-cream in each. There's also another interesting job I did here for Norges Blindeforbund, an organisation for blind people and people with eye diseases. One of the pieces I did for them was to manipulate images so that people with normal vision could see a picture as a person with eye disease would see it, which was quite different and fun to work on.

Kjartan Sebastian Waaseth
Self employed pros and cons…
I like the freedom to do what I want and manage my time in a way that suits me. I can have a coffee and chat any time I want to. I like working late into the night and can do that without anyone telling me to go home. The downside is that sometimes I struggle to get jobs and I have to work my arse off just to make enough money to make up for the times when I don't have work.

Kjartan Sebastian Waaseth
In the future…
I've entertained the idea of going to New York. That would be quite cool but on the other hand I also want try out working in a commercial agency, which would mean that I wouldn't have to worry about chasing work.

Kjartan Sebastian Waaseth

Kjartan Sebastian Waaseth
Best lesson…
Because of my background in photography, I've always had boundaries but after working in retouching I feel like I've freed my mind and I'm better at figuring out and creating different scenes.
Best advice…
Don't do drugs. Ha ha…
Reinspiration…
I have a big collection of manipulated images and I have them all filed under different categories and depending on which project I'm working on I can just refer to the one that is most suitable. I try out different things and use different images as inspiration.

Kjartan Sebastian Waaseth

Kjartan Sebastian Waaseth
To relax…
I go rock climbing. There are quite a few climbing sites in Norway. I like bouldering mostly, rock climbing without ropes. I know it might seem like a strange thing to do to chill out but it's a fun way to just relax and unwind my mind.
Plans…
My goal in my spare time is to evolve my work and to find new clients and promote my business. In the commercial world you get forgotten quite quickly so you have to keep promoting yourself.

Advice…
Most retouchers don't have a graphics backgrounds. It helps to understand photography and how light works. You have to spend a lot of time trying things out – lots of trial and error on your own, exploring what you want to do and which area you want to specialise in.
Dreams…
I would love to spend a few years sailing around the world. With my camera and my Mac. That's my biggest dream. I'd love to forget about my bills and commitments and let my mind just float away.

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