Nick Pedersen is a photographer and digital artist currently based in Salt Lake City, Utah. He holds a BFA degree in Photography, as well as an MFA degree in Digital Arts from Pratt Institute in New York. He has shown artwork in galleries across the country and internationally, recently including the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Paradigm Gallery, and Arch Enemy Arts. He has published two artist books featuring his long-term personal projects Sumeru and Ultima. Many of his images have been recognized with awards from the International Photography Awards, the Adobe Design Achievement Awards, and the Photoshop Guru Awards. His work has been featured in publications such as Vogue, Create Magazine, Juxtapoz, Hi-Fructose, and on the covers of Photoshop User and After Capture. In the past few years he has also completed Artist Residencies at the Banff Center in Canada, the Gullkistan Residency in Iceland, and the Starry Night Retreat in New Mexico.
Growing up I was always interested in photography, documenting my adventures in the outdoors and all the places I travelled. I got my degree in photography and started learning how to use digital tools for photo editing, which was a revelation. I realized that instead of using photography just for documentation, I could also create whatever I could imagine. I did a lot of experimentation with digital photomontage and came up with my own style and conceptual motivations. A few years later I decided to pursue an MFA degree in Digital Arts at Pratt Institute in New York City. After taking everything that I’ve learned, now I’m working on various personal projects and commissions, showing my work in a few galleries, publishing my artist books, and teaching some workshops on photography and digital imaging.
I am very excited to apply for the Creative Residency, as this opportunity will give me the ability to take my work to the next level. Having this time to really focus on a project in collaboration with Adobe would be incredible. I have so many ideas I would like to pursue and this would give me the time and resources to accomplish my goals. I would also love to share my journey with the creative community, and present my work, motivations, and process. For the residency I want my work to provide a source of inspiration and creativity, to show how through project planning and a sense of purpose you can create something ambitious and meaningful.
All of my artwork is created using my own photography, so after researching and sketching out ideas to work with, the next step is to photograph everything I need for the project. For much of my past work I started with images from cities on the east coast like New York, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia which was perfect to collect photos of urban decay like buildings overgrown with vines and industrial ruins. The images of animals came from the wild, zoos, aquariums, taxidermy shops, and museums of natural history. All the characters were photographed in the studio with costumes and lighting to match the scenes. Finally, many of the landscape images actually came from traveling around the US and to a few different countries over the past few years to capture the best source material.
Then to create my images, I use a complex process of digital imaging in Adobe Photoshop and each image is actually made up of about 50 or more photographs meticulously pieced together. So I spend a lot of effort building up an image, figuring out the lighting, shadows, color, and other effects to make it look realistic and seamless. Each image is carefully planned out and created as an intricately layered construction, which gives it such a hyper-real, illustrative quality. The main digital tools that I use in creating my work are Bridge and Lightroom for file organization, Camera Raw for photo editing, and most of all Photoshop for compositing, retouching, and effects. I also use Illustrator for typography and design elements, as well as InDesign to create print and ebook publications of my work.
My artwork is primarily inspired by my experience with nature and environmentalism. It is specifically motivated by my concern for the future due to the effects of climate change and many other environmental impacts humans have had on the planet. From melting polar ice caps, ocean acidification, and sea level rise to historic droughts, stronger wildfires, and more extreme weather events, we are quickly approaching a strange and unpredictable future. This work explores the idea that the world as we know it might not be around forever, and questions the legacy that modern humanity will be handing down to future generations. My goal with these projects is to visually depict this modern conflict between the natural world and the manmade world in interesting and provocative ways, to create elaborate, photorealistic images that show a striking contrast between utopian and dystopian visions of the world. I portray this as an epic struggle and in my work these forces clash in theatrical, post-apocalyptic battlegrounds.
Please view more examples of my work, technique, and creative process through the links below:
WEBSITE – https://nick-pedersen.com
BEHANCE – https://www.behance.net/nickpedersen
PORTFOLIO – https://nickpedersen.myportfolio.com
A series of environmental projects designed to raise awareness, educate, and inspire action.
I am very excited to apply for the Adobe Creative Residency, as this opportunity would give me the ability to focus on research and experimentation to take my work in some interesting new directions. Over the course of the residency I’m planning to experiment with new techniques in photography, digital imaging, and printmaking, and see where this path takes me creatively. Much of my past work has explored the conceptual boundary between photography and illustration, taking advantage of digital imaging tools to create new worlds with my photographs. For this project, my goal is to push this idea farther, and create even more surreal work that challenges photographic perceptions of reality. I am greatly inspired by a Dadaist quote that I use often which says, “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” So in my work I try to incorporate this idea that art can be used as a tool to raise awareness about things like scientific truth and social justice, to inspire action, and to get people to think about the kind of future we are creating. For my residency project I want to take many of these conceptual motivations concerning environmental issues like climate change, and create a new body of work for a gallery installation under the tentative working title, “Writing on the Wall”.
With this project, I’m very interested in exploring the concept of disrupting the picture plane, and creating more collage-style photographic images. I want to expand on many of these ideas I’ve been starting to investigate like using diptychs and groupings to continue an image through multiple frames (like “Sanctuary” and “Migration”), or revealing different layers of imagery within the same piece (like “Slash+Burn”). I’m also most interested in creating an installation using highly stylized and patterned wallpaper imagery (like my piece “Canopy”). For example, I’m very influenced by the bold and colorful work of the art collaborative FAILE, and their incredible integration of collage, sculpture, and installation. For my residency project I want to create an installation in the gallery that incorporates all of these mediums, to create beautifully detailed pieces that subvert and question the world around us. Specifically, I’m envisioning a wallpaper installation with large framed pieces, diptychs, picture groupings, and possibly sculptures filling in the surrounding areas. The concept, “Writing on the Wall”, is that this installation will be about beautiful decay, with my pieces revealing a satirically post-apocalyptic vision of the not too distant future.
The Creative Residency program would be a huge benefit to my creative and professional development as an artist. Hearing insights about my projects by working with a creative mentor, especially an artist well versed in digital collage or photomontage like Erik Johansson or with environmental concepts like Von Wong, would be invaluable. Since all of my work is created with Adobe, I think it would also be great collaboration together where I would be learning new skills, making great connections, speaking about my work, and showcasing some high-end results of what you can create using software like Photoshop. Over the year of the residency my goals are to create a body of work that combines my motivations of art and activism in different ways, to help bring light to the issues I care about. In the future, I’m hoping to do more projects with companies that care about sustainability like Patagonia, as well as with more non-profit environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club. I would also love to create more artwork for exhibitions and publications, and I’m also very interested in improving my presentation skills and sharing my work with more viewers around the world. Mainly, I want to keep experimenting with ways to create unique visuals inspired by environmental issues, and thinking about the future. Adobe has been instrumental in expanding my creativity, bringing my work to life, and helping me create anything I can imagine. I think the Creative Residency would be an incredible experience and would really help me launch the next phase of my artistic career.
This collection of my digital photographs is meant to give a sense of the different types of imagery I capture to create my ideas. Mainly I like to work with natural landscapes, animals and birds, interesting skies, and studio images. As a seasoned photographer I already have a very large database of images to work with, and during the Creative Residency I am excited to capture more photos specifically for my project. With this I’m planning a few road trips to get the best source material by collecting high-resolution imagery in mountains, forests, and deserts and other natural environments, as well as at zoos, animal sanctuaries, and aviaries.
Another major source of material for my work comes from botanic gardens, so I would love to travel to a few different places to photograph a variety of plants and nature collections. More recently, I’ve also been experimenting a lot with interesting studio lighting setups to photograph elements that I can composite into my work. I think it would be really interesting to show the community how I approach photography, with the intention of using my images for compositing and retouching, piecing things together to create something entirely new.
See more of my photography work at: www.nickpedersenphoto.com
RESEARCH + DEVELOPMENT
My main goal in my work is to achieve a high-quality aesthetic of photographic believability, using my camera and digital tools to construct a complex collage of manipulated images. In terms of technique, I am very influenced by contemporary photo-based artists like Simen Johan and Kahn & Selesnick, whose work similarly uses composited imagery to create new worlds through their projects. Aesthetically, in many of my pieces I want to create a background vision of natural beauty and the sublime, so I am also often referencing earlier artists like John James Audubon and Henri Rousseau. Through my work, I like to use this style of picturesque landscape imagery, juxtaposed with subversive elements from modern civilization. With this idea I am very inspired by the Pop Surrealism aesthetic, especially with artists taking on environmental concepts such as Josh Keyes and Walton Ford.
During the Creative Residency I’m planning to keep learning new skills with Adobe software and apply this to the photo-based composite work I will be creating for my project. I’m very interested in progressing to a much more bold, colorful, and graphic style combining my photography and illustration techniques. Mainly, I want to take the super high-resolution imagery I capture in a new direction, to create pieces that carry my main message of sustainability in a more simple and powerful way. Over the year of the residency I’m planning to work on a number of ideas for image series, and experiment with different mediums like wallpaper installation and art zine publication. With my title “Writing on the Wall”, I really want to create an artistic space that will entertain viewers as well as inform them about important environmental issues facing the future.
New Sample Project
For example, I wanted to include a newer project I recently started on about the “Inversion” problem in Salt Lake City, to give a sense of my current ideas that could be incorporated into the residency. These are very rough mockups but I think it shows my concept of a satirically colorful dystopia that visualizes the effects of carbon emissions in Utah. Mainly, I want to use this idea of the mist covering everything as a metaphor, representing the existential dread that humanity is facing with anthropogenic climate change.
Over the course of the residency I’m planning to experiment with many new techniques in photography and digital imaging to see where this path takes me creatively. For the final product I have a few different ideas that I’m very interested in pursuing to find the best presentation of this new project. Since my concept is to create environmentally inspired projects, an important aspect is to figure out how this will be viewed as a finished body of work. Below are four ideas I think would be the most exciting and ambitious applications for this project.
- Gallery Exhibition – My first idea is to create a full body of work that I’ve focused on during the residency, which I would then print using my large-format digital printer and exhibit in a gallery space. This would incorporate unique picture groupings and wallpaper installations. See more examples of my exhibition work here (https://nick-pedersen.com/exhibitions)
- Print Publication – Another idea would be to create a print publication featuring these projects to accompany the exhibition as an artist monograph, catalogue, or zine. See more examples of my book projects here (https://nick-pedersen.com/books).
- Web Experience – Creating a web-based user experience for the project would be another important aspect of getting this project out in the world, to engage and inspire more viewers. With this I would love to learn more techniques with Adobe’s UI/UX software.
- Community – Finally, I’m also very interested in sharing this project and with the larger creative community by showing how and why I create the work that I do. For this I would be most interested in creating workshops, and participating in more Creative Jam events and Adobe Live.
I have a lot of ideas for the final product of my project, “Writing on the Wall”, and in the end it could incorporate any of these different applications. During the residency I’m planning to learn more and experiment to figure out the best medium for my project. The great thing about being based in Utah is that, apart from having access to all the incredible landscapes and nature elements I want to use in my work, having the Adobe so close to me in Lehi would be a great resource.
For the first phase of my timeline I would start by researching and planning out the imagery I would like to create, and then focus on getting the right photographs to work with. The majority of photographic elements in this project will be based on nature and animals, as well as city imagery. With this I’m planning a few road trips to get the best source material in the wild, and at zoos, aviaries, and botanic gardens. At the same time I’m planning to start experimenting with different subject matter, studio lighting, and compositing techniques to see what works best for my concept. So, through the second phase I would be getting all the material I need, and planning designs and layouts for my projects.
Then with the third phase of residency, I would be focusing on finalizing all of my imagery and finishing pieces for each part of the project. I would also like to start testing some large-scale wallpaper prints and figure out how to incorporate this into a gallery space. Throughout this time I would also be very interested in presenting my work through blog articles, workshops, and events like the Creative Jams. For the final phase, mainly I would work on printing and framing all the pieces, creating the final wallpaper installation, and organizing this exhibition to showcase my project. Ideally, I would also like to adapt this work into a print publication as well as an online experience to reach more viewers.
PHASE 1 – Gathering Source Material and Initial Tests
PHASE 2 – Experimentation with Ideas, Subject Matter, and Mediums
PHASE 3 – Preparing Finished Works for Final Presentation
PHASE 4 – Creating Exhibition and Publication for Print/Online
To summarize, for my Creative Residency project I am primarily interested in building on my photography and digital imaging skills, incorporating new techniques to make my work even more dynamic and engaging. This includes experimenting with different subject matter, compositions, and effects to take my work in an entirely new direction. With my project, “Writing on the Wall”, I want to create a series of environmental projects that will raise awareness, educate, and inspire action.
I’m very excited for the opportunity to collaborate on this project because it would also be a fun and enjoyable experience that would have a lot of personal meaning for me. I think my work highlights many interesting digital techniques and innovative ideas, and I would love to share my artistic journey with the creative community. Having this time to focus on my project would be amazing, and in partnership with Adobe, I’m sure we could create something truly great.
Below I have included a few more useful links about my work including my professional experience and contact information.
Thanks very much for your consideration for the Adobe Creative Residency program. I hope you will consider my project, I think it would be something new and interesting that the creative community has not seen before. Please let me know if I can answer any questions, and I’ll look forward to hearing from you.