The Startling & Beautiful Artwork of James Baxter
Recently, I came across the work of James Baxter, and was immediately impressed by how striking, evocative and interesting his work is. There’s something provocative and arresting in his combination of photography and digital artwork; it draws the viewer in and provides a glimpse of a world beyond the ordinary, where images, color and movement can become transcendent, startling and new.
I interviewed James about his work, and you can see his answers, together with a selection of his artwork, below:
James, what made you decide to use social media as a way to share your artwork?
I’ve always been a fan of social media, especially Google Plus. What I like the most is that it is easy to build a large base of followers to whom I can expose my art - and the scope is international so I have people from many, many countries who can see and comment. I was able to build a following quickly by participating in the right places.
How has digital art changed your approach to social media or vice versa?
My primary focus with digital art has been improving my knowledge, how I produce it and sharing it with as many people as I can; in fact, that’s more important to me than how many copies of my artwork that I sell.
Because we live in a rapidly changing, technological society, the knowledge of how to do things is increasing concentrated in fewer and fewer people. Because of this fragility, my main aim is create artwork that can last. The most realistic way to do this is to upload and share it to as wide an audience as possible.
The survival of my work is very important to me, and that’s where I am focusing my efforts.
Has that changed how you approach copyright and the images that you post and share online?
I know so many artists who are so worried about the possibility of copyright infringement that they have a hard time ever uploading any of their work.
I really don't care about that as my main focus is longevity of the art that I have created. Someone told me the other day that Google now had the right to use anything anyone places on their blog.
I started laughing and replied, "Maybe I should send Google an email saying 'Here's my art, Please steal it and use it anyway you like!" Boy, that would really help my imagery to survive!
Do you use any other social media networks for your artwork, and what has your experience been?
Oh yes, I use Livejournal, MySpace, Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
My exposure through those networks and blogs has been very limited; it’s difficult to gain followers beyond a certain point. I have around 250 followers on Facebook, and just a handful on all the others, while on Google+ I have several thousand. Google+ has granted me the greatest amount of exposure for the least amount of time and effort.
Have the various ways of sharing media and art changed the way that you approach or think about your work?
I separate my art into two areas; one is the creation of my art and the other is the business of what I am going to do with it once I create it - I never intertwine the two aspects.
When I am in the zone of creation, I do not want anything to inhibit the direction my art may travel in. I learned years ago, that the best way for that to be possible was to split my creativity into these two components.
One danger that I have experienced as an artist is that the desire to create sales can heavily influence what one is willing to create; that is, "Is this going to be saleable or not."
An example of this is that I once created a line of painted bones sculptures that I called "Rimdwellers". These little vertebrae sculptures were one of my best selling lines of art. They brought in around $500 to $1000 per piece and I sold everyone that I made. After producing around 300 of them, I began to feel like a factory production worker rather than an artist so I abandoned the work and changed my course of creativity.
This willingness to move and change my creative drive is the very thing that eventually evolved me toward the creation of art on the computer.
As an artist, I always want to be in the place where the universe can tap into my head and I am ready and willing to respond to that influence, even if that change may mean the loss of sales. I am all about remaining totally sensitive to the forces of creativity and what excites me the most is the possibility of what our technological society will bring in the form of new creative formats.
Where can people find more of your artwork?
What has been the best experience of using social media to share artwork for you?
Since I have not been actively trying to sell my art, what has really surprised me is that I have had several articles written on my work that have come totally out of the blue as a result of me simply posting my artwork online.
I was also contacted recently about the possibility of having a one-man show at a gallery in Kirov, Russia! I didn’t seek out any of this, it simply came my way because I was willing to share and put my art out there for anyone to see.
Is there anything about using social media that you’d wished you’d known when you started?
I wish I had learned to utilize social media earlier in my cyber art career.
To this day, I am still learning various ways to increase the reach and visibility of my art by creating additional pages and continuing to join Circles of Interest and Artist Communities.
Thanks for your time.
If you’d like to see more of James’ work, please do follow him on Google Plus and check out more of his artwork at the links below.
James' biography and more on his artwork
All photos & images courtesy of James Baxter, used with permission.
What do you think of James' artwork and his use of social media? Let us know in the comments.