Gary Irving is a multimedia artist with a studio located in Santa Cruz, CA who is known for his highly stylized narrative photo-composites. Irving uses Photoshop to combine subjects from different frames within a background to create a story in the manner of a painter. Starting with the concept, he photographs the subjects in his studio and then places them digitally into a background. Originally developed for a commissioned calendar project for the popular Santa Cruz Derby Girls, Irving has used this style on four other distinct series: Santa Cruz Skateboard Legends, Surf Apocalypse, Zombieland, and Dark Portraits.
Having grown up in a small Welsh town, Swansea, Irving moved to Santa Cruz in 1994 and has since established himself as one of the premiere visual artists working in digital medium in Central California. Originally interested in drawing and painting, Irving incorporated photography into his practice for source material and to document his work. Eventually, his interest in photography outgrew his love of paint and he immersed himself fully in the pursuit of mastering his technique. In order to make the most cohesive final composition, Irving has to light the subjects in such a way that they will fit together within the background without the viewer’s attention being drawn out of the scene to its construction.
Toward this end, he has studied studio lighting, digital photography, and editing techniques to make the most compelling final composition. As an artist, however, Irving is much more interested in the creative process and in working with people than with technology or technical details. Working with friends and models, he invites people to inhabit creative roles and the work is charged with collaborative energy. Indeed the darkness of the themes (horrors of zombie carnage, a coastal dystopia, alien abduction, etc.) helps to create the suspension of disbelief that invites both the participants and the viewer to have fun imagining the scene.
Having fully integrated painting, photography, and storytelling in his work, Irving is now moving toward sculpture by building highly elaborate frames for a series he has been developing. Each frame is hand constructed and is full of symbolic details so that the frames themselves will be in dialogue with the digital compositions. With this combination of media, Irving is attempting his most fully pre-visualized series to date. Combining the digital and the analog through photography, sculpture, and narrative, Gary Irving is making compelling and striking contemporary multimedia art.