As a producer/director, editor and photographer, Reservoir Dan has worked with the kinds of musicians many of us dream of meeting. Acts like: Levon Helm, Sonic Youth, Bill Frisell, Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Mickey Hart, Feist, Brad Mehldau, My Morning Jacket, and the list goes on. But Dan is not only about helping another’s vision become reality; he’s also an innovative artist in his own right.

Below is a sampling of his newest art project: “Appstractions“. These images are the realization of a simple yet ingenious vision to create 50 vibrant digital canvasses of abstract art, using an iphone. Scroll down the page further to read our exclusive interview with the artist.

Q & A

Where did the idea for this project originate?

The Appstract project began as a way for me to re-invigorate my work and break free from the constraints of pictorial photography. I enjoy shooting landscapes but winter in Ontario kind of had me down – I found myself stuck in a repetitive creative cycle and decided to let the images I see in my dreamscape emerge directly without filtering them through the metaphor of reality. The freedom and immediacy of working with shapes and colors became addictive. As time went by I began to find more meaning in abstractions and less meaning in literal imagery. So I continued to pursue the project.

I know a magician doesn’t like to divulge his secrets, but do you mind explaining your process?

All of these pieces begin with an iphone photograph. There is no computer editing at all, everything is done from beginning to end on the phone. I have a toolbag of 8 or 9 apps that I use to manipulate and create each image. There isn’t one method but rather a series of methods that have evolved throughout the course of the project, methods that intersect and build upon one another. There are multiple adjustments and runs through each app – some pieces have taken many, many hours until they look right to me. There certainly isn’t a button I can press to make these images. For the most part they each begin with various distortion effects and then it’s a matter of working with the colors and placing the shapes, adding exposures, and developing a depth perception until it looks right to me. My main apps are Filterstorm, IrisPhotoSuite, Photo Wizard, FX Photo Studio, Tiffen PhotoFX, Cameramatic, PictureShow, BlurFX, Percolator, Diptic and lately I’ve been messing around with 3D Photo. In one way or another each image goes through most of these apps more than once before I’m done.

Where do you envision taking this work in the future? Has it lead to any new ideas?

This process has been liberating for me as an artist. I’m compelled to create stuff whether it’s a documentary TV series about musicians or a landscape shot of the Niagara Escarpment. If I don’t create I stagnate. The appstract series has given me, for the first time, the opportunity to dig deep into my sub-conscious and share what I see when my eyes are closed. My work is usually more linear than this stuff. I’m not sure how this project will impact my future art – I don’t really think of it that way, it’s more about creating for the sake of keeping myself sane and occupied so I don’t get into trouble. It’s been a blessing to be part of the iphoneography community and to share my work with a receptive audience.