MAG Artists,

This page was created to promote the artists part of the MAG MobileArtGroup community.

The first interview is about Helen Breznik

Helen is an extraordinary artist who has won numerous international awards and she can be considered an inspiration for many mobile artists.

Helen Breznik is a photographer, illustrator and graphic artist based in Toronto, Canada. She was born in Austria and moved to Canada at age nine, where she graduated from the Ontario College of Art. Breznik became passionate about photography in 2000 and since 2010 works exclusively with her iPhone with a strong focus on self-portraiture.

Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally at venues including ArtHaus in San Francisco, the Soho Gallery for Digital Art in New York, Museo di Milano in Italy and the Museum of Huelva in Spain. She has been featured in Lens Culture and on the cover of Shooter Magazine, has received numerous accolades from the Mobile Photography Awards and was the grand prize winner of the Mira Mobile Prize in 2017.

Current Projects:

She is always eager to explore new techniques in the mobile photography genre. Most recently her focus has been on the exploration of 3D and augmented reality… and she now incorporating face filters into her creations. It’s as if she is “stepped through the looking glass” as she embrace this new immersive world. She is also launched her first custom face filter incorporating art developed inside a 3D app and additional filters are in the works.

  • Interview:
  • I’d like to know if it’s the first time or if you’ve already succeeded in creating filters for social media.

    This is my first venture into creating my own filter and it has been approved for use on Facebook. The Instagram platform is currently only accesible to developers who are part of the closed beta group. Once testing is complete it will be open to the general public and everyone will be able to post their own custom filters.

    How did you get the idea of creating a filter for Facebook and Instagram?

    At the beginning of this year I started seeing some very interesting new facefilters on Instagram. There were masks that made your skin flawless like glass. Flowers that would burst open on your forehead. Diamonds and pearls that floated about your face. I quickly learned that in order to access these hidden filters you simply had to follow the corresponding creators. Their filters then automatically showed up in the Instagram camera. You could also click the “3 Stars” next to the filter name if it is visible at the top of a story.
    Creators can be discovered by searching hashtags such as #instafilter or #igfilter. You can also see a lot of these filters in action on my Instagram page in my Stories and Highlights. I eventually became interested in creating my own filter. I thought this would be too difficult as I had no background in 3D but decided to download the free filter-creation software “Spark AR Studio” from Facebook. Through the use of tutorials I was able to successfully create my first filter within weeks. Once uploaded to Facebook it was approved within a few days and ready for use on-line.

    How did the idea of this filter in particular (the eyes decorated with gold-colored designs) come about?

    Did you use apps on your iPhone?

    I had been working with an app called Putty 3D for some time, moulding three dimensional shapes as if they were clay and then adding a metal look to finish them off. Further experimentation led me to a technique of creating wireframe-like faces which eventually evolved into eyes for my filter. To tie in the rest of the face I added a shroud of small gold balls and my first facefilter ”Sun Eyes” was complete.

    What do you think about the use of mobile devices?

    I discovered mobile photography in 2010. For me it was an easy transition from shooting with Polaroid, as I found apps that readily simulated that experience, but I now no longer had to worry about the cost of film. I quickly moved on to other apps and was consumed with learning every new one as it arrived on the scene. It really stretched my concept of photo making as it allowed me to transform my images into something completely new. I never liked big cameras weighing me down and it now feels good to always have my camera on me and ready to go. I am constantly taken aback by what these devices can do. I think most people underestimate their capabilities.

    I would also like to know what do you think about Mobile Art. Do you think there has been an evolution since 2010 in the Mobile Art world?

    It is constantly evolving. There will always be a stream of new tools to work with. It felt like a joyous avalanch of discovery when these apps first came out. I remember spending endless hours trying out all the latest releases. It was such a new and invigorating landscape. This journey has now taken me in yet another direction… exploring 3D and augmented reality. Recently I discoverd the 3DBrush app which allows you to draw “IRL”“in real life”. Painting brush strokes right into the environment and then being able to walk around it as if it was real. There are even brushes that are transparent and allow you to pass right through them. It’s really quite incredible… makes me wonder what is next!

    Finally, a question about your creative process. What drives you to create something?

    I have a need for exploration. I am always on the lookout for new ways of visually expressing myself. Apps are my rubik’s cube… I like to figure them out and find ways to use them that maybe even the developper never thought of. That’s why I love using mobile devices, because there is always something new to try.

    What is your source of inspiration?

    I always keep a box of props nearby. A few flowers, some colourful scarves, maybe a hat. When the mood strikes I just grab a few items and see where it takes me. Quite often things grow organically rather than me planning things out too much. I just need a starting point and as I go I will suddenly “see” something and then I just need to figure out what it “needs” to make it work. A while ago I decided to take part in Instagram’s Weekend Hashtag Project with had the theme “inspired by”. I looked at my box of props and saw a bouquet of red roses… Frida Kahlo popped into my head. I thought about putting together a costume and makeup but I decided to use a video effect in D’efekt which simplifies the image into pixel-like triangles. After several tries I eventually I found a pose and a hand gesture that conveyed her in the act of painting. When I did my final take I had a feeling that things had come together in a special way. The video was featured on Instagram’s social media accounts the following week!

    Thank you so much, Helen! Congratulations and good luck!

    Giulia Baita