I am truly delighted to publish this eloquent interview with our APPart Editor, Bobbi McMurry by talented mobile artist Diana Nicholette Jeon. Jeon walks McMurry through our serious and diverse interview questions and does more than lift the lid and spill the beans; she enables McMurry to stand outside of herself and revel in her sensational mobile art. Once read, it leaves us feeeling consoled, affirmed and grateful; this is truth-telling, Jeon outstretches her hand and we take it.
Many thanks to you both Bobbi and Diana for this interview. (Foreword by Joanne Carter).
“Over the course of the past year, I have had the pleasure of becoming friends with Bobbi McMurry. A similarity in approach and subject matter in our work initiated it, but an amiable camaraderie cemented it. I remain awed by her insightful commentary on the work in the showcases she curates, and her choices of artists to interview. And her work. Her work! It’s so strong and compelling, and distinctly of her. All this got me thinking about how she spends so much time giving attention to other people, and that it was, perhaps, time for the spotlight to shine on Bobbi herself. So I contacted Joanne Carter and asked if I might interview Bobbi, if both were amenable. They were.
Thank you Joanne, for the opportunity to let us know more about Bobbi. And thank you, Bobbi, for sharing so unflinchingly about your life and work. I hope everyone else enjoys this as much as I did”.
Would you tell us more about your art background and transition (if appropriate) to working with mobile hardware, i.e. iPhone, iPad, tablets.
Art has always been a part of me. I LOVED to color, draw and make things. Indigo was my favorite color of crayon; I used to think if I someday had a daughter, I would name her Indigo.
We moved all the time because my father was in the Air Force. This meant I constantly had to make new friends; now, I barely remember any of my playmates names. That said, I’d never forget Monica, even though we weren’t friends for long before I moved yet again. I went to her home after school one afternoon where I saw a mural of Venice that her father painted. I thought the fact her dad was an artist was the coolest thing ever! It was then that I realized that art could be more than something to do when I was bored. It’s funny how these childhood moments become etched in your mind.
At Northern Arizona University, I fell absolutely in love with printmaking, especially lithography the grinding of the stones, the smell of gum arabic, and the slightly tactile quality of the prints, the gorgeous papers. When the printmaking instructor took sabbatical, I transferred to ASU where I completed my BFA. After graduation, I worked as an Art Director/Graphic Designer, mostly for magazines and catalogs. For almost two decades, I worked very long hours, hence did little with my own art other than an occasional painting or drawing. Once I had a little more time in my life, my own art happily resurfaced as a priority, and even more truthfully, an obsession.
Moving to mobile was a very happy accident. I had just gotten an iPhone when my oldest son insisted I would love Instagram, because I constantly snapped pics when we went on vacation. At that time, I thought the Instagram “post it, get likes” concept seemed ridiculous, but since I wanted to see what my kids were posting, I signed up.
One morning, an image appeared in my feed that had clearly been two photos merged. I stared at that image for I don’t know how long thinking about the possibilities I hadn’t previously considered. Afterward, I researched how it was done, and discovered the marvellous, very extensive world of apps. As silly as it sounds, that was a complete game-changer and the beginning of an insatiable hunger that continues to grow.
“All I Ever Wanted Was One Thing” ©Bobbi McMurry
How are you inspired, motivated and nourished in your work?
I’m inspired each time I look at something in a different way. For example, I remember driving someplace with my family as a kid. It was raining and at some point I stopped looking “through the rain” at the scenery we were passing and instead focused on the water dancing and creating patterns on the window. I still do this and enjoy it. I’m inspired by shadows that create unexpected shapes, or the way light falls on things in a way I’m not used to. I’m inspired by ethereal music and the moods I experience, the list goes on and on and on.
Mostly I’m inspired, motivated and nourished by the process of creating; I love the flow that naturally occurs from one decision to the next. My work may be abstract, but it’s not without constant exploration and continual decision-making. I’ve created very few pieces that didn’t involve some internal battle of how to make them “work”. It usually requires me to step back for more than a little while so that I can approach it with fresh eyes, that’s when the solution becomes apparent. I’m nourished by the satisfaction of having something that is all mine. I feel very fortunate to know this part of myself and to have the support of those around me to allow me to devote so much of myself to art.
Have you made any sacrifices in life in order to pursue art?
I never wanted to be a proverbial “starving artist”, and having a family was extremely important to me, as well. Because of this, my sacrifices were to put my personal artistic aspirations on hold until I could do it the way I wanted. I’m glad I did; no matter what success I may achieve in art, I’ll never create anything as miraculous and perfect as my children.
Right now, I feel I’m one of the lucky onesI have an amazing family and I also have the means to pursue art without the fear of not making rent. That said, I worked like a dog to get here, to this place that allows that.
“How Will Our Gardens Grow?” – ©Bobbi McMurry
Please describe your style of art and your portrayals.
I love to create dreamlike images that usually (but not always) feature people. Not necessarily portraits or self-portraits, though they often begin with images of myself or people that I know. I work in layers, which allows me to create a depth in my work that is not attainable in any other way. It’s sort of like the depth that we as people attain through our life experiences, each one building on the one before, making us more interesting and desirable.
Each layer doesn’t contain an image in its entirety, but bits and pieces of often completely unrelated people, poses, objects, or places. I love to juxtapose everything: imagery, colors, subjects, and textures. It’s paramount to me that I use my own photos in my composites so that my work feels authentic. It’s not uncommon for me to incorporate pieces of previous works too! I feel that intensifies the depth someone sees in an image.
You do a lot of self-portraiture work. What is it about self-portraits that appeal to you as an artist?
While my face appears in much of the images I create, they are seldom what would be considered self-portraiture in the pure sense of the term. I’m also pretty impatient; when I start working I want to get down to business, and I’m the only model who is always available and priced right! So while I am not intentionally telling a story about myself, the fact that I’m building images with my personal photos always reveals a bit of myself without my trying.
How often do you create images?
I always have at least one image in the works, usually many, many more. Since mobile technology allows me to have everything I need with me all the time, I have increased the amount of art I’m able to create ten-fold.
“Seeing The Forest Through The Trees” – ©Bobbi McMurry
Do you feel under pressure to produce more and more or do you not subscribe to this?
Deadlines were very much a part of my world as an Art Director; it’s not something I choose to incorporate into the work I create for myself. If things begin to feel stressful, I know that I’m in a place mentally that I shouldn’t be. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does I force myself to step back and reassess.
Do you adapt a similar routine or workflow when creating your images, or do you change and vary your process depending upon the piece?
The one commonality I see, even across the mediums I’ve used, is layers. I used to do very precise Prisma Color pencil drawings that were laboriously created with layer after layer of soft color. Repeated layering of gentle glazes created my paintings, and my collages consisted of layers of torn or cut paper that were then drawn and painted. More than any other specialization though, printmaking is all about building through layers. I love the way my art comes to life through layering, revealing itself slowly, coming to the surface and saying hello.
When I begin a piece, I don’t usually have a distinct goal in mind. Instead, I might have a theme or feeling I am working towards. This allows the work to take on a life of it’s own.
“Sequence Of Being” – ©Bobbi McMurry
Do photographic images feature in your work? If so, what form do they take?
Photos or segments of photos appear in most all of my work, though the final image rarely resembles the photo it started with. I’m not a photographer per se, though I’ve had a camera in my hands for much of my life. I have a great eye and with a good camera, can generally get what I’m looking for without knowing the technical aspects of the camera. For me, the magic lies in what comes after the photo.
Do you have a particular methodology in your work?
Generally, I begin with several photos that I layer together in Art Studio, Image Blender, Leonardo, or Diana. Not usually the entire image, but pieces of them. Once the image begins to emerge, then I paint, draw and manipulate that image, usually using Art Studio. After that, I go in and out of many different apps, adding more imagery over and over till it’s completed.
When I put something into a layer and the unexpected happens, it’s fabulous! I explore, experiment and make choices that in turn present me with yet another unanticipated result, and so it goes. I get bored easily so, incorporating constant surprises into my work makes it really enjoyable for me. That said, I want to stress that the surprises aren’t random changes of direction, just delightful nuances not possible by overthinking things.
Lately some apps have become so comprehensive, thereby allowing me to build more of my image without as much app-hopping. It’s wonderful to stay focused on what I’m doing and not have to change my thinking to that of another app. It isn’t that big of a deal, but I definitely prefer to have a one-stop shop (so to speak).
“She Wanted To Emerge” – ©Bobbi McMurry
Do you allow a specific time frame to complete an image?
No. When a piece is done, it will let me know. Sometimes it takes hours, sometimes it takes months sadly, it never takes only minutes.
Do you feel under pressure to produce more and more or do you not subscribe to this?
Deadlines were very much a part of my world as an Art Director; theyʻre not something I choose to incorporate into the work I create for myself. If things begin to feel stressful, I know that I’m in a place mentally that I shouldn’t be. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does I force myself to step back and reassess.
“Still Standing” – ©Bobbi McMurry
Do you need to work in a certain creative environment?
NOT AT ALL! I will and do work whenever I can, wherever I can! I will say, though, that I’m not fond of someone looking over my shoulder while I work. I find that distracting.
Do you use any additional hardware to help you create your art, such as a stylus?
I used to work with an Adonis Jot Touch, but it no longer syncs with my favorite app, Art Studio. I would really love to be able to work with this stylus again, but for now that’s not possible. I’ve ordered the new Apple Pencil and am excited to explore its capabilities.
“Where She’s At” – ©Bobbi McMurry
Can you also tell us about any other hardware you use including, software, accessories including batteries, chargers, lenses, storage. Do you have a favorite tool?
I have lots of other tools: Olloclip lenses, a Mobi iStick, a Max Stone remote control, the iStabilizer tripod, an iFrogz charger. Truthfully though, other than the external battery, I don’t use them very often. Although I love them all, each requires more planning than my day-to-day workflow and practice utilize and I more enjoy the spontaneity that not planning allows.
“That Was Then” – ©Bobbi McMurry
How has mobile technology and connectedness changed the way you see? This can be both literally how you see, and how you see yourself and your work. Creative people were more isolated, in the past, and had to deal with less intuitive tools, digitally and in natural media.
Having the Internet and mobile technology turned my world upside-down. Combining the ability to create art whenever and wherever with the ability to share ideas, techniques, frustrations and critiques allows me to grow at exponential speed as an artist. The access to all the pieces of the creative puzzle is hard to come by after college, and I can’t imagine working any other way now.
Where do you share your images within social media channels?
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest and, although not ‘social media’, per se, Saatchi Art Online Gallery. I’m not great about keeping any of them current; I sort of go in and out of making that a priority. Lately, I’ve been posting the work that’s in progress more than the final images.
“Turning Point” – ©Bobbi McMurry
How do you manage social media, sharing, learning, competitions, etc., vs creating art?
Balancing everything can be a real challenge at times. As the AppArt editor I feel a duty to constantly interact with everyone, and I enjoy that I really do. But once in a while I have to force myself to step back and limit how much time I spend on any of the SM platforms otherwise there isn’t time to create which is why I’m here in the first place
How has TheAppWhisperer.com helped you with your art?
I’ll never be able to adequately thank Joanne Carter for the community she has not only created, but has allowed me to be an integral part of. She has given of herself without payment or reciprocity for years and I think we all benefit from our engaging in one or more of the TAW groups. I’m proud to be the editor for the AppArt group. I genuinely consider you all as my friends, and I learn from you each and every day. The discussions we have, and the exposure to your experimentation and your artwork has helped me to grow as an artist. I hope you all feel this way too!
I’d like to also thank you, Diana, for thinking to interview the interviewer! This experience had definitely made me appreciate all the thinking that goes into answering these questions!
“What’s My Metaphore?” – ©Bobbi McMurry