Scott Stedman is a new member but long time fan of the group, in his short time with us his multi-disciplinary talents have made him a key part of the group.
Lum: Firstly I would like to congratulate you on becoming our latest featured artist, how does it feel to be featured?
Scott: Thank you so much! It’s an immense honor. As a younger artist prior to college a few years back, I looked up to the artists in The Luminarium for inspiration and strived to be in the group myself. Going from that to being a featured artist is a huge accomplishment and I’m very grateful for the opportunity and the recognition.
Lum: What defines art for you? And where do you see it?
Scott: I’m a musician/composer/photographer/digital artist/cinematographer from Southern California with a huge range of interests and hobbies that I’m constantly cycling through. I have a tendency to go absolutely full-force with whatever I’m currently interested in; a year ago it was competitive longboarding, and now I’m currently pouring a substantial portion of my paychecks into mountain-biking (which, incidentally, is the reason my left hand is in a cast at the moment...). I tend to burn out pretty quickly because of this “obsessive drive” approach, so having a rotating belt of creative outlet is pretty much imperative; I write music, do photography, paint digital art (mostly space art), and shoot films with friends as a way to prevent stalling out in any one specific medium. It keeps things fresh and I stay interested, so I suppose that’s a positive.
Lum: You picked up photography really young and got hooked, what is it about the medium that attracted you?
Scott: When I started getting mildly serious about photography, I was shooting a photo every day as a sort of “social experiment” with my friends and posting it daily to my website for everyone to view and comment on; for the first few months of this, the website essentially acted as a catalogue of my life in college, and all the shared experiences I had with good friends. This was fun, but the photographs were mediocre. As time passed, I gradually became much more serious about the medium and started applying myself to improve my work; in that sense, I’ve gone from loving the memories photography gave me to trying to capture the absolute best image possible in any given scene, something that would change the perspective of someone who had already been there in person. I once saw an interview with a famous photographer in which he spoke about the fact that he resented the notion of people saying “You had to be there” to compensate for their lackluster photographs; his opinion was that it didn’t have to be that way, and that you have the ability to capture an image that even rivals the beauty of reality. That really stuck with me and it’s something I always think about when I’m out with a camera.
Lum: When you first joined the Luminarium you joined as a musician. It seems this has been an area you have dedicated a lot of the last few years of your life including college. Have you always been a musician from an early age? What instruments do you play?
Scott: I identify myself artistically, first and foremost, as a musician. I’ve actively played the piano since age 3 (I’m 21 now), and somewhere around high-school I realized unequivocally that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I’m currently pursuing a career in composing at university. Very few things in my life bring me as much pure, contented happiness as writing music does.
Lum: It seems you joined the online art world relatively late, how have you found it? What drew you to The Luminarium to begin with?
Scott: Actually, quite the contrary! I’ve had a deviantArt account by the name of “powerpointer” for over 7 years; I was sort of brought up with the second to third generation of space-artists (TND, Baro, Gucken, Taenaron, JoeJesus, Ladyrapid, etc.), although I was very young and inexperienced when I was working with these immensely talented artists and I never really blossomed into an artist of any respectable caliber until a few years later. Somewhere during that time, an elite and highly selective art group focused on producing nothing but extraordinarily high-quality work called “The Luminarium” blasted onto the scene, and it became a long-time goal for me to get in. About 4 years ago I dropped out of the art scene to work on university, and a few years into that I started to pick it up again to relieve stress, as well as to start working on exposure. That was around the time I decided to try out for The Luminarium, and now here we are.
Lum: What is it that you enjoy about being part of a group like The Luminarium?
Scott: I love the genuine feedback and the absolutely immense quality of work produced. In addition to that, I’ve yet to see any sort of fighting or arguing happen on the forum (very rare on any form of online forum); everyone is so professional and kind, and that goes such a long way towards making my experience on the team so enjoyable and enriching.
Lum: You have been producing a lot of high quality (and diverse) artwork recently both for Lum and personally, any little insights into your processes that you want to share?
Scott: For every idea that I’ve pulled all the way to completion, there are another 10 failed ideas sitting in a dusty folder of manuscript paper. If I don’t believe in an idea, I find it very difficult to keep working on it. As soon as I see potential, I typically find it hard to pull myself away from whatever I’m working on (I wrote the latter half of “Legends”, from the Adventure exhibit, in more or less one 14 hour sitting). Additionally, I typically write my music with a preconceived idea or storyline in mind, dedicating individual movements and sections to important aspects of the story or concept and trying to capture the emotions I feel when thinking about or reading that particular section.
With regards to photography and digital art, I’m not overly fond of the general trend towards desaturated, paleistic versions of fantasy and reality that often accompany the mediums. That is somewhat of a generalization of course, and while I do enjoy many of the works produced in this style, I love color and I like to exaggerate it in my own work (both my space art and photography have been described as having a very “cartoonish” style). I play with gradient maps and split-toning a lot as well as using the far ends of the contrast, curves, and levels functions frequently.
Lum: That classic cliché question, where do you look for inspiration when making art and music?
Scott: While it may seem counterintuitive, for photography I actively avoid looking for inspiration in the photography of other artists; I like the idea of developing my own photographic style independent of outside influence. For space art/digital processing, I look very much to old-school deviantart space art (artists again like SamODJ, Baro, TND, sumopiggy, AP123, AbsoluteHalo, gucken, taenaron, etc.); that “classic style” is hyper-appealing to me and I seek to replicate and build on many aspects of these artists. Simplistic, “pure” space-art (just planets, nebulae, stars, with no massive space stations or other structural elements) is something I think is actually rather difficult to pull off, and it can be a balancing game with regards to color and composition to make it turn out right.
For music, I listen to an unholy amount of Romantic-era material. At this particular point in time (most music coming from roughly 1800-1900), artists were reacting against the cold, scientific rationalization of the natural world and embracing exotic, emotionally powerful aesthetics, and out of this came a huge volume of wiltingly beautiful music with melodies that consistently give me goosebumps. I’d recommend everyone check out the music of Brahms, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Bortkiewicz, Berlioz, Schubert, Rachmaninov, and Schumann for starters if they want to get an idea of it. I also think the mistake most people make when listening to music like this is using it as background music; it’s music for active listening and interpreting, and the complexity of it is what makes it so powerful.
Lum: Do you have a favourite piece of artwork which always blows your mind? And what is the favourite piece you have produced yourself?
Scott: Sergei Rachmaninov’s Symphony no. 2 brought me to tears the first time I heard it. The first movement is pretty much the height of Romanticism. On a more relatable note, I’ve always been very struck by “Infinity’s End” by Chris Cold and VisualFour. Everything about that piece is impressive, but the colors especially are what gets me every time. I was floored by the creative ingenuity when that piece was released.
As for work I’ve produced myself, two years ago I wrote a 52-minute-long, eight-movement programmatic symphony based on the story of Jekyll and Hyde from a sort of “film-music” perspective. It took me nine months to complete and many, many sleepless nights, and I’m immensely proud of the outcome. It’s available to listen/download here.
Lum: Are there any artists or musicians that you particularly look up to, and what is it about them that makes them so special?
Scott: I’ve mentioned it above, but I adore the music of Rachmaninov. The man was tormented and depressed for much of his adult life and it shows in his writing; I try to capture that feeling of endless, aching melody in much of the music I write. In keeping with what I mentioned previously about developing my own photographic style I don’t have a favorite photographer, but many of the Luminarium artists are highly inspirational and influential in my digital artwork, including (but certainly not limited to) VisualFour, Pr3t3nd3r, Kaioshen, and Kuldar, in addition to the other space-artists I mentioned earlier.
Lum: Striving for improvement is something that is a good sign in an artist, a feeling that they can always do better. If you keep this up, where do you think you will be in 10 years time?
Scott: In 10 years I hope to be in a creative industry (music, photography, film, digital art, take your pick) doing something that I love with enough free time to do all the other things I’m not doing professionally. In addition to that I’d like to be cultivating my own family and raising kids!
Lum: Onwards and to the future, and on that note I'm afraid this is the end of the interview, it's been good fun. Any last words for the readers?
Scott: Thank you so much for the opportunity. The Luminarium is an incredible place filled with incredible people and I’m very fortunate to call myself among its numbers. This is my first endeavor into a private art group and so far the experience has been unimaginably positive and enriching. Looking forward to what the future of the group holds in store.