By Alexandra Schaefers
Nevan Doyle is a local artist who creates surreal landscapes through altered photographs. In a world saturated with images where everyone has the technology to make electronic media, it is refreshing to encounter fine art pieces that transcend the immediate and trendy to communicate with depth, subtlety, and craft. Doyle does just that making moody, introspective pieces with exquisite composition and detailed drawings collaged seamlessly into photographs of the ordinary landscape around us. His 3-D drawings of metal spheres and glass shapes suggest the future while his grainy atmospheric textures suggest a bittersweet past. The juxtaposition invites the viewer to enter the question of the present and wander their own internal landscape to make sense of the picture.
When Doyle began photo manipulations he was, in his own words, a mediocre photographer. He discovered the art of Thomas Rainey Davis on Instagram, along with a large community of others creating photographic manipulations, and was inspired to make his own. As he got into editing he realized he could use the art form to make album covers for his band, Bury the Moon. Two and a half years later the endeavor is much more than a side project. “It was sort of like magic,” Doyle says about his motivations to continue making manipulations. “[It gave me] the ability to make something that’s impossible yet looks so real.”
Doyle learned his craft through a few technical tutorials online, his own experimentation, and his interactions with the online community. He explains there are tiers of development in the editing community, so as he improved he got to interact with more knowledgeable artists which spurred his growth. He also likes to work on collaborative pieces which, in his eyes, is “one of the coolest things about social media” as it is so easy to pass pieces back and forth. Other influences on his aesthetics are Salvador Dali’s surrealist paintings and Storm Thorgerson’s album covers. Of his own success Doyle says, “It’s crazy reaching a point where I’ve had other people tell me my work has inspired them, because it used to be so opposite. I was always telling [other] people that.”
Doyle sets aside an hour or two each day to work on his art. He always listens to music when he edits, letting go of everything but the photos and the music to get into a Zen-like state. He opens up about five images to work with at a time. Occasionally he has an idea he wants to express; more often he lets the piece come together on its own. “I find some metaphor halfway through that I just really want to complete,” he says of this process. One example is the pieces he’s done where a person’s face is being pulled into an unrecognizable blur. Doyle sees this as a metaphor for the way memories of a person fade when they leave our lives. The pieces he makes for himself take about an hour or two. When he does commissions it can take five to 10 hours. Doyle enjoys commissions. “It’s nice to use someone else’s vision and make it become a reality rather than always drawing inspiration from whatever is inside of me,” he says. “It can be a nice little change.” In addition to commissioned album covers, he has also done some traditional senior portraits which he intends to pursue more.
Recently Doyle went on a trip to the Dominican Republic where he took 800 photos. He plans to start a new body of work with these photos that comments on poverty or the wealth gap, ” something more societally aimed,” he says. “I’ve always been very interested in how society works and global awareness, but I haven’t really acted on that with my art.” Given that Doyle is 18, he has plenty of time to act with his art. Currently his images come largely from the mountains and forests of the Pacific Northwest which he attributes to all the hiking and camping he did with his family as a kid. He grew up in Philomath and recently moved to downtown Corvallis to attend OSU, where he will be studying graphic design in the fall.