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Why You Should Always Reach Out to People

Sometime I find myself floating randomly about the great vastness of the interwebs, creeping in all the artsy inspirational corners with no end in sight. Nobody really knows how one of these aimless info-gathering binges begins; they just happen (usually when I need to be getting something done). A few months ago, during one of these time-sucking-internet-benders, I stumbled across a digital artist/finisher/retoucher named Mykie Rogers (Mykier) who left me thinking, "Whoa dang, this guy is awesome." I was just going to breeze by and continue on my digital journey to see what rabbit hole I'd click down next, but then I thought, "You know what, self? This guy seems like a pretty righteous dude. Why not just leave a nice comment saying how I think he's fantastic?" 

His work is so clean, so sharp, and perfectly detailed (see below). Mykie specializes in "creating high quality art for entertainment and lifestyle clients." As in, he does work for super legit companies like Sony, Bravo Network, FX, HBO, A&E, ABC Family, ESPN, Sundance, Oxygen, 21st Century Fox, AMC, Food Network, Disney, E Entertainment, Syfy, NFL Network, Hallmark, The USA Network, and so on ... Now, to some he might seem like an unreachable artist because of his impressive portfolio, but no matter how top notch his editing is, or how well-known his clients are (can you say Modern Family anyone?), he is still just a guy. So I did decide to reach out, if only just to say, "hey I think you're awesome." I get those kinds of messages periodically and they always brighten my day. Why not simply spread some brightness to a stranger even if nothing comes of it?

So I plopped a quick comment to him saying something to the effect of, "I just discovered your work and I must say I'm super impressed!!! Your attention to detail is flawless. I'd love to pick your brain sometime. If you weren't on the other side of the country I'd gladly buy you a beer and chat." Well this backfired in the best possible way. Turns out I was right, and he is just an awesome dude (who happens to have a legit retouching business). He responded with a, "Thank you sir! Let's collaborate!" So, yeah ... we did!

If you didn't figure it out yet, we made this crazy picture of an elk together (you may have noticed it all over this blog post). It was so much fun putting this piece together with Mykie. At first I wasn't sure how exactly to go about collaborating with another retoucher. So far, all of my collaborations consisted of taking pictures of other artists or having hair/make up/costume people to work off of. How do you make an image with someone who does the same part of the process as you? We talked back and forth for a bit and decided we would come up with an idea together, then both shoot parts of it, and do sort of a tag team editing job.

We landed on the theme of "larger than life animals." Eventually that led us to the idea to create a slightly Dali-esque, too-tall, long-legged, larger-than-it-should-be elk, and naturally because we are both Photoshop wizards it obviously had to have magically glowing eyes and antlers. (Duh.) We found a stock image of an elk and Mykie got to work cutting it out, extending the legs, altering the body, and painting in some fur details around the edges. Meanwhile on the other side of the country I took the image of myself and masked that off its background. Then he placed the two images together, sent them back to me and set off to take a fantastical background image while I got crackin' on the glowing effects of the antlers, the eye light beams, and some shadows/highlights painting to alter the light.

From there on out we just kept sending the image back and forth, adding more and more details each time. It was so much fun to see our work of art evolve (and the amount of layers grow and grow and grow ... haha). It was like having an interactive-internet-art-pen-pal. I was always so excited when I would get an email from Mykie and could pop it open to see what new details had sprung up in our little masterpiece! 

So, what's the moral of this story? No one is unreachable. No matter how successful someone appears to be. No matter how "out of your league" someone might seem. We are all just people. If you find yourself drooling over someone's work and you'd like to work with them or even just feel the need to drop them a compliment - DO IT! The worst that can come from it is they read it, it makes their day a tiny bit better, and you never hear from them. Or you end up creating a crazy glowing giant elk ... thing.

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