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The Photoshop Blog offers the latest Photoshop news and software updates, Photoshop tips and tutorials, and random thoughts from graphic artist and Photoshop expert Jennifer Apple.
JULY 12 2005
• Five Questions With Deke McClelland
Last week, courtesy of Total Training, I had a chance to ask Deke McClelland five questions about his involvement with Photoshop. And here's what transpired...
How did you get involved with desktop graphics and more specifically, how did you get started with writing books and hosting videos about Adobe Photoshop?
After failed careers bussing tables at Mr. Steak, unpacking dresses at Marshalls, and loading trucks for UPS, I had to do something. I always wanted to go into computer graphics. Problem was, I hated computers.
Then in 1984, my mom borrowed a Mac and an ImageWriter from the school where she taught, and I had a change of heart (or was it h'art?). A week later, I integrated my Macintosh scribblings into a week of comic strips that I wrote for the local newspaper and sold for $12.50. (An example is below. Hey, gimme a break, I was 21.) Bert Monroy and Jack Davis and I like to argue about who sold the first piece of Macintosh artwork, but I know one thing: I got paid the least.
After that, it was blind luck. Based on the comic strip, I got a job at the newspaper. Then I put together a portfolio, moved to a service bureau, got talked into creating a book for walk-up customers (for which we charged $2.50 a copy), and big leap here sold it to a major educational publisher for $10K. At 24, I was mistaken for an expert. Deathly afraid of returning to Mr. Steak, I exploited the book racket for everything I was worth. Turned out to be a lot of fun, so I stuck with it.
The videos were different. In the late '90's, I was a bit of a commodity. A handful of video companies approached me, and my default answer was no. Then a fellow named John Bell approached me in an unusual way in person. John had this little two-man outfit, Total Training, with a better idea focus on quality. I liked it. By then, I had been involved in enough crank-it-out "product." So I told my publishers I was going on an extended vacation and flew out to the home of the other partner, Brian Maffitt. To say Brian and I hit it off immediately is to truncate the meaning of the word. More accurately, we hit it off "imm." Within a few weeks, we had assembled a series of hands-on exercises that were expansive enough to fill 20 VHS tapes. Now we're recording directly to disk, organizing the content better, establishing our own resolution standards, and building custom interfaces on DVD-ROM. It just keeps getting better.
How do you feel Adobe Photoshop users have changed, and Photoshop usage has changed, over the last 10 years?
Back in 1995, young guys used Photoshop; now, they're all a bunch of old farts. Oh wait, that's me. Okay, let me rethink this...
My sense is that the market has shifted from graphics and design professionals to photographers. I remember speaking to a small group of Miami-based photographers back in 1994. They expressed shock that I used Photoshop to assemble graphics; I expressed shock that they were all photographers. (Fortunately, shock produces electricity, and computers run on electricity, so they saved money on their energy bill that month.) Now I when walk into a crowded room of photographers and say "I am a graphic artist," they say "We forgive you, get on with your lesson." I have become a minority, and I love it.
What is the best way to get into 'production' mode and let the creative juices flow?
I use handcuffs. Not for getting work done or anything, I just use handcuffs.
People hate this, but I relate the flow of inspiration through the eyes, mind, and hands to flow of food through your intestinal tract. We all know good diet and regular behavior keep the downstairs plumbing happy. What's amazing it that good diet and regular behavior keep the productivity flowing upstairs as well. Toss in the handcuffs and you make a commitment: When your only option is to write, you tend to do it.
What are the top 3 features in Adobe Photoshop CS2 that you're really excited about?
Smart Sharpen, Vanishing Point, and Smart Objects. I also like The Bridge and the new, auto-aligning multi-selection layers. And that spot healing brush tool wow! Does that suck or what?
So when you aren't pushing pixels, what do you enjoy doing?
I spent three years as a DJ at the University radio station. Old habits die hard, and thanks to iTunes, Napster, and others, I've been able to keep up with my obsessive need for popular and alternative music. I download like you wouldn't believe Beck, System of a Down, The Mars Volta, Iron & Wine, Blue Merle, Morcheeba, The White Stripes. Whatever, it's all good. But while the tunes are great, sometimes I just have to get the heck out of town. I travel a lot, enough that I think I'm a nomad. In a matter of weeks, I was in Helsinki, London, and Melbourne. I love knowing that I'm on the opposite end of our little globie, experiencing a completely different dynamic from one moment to the next. It keeps me on my game, boy.
So to sum up, my hobbies are obsession, confusion, and clarity. I store them in albums and hold them tight to my chest. I love the chaos for the opportunities it creates. Hell, I am the chaos.
For more info about Deke's training DVDs and books visit www.deke.com.
View free clips from Total Training's Adobe Photoshop CS2 with Deke McClelland.
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Adjusting Exposure in Adobe Camera Raw CS3
Photoshop CS3 Tutorial High Dynamic Range
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