A Talk with Dan’s Papers Cover Artist Lawrence Roberts

"Lazy Sunday," Dan's Papers cover art (detail) by Lawrence Roberts from June 3, 2016
"Lazy Sunday," Dan's Papers cover art (detail) by Lawrence Roberts

Clean lines and cool colors. A distant sailboat on a calm sea. This week’s cover, “Lazy Sunday” by digital artist Lawrence Roberts, is a distillation of a perfect day at the beach. The flap of an umbrella in the upper left corner. A paper lying on a bent knee. Each element is rendered down to the smoothest plane and simplest edge. Roberts explains how he transforms a photograph into a minimalist creation.

Dan's Papers cover artist Lawrence Roberts
Lawrence Roberts

How do you conceive of space and distance in your art?
At a practical level, I find that distance is an effective tool for guiding the manner in which a work is viewed. It entices the eyes to travel across, or into, the image in specific ways. Just as importantly, depending on their distance, arrangement and context, the spacing of objects in an artwork can convey a dizzying variety of emotional themes.

Are you trying to evoke a feeling in the viewer?
It depends on the work. Sometimes, the objective is to generate a specific emotion within the viewer, while on other occasions the goal is to convey an idea. In the case of “Lazy Sunday,” I was reaching for both.

How much do you consider the viewer when you create your works?
I continually make an effort to incorporate the viewer into the creative process. All art is a form of communication. At that level, it’s critical to at least have an understanding of the viewer’s perspective—if only to be better at conveying one’s ideas. If that monologue can be transformed into a discussion between artist and viewer, so much the better. In the case of this week’s cover, each Dan’s Papers reader, through the act of viewing the representation of another Dan’s Papers reader, becomes an active participant in the final product. This visual regression extends beyond the picture, out into the viewer’s chosen environment, and blurs the line between constructed art and reality.

How did the cover image come to be? What elements did you remove from the original photograph to get this final image?
I’m often drawn to beach-scapes. I’m not certain if it’s the simplicity of the subject that meshes so well with my approach to art, the unique atmosphere and light, or perhaps the aura of nostalgia that emerges from memories of past beach days.

In this instance, the framing concept is based on a snapshot that was taken by a friend of mine, Anne D’Innocenzio. I juxtaposed her first-person perspective—now simplified to its core elements—with another, bare-bones image from Scott Cameron Beach in Water Mill. I included the sailboat to enhance the depth of the image and to impart an air of warmth and relaxation together with wistful, aspirational fantasy.

Of course, any day at the beach has to have the right reading material. The cover image within the cover image was based on another photo I took at Scott Cameron Beach. I felt the choice further amplified the theme of regression.

Can you talk a little about the “lie” of photography, as you interpret it?
It’s a stubborn presumption that a photograph is fact. The very nature of technology and perhaps as importantly, its historical use as a tool of news reporting, furthers the notion that the camera portrays the world as it is, rather than as a representation of the artist’s vision. Through my work, I try to make the artistic principles of the photographic image explicit by eradicating those subconscious cues that, all too often, encourage such a fundamental fallacy in the mind of the viewer.

To view more of Lawrence Roberts’ work, visit saatchi.com/lawroberts.

"Lazy Sunday," Dan's Papers cover art by Lawrence Roberts from June 3, 2016

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