All Images by Greg Vander Houwen
Greg Vander Houwen describes himself as "an artist by nature; illustrator
by trade"--one who often incorporates photography into his digital
art. As he puts it, "My primary business is commercial illustration and
user interface design." Vander Houwen believes that photography is a limited
term these days, and points out, "A scanner can be used to capture images
as well. It just has a very limited depth of field."
This untitled piece was used in a brochure for an Adobe InDesign
This successful digital artist's work draws you into a uniquely beautiful
world of his own creation. Vander Houwen's clients include Adobe Systems,
Apple Computer, Airtouch Cellular, Columbia House, Microsoft and Oracle Corporation.
In terms of fine art, he credits influences such as Gustav Klimt and Paul Klee.
It's especially impressive to learn that he's self-taught, with
no formal education in photography, fine art, or digital imaging.
Farming to Photography
On his Website, www.netcandy.com,
Vander Houwen states, "I have a background in video, computers, photography
and apple farming." This last discipline dates back to the days when he
grew up on his family's apple farm in Yakima, Washington. At age 12, he
was introduced to photography by a friend. His first camera was a Nikon F--"I
dropped it too many times, but it survived"--and read magazines (including
Photographic) from cover to cover to learn his new hobby.
"Tunnel Vision" is a fine-art piece that's been
published in books, CDs, and gallery shows.
His first paid job as a photographer occurred in 1980--at age 16--following
a phenomenal natural event. Vander Houwen was camping with some friends in May
when Mount St. Helens erupted. "It radically changed the atmosphere,"
he recalls. "It rained at least an inch of gray ash for about an hour
or two." He says the sky turned completely black at their campsite. "Oddly
enough, a brief lightning storm also accompanied the eruption," he says.
Afterwards, Vander Houwen photographed water damage to local canals caused by
the massive eruption. His big break came when he "marched into the offices
of Good Fruit Grower" (a local farming magazine). The editor encouraged
the young man by publishing his photos of the canal repairs--"it
was a big story in the ranching area," according to Vander Houwen.
"Cloud Burst" is a fine-art piece composed from four
elements--clouds, waterfall, desert and stars.
This first job "planted the seed of the idea that I could do this for
a living," he says, although most adults he knew tried to discourage him
from making photography a career goal. During his junior and senior year of
high school, Vander Houwen attended a vocational program in video production.
But at age 18, his father was killed in a hunting accident. Vander Houwen moved
back home to be with his family, dropped out of college, and got a job in a
local computer store.
It was there that he began to create art on computers. He says, "In 1983
I got started on an Apple 2, the predecessor to Macintosh." There were
no scanners in those days, but nonetheless, he began doing "some pretty
rough artwork" on his computer. At this juncture, he says, few people
viewed computers as serious art tools.