We caught up with artist Lisa Crouch between whimsical instagram posts with a vintage time travel vibe. The main character is usually actor Norman Reedus. Sometimes she challenges you to spot him amongst a huge group of people, hence the name of her IG Spot the Reedus. Many pics look totally real, though they are not. Lisa is super creative and a photoshop wiz. Read on find out how her Reedus fascination came about, all her blue favs, and more images at the bottom. #checkit
1. What's your favorite song or film with "blue" in the title?
Bullet the Blue Sky, U2
I wasn’t a huge fan of U2’s Joshua Tree album at first, but in concert the songs roared. Bullet the Blue Sky opened in total darkness, with the pounding drum and bass rumbling in your belly and then POW, you were knocked on your ass by swirling spotlights and the Edge’s guitar. It was dizzying and enthralling and stirring in a way that live music is when you’re young and every thing MEANS SO MUCH. I saw the Joshua Tree tour about 9 times, and it was wild.
2. Favorite blue possession?
I have a beautiful costume jewelry brooch of my grandmother’s from the Fifties, blue stones set in filigree gold metal that always seemed something a princess would wear. When she passed away, my mom gave it to me.
3. Can you share some of your art background and inspirations?
I’ve always been an artist, though it’s taken a very wandering path in my life. I like trying new things, so I’ll get heavily involved in one type of medium until I’ve satisfied my curiosity or mastered what I wanted from it, and then try something else. I’ve tried so much. Painting, embroidery, jewelry making, crocheting, sewing, paper craft, photography, on and on. I like making things. My house is full of the results. Everyone in my family has an afghan I made, a necklace I beaded, drawings, prints, on and on.
I think art takes many forms. I’m a writer as well. I studied playwriting at Columbia and have worked as a news editor for years. I enjoy cooking, too.
Digital art I took to very early. We had Photoshop version 1 at the paper I worked for and they pushed me toward it, saying “You’re young, figure this out.” So, I’ve been playing around and teaching myself things for quite a while, using it to make cards and collages and mixed medium things.
I take inspiration everywhere. I was very influenced by Celtic patterns when I was younger, so that figured into a lot that I did. I’m drawn to the work of the poster artist movement, the whole Mondo crowd. I own more prints than I have walls. I like the colors and bold graphics, and that plays into a lot that I do (though I’ll never be 100th as good, but that’s OK). I love vintage street photography and photos, which is partly what feeds my Reedus project. Vivian Maier, Weegee, old cabinet cards, found photos - they’re all great.
4. How did the relationship and art work you do with Norman Reedus begin and how is it evolving?
It began as a total lark. A friend had attended a Walking Dead convention and was unhappy with her photo with Norman. I’m adept at Photoshop and she asked me to fix it a little. So, I did that and I liked the challenge of working on something, yet making it look “real,” and the changes unnoticeable. So I kept playing around and one of the byproducts of the experiment was a silhouetted Norman.
I had also happened to be looking at old photos of New York, so I took the Norman and put him in a turn-of-the-century photo of Mulberry Street. I shot it off to the friend and said “find him.” And that started the whole “Spot The Reedus” thing. I kept hiding him in photos and asking friends to find him. Norman has so many fans and an audience grew for it, so I started a Tumblr and Instagram to share them with more people.
Around that time I met Norman at his “9 Lives” gallery show. He had retweeted a few of my pics, so I knew he was familiar with them. I introduced myself and he couldn’t have been cooler. And since he was genuinely into them, and followed me on Instagram, I confess it gave me the boost to keep at it.
I still do the “spot the Reedus” images, but I’ve grown more and more into transforming Norman into vintage photo subjects, because the challenge is so great and it’s kept me growing as a Photoshop artist. I go back and look at my earlier pieces and cringe sometimes. I know so much more now than I did then. I’m constantly taking Photoshop tutorials to learn new things and I’m teaching myself how to colorize photos. I’m a long way from nailing it yet, in my opinion. There’s a brilliant colorist, Marina Amaral, who brings historic photos to life so unbelievably well, I weep. One day!
There’s a real movement among fan artists right now to do trippy surreal things, and that’s cool, but it’s not me. For me the challenge is to make it look so real that you are second guessing yourself. “Could Norman really have been a sailor in the 50s?” or “Wow, Norman is a great tap dancer!” I’ve had people completely convinced that photos are real, so I’ve had to put a disclaimer on my account.
Norman’s face is so expressive, and there are so many photos of him, I can find a pose to fit almost any vintage photo I want to edit. And he’s so very supportive and cool, it’s a real pleasure to use him as my muse.
5. You're very active on instagram. what about it can make you blue?
Being involved in anything that touches an actor fandom can be a real bummer. I’ve become friends online with several fan artists, but as a whole I try to stay far away from the drama. The competition and gossip and backstabbing is toxic. I don’t want any part of it. It’s sad, because there are many talented people out there, but some get sucked into this black hole of what they think is “community,” but actually is a breeding ground for childish fights. I’ll save interpersonal squabbling for my real-life family and friends ;)
7. What's your favorite shade of blue?
My favorite word in the english language is “cerulean” and I’m pretty into the color, too! Pantone 7468C is the best.
Interview by Tina Turnbow
Makeup and photography - Tina Turnbow.