Focus on Mattijn Franssen ~ An Introduction to his Fictional Universe

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I recently discovered the work of Dutch artist Mattijn Franssen. I must admit, I did a double take on his amazing photomontage work. Photomontage is the technique of making a composite of several different pictures with a photo editing software. It is commonly used by Photoshop users but few people can create such stunning imagery as Mattijn does. He creates this amazing fantasy world where he, and his cat, are the protagonists. It may be this human element that makes his work so unique. I was blown away by his imagination and talent and I keep going back to some of his images to discover new interesting details. He not only learned the technique on his own, it is only one of his many talents. He is also a painter, a drawing artist, a musician and song writer. I interviewed him recently for the dPS readers. I hope you enjoy his work as much as I did. You can learn more about Marttijn Franssen by visiting his website.

Crossing ©Mattijn Franssen

Is your background in photography? No, my background is oil painting and drawing.

What made you decide to do photomontages? I started using the camera as a tool to help set up compositions for possible paintings. I liked the result so much that I haven’t painted much since then. A friend got me a digital camera and I started taking pictures of everything.

How do you work from concept to creation?   Sometimes I start working from an idea, I make a little sketch and then go out to find the necessary photos. Other times I take photos of an object, a tower for example, and then build a world around it.

Do you work with Photoshop exclusively? For the photomontages, yes.

Once you are in the digital darkroom, how long does it take to create the final image? It can take a few hours or a few days depending on the number of pictures and the complexity of the montage.

How did you learn the technique? I learned the technique on my own. I had worked with layers for animations I had made with Flash. I did a lot of experimenting and got better at it over the years.

You and your cat are the protagonists in most of your creations, what prompted you to do that? My cat and I are in all my personal work. It’s like a trademark. Also, I like the idea of being able to visit these worlds and experience these adventures myself. I often put my cat on a montage the way she is when I take the pictures unless I need something specific.

Who are the artists, visual or other, that inspire you the most? I’m inspired by movie makers like David lynch, Michel Gondry and Terry Gilliam painters like Breughel and Willink

Digital Photography School readers will want to know what photo gear you use. I shoot with an Olympus SP-800UZ

What is your next project? I’m showing my work in various galleries. I am also working on short photo animation projects, it’s basically animating photomontages and I’m learning how to create 3d animations

What do you see yourself doing in 5 or 10 years? I would like to do something with film or animation. I may still make photomontages once in a while.

Reflecting ©Mattijn Franssen

Discussing the Elephant ©Mattijn Franssen

Bullies ©Mattijn Franssen

Harmless Figments ©Mattijn Franssen

Horsing Around ©Mattijn Franssen

Sharing a Drink ©Mattijn Franssen

Theme Park Mountain ©Mattijn Franssen

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Valerie Jardin I live and breathe in pixels! Photography is more than a passion, it's an obsession, almost an addiction. When I'm not shooting or writing, I spend my time teaching this beautiful craft during photo workshops all over the world! I am also thrilled to be an official X Photographer for Fujifilm USA. Visit my Website Follow me on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram. And listen to my Podcast!

  • While I’ve never even thought of the idea of doing photomontages, nor do I have any desire to attempt to do them, as they seem like an incredible amount of work. I can at least say that this set of images is cool enough to get me wishing I’d be more motivated with my photography lol.

    Thanks for the interview nice to get to know people behind the camera every now and then.

  • Klaas

    Thanks Valerie, a nice interview of a particular and great talent. I know him and his wonderful work!

  • Scottc

    It’s interesting, but not quite I’m looking for in photorgraphy. Not knocking it, just not me……

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5897271231/

  • raghavendra

    Each picture tells us a story.
    Telling a story through pictures is a great art.
    hats off

    http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.com/p/cat-story.html

  • I agree “Hat’s off” digital cameras are already pushing limits in photography. Why not push the limits of a digital file, that is what makes it art and not just a digital file. I really like the look. Every image within the image tells a story.

  • ccting

    OMG, they are so beautiful… OMG!!!!!

  • Very interesting and the work is fascinating. Thanks for the introduction, he’s one to follow.

  • Robin Ă–berg

    These pictures are very beautiful. But I wonder who actually made the parts involved in the montage. I mean, the person who actually modeled the 3D object put in alot of work, alot of work. And credit should go where credit is due.

  • @ robin i made these montages of photos i take myself theres no 3d ,everything you see is from a photo

  • thanks all for commenting and thanks Valerie for the interview 🙂

  • I have been following Mattijn’s incredible work for years and am gratified to see him get proper recognition.

  • Amazing work, I’d be hard pushed to pick a favourite!

  • Kim

    Stunning images! I’d love to know how some of these were made especially the horse made of branches. I want to be more creative like this with my photos.

  • @kim i take my animal photos in the zoo and sculptures wherever i see them, parks city center etc
    if i know who made the work i mention the artist, the horse was an unknown artist sculpture, in real life its not so big but still very cool, i saw it in the garden of a castle
    the skeleton and dinosaurs i also photographed in the zoo
    the rockfaces in “themepark mountain” i made in photoshop
    for “harmless figments “i combined several sculptures into new ones

  • dok

    Hi Mattjin,

    Can I ask you one more question ? In your final pictures (do you call them photographs?) do you know approximately the ratio between real elements and the “drawn” ones ?
    In the last one for example is there any real source elements (except you and your cat!) ?

  • dok

    (reading your answer to robin…) Sorry I had not red the comments before posting my question… But… what about the skeletons ? the dinosaurs ? the Roger Deanesque stones ?

  • in the last photo its all made from photos, the rocks are made from photos i took of real rocks, its real bits of tree that made the tree etc
    its still photography to me, but montaged, everything i’ve seen in a certain time combined into one picture

    see my reply to kim for your other questions

  • Fascinating work, that often reminds me of Salvador DalĂ­. Your cat is lovely, too ! Congratulations !

  • momwithacamera

    Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow.

Some Older Comments

  • momwithacamera April 13, 2012 01:05 am

    Wow. That's all I can say. Wow.

  • Karina March 22, 2012 07:53 am

    Fascinating work, that often reminds me of Salvador DalĂ­. Your cat is lovely, too ! Congratulations !

  • mattijn January 18, 2012 07:31 am

    in the last photo its all made from photos, the rocks are made from photos i took of real rocks, its real bits of tree that made the tree etc
    its still photography to me, but montaged, everything i've seen in a certain time combined into one picture

    see my reply to kim for your other questions

  • dok January 18, 2012 07:04 am

    (reading your answer to robin...) Sorry I had not red the comments before posting my question... But... what about the skeletons ? the dinosaurs ? the Roger Deanesque stones ?

  • dok January 18, 2012 06:56 am

    Hi Mattjin,

    Can I ask you one more question ? In your final pictures (do you call them photographs?) do you know approximately the ratio between real elements and the "drawn" ones ?
    In the last one for example is there any real source elements (except you and your cat!) ?

  • mattijn January 16, 2012 08:10 pm

    @kim i take my animal photos in the zoo and sculptures wherever i see them, parks city center etc
    if i know who made the work i mention the artist, the horse was an unknown artist sculpture, in real life its not so big but still very cool, i saw it in the garden of a castle
    the skeleton and dinosaurs i also photographed in the zoo
    the rockfaces in "themepark mountain" i made in photoshop
    for "harmless figments "i combined several sculptures into new ones

  • Kim January 16, 2012 06:59 am

    Stunning images! I'd love to know how some of these were made especially the horse made of branches. I want to be more creative like this with my photos.

  • PaulB January 14, 2012 06:40 am

    Amazing work, I'd be hard pushed to pick a favourite!

  • tantonr January 13, 2012 09:02 am

    I have been following Mattijn's incredible work for years and am gratified to see him get proper recognition.

  • mattijn January 13, 2012 06:01 am

    thanks all for commenting and thanks Valerie for the interview :)

  • mattijn January 13, 2012 06:00 am

    @ robin i made these montages of photos i take myself theres no 3d ,everything you see is from a photo

  • Robin Ă–berg January 13, 2012 05:13 am

    These pictures are very beautiful. But I wonder who actually made the parts involved in the montage. I mean, the person who actually modeled the 3D object put in alot of work, alot of work. And credit should go where credit is due.

  • Claudia January 11, 2012 12:19 am

    Very interesting and the work is fascinating. Thanks for the introduction, he's one to follow.

  • ccting January 10, 2012 06:48 pm

    OMG, they are so beautiful... OMG!!!!!

  • Mark January 10, 2012 04:21 pm

    I agree "Hat's off" digital cameras are already pushing limits in photography. Why not push the limits of a digital file, that is what makes it art and not just a digital file. I really like the look. Every image within the image tells a story.

  • raghavendra January 10, 2012 01:44 pm

    Each picture tells us a story.
    Telling a story through pictures is a great art.
    hats off

    http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.com/p/cat-story.html

  • Scottc January 10, 2012 11:40 am

    It's interesting, but not quite I'm looking for in photorgraphy. Not knocking it, just not me......

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5897271231/

  • Klaas January 10, 2012 08:50 am

    Thanks Valerie, a nice interview of a particular and great talent. I know him and his wonderful work!

  • John January 10, 2012 07:54 am

    While I've never even thought of the idea of doing photomontages, nor do I have any desire to attempt to do them, as they seem like an incredible amount of work. I can at least say that this set of images is cool enough to get me wishing I'd be more motivated with my photography lol.

    Thanks for the interview nice to get to know people behind the camera every now and then.

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