Layering textures is the key to Cate Legnoverde’s work. She creates unique and vibrant photographic artwork, combining the two mediums to — in her own words — transform ordinary and long-forgotten photographs into objects of beauty.
We spoke to Cate about the remarkable method that brings to life her vintage-inspired art.
Tell us about your artistic process – do you start with images, experiment with materials, or do you have a fully formed idea in mind before you start?
It all depends on the image. Out of the blue an idea will form in relation to a photograph I took years ago that’s been neglected on my hard drive. For vintage work I start with a clear idea of the colours I want to use then choose the textures. My husband, Javier, takes some beautiful photographs and I sometimes use them for my work such as A Little Fishy, and build on it with colour and textures.
Where did you get the idea to turn your photographs into art? What encouraged you to experiment with textures and layers?
I painted watercolour abstracts a few years back but I can’t paint or draw people or animals, so I figured combining different effects to make hybrid photographic art would be the best thing for me. My first attempts were on old photographs that were low resolution and technically poor quality. I soon found I could transform a not-so-great photograph into something that was potentially gallery-standard.
How long have you been creating artwork for?
I became serious about creating artwork 12 months ago. I always had an interest in photography but didn’t do much with it, and I had been fooling around in Photoshop for a few years but hadn’t yet taught myself how to use it extensively. Last year I had a major health-scare and decided life is too short to keep putting things off so, I bit the bullet, set up my own website, had an exhibition of my work in Melbourne, and started producing a lot of work to get exposure!
Where do you find your inspiration?
Each photograph provides the inspiration. With my vintage work I’m inspired to breathe life into 1920s portraits and give them a contemporary twist. Our apartment is full of brightly coloured furniture and artwork and I feel inspired just being there. Javier has been hugely supportive and gives me the encouragement to keep creating.
Do you have a preferred part of the process (taking photos or layering the image)?
I enjoy photographing trees and buildings. My favourite part is layering the image and I love seeing it develop in stages. The hardest part is deciding when to stop
What has been your favourite collection and why?
Vintage is my favourite. Transforming an old image into something beautiful and timeless is very satisfying. The brighter the colours the better, too! I also love to turn buildings into art – an office building can be a beautiful thing.
Has there ever been a piece of artwork that hasn’t come together as you planned?
I have a stack of old photographs I have yet to find a use for. Every few weeks I try to do something with them and I’m slowly transforming them.
What can we expect from you next?
I’ve just expanded my website to offer canvas as an option, as well as prints of varying sizes. I’m looking forward to re-discovering abstract painting with watercolours and in the near future I’m hoping to add pottery, decoupage and decorative stools to my website.
Which artists do you admire?
I love 1950s advertising artists like Coby Whitmore and Robert Meyer, and the painters Henri Matisse and Frida Kahlo.
Do you have any advice for emerging Australian artists?
Set up a website for your art. It’s difficult getting exposure if you’re self-taught as you don’t have that advantage of contacts in the art or design world. Creating a website is the first step to getting exposure. I use onlinegalleries.com.au - they provide excellent technical support and templates for reasonably prices. Contact decorating blogs and online art sale sites to get your work out there. If you’re going to exhibit, choose the gallery carefully.