Using conceptual and satirical photographs, a Swedish artist illustrates what he sees as the dark side of society’s relationship with technology.
Andreas Varro creates artwork that represents human behavior through the medium of satire art using carefully crafted sketches, manufactured props, and photo manipulation. Based on observations from the modern-day world, Varro has shot an award-winning body of work that creatively depicts societal dilemmas and the consequences of living in the digital age.
Varro’s interest in design began 22 years ago in art class. Although he tells PetaPixel he at the time had “no talent whatsoever,” Varro discovered Photoshop 4.0 installed on one of his classroom computers. Learning to use the software gave him an insight into the possibilities of art.
He later also picked up his first camera and immediately started experimenting with combining images in Photoshop. With an interest in sports cars, he soon learned to mix together both of his passions by shooting various smaller assignments.
Photographer Creates Art With Deep Meaning
The financial crisis that followed left Varro unemployed but he didn’t let that stifle him. Instead, he decided to follow his dream and pursue photography as a full-time business. Today he still takes on commercial assignments from time to time — “only if the projects are interesting enough” — but his attention is now turned to art with powerful messages behind them.
Varro’s interest in starting meaningful and often uncomfortable conversations about societal topics through art goes back to his younger years.
“I was timid, overweight, and bullied in school and had considerable challenging youth, often afraid of when the next person was to strike,” he says. “These events made me very aware of my surroundings; as an analytic person, I thought about why people acted the way they did and the motivation behind behaving in specific ways.”
This curiosity was further exacerbated by the death of his parents — both of whom died within a year and suddenly left Varro picking up the pieces by himself and having to grow up fast.
“These events have formed the intention behind me to create art, to start deep and meaningful conversations between individuals,” he explains. “To have people talk about how we behave, how we interact with each other, with tech, how tech affects us, and freedom of speech. I want to do my small part to contribute to our society’s improvement.”
From a Sketch to the Final Polished Photo
All of Varro’s artwork starts with an idea, such as in this case the negative consequences of social media. Not always, but often, he uses existing stories or myths and applies those to a scenario of current times, which. he says is “a great way to draw parallels between an issue people already understand and its negative consequence to an existing problem that isn’t as processed as the myth.”
He follows a clearly established idea with a sketch to transfer the concept to something more definite. During this stage, he builds the foundation and the composition of the artwork.
“The sketch helps me visualize what angles, perspective, and light I need to photograph the elements in; it is also helpful to help the models understand my vision so that we are on the same page,” he explains.
“The photography process is different from artwork to artwork, but usually, it consists of photographing images both on location and in-studio, and later combined in post-processing. As a result, some artworks only have a few photographs combined; other artworks have hundreds.”
Post-processing in Photoshop is the most time-consuming part of the whole process. It can take from a couple of days to several weeks with hundreds of layers. Once the final image is ready, Varro prints it as a large-format fine art print, which he sells in limited editions.
When asked whether his art project has a finite end to it, Varro says he has realized “this is not only a project but more an artistic style.” He uses art to convey things that he believes are important and intends to continue doing so, as long as he finds it meaningful.
Image credits: Photos by Andreas Varro.