Creative Layover: London

On behalf of Adobe and the entire crew, welcome aboard this Creative Airlines flight with non-stop service to London. Upon arrival, we’ll take you around the city, but not to the many tourist attractions you might expect. Instead, we’ll be viewing this fine city through the lens of a photographer, photo manipulator, and illustrator duo for our latest installment of Creative Layover.

London, England

Despite the bustling underground and the crowded city streets, art of all kinds seems to crop up everywhere you turn. A city abuzz with creativity, London is home to some of the world’s best museums, galleries, theatre, music, dance, architecture, cuisine, literature, and film. And it’s no surprise why! For millennia, London has been racking up a rich history as one of the cultural centers of the globe. This reputation is only growing. People with all types of backgrounds, hailing from around the world, call this city home. Influenced by its past and inspired to create the future, London makes the perfect spot to take an artistic detour through the work of four creatives. Without further ado, let’s meet the artists!

Photographer – Julia Brillantes

An accountant by day and an artist by night (and early morning, and blue hour, and golden hour), Julia Brillantes photographs her city with love. Five years ago, she left her home in the Philippines and moved to London, with which she has been smitten ever since. “I fell in love with London, its culture, and its people,” she says, “and it inspires me every day.” Capturing everything from the city’s tourist-magnet landmarks to its untrodden hidden alleyways, Julia documents all the things she loves about her new home.

Tower Bridge and the Morning Light. I shot this photo whilst on an early-morning walk. The flower decorations outside the Ivy Restaurant were a lovely accent to the already-magnificent Tower Bridge. I edited this photo using basic adjustments in Lightroom and Photoshop – shadow and highlights, HSL, exposure, contrast, and sharpening.

Speed It Up. This is a long exposure shot I took at the tail end of blue hour. I used a tripod to achieve a sharp and steady shot. For me, shooting light trails is one of the most enjoyable aspects of night photography. It puts a smile on my face to see how the light of a fast moving subject freezes.

Rise Above the Morning Glow. This is a long exposure shot at 20sec, f11, ISO100. I used a tripod to achieve a steady shot and a 6-stop ND filter & reverse graduated ND filter to balance the amount of light reaching the camera sensor. I love to shoot during golden hours, especially in the morning because it is quiet and not crowded. I love to see the sun rising along with the beautiful light and color it brings.

Julia’s tips, tricks, and parting words of advice:

On making basic photo edits: “I start my editing process in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop, where I adjust the shadows, highlights, exposure, contrast, and color tones. I refer to the Histogram as a guide in achieving precise exposure and hues. After the adjustments, I clean my photos of any sensor dust and unwanted objects. I do my final adjustments, such as sharpening, adjusting the tone curve, and cropping, in Lightroom.”

Photo Manipulator – Sara Shakeel

Although she’s featured here as a photo manipulator, Sara Shakeel has dabbled in (and mastered) nearly every visual art form we can think of, always employing her signature style of glitz, glamour, and glitter. This globetrotting artist has traveled near and far, drawing inspiration from cities around the world. Most recently, Sara landed in London, where her 3D installation entitled The Great Supper is currently on exhibition at the NOW Gallery. Needless to say, it sparkles (this time, with real crystals).

Emirates. I was on my way to Milan after being nominated for Glamour Italia’s Best Visual Artist Award. I took this picture while waiting to board the plane, and by the time we took off, I had edited it, added in the sparkles, and shared this image on my Instagram. Later, this picture was shared by Emirates themselves, which drove everyone ecstatic, myself included!

#glitterstretchmarks. This is one of my favorite projects – I hold it very close to my heart! When I started #glitterstretchmarks almost a year ago, I had no intentions of making it a trend. I have a lot of stretch marks myself, so when a friend asked me to airbrush her marks, I decided to turn the whole thing around. Instead, I created a project where stretch marks are celebrated with glitter and sparkles!

Everything goes to heaven. I created this piece last year in dedication to the people affected by the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California. I have a huge following and many connections in Los Angeles, so I wanted to create something for them as a part of the healing process.

Sara’s tips, tricks, and parting words of advice:

On staying relevant in today’s world: “It’s important for me to stay grounded and remind myself that nothing is permanent, so I need to make the most of every moment. Being an Instagram-famous artist, I have seen trends rise and then fade away. To stay in the game, I need to reinvent myself from time to time – I need to be a mad scientist. Even as I grow and change, however, my signature style will be a part of my art forever.”

Illustrators – Katie & Abel from Cabeza Patata

Creative duo Katie Menzies and Abel Reverter go by the name of Cabeza Patata. Although they came from different creative backgrounds – Katie was running her embroidery brand​ ​La Katie​ and Abel was working as a freelance​ ​Motion Designer​ – their partnership blossomed out of their common desire to experiment with any and every creative tool at hand.

Although their art falls under the character design category, they seldom find inspiration from within the character design world. Instead, they seek other creative outlets from which they can pull their ideas. “Photography is always a useful reference for staging and lighting,” Katie and Abel share, “and we always look for real human positions before exaggerating them and pushing the proportions.”

Flying. We wanted to capture that feeling of total freedom you get listening to music – the feeling of taking off like a rocket. There are many layers of detail in this apparently simple image. We went through various iterations of clothing and style with our client, Spotify, to create an easily-identifiable, modern, gender-neutral character.

NY Times Casual-Wear. Our first editorial work, which happened to be for the​ New York Times​, came as a complete surprise. At the time, we were exploring this new, more subtle and elegant style. We appreciated the boldness of a client to illustrate an article about fashion using 3D characters. We treated this project as we would a fashion shoot, focusing a lot on the lighting and colors of the images. Photoshop is always our final tool to unify a series with the same color correction and overall mood.

Spirit Animal. It’s important for us to always be developing our style and seeing how far we can get. We were excited to get the opportunity to create a totally new character for​ OFFF Festival’s 2019 book​​. The theme is spirit animals, and after thinking hard about what ours would be, we decided to go for a squirrel. In the illustration, she appears in her workshop, a space which generally says a lot about an artist. Although her tools are neatly organized, she can’t help but have a bit of disorder in the many projects strewn around the room, coming out of drawers, and piling up on shelves. The pieces of fabric all have custom patterns that we made with different brushes in Illustrator and Photoshop to give a totally unique look.

Katie’s & Abel’s tips, tricks, and parting words of advice:

On their favorite tools in Photoshop: “Clients often ask us to reframe our images and this can be very time-consuming with big renders. Our solution for this is Content-Aware Fill. Simply select the area you want to extend with the Direct Selection Tool and go to ​Edit > Fill > Autofill​. The results seem like magic! We’re always amazed by how well the program understands the lighting of the background and neatly fills the empty space.”

On creating in Adobe Illustrator: “We love the ​Pathfinder​ Tool in Illustrator. Almost every shape you can imagine can be divided into smaller shapes. The Pathfinder Tool is useful in training your brain to think about how shapes are formed, and, once you’ve mastered the tool, you can create very clean designs without having to manipulate complex Bézier curves.”

On keeping the creativity flowing: “We are always producing loads of work, so we try not to get stuck when something’s not working. If you’re feeling frustrated with how an image is looking, it’s often better to move onto something else. Undoubtedly, the more iterations you make, the more your style will progress. Our work has changed dramatically over time, purely from repetition and adaptation.”

Well, that’s all, folks. Thank you for joining us in celebrating Julia, Sara, Katie, and Abel on this creative layover in London. Cheerio!

For more from these artists, check out their social channels below:

Julia Brillantes | Instagram | Flickr

Sara Shakeel | Instagram | Website

Cabeza Patata | Instagram | Website

Just because we’ve finished this creative tour of London doesn’t mean you have to head home already! Visit our last two layovers in New Delhi and Melbourne, and stay tuned for future artist highlights.