Surreal Digital Artist Justin Peters turns your Reality into his Imagination

Imagine a full moon. What do you see? Maybe its light glowing through your bedroom curtains in a clear night’s sky? Perhaps obscured behind wisps of cloud, giving a spooky look? If you’re Justin Peters, you see the light of the full moon in a fire ring on the beach, or tethered to a hot air balloon’s basket and ready to take flight.

Cloud Whale

Displacing full moons is just one among a number of imaginative ways surrealist digital artist Justin Peters bends and transforms the natural world. Elsewhere, forests have hidden worlds beneath their roots, whales breach through the clouds and elephant’s trunks extend out to become palm trees.

Justin’s creations seamlessly blend human and animal, animal and plant, and space and earth to create fantastical yet strangely realistic images. The more mythic of his images have an ethereal glow inviting the sort of adventure one might find in a fantasy novel, and that’s just the way he wants it. Pablo Picasso said: “everything you can imagine is real,” and Justin has taken it on as his personal mantra.

We joined the digital artist to learn a bit more about his inspiration, creative process, and which of his imaginary worlds he’d most like to call home.

Comfort Zone

THE PLUS: Tell us a bit more about yourself, both as an artist and a person!
Justin Peters:
I’m a 23-year-old self-taught digital artist from Germany, and I’m known for my surreal Photoshop manipulations. I study graphic design and do freelance work for brands all over the world.

TP: How did your interest in this sort of surrealist art begin, and what was your process to begin creating it like? What are your thoughts on surrealism as an art form and why it’s interesting?
Maybe 2 years ago or so, when I started to work with Photoshop and saw one of Erik Johansson’s surreal works the first time while looking for inspirations in photo manipulation. I stumbled over the works of surreal painters like Dali too then, and I was so fascinated with them that I wanted to create something that could be a part of those dream-worlds they had created. For me surrealism is the most interesting art form, there are no rules or limits and often it really challenges you with different perspectives and illusions, but also helps you to see things in a different way. That’s why I think surrealism is an important art form: people today often see things only from one side.

man holding the old lamp with a candle outdoors. hand holds a la

TP: Lots of your pieces have elements of space incorporated. Tell us about that interest and what prompts you to include it in your art.
I have a big interest in space related things and I question myself a lot about what’s going on and what could exist out there, which makes it easy to include those thoughts in my art.

TP: Tell us a bit more about your creative process, from imagining your ideas to bringing them to life.
I’ve written down or sketched nearly 100 ideas and different combinations of objects, and I’m always thinking about new concepts every day and everywhere. A lot of time goes into finding the right images to combine. At the moment I don’t shoot every picture I use for my manipulations myself, I use free stock photos.People often think negatively about using just stock photos for work like this. To me, this is ridiculous. There is no difference in working and editing with stock photos rather than using your own photos. The only difference is you don’t spend time planning and photographing the objects yourself. What matters in the end are the ideas, the results and the story you tell with your work. I really like the challenge to find two to three pictures or objects from them that match together perfectly. So it really depends on how long it takes to find all the material for one concept, and often new ideas evolve during that process. After I collected the images and objects I think I need for a concept, I combine everything using Photoshop.


TP: Do you know what you’d like the final product to look like when you choose your photographs, or does that come about later?
Yes, mostly I know how it should look like when I start to create a new picture and often this picture in my mind evolves or changes during the process.

TP: Some of your pieces have a really fantastical or mythical quality to them. What is your inspiration behind these ideas?
I get inspiration from everything- from daily things around me to music, quotes, nature itself, paintings and more. My goal is to combine different objects in an unexpected way and create places that don’t exist in reality with the desire to open other people’s minds and help them discover their own internal landscape of possibilities or impossibilities.

Space Carousel

TP: Were you artistic as a kid? What did you think you wanted to be when you grew up?
I drew and painted from time to time as a kid, but I never thought to become an artist. When I grew up, I wanted to be a cook.

TP: If you could live inside any of the sort of “imaginary worlds” you’ve created in your photographs, which would you choose? Why?
If I had to choose one it would be “Surfing Clouds”, I love to sit at the beach and listening to the waves, to be able to have the view above the clouds from there would be amazing.

Surfing Clouds
Common minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus)
Venice Umbrella
Wildlife Animals
Space Carousel 2
Dream Forest
Bloody moon, full moon
Alone rock column mountain (Avatar rocks). Zhangjiajie National
Sparking camp fire beside lake under a starry sky
Two Worlds
Drawning girl in white dress in deep blue ocean. Underwater shot
High detail 30 panel mosaic of the super full moon (October 2016
Machu Picchu (Peru)
Eruption Of Joy