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Interview: Sarah DeRemer, the Expat Artist Behind Last Year’s Viral Animal Images

Expat English teacher, photographer and digital artist Sarah DeRemer created a series of animal images that went viral around the world last year and was featured everywhere from Time Magazine to The Guardian. Her latest series, You Are What You Eat, brings us more of her wonderfully creative mind and wholly unique creations. Photographer and regular contributor Simon Slater recently spoke with Sarah about her unique art.

When did you start to get into Photoshop creations?

I started Photoshopping a little over a year ago when my friend in Korea introduced me to the Internet community of Hybrid Animals. I started making the Hybrid Animals as a way to practice the program. It was my first introduction to the genre of digital work, and from there I started developing more of my own projects as well as a stronger love for the field of digital art.


What inspired Animal Food?

One of the initial ways I started learning photomanipulation was through practicing with animal hybridizing. From there, I noticed the potential for a series stemming from an interesting juxtaposition between live animals and produce, rather than just different animal species. I found the combination of forms interesting and realized that it made a visually strong image that people would have strong opinions about. A lot of the project was a study in color and negative space, as well as creating a cohesive image through hybridizing, but I also just enjoyed creating something both amusing and potentially thought provoking.

Why do you think your images have had such viral appeal?

I think people like seeing realistic-looking and believable photographs of animals that are actually fantastically fictitious. I believe that Animal Food had a viral appeal due to the fact that nobody had combined animals and produce in such a way before. Overall, people have received it well and enjoyed the hybrids. On the other hand, I have had some people comment that the series was “creepy” or sent the wrong message about animals and meat. I think they went viral because they were unusual and unprecedented images that caused people to think, and I’m happy to inspire discussion of any sort, whether supportive or not.


What do you think makes Photoshop such a unique format for image creation?

Photoshop allows people to create completely realistic-looking images that could never actually occur. With the complexity of the program, people are able to push boundaries that are harder to push in traditional art. I will always stand behind the fact that nothing is as true as pencil on paper, but the digital realm does have so much to offer. One of my favorite quotes by Dr. Seuss is, “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” Photoshop allows people to create realistic-looking fantasy images, which I think fascinates people. It’s also just an incredibly practical mode of image creation – with all the tools, it’s almost limitless, and in many instances, it just takes a lot less time with more capability for fixing errors and reworking.

You can see more of Sarah DeRemer’s work on her Facebook page.

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About Simon Slater

Simon Slater is a freelance journalist and photographer currently based in Seoul. As well as contributing to various media outlets, he writes photo-led stories about Korea and the rest of Asia in his blog 'The Secret Map'.

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