A Creative Stretch with Joe Cavazos
By Serena Fox – Sometimes we all need a creative reset. Whether it’s a summer slump, the December doldrums, or just a grueling workload, it’s easy for artists to get into a rut and lose touch with their creative process..
Last winter, art director/designer Joe Cavazos was feeling the creative blues. So he set himself a challenge: Create something fun for 30 minutes a day for one month, record the process, and post the time-lapse on Instagram. The result was far more than he’d expected: He invented a new circular stretch effect in Adobe Photoshop; boosted his Instagram following seven-fold; met new designers and clients online; and—most importantly—reconnected with the playful side of Photoshop that got him into the business in the first place.
“I started recording my illustration process a long time ago,” says Cavazos. “I don’t have the best memory, so it’s kind of a digital notebook that lets me go back and say, ‘How did I get to here?’ For me, creative warm-ups are a time to do passion project work, to spend 30 minutes to an hour creating something for the fun of it and recording that process. I would do those warm-ups every once in a while, especially when I got into a funk or when I was doing a lot of logo design or branding work, which is careful and exacting and very different than just playing with Photoshop.”
“And then,” he continues, “I decided to challenge myself to do it once a day, for a whole month. That forced me to go through my whole bag of tricks, just to get something done. For me, it’s helpful to have that accountability of posting every day, whether what I do is good or not—it’s part of not being afraid to learn.” Cavazos didn’t land on what he calls the Circular Pixel Stretch effect right away. He started by playing with stretched pixels, seeing what colors he could pull and how he could manipulate the pixels. “Then I thought about using Polar Coordinates—which is an old filter that’s been in Photoshop forever—and I figured out how to marry the two. That looked cool, so I just kept pushing it further and trying out different ways I could use it,” he says.
- How to Make a Stretch Effect in Adobe Photoshop, Joe Cavazos
- How to Mask a Texture in Adobe Photoshop, Birgit Palma and Daniel Triendl
- How to Animate Images in Adobe XD, Cynthia Fong
- How to Blend Fiction with Reality in After Effects, Vernon Manlapaz