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0 In Artist Interviews

Interview with Tourmaline . – Miniature Diorama Photographer

Tourmaline .
Miniature Diorama Photographer
Follow Tourmaline on Facebook , Instagram, Google + and Twitter
Purchase Tourmaline’s work at

OmArtist: Your art is such a unique form of creativity. Could you explain to our audience what miniature diorama photography is and how you came to create in this unique way?

Tourmaline . : Miniature diorama photography, also called toy photography is a form of tableau photography, where a stage is set before the camera lens, but in small scale.

I created my first ever photos of miniatures in high school as a response to an English project. I didn’t find myself dabbling with this form of photography again until college when tasked with a narrative photo assignment. All the narratives I envisioned were quite involved and the more I brain-stormed how best to represent them, the more I became focused on miniature objects.

Miniatures are icons of their full scale counterparts and therefore allow me to tell big stories in a minute way. With them, I can fully manipulate the scene before me.

OmArtist: With your art being so multifaceted, there is a need for you to be part painter, part sculptor, and part photographer, amongst other hats I’m sure. Can you describe your over all creative process for our audience?

Tourmaline . : My photos come to represent my worldview and my emotions. So first, I observe and plan and try to fully develop what I aim to depict. Then, if I don’t already have the necessary props I research ones to buy, or consider how to make the backdrops, surrounds, and all things involved.

Often times, when using HO scale figures (2 cm tall train scale figures), I will cut apart and glue their various pieces together to get the pose I’d like as otherwise these figures are molded entirely rigid. Patterned scrapbook paper is a great far off sky or living room wall. I also will paint paper to the same effect if I’m looking for something more specific. All in all though, I keep my sets quite simple, allowing them to be transformed with light and through my camera lens.

OmArtist: Aside from the skill and creativity it takes to build the scenes themselves, your work speaks to the skillful macro techniques, the beautifully precise depth of field (DOF) and composition in your photography. What came first, the miniatures or the photography? Did one lead to the other?

Tourmaline . : Thank you very much. I suppose the photography came first, at least as far as my artistic journey is concerned. I decided in high school that I wanted to be a photographer. At the time however, I was only interested in black and white landscapes developed in the dark room. That said, since 3 or 4 years old, if not sooner I have always been fascinated with miniatures, the smaller the better. Coveting my grandmother’s shadow box shelf, I would gently pick up and observe the tiny intricacies that lied within it. It seems only inevitable that these two passions would end up combined. It simply took me awhile to get there. Since I have though, I haven’t looked back.

OmArtist: Being an artist requires one to experiment in this day and age. It seems to me that your style of creating would require you to be highly experimental. Can you talk a little about that part of your work for us?

Tourmaline . : My work, for me, is definitely experimental. While I remain focused on miniature scenes in my art, I believe this type of photography can span all genres of the medium in its own way – from portraiture to architecture, surreal and documentary. And in this, I like to dabble in each possibility. On top of that, for each photo, I’m discovering how best to lay out the scene, how much of which to remain mysteriously hidden in darkness or fog, how to make everything stay precisely in it’s place and so on. I’m constantly finding a balance between obscuring scale to create realistic images, and leaving hints of the miniature world within. It’s a fascinating process, of which I’m not sure I’ll ever be done evolving.

OmArtist: What is the most common materials/mediums you’ve used and what is the most unusual materials/mediums you have used in creating these amazing miniatures?

Tourmaline . : Paper and plastic figures are found over and over in my photographs. Almost as common are clay, glue and cardboard. Maybe not entirely uncommon, but for me, I’ve found myself using play sand and a fog machine more and more. And most recently I’m experimenting with mirror chrome paint.

OmArtist: Tourmaline ., why did you choose this style of creative expression? What is it about this type of art that drives your passion and speaks to you?

Tourmaline . : It may sound too simplistic, but I’ve always been obsessed with the tiniest objects. I also like the idea of photography as transformative. As magic. That with the right angle and lighting the smallest things can be brought to life. I like being able to fully manipulate the scene before me to create precisely what is in my head, and I also like toys as icons, both present and unattainable.

OmArtist: You’ve created book covers and album art for clients, to some extent interpreting their book or music into art that encompasses their body of work. When and how did this type of work present itself to you? Do you find this type of work enjoyable?

Tourmaline . : I am very passionate about print medium. While I don’t read as often as I’d like, I would much prefer paper to a screen. And I believe a cover speaks volumes about its contents. My style of photography is very illustrative and therefore lends itself well to interpretations of stories. While work with clients has its ups and downs, overall I very much enjoy visually bringing to life an authors work. My first foray into this type of creation was for my father’s book back in 2012 – Working Would be Great if it Weren’t for Managers.

OmArtist: As someone who identifies yourself as an Empath, how do you think feeling/absorbing others energies affects your art work? Or your ability to create?

Tourmaline . :I like to think that all of my art work is emotive. Each piece represents an emotion – and often those emotions are that of loneliness, anxiety, depression and the like. I absorb what others are feeling around me almost instantaneously. I watch a movie and put myself in each characters shoes, which can make scenes of pain whether mental or physical very difficult for me.

While my deeply emotional nature can get in the way of creating as I can experience debilitating anxiety, when I do get into my studio, or when I simply sit down to brainstorm, the ideas flow like waterfalls. And those ideas are always based around portraying these emotions. I can’t say they’re always good ideas – but part of the joy of creating is figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

OmArtist: Tourmaline . , how do you feel mindful practices like living in the moment and/or meditation/prayer (if you practice them) contribute to what you create and your success as an artist?

Tourmaline . : I’m not very good at living in the moment. But I find when I let myself be and stop putting so much immense pressure on myself I can create much more eloquent art.

OmArtist: We believe that art carries with it the energy of the artist. What are your thoughts on this statement with regard to your work?

Tourmaline . : Every single creative act is a personal one. I don’t believe art can be created without the artist fully immersed within it.

OmArtist: Tourmaline . , thank you so much for the opportunity to interview you. We are blown away by the skills you have and the work it takes to create your amazing images. We wish you continued success! You are appreciated!

0 In Artist Interviews

Interview with Josh Bulriss – Photographer and Visual Artist


Josh Bulriss
Photographer, Visual Artist, Traveler, and Explorer of Cultures
Purchase Josh’s work on his website:
Follow Josh: Instagram – @joshbulriss and on Twitter – @joshbulriss

OmArtist: Josh, are you pursuing your art/photography as a full time career? If so, what did you leave behind to pursue your dream and what made you take the leap into following your passion full time?

JB: My art is full time, but it’s less like a job and more like a lifestyle. I’ve made huge sacrifices as does any artist trying to make their dream become a reality.  But I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Sacrifice, dedication, passion I believe these are the key ingredients for success.

OmArtist: What can you tell us about your story and how you came to be in your current creative mindset? Was creating in your cards early on in life or something that struck you later?

JB: In my teenage years writing music with bands was my outlet for being creative.  After High school I started taking trips out to Hawaii to visit my Grandma, it was there that I started taking photos with a small point shoot camera for fun. That’s when I realized photography and traveling were exactly what I wanted to be doing.

OmArtist: I see from your website and portfolio that you have ventured into painting and even composing music, how did the adoption of these other art forms come into play for you? What inspired you to reach outside your photography to create?

JB: Music came first as a teenager then photography, then painting. Art is something I always loved viewing especially  abstract art.  I started painting in Hawaii for another way of expressing my creativity, and ended up selling my first painting within 3 months of learning. That was huge eye opener for me.  Even though my paintings and photography are so different, they actually have some similarities like texture, color and appearance of aging.

OmArtist: How many countries have you traveled to in order to capture your impressive images?

JB: 12 countries across Asia, and most of them more than once. I am on a journey to find and photograph some of most unique and beautiful Buddha statues in the world.

OmArtist: With regard to your very popular “Buddha Project”, did you set out to create this series purposefully from the beginning? How many images are available in this project to date? How long have you been creating this body of work?

JB: I have spent over 2 1/2 years in Asia photographing a lot of various things. I was always looking to photograph things that brought me peace, with hopes of the images bringing the viewer some form of peace as well. I really didn’t have a direct focus like I have now when I started my travels to Asia. It was a slow progression that evolved into the Buddha Project.

I knew I needed a direct focus on a project that I have passion for in order to be successful. I had written to some accomplished photographers to ask them if they could take a look at my work and give me some advice. They would all say the same thing. “What’s your direction? It’s best to have a project with a narrow focus.” I knew I needed to to come up with something that I was passionate about along with being quite original.

I have never seen an artist doing anything like what I am doing with my Buddha project, and I think that’s important. 3 years ago my mother passed away and I knew she wanted me to keep following my dreams and passion as an artist. That’s when I came up with the idea of the Buddha Project. Seeking out statues across Asia that were were unique and beautiful in their texture, color, decay or had an interesting surrounding.

OmArtist: What would you like to share with our mindful audience about the purpose of your art?

JB: My daily goal is to make people just feel better. I use my photography with some inspiring quotes to try to uplift and teach people about Buddhism and having a more positive outlook on life. I think Finding our purpose in life is extremely important. I really feel I have found mine. Following our passion and dreams help us feel alive, and when we feel alive we help make others feel alive as well. This can impact the world in a huge way.

OmArtist: Your body of work as a whole is very much dedicated to capturing the essence of cultures. What is it about these traditions, ceremonies and cultural experiences that draws you in?

JB: I really enjoy photographing rich timeless culture, especially with Buddhism, that’s my main focus right now. There’s something so peaceful and uplifting to me about photographing monks and Buddha statues in ancient historic places.

OmArtist: The age old question that every photographer gets asked…. Canon or Nikon?

JB: Canon. I’m not sure if one is better than the other, I started with Canon so I stuck with it. I use the Canon 7d

OmArtist: What’s coming next from you Josh? Any new projects for focus coming in the near future?

JB: I will be heading back to Asia this November (2017) for 3 months to keep working on my Buddha Project. It has been huge for me, and I can’t stop the momentum I have going. Not sure of the exact countries yet. I am still working on it. But so far I have Thailand, Myanmar, India, Nepal and maybe Indonesia. I am also looking forward to having my first solo art show at Makers Gallery in Rochester, NY Oct 14th, 2017.

OmArtist: Josh, I love to ask this question of artist that connect to create. Do you feel connecting (ie. meditation, prayer. mantra etc) plays a roll in your creative process and/or success?

JB: I do believe this is a huge part of the process for creating art, at least for me. Being in that moment when I am photographing or painting is big part. I use photography as a form of meditation. When you are in that moment and nothing else around you matters, it’s a form of mediation.  It’s important to be present in life, art teaches me this.

OmArtist: Thank you so very much for talking with us Josh! We are excited to see what you bring back for us (all of your fans) from your next journey. You are appreciated! Sat Nam my friend, and safe travels!