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Getting intimate with @Moography

Social Media is a beautiful thing. It gives regular people a platform to be creative and express how they view the world from a perspective that we may never have done before. Anshuman Ghosh, aka @Moography is one of SA’s most interesting instagrammers. His feed doesn’t consist of #StunningSunsets, #TheMountain or #PartyVibes. Instead, Anshuman creates little bits of artwork for each post, with the help of an iPhone. We had a little chit chat with him to find out more about his art:

Q: Why did you start this awesome instagram account?
A: What you see on my account nowadays is not something I had planned when I started my account in Jan 2015 - it is what the account has evolved into. I started off with primarily street photography and most of my feed in the early days was full of street shots of downtown Johannesburg. I then came up with this technique called Phoneframing which was essentially a picture-in-picture where what is inside the phone blends with what is outside it. Over time, I started incorporating paper elements into my phone frames and voila! The paper artwork you see today was born!

Q: Does Moography mean anything?
A: Ummm kinda. My wife likes to call me Moo and that nickname has sort of stuck to me. When I joined Instagram, anshumanghosh916 didn't seem to sound right so I went with Moography .

Q: What inspired you to use an iPhone for your art?
A: I always wanted to incorporate smartphones into my artwork given how central these devices are to our lives nowadays. And I had to use an iPhone - it is such a beautiful piece of engineering isn't it?

Q. On average, how long does it take you to set up a single shot?
A: From start to finish, it takes me 3-4 hrs depending on how difficult the artwork is.

Q. Where do you get your concepts from?
A: As cliché as it may sound, I think one can find inspiration everywhere. My artwork is inspired by everyday occurrences, common observations and most importantly, the things that I love. If you look at my Instagram feed, you'll notice that most of my artwork revolves around my family, food, music, movies and travel - the five things that I love most in this world! So getting inspired isn't difficult at all.

Q. Talk us through the process, when setting up for a new piece of work.
A: I like to carry my idea notebook with me everywhere in case something inspires me. Once the initial sketch is done, I get down to preparing the illustrations and the paper cutouts which I arrange when I am ready to shoot. While it may seem elaborate, I often use household objects such as my son's lego bricks to setup the shots. I don't own a camera and all photos that I have posted on Instagram are shot with my iPhone 6 Plus. I predominantly use VSCOCam and Enlight for my photo editing.

Q. Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve created?
A: Yes of course! My all time favourite artwork is the one where I am eating sushi out of my phone.

Q.  Which of your pics is a fan favourite?
A: There is a piece that I recently made for Ballantines (the one where I am pouring whisky into my phone) which has been a great hit with the community - the photo has almost reached 9,800 likes so far!

Q. Do you get regular manicures to keep your hands in tip-top shape :) ?
A: Haha! Well the short answer is NO! :) The beautiful hands that you often see in my artwork belongs to my wife.

Q. Who, in the world of Instagram, do you think is changing the game? Local or international.
A: That’s such a difficult question to answer. One interesting trend that I see is small creative collectives being formed wherein 5-10 creatives (with various interests in photography and art) come together and work together to create interesting content. I am privileged to have played a part in setting up on such collective which goes by the name of the Breadcrumbssquad (@breadcrumbssquad). It comprises of photographers and artists from all across South Africa who have a common goal of creating captivating imagery for Instagram.

Q. Who are your favourite accounts on Instagram?
A: Some of my favourite Instagrammers are @white_onrice, @rachelryle, @1924us, @zenography and @ravivora.

Q. What are your go-to apps that you use?
A: I almost exclusively use VSCOCam and Enlight for editing photos on my phone. For all the editing on my Mac, I use Photoshop.

Q. What’s the best feature on your iPhone camera that you love using?
A: I use an iPhone 6 Plus so I really enjoy the optical image stabilisation. I also love how smoothly the Burst function works - since alignment is everything in my trade, it is really helpful to be able to click 10 frames in quick succession.

Q. When you’re not using your iPhone as your subject, where are the best places to go to take pics?
A: I love going into town (i.e. Braamfontein, Newtown, Marshalltown). I think that part of Johannesburg is steeped in history and has so much character.

Q. Have you got any other projects in the pipeline that you can tell us a bit about?
A: I am working on a couple of campaigns at the moment which will be launched in the next few weeks. In addition, I am also working on a concept to rejig my Quirky Movie Flatlays series which I hope to launch soon.

Q. If you could give any advice to someone who is starting up in photography, what would it be?
A: As far as tips go, I do the following to keep the creative juices flowing:

1) Keep exploring with the Instagram app and discover new talent - I am an Instagram power user and try to spend 15 minutes every night before I go to sleep, exploring new feeds and finding new artists. I believe the more beauty your eyes see, the more beauty your mind and hands create.

2) Start imagining - What if you could reach into your phone and drag the apps into the real world? What if you could pour Coke into your phone? What if your phone was transparent? These are some of the most random questions I've asked and possibly some of the weirdest situations that I have imagined which have resulted in me creating some of my artwork.

3) Keep experimenting - edit, chop, change, trash! I do it all! I feel creating art is not a linear process - it's very random, unpredictable. Quite often, I sit down with a concept in mind but very rarely does the final product look like what I started off with. I keep making little, incremental changes just to make the end result 'slightly more awesome'

4) Be happy and keep having fun - I know it sounds cliched but I truly believe that unless you are having fun, you rarely create stuff that makes you proud. Not one single artwork I've produced was done when I felt sad or unhappy. Music usually does wonders to lift my mood and get me into that creative sweet spot.

5) Start collaborating - This is one aspect that has really helped me grow, creatively. Instagram is at the end of the day a tool to share and collaborate with other like minded people and I have really enjoyed collaborating with really creative people through Instagram. Collaboration for me is a learning experience and something that allows me to explore new techniques, visual treatment and what not.

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