CreativePro Conference Speaker Spotlight: Bert Monroy, the Digital Art Pioneer

Welcome to our new series of posts called Speaker Spotlight, designed to highlight each of our upcoming CreativePro Conference speakers. We’ve assembled a dream team roster of Photoshop and Illustrator gurus, and thought you’d like get to know what makes them tick, why they’re passionate about what they do, and what you can expect to learn from them at the conference. (Our previous Speaker Spotlight was on Jesús Ramirez.)

The subject of this Speaker Spotlight is the legendary Bert Monroy.

The Bert Monroy File

Bert Monroy has been drawing his entire life. In eighth grade his teacher encouraged him to apply to high school of Art & Design….and so his formal training began.

Fast forward to 2016 and Bert is the pioneer of digital art. He is an American artist best known for his skill in using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. He thinks of himself as a hyper-realistic digital painter who builds his digital paintings as a traditional artist would: adding color and texture, but on a digital canvas. A veteran of twenty years in the advertising industry and thirty years as a commercial illustrator, Bert co-authored the first book on Photoshop and has authored several books since.

A Digital Painter, early Photoshop Adopter, Husband, Organic Gardener, Wood Worker, Nature Lover and a Professor.

His clients include Apple, Adobe, and Disney and he currently produces a weekly Photoshop podcast for PixelPlayground. Episodes are released on Friday and are free for one week.

First computer: The Macintosh 128 in 1984. At the time, I owned an ad agency and my partner was really into computers. He told me that we needed to computerize and to get me onboard he encouraged me to check out Mac Paint. Insisted that I would find it helpful with my layouts. Went to the store and started to play around with new fangled machine. Ended up discovering the FatBits Screen Magnifier, saw how this could help with my art and instantly knew this “machine” was the future. From that day forward, I visited the computer store daily to play with this demo machine until my personal computer arrived. Later that summer we put out our first software, HumanForms (a really cool program that allowed users to mix and match body parts to create human forms) and then a whole business simply blossomed around the Mac.

Lefty or Righty: Righty

Geeky or Nerd: A little of both.

Paper or Pen or Keyboard? Why? Centiq or iPad. The quick access to color without having to switch gears (or paint brushes) along the way. This is what made me fall in love with that first computer years ago—painting just goes so much smoother on a computer. Whatever you can imagine you can quickly create!

Favorite Websites: Google Maps. Not a big fan of surfing the web, I would much rather be working. Google Maps is great. The street view allows me to complete the research I need for my art by virtually walking down the street. A photo realist, I like to capture what I am seeing and then go beyond it. My paintings have no depth of field—no matter what you are looking at it’s in focus. I want you to “experience” the scene.

What’s in your pockets right now?  Only a bandana and my ID. Phone is attached at the hip and I am waiting for my nephews. Friday afternoon is reserved for hiking in the mountains.

Elvis or Beatles? Beatles. I can remember hearing them in high school and immediately gravitated to them and feel like I evolved with them. Their music touched on a vast array of subjects so my iPod contains almost all their songs….whereas Elvis was great and I do enjoy songs about love but the good old iPod has only about two Elvis songs on it.

At 6am I am usually: asleep. I typically get up around 7/7:15am, grab a cup of coffee and relax, savoring the flavor watching the day slowly unfold out the window.

If you could only use one software for the rest of your life what would it be? Photoshop

What is your favorite Photoshop feature? Brushes and later in version 6 Layer Styles.

(Actually, Bert played a big hand in bringing them about and turning Photoshop into a true painting tool—not to mention, three of the brushes in the main panel are his!)

What do you like best about being a speaker at conferences like the CreativePro Conference? The oohs and aahs—they are really important. I really enjoy having the “live” audiences and hearing their reactions. Showing something that sparks their own creativity and hearing the audible gasp as the idea emerges. I also like being with people and hearing firsthand their questions and software frustrations.

The title of one of your sessions is Real World Creations can you please give me a sneak peek of something readers can expect to learn from this session? 

In this session I will be discussing my new piece that will be unveiled later this year at Adobe MAX. It’s a huge file, almost double the size of my last one, so I can get even more detailed and the resolution will be like never before. I will discuss the research aspect, where to find the references, build up to the planning phase, establishing horizons, light sources, window reflections, which way the shadow falls, subjects and will show the piece in progress. Attendees will ooh and ahhh as they realize many of these techniques are so easy to implement they will wonder why they haven’t discovered it before now and will be excited to get back to their computers to let the creativity flow.

(And just a fun fact, Bert always hides “easter eggs” in his paintings—things and dates that have significant meaning to him that most people wouldn’t even recognize. If you see a license plate with a number on it, chances are it’s a special date, etc… Take a close look and then feel free to inquire, I can almost guarantee it will lead to an interesting conversation!)

Where can you find Bert on the Web


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See you in Minneapolis, July 10-13th!

Posted on: May 24, 2016

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