Artist Interviews 2023
Ryan (aka The Brigadoon Dispatch)
By Julia Siedenburg
Ryan aka The Brigadoon Dispatch is a digital artist that combines vintage photographs and elevates them with Photoshop and AI software.
His work shows a beautiful dystopian world, mystical fantastical places where people and animals live together in perfect harmony. With his work, he lets his inner child free to roam and that he does his world purely out of joy definitely comes through. Being a big lover of dogs and cats, as so are many of us, is what inspired him to create a narrative around them.
He shows us that there are no creative limitations and that no matter how weird or strange your ideas might seem, you can always find people that will enjoy them. In the end, there is beauty in strangeness.
I myself enjoy diving into his alternate realities very much and I cannot wait to see what he will come up with next.
Dear reader, I hope you enjoy learning more about the thoughts and inspiration that have brought The Brigadoon Dispatch to life.
What does it mean to you to be able to create something that people enjoy?
It’s very surprising and humbling. I do this just for fun, but I’ve received hundreds of messages from people all around the world that seem to really enjoy these little whimsical musings. Whether it’s the image, the caption, or the music pairing — I never expected to have such positive feedback. It makes it more worthwhile than simply being a creative outlet for myself. These are little cinematic still life which I’ve discovered many people are able to relate to or find a connection with.
Can you tell us what the idea behind your artist's name is?
Brigadoon is an old Scottish folklore. It’s a supposedly idyllic place that is only accessible once every 100 years where time stands still. It’s neither here nor there and will only exist as long as no one leaves. The short captions I write for each of the images are the Dispatches from the travels through Brigadoon. I enjoyed the concept of Brigadoon, while it was a name that ultimately allows a lot of flexibility in what I post. I wasn’t really sure where this experiment was going to go and I have no idea where it might lead. The Brigadoon Dispatch are postcards from this whimsical world.
On Instagram, you describe your work as ‘Vintage photographs from the future, as described to a microchip’. How did you find your way to using AI to create your work?
I own a furniture/lighting company www.objectinterface.ca (@objectinterface) and started using AI software to generate additional imagery that I could combine using photoshop with actual product photographs for marketing purposes. While playing around with the AI technology I quickly saw its potential and got hooked mostly for the writing aspect of both creating the prompts and then later writing the captions. The description itself is a metaphor. I have a background in visual arts including photography and have always been drawn to vintage style images, while AI is the ‘future’… To me, it sounds better than simply stating something more literal for the masses to better comprehend. For me, the images are secondary without the captions I write, but I also enjoy the availability of music that Instagram provides so that I can create little vignettes — it’s a multimedia experience that allows me to combine and use all my previous education and experience photography, writing, film editing, digital media, sculpture, etc.
All of your beautiful fantastical images focus mostly on humans with similar-looking animals. How did you find your specific style?
I’m usually trying to create an overall feel for the setting and some basic characteristics of the subjects. AI will either interpret the prompts and generate something similar to what was in my imagination or reorganize the priority of the verbiage used in the prompt. As mentioned before, I was drawn to using it more for the writing process and it sometimes forces you to think and use language differently than you otherwise normally would, which I find cathartic and stimulating.
Do you have a favorite image or series of images with a similar theme that you have created?
It’s hard to pick anyone. Depends on my mood, but it’s funny — most of my favorites are the ones that get the fewest likes on Instagram.
It stands out that most of the animals in your images are cats. Please explain your specific connection to them.
When I started experimenting with the software I was trying to generate a creature that was big and fluffy without success. It occurred to me that if I described a cat I would get better results, which worked. Also, it turns out that people like cats! So, I kind of just ran with it, but cats are interesting characters, each with their own personalities and characteristics that sometimes mirror their human companions or play off each other. They have definitely taken on a life of their own. I did grow up with an assortment of animals including several cats, so subconsciously they are still all rolling around high on catnip in the back of my mind.
How long does it take to create one of your images? Are you always immediately happy with the images that are being created by your software?
Technically it’s possible to generate an image in a matter of minutes, but it takes time to work out the kinks. The more I do, the pickier I get and the more hours it takes to generate a handful of images that I’m happy to share. Time wise it would probably be on the level of a basic photoshoot — adjusting the actors, setting, and lighting, and then collaborating with AI to take you somewhere you may not have initially envisioned which further feeds the imagination to then change course. I then stash the images away and come back to their days, weeks, and months later to write the captions which sometimes roll off the tongue or take an hour to edit something down to two sentences as a précis writing exercise.
Tell us a little bit about your childhood and upbringing.
I was surrounded by cats, dogs, and various other furry creatures… but, I’m still a child at heart.
A lot of people are under the impression that AI is going to be the end of art and writing as we know it and that a lot of people's jobs will disappear. What is your opinion on this matter?
Yes, I’m aware of those opinions, however, based on the negative comments that pop up on my posts — it’s a small percentage. I think it’s short-sighted to think that – it’s a gut reaction to new technology. AI is just another creative tool at artists’ disposal and whatever it is now is going to change quickly and evolve into something else. It’s especially funny to hear photographers grapple with it since the same was said when photography was first invented and then again when digital cameras came out. I think there are many artists using it to create art, having said that, based on how I’m using the technology, I prefer to refer to what I’m doing as visual storytelling — but that’s just semantics. There are many pro photographers now using it to generate the scenes and then composite product photographs into them — it’s a similar process as a traditional photo shoot.
What are your plans for the future?
As it is right now, this is a side project to my design work, just for fun. I have no idea where this will lead but will continue to do it as long as it is enjoyable..