Kris Torma

We are happy to present the next in the series of artist interviews here on Pixels—The Art of the iPhone.

This month, Kris Torma. Archival signed prints of Kris’s work can be found at

KB: Please tell us a little about yourself – where you live, if you hail from Earth, anything like that. Whatever you feel like sharing that isn’t covered in the questions below.

KT: I am the offspring of a Norwegian father and a French mother and was born and have always lived in Sydney Australia. I live with my partner Suzanne and two exquisite daughters, Sadie and Poppy, aged 8 and 6. I grew up in a creative household and was strongly influenced by the visual arts – my father was a photographer and sculptor, my mother a ceramicist and my sister is a photographer. I actually studied cinematography but ended up working as an art director in film for eight years. 1995 saw a significant segue in my career when I started a business with my brother and left film. ‘Axolotl’ was born of an idea that if we could apply semi precious metals such as bronze, copper, pewter etc onto less valuable or more creative surfaces we could create a successful and exciting business. In 2005 we introduced bespoke architectural glass into the business and in 2011 we invented a process to apply concrete incredibly thinly to any base. This may not seem to be very inventive, however no one has ever been able to apply it as thin without it cracking and it has opened up a huge range of design possibilities. We work closely with artists, architects and designers to create bespoke creations to their specifications ranging from large public art projects in glass and rust to custom bronze front entrance doors. One of the latest projects we worked on in 2011 was creating five very different glass types for the new Tiffany& Co’s flagship store in Melbourne and we’re currently working on their Sydney and Mexico City stores. Our processes allow us to inlay metal into concrete and concrete and metal into glass. We’ve been in business almost 17 years and, after all this time, I still get excited by the work we produce.

Traveling is a great passion, I try to get to Europe and Asia at least once a year. In fact I’m writing this from a boat between the islands of Lombok and Bali in Indonesia.

I have a great love of food and wine and of music over a whole range of genres. I love getting out for a ride on my Ducati when the weather is right.

KB: How long have you been shooting pictures with your iPhone?

KT: About three and a half years now, since the day I bought my first iPhone, although more seriously with my second iPhone, the iPhone 4 due to the improvements made to the camera.

KB: How often do you work on your art?

KT: On a daily basis. I’m lucky that I get to travel a great deal so there’s always ample opportunity to stumble upon new material. I also work on my images after work and with any free time that my workload and family life allows. I tend to work on multiple images at the same time, in some instances I can work on the same picture on and off for weeks to create the result I’m after.

KB: When did you get serious about it, and what was the turning point for you?

KT: It was actually when I found the Pixels website – I had been using Hipstamatic and a few other basic apps when I discovered the vast range of apps available to me and seeing what was achievable after looking at the submissions on the site.

KB: What do you like to shoot? When? How does your whole creative process work? And how has it evolved?

KT: Whenever and wherever I can. With my SLR I considered myself more of a portrait photographer, however with my iPhone I shoot a wide range of subjects. I still like shooting portraits which you will see in the images on the site of my two girls, but lately abstracts have held a lot of attraction to me. My self portraits have been more due to convenience than ego, it’s easy when an idea springs to mind to quickly take a photo of myself and I’m quite ok with making myself look ugly. I don’t think I would be able to manipulate the images of my girls in the same way I do to myself.

I consider myself to have a strong photographic eye, which I believe was nurtured from my father. I believe photographers or iphoneographers look at the world differently and see the detail in the mundane and the beauty and interest in the decayed and ugly. By constantly looking at everyday life for that perfect shot gives a photographer, or anyone involved in the visual arts, a different perspective than many.

My creative process works in many different ways – in some instances I can have a strong idea and plan a picture and a process in a particular direction. At other times I shoot a random shot that presents itself to me, I can the still have a clear direction in the post production of that image or sometimes I just play and see where the apps take me. I experiment a lot and needless to say that there’s a lot of images that don’t end up where I had intended.

The simple outcome I attempt to make with all my work is to evoke an emotional response, although nothing too deep or convoluted. I think most of my work comes from a positive place.

My work has evolved through the understanding of the different features of the apps and using different apps for multiple layering effects. I now take each image in and out of multiple apps while previously I would only use one or two. I have a library of folders dividing my images into raw images, textures and overlays which I am continually building on which I then combine to form my work – there’s never an excuse for me not be working on a shot as there are always a library of images on my phone available to me.

KB: Do you work in any other creative mediums, i.e., painting, music, writing, etc.?

KT: None of the traditional mediums, however my business gives me a strong creative outlet. Not only do I get the chance to work with creative people who I employ but my clients are usually from creative professions like artists, architects, designers and such. We work together to work on solutions to all types of design issues from construction methods of sculptural pieces to creating new products by combining two or three of our processes together – metal, glass and concrete. Every job we produce is custom so every job requires new and innovative design input.
We’re an innovative company so i’m constantly involved in research and development to create new finishes and applications. Aside from this we do not outsource any of our graphic work but I’ve always designed everything in house from our logo to brochures to the website, unfortunately including the copywriting!

KB: Do you spend time online looking at the work of other iphoneographic artists?

KT: Every single day. I’m blown away by the creativity found on the site and use the work as inspiration for my own images. I like to try and work out how the image was created but in many instances I have absolutely no idea how it was made. I know from my own work that something that can be very simple to create can look extremely complex. The best work, in my experience, fundamentally comes down to a good base image however the apps do create a freedom to create something from nothing.

KB: Have you done a lot of traditional photography? If so, are you still using your camera as well as your iPhone?

KT: Yes, I’ve had a camera in my hand for as long as I can remember and I currently own two SLR’s and about nine lenses, however I don’t use my SLR’s nearly as much as I used to. I would travel on a yearly basis to the same destination and I realized all my SLR images were looking the same. I was more than excited when I discovered the Hipstamatic app and I started using it on every image and created a portfolio of my trips using just this app. When i had exhausted Hipstamatic I moved onto Pro HDR, this was when I discovered the Pixels website and found the vast range of apps available to me.

I now find my SLR heavy and cumbersome and it doesn’t offer me the same sense of freedom as my iPhone, however, at the present moment, I still do take it with me on my overseas trips. I expect this will change as the iPhone camera improves on updated models and I overcome my old habits.
KB: We are a couple of years into the global iphoneographic phenomenon. How do you think things have changed in that time?

[KT]: They have changed a great deal and the Pixels website is testimony to this. If you look at the images over the past two years, in fact, over the past six months, the professionalism that has evolved is outstanding. It can only get better as the iPhone camera improves and the apps become more specialized.

KB: Where do you stand on the “Is iPhoneography photography or a whole new medium” debate?

KT: I don’t think I can make a call on whether it’s a new medium or not however I do believe that in time the differences between traditional photography and iphoneography will become increasingly blurred. The camera itself is getting better and better with each new model and I suspect by iPhone 7 or 8 the camera will be at 20 megapixels or more. Already we’re able to purchase clip on lenses and now we’re also able to purchase attachments for our iPhone where we’re able to attach any SLR lens at all! (Is this allowed on Pixels?). So, as I see it, working within the constraints of the iPhone are becoming less and less.

Having said that I’m more than happy to wear the label of iphoneographer.

KB: Who are some artists – in any medium – you admire or have influenced you?

KT: There have been many influences – in photography, Maplethorpe, especially his Polaroids, as well as Max Dupain, Loretta Lux and Edward Burtynsky. I’ve always admired Gregory Crewdson for his patience to create the one perfect shot.

I’m a great lover of contemporary art and a huge fan of Rosalie Gascoigne, David Serisier and Craig Ruddy.

My father was also a great influence on my art especially when it came to cropping, although I must admit I do break most of the rules he set.

In respect to the iphoneographers on this site there are too many to mention (but you know who you are, Roger, Lu, Karen……….)

KB: What is your basic app kit, or Camera Bag, as Marty Yawnick calls it. How has your use of apps evolved over time?

KT: As mentioned above, I started like most of the artists on this site using Hipstamatic. My camera bag now consists of about 60 apps – the basics would be Iris, Juxtapose, Superimpose, Photocopier, Scratchcam, Pic Grunger, Retouch, Camera FX, Filterstorm, Fotoforge and PhotoWizard.

There’s still so much to learn on the apps I have already downloaded so I’m trying to avoid downloading any more until I have mastered the ones I currently have…. but i do find it hard to restrain myself.

KB: Are there any apps you don’t like?

KT:: Apart from any app that changes the format and lowers the resolution, which appears to be the main gripe with iphoneographers on this site, apps that require complex instructions or aren’t self explanatory (I suspect the designers of the more complicated apps were brought up on PC’s).


  • apps that take me in the wrong direction
  • and apps that make my pictures look bad

KB: Are there any specific improvements you would like to see made to existing apps?

KT: it would be great if Diptic allowed the opportunity to format the images to any size and not with the constraints that it currently has.

KB: Are there any apps you would like to see developed/invented?

KT: Yes, one that can read my mind.

KB: When you feel you have reached a creative stalemate, and believe your work is not cutting it anymore, do you have any tricks for breaking out of artist’s block?

KT: If I’m able to work on my images daily I don’t tend to get a creative stalemate. If I’m interrupted by long days at work it can impact on the creative flow. There are a few things I’ll try to get the juices flowing again – logging into the pixels website and looking at the new work for inspiration always helps. As does familiarising myself with a new app, working out its best uses and becoming aware of its limitations. Even taking a break for a few days, it doesn’t take long for that itch to come back.

KB: What features would you like to see implemented at the Pixels website?

KT: I think you’ve covered it all Knox. I always thought the site should have the facility to purchase prints but you have now covered that with the new P1xels site.

KB: A last word perhaps?l

KT::Thank you Knox, for the opportunity to showcase my work.

KB: Thank you, Kris.

You can see Kris Torma’s striking contributions to Pixels: The Art Of The iPhone by clicking here.