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What emerged as an outlet for creativity away from their self-described mundane work routines has become a roaring success for hypnotic ink artists Ernest Otoo and Andy Pilsbury, who are collectively known as Plume.

History and Background

At INSIGHT:2016, Plume quickly made a name for themselves with their Tabula Rasa project, which combined high-speed photography, moving images and ethereal soundscapes to create surreal, flourishing scenes.

The duo combine juxtaposing skill sets to create their unique ink-in-water pieces. Graphic designer and art director Ernest views art from a technical and design perspective, allowing him to objectively assess the aesthetics of the piece. Conversely, photographer Andy uses his technical understanding of light and shooting to react quickly to the ink movements.

Ideas and Inspirations

Describing their work as "escapism through exploring", Plume are inspired by artists such as Leif Podhajský, Samuel Burgess-Johnson, Phill Blake and Richard Mosse. Together, they hope to revolutionise the use of ink and its effect on the viewer.

Ernest explains: “It’s a voyeuristic look at the hypnotic behaviour of different coloured paints in water. We’re pushing the boundaries to understand the true potential. The medium is naturally beautiful. We didn’t feel there was a need to weigh it down with a deep and heavy meaning; each viewer takes away their own experience.”

From Palette to Picture

Each piece starts by setting up lighting around a fish tank. After thoroughly cleaning the tank to remove any blemishes, they fill it with water. Ernest then drops in the inks to build a composition while Andy photographs the emerging artwork.

“Andy has to shoot everything while dressed as a burglar,” Ernest jokes. “He wears all black, including a balaclava and gloves. Good music is essential too.”

The final stage involves selecting the best images and slightly re-touching them to enhance the colours and vibrancy.