Imagekind Artist Interviews – Dennis Mash
Dennis Mash has been making works of art using non-traditional techniques for decades now. His ideas and techniques have evolved over the years, but he has carved a niche for himself with his gorgeous x-ray images of shells, sea life, and everyday objects. Dennis was kind enough to share his image making methods and his marketing ideas with our blog readers!
The Inside Nature Gallery is a collection of shells and sea life from oceans around the world, all of which have very cool looking internal designs. When friends or clients would see my work, they would come up with other ideas for me to X-Ray. The Inside Design Gallery represents those ideas. I am currently the President of Medical Insights Inc., specializing in consulting, integration and implementation of solutions for the diagnostic imaging market. I continue to work at a local hospital to keep up my diagnostic skills and look for new subjects.
1). How did you start making these types of images?
It’s not like I discovered this technique – other people have done similar things before. When I was in the Navy, my friend Lynn Walsh had the idea. We were both in special procedures – specifically looking at arteries with an x-ray. One day, Lynn said “Hey! Why don’t we x-ray this shell?” We were always looking for new ways to make a little money, and when we saw the images we knew we could sell them matted and framed.
2). What techniques do you use to get your images? How has your technique evolved?
The technique was originally a combination of Radiography and Radiographic film processing. (By the way, a Radiograph and an X-ray are the same thing.) At first, it was trial and error. We were using film, and developing the films in the radiology darkroom to create a negative. We varied the exposure till we got just the right contrast and gray scale to show all the internal dimensions of the shells. The next step would be to go into the darkroom and combine the negative with a piece of subtraction film. Subtraction film gives you a positive image, with a clear background. The original images were the actual films mounted onto a white pebble background, giving it a sense of depth. It looked more like a pen and ink drawing than an x-ray. I taught myself to do matting and framing, and when put all together it looked really neat. This is how I created my prints until 1980.
In 1980, I started working with Andy Reisberg, owner of Photographic Archives in Dallas, Texas. Andy had seen my work and suggested I collaborate with him to take my art in a different direction. He turned my films into gorgeous silver-gelatin prints, sometimes sepia or selenium toning them. We focused on my 13 most popular pieces. Andy and I really collaborated on the process to get the artistic results that I wanted.
Later on, I had my negatives scanned to make giclee prints. I now use different digital techniques to put the images together as collages.
3). What post processing work do you do them?
After scanning, I clean up the backgrounds so they are pure white. If the image is not toned, I will apply a duo-tone filter in Photoshop. It’s a very time intensive process to get it looking just right!
4). How do you choose your images? What are you favorite subjects to work with, and why?
When I first starting making these images, I was in San Diego. Everywhere you looked there were shell shops. Shells were easy enough to get my hands on, and they were gorgeous as well.
I’ve x-rayed many other items as well, though, mostly at the suggestion of family and friends. One year, I made an x-tray of penny loafers for a shoe company that presented at the Apparel Mart in Dallas. They put up the images in their showroom. It was a different, fun advertisement for the shoes. The musical instrument images that are in my gallery were borrowed from a band store in Dallas, and I just paid them back in images!
I prefer working with shells though, but maybe I have just been pursuing them longer. I’ll x-ray pretty much anything!
5). What was the catalyst to sell your images as fine art?
As soon as I saw the first image that we made, I knew I could sell it. Once I saw the finished framed and matted product, I knew that others would want to buy it and they did. It was fine art from the beginning. I try to connect my art to every aspect of my life. It has become the thread that connects my artistic side to my professional life.
6). Do you show your work in galleries? Do you participate in shows and competitions?
I am still represented by the Photographic Archives Gallery in Dallas, Texas. I participated in a number of competitions in the early ‘70s, but I hate to say it, I just don’t have time anymore. My main focus is getting my internet presence worked out and developing my online marketing plan. I might participate in more competitions and shows in the future.
7). You send out some interesting material to your buyers and fans. Can you tell us more about it?
I travel a lot, and wanted former clients and potential clients to have a way to easily see my artwork in my Imagekind galleries. So, I created a marketing email that I sent out to my email list that showed examples of my various pieces matted and framed.
I also designed a CD that I would give out at any Radiologic meetings that I would go to, and I think most radiologists would be interested in my work. I designed the CD in PowerPoint, and built a slideshow to showcase my images. I even added a little jazz music that plays in the background. One thing I learned is that a lot of people are not comfortable with just sticking a CD in their computer, and going to find the drive, and then the file to get it to play. I took that advice to heart and bought an auto-play program so that the CD plays automatically as soon as it is put in the disk drive. The CD boots up with a menu of options, including buttons linking to my Medical Insights web site and my Imagekind galleries.
I really like to have options for those that can’t afford to buy a print. My work is really popular as greeting cards. The greeting cards at Imagekind are great quality, and that’s what I use today when giving out samples of my work. I always give a box of greeting cards to the Radiology departments after an installation. I think it’s important to reach out to those that would be interested in your work.
8). How did you decide on Imagekind for printing?
I started using Imagekind after searching for a way to output my digital files. It’s also really convenient to have my images available on the internet without building a big website. I don’t need printing experience or a lot of money to sell excellent quality images – the printing is great! I knew it would be a great way to market my work for the future, and I found it at the right time.
9). What do you do when you are not making art?
Currently, I am the President of Medical Insights Inc. I still work in the hospital as a Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist part time. I’m married and we have 3 sons. If I’m not traveling for my job I am working on my website and projects.
10). Who is your favorite artist on Imagekind (besides yourself!)
To be honest with you, its hard to answer, because I just haven’t had the time to look at everything! I can’t possibly give you a favorite because I haven’t looked at everything. I do have to say that I look at all the artists who have become my fan, and all of them are extremely talented. I really think there is a ton of great talent on Imagekind, and if my work isn’t quite right for someone, I will always recommend my fellow Imagekind artists.
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