Story courtesy of Mountain Life Media




By: Magee Walker

In an age of digital processing, one-touch filters and copious amounts of Photoshop, it’s hard to know what’s real anymore. We’re either living in a world of lies or we’re living in a fantasyland, depending on how we look at it.

“A Whistler snow-capped mountain scene with a beautiful, peeling wave in front of it would never exist,” says Whistler-based artist, Stacey Bodnaruk. “You could never obtain that moment from a real photograph. The dream of it, however, can be very real.”

Stacey captures that dream — a curling Baja wave lapping below a snowy Whistler Mountain — in a piece of digital artwork entitled “Whistler Wave.” Each of Stacey’s pieces combines between three and seven photographs to produce one fantastical image. Textures are fused, colours are reinvented, and worlds are skewed and reconstructed to create imaginary lands of mountains, forests, and ocean. This is “Art-ography” a term Stacey coined to capture her own unique brew of digitally manipulated photography.

“Photos are captured, edited, and creatively blended together through layers and textures,” she explains. “I tell a story through merging the visuals into a cohesive piece.”

Stacey’s own story is also, in a way, a unique blend of different snapshots. The base picture is set in Winnipeg, Manitoba where she grew up as a prairie girl with a penchant for art. Enter the mountain scene: a family ski holiday in Banff at age ten introduced her to the charm of small mountain towns, and it was love at first sight.

Then there’s the ocean layer: with a fresh interior design degree Stacey took an architectural/design job in Vancouver and began yet another love affair, this time with the ocean. Swirl all these life-snapshots together and you get Stacey as she is today: a full-time Whistler resident who fulfills her ocean fix with regular trips to Tofino.

Though elements of her formal training in interior design spill over into her art, Stacey is primarily a self-taught graphic designer, web designer, artist, and photographer. She’s had her own graphic and web design company since 1999, proving that you don’t always need an official diploma to succeed.

Of course, Art-ography is a relatively new format and low barriers to entry mean that any amateur with photo editing software — or, heck, anyone with an iPhone — can push a few buttons and declare themself a digital artist. It can be difficult, perhaps impossible, to discern the line between professional and amateur.

“I think experience is a natural indicator,” Stacey says. “There is more attention to detail: the art is more comprehensive, and the ability to achieve something beautiful can be done more efficiently. With that said, we live in a world of exceptions, and some that are very new to this particular industry can prove to be naturally talented. The flipside is that we live in a world where technology software has enabled amateurs to come across as professionals, because the untrained eye cannot tell the difference.”

There’s certainly nothing amateur about Stacey’s pieces, which are printed on unconventional materials like aluminum, acrylic, glass, and wood. “I love old traditional photos for their imperfections, and I love processed digital images for their perfection — or their desire to reach perfection,” says Stacey.

Perfection… more than a few Coast Mountains residents would love to somehow shift the real world a bit and locate Whistler Mountain powder right next to a Baja surf break. The old saying is “life imitates art,” so here’s hoping.

This post is also available in: French