Morten Saether is a freelance photographer and painter. He favours using mixed digital photography techniques to produce his work.
“Photography is often the essence of my Art. I also love traditional collages. So often my work consists of different photos put together in layers
and presented in a new way, mostly abstract but sometimes with elements you can recognize.”
Alongside his self taught artistic practice, Morten has enjoyed an extensive professional career as an Art Director and Graphic Designer.
Morten’s photography and paintings have been featured in exhibitions in Collioure/France, Barcelona/Spain, Fredrikstad, Horten and Oslo/Norway.
Morten is keen to continue to exhibit his work throughout Europe and is focusing on Paris and Barcelona as his target markets. Morten resides in Oslo, Norway.
Hello Morten! Tell us a few words about yourself.
Morten: I grew up with an interest of drawing and painting – later on with photography. I wanted to be an architect but didn’t have the grades to get into the university. So I went for the commercial business: I have a long career in advertising and graphic design. I’m still doing this kind of work for clients now and then, but more and more of my time goes to making art these days. But it’s hard to be a freelancer and have to have some income every month.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Morten: Yoghurt breakfast, a run in the neighborhood, answering emails, and doing some SoMe stuff. Then some commercial work on the computer – if I have any. Lunch. A trip to my little studio where I paint for 2, 3 hours. Then home again – to work with photos and collages on my computer. Then dinner and maybe some TV. In the evening some hours again on my computer to work and prepare photos I have taken.
You are using mixed digital photography techniques to produce your work. Tell us more about that. And where did you get inspiration for that?
Morten: I don’t have a proper photographic education, but I have been working with professional photographers in my job as an Art Director all my career – so I have learned a lot on the set. I also like to travel and I think that all my trips to Paris did have a great influence on how my art has evolved. I went to a lot of contemporary galleries and to get around in Paris I had to take the Metro. What caught my interest was all the torn paper posters down in the subway. I started to depict these posters and now I have 1000s. For me it works like collages: I can mix colors, texts, details from photos, etc to make a totally new image. Many of these photos are used in my Art Print series named «Paris Metro». As Picasso said: «Every act of creation is, first of all, an act of destruction.» Lately I have developed this technique to also include a mix of photography and my own acrylic paintings. It’s the same way of collage thinking but the expression will differ all the time.
What motivates you as an artist? Is it curiosity, the search for beauty, or meaning? And is there a message you are trying to give with your art?
Morten: I have not been doing this for that many years yet, so I would say that I am still in a period of experimentation. In the beginning, I searched for beauty in form or colours. Now I think I am in the phase of destruction: I like to «ruin» my image to the degree that you almost don’t see what it is – in the space between abstract and concrete.
What is the gear you have used in the past and present?
Morten: I am using my own digital photography shot on a Lumix camera. I am also doing a lot of acrylic paintings on board and canvas. Then I photograph the paintings and bring everything into my computer. I am using both Illustrator and Photoshop. Here I work in layers and mix up to 10 different images at the same time. So it’s on my Apple Computer everything is created in the end.
Your art is very unique. What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Morten: The challenging part is to search for the right combinations of the digital files. It’s very time-consuming. And it’s not that obvious what it will be in the end. It’s all about hard work, testing combinations, working with contrasts and colours, rejecting and trying new things. The good thing is that I am my own boss, working from home so I can easily distract myself to do something else. A jog in the park is often a good solution.
Who were your early influences?
Morten: One of my first inspirations was Matisse and his Fauvist period of rough paintings starting around 1905 in the south of France. Other artists that I love are: Braque, Man Ray, Warhol, Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Kooning, and Rauschenberg to mention a few. I also love the Cobra group.
Share some interesting facts about your art with us.
Morten: I had my first solo show with paintings when I lived in the south of France for one year. My goal was to paint for a year and then have an expo. And I did it! It was called «Rapport Annuel».
I always have my camera with me wherever I go. You never know when you see a motive – it’s always there when you least expect it. I don’t care about f-stops, shutter speed, or exposure. When I look at a subject, I study it like a painter and decide what I want to create. I call it right brain photography.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Morten: A client wanted the motive so big that I had to print it on a canvas. No glass.
The best thing is when a person asks for the price based on a presentation on Facebook or Instagram.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Morten: Now a days I present my art on Facebook, Instagram, and some art websites. And I actually sell through Facebook. That’s a good thing. But my wish is to present my Art in a big gallery either in Paris, Barcelona or another big city. But first, we have to get rid of this ugly Covid-19 troll. And then I need to be «discovered» 🙂
What’s next for you?
Morten: My plan is to find a gallery here in Oslo that would be interested in presenting some of my work. I also have plans to check out the silkscreen possibilities. I love the technique.
To find out more about Morten and his art, please make sure to check: