Steve 'Mixup' Howard


Steve Howard, better known as Mixup, has been making photobooth art since 1979. He is also the organizer of the annual International Photobooth Convention.

Artist statement:

I'm always looking in magazines for a full page picture of a models face. They are my template to work on. Much better if I find the magazine. It doesn't seem the same if I buy one for that purpose and better still that the models are anonymous, I feel free to express myself without the fear of not getting it right. A bit of paint here, a bit of paint there, highlight the eyes and mouth until it looks good, well to me anyway. I used to make some of my masks years back in a similar way, to use in my crazy photobooth strips. I guess that's where it all started, meeting up with friends at the local photobooth to take some crazy pictures. These were no ordinary friends, a hybrid of hippiedom and punk with lashings of youthful idealism, we were on a mission. Don't ask me what that mission was but we made some fantastic pictures. I guess my mask making evolved into paintings somewhere along the way.

As I reached out into the world I inevitably found like minded souls to work with. Living in Belgrade is a man called Microbe. For a decade and half we have shared our love of photobooths and found common ties of Pop culture, you know, rock'n'roll. Distance means creating works over time and using collage to blend the best of our idea's. I send him some work through the post, he sends me some. We work with it, send it back and forth until some finished piece manifests itself.

I still use the photobooth of course, more so than ever. I hold the annual International Photobooth convention, lead workshops and provide knowledge for others from my website. I've welcomed the move to the digital age and I like to use new photobooth machines. They offer different ways of working and different results. Strangely I have found myself creating a whole new range of work with these machines namely the self portrait. For almost half of my life I used masks and disguises to make bizarre and humorous images but never quite revealed myself. Maybe I had no reason to. Maybe I want to take a look at myself now.

There are things I want to create that I can't do by myself so I like to lead a group in the realisation of an idea like a director has a vision for a film and my latest project is one such. I have known for a long time that the inspiration for my art is music. I never quite cut it as a musician. I dabble with synths and computers but never had the fulfilment I've wanted. So, as an avid listener, music goes into my head and art comes out. I have thousands of records and from this has developed the idea of a man called Vinnie Vinyl who searches charity shops looking for the ultimate bargain. My team of Phil, Ian, Ivan and Sam have helped me bring to life this cartoon character. We have just finished our first short story and it will be exhibited in April.

My next photobooth convention will be at the end of May in the USA.

Mixup, March 2005

Contributed by Tim