It’s “Guest Blog Wednesday” featuring Bert Monroy!

Bert Monroy headshotsm

Guest Blog for Scott! When I was asked to write this blog I had no idea what to write about. What did I eat this morning? What am I doing this afternoon? My latest painting? I had no idea. Guest blog for Scott Kelby—the man that has written more books than I can count—that’s a tall order!

As I tossed and turned thinking of what to write, I realized that previous guest bloggers were mostly photographers, retouchers and art directors—a virtual cornucopia of talents and skill sets. But they all had one thing in common—Photoshop.

As I write this blog I am still coming down from the excitement of Photoshop World that took place in Vegas this month, where once again, a vast number of people came together because of this one piece of remarkable software. People from all walks of life imaginable have this one thing in common.

As Adobe Photoshop celebrates its twentieth anniversary, it is interesting to look back at how this computer application changed the way we approach Imaging. As an example, just the other night I was channel switching and came across one of those crime investigation dramas where the verb “Photoshopped” was used three times!

There have been many changes to our workflow since Photoshop became one of our tools. I remember witnessing a major shift in the graphic arts industry back in the early 90s. Ad agencies all over New York City started dumping those giant, costly behemoths that were known as paint box systems. These giants took up valuable space and required a techie to run them. They were replaced with Macs directly on the art directors’ desks.

The combination of digital photography and Photoshop dramatically changed our approach to imaging. Gone are the days… of shooting Polaroids and hoping the film matched what we were aiming for. I remember many times that art went out “as is” because there was no more time or budget to get it right. The slightest retouching took time and cost a lot. Today we can see what we’re getting while we’re getting it. Then we can easily alter the result, to get exactly what we want. Of course that opens the door for some to over do it.

Photoshop has given everyone the tools to be creative. Let’s go back a few years and think about the accountant that suddenly decided he wanted to paint. He would have to go to the art supply store, figure out what kind of paints, canvas or whatever he wanted. Find the right bunch of books to teach himself how to use all that stuff. Let’s not get into the clean up time afterward. “Too much work, leave until retirement” he usually surrendered.

Today that same accountant probably has a scanner. The scanner came bundled with Photoshop Elements. With a simple click, his studio is opened. All the brushes are clean and ready to go. The paints are mixed and all he needs is his imagination. Not sure how to do it? There are tons of training videos at his disposal at the push of another button. Clean up? Press one key and you’re back in the office.

Let’s not forget that little ball of energy that opens her pictures and applies a few Auto buttons here and there to make them perfect and then show them to grandma, three-thousand miles away, while talking to her on the phone.

Photoshop is, and has been for two decades, the standard others try to emulate. There have been many that boasted the title of “Photoshop Killer” but when it comes down to business, we all double-click on that little blue square with a “Ps” on it.

I find it incredible that a single program had such an impact on society; Asia, Europe, South America, wherever I go, there is one word that is pronounced the same all over— Photoshop. Well, almost the same. The same fevered adoration and enthusiasm grips people all over the world. We now have the tools to bring to life anything our imaginations can conjure up—tools that keep getting better with each new Photoshop release.

On this twentieth anniversary I also want to share how Photoshop has changed my life, personally. For me, Photoshop is the evolution of the spark that I felt when I first saw that nine-inch screen running MacPaint on the Mac 128 in 1984. That spark led me on a new digital path. I remember getting color when the Mac II was introduced! Pixel Paint became my primary tool. There were many, many other paint programs that came to the market but then Photoshop came on the scene.

I have been extremely fortunate to watch the growth of Photoshop since before Adobe had the good sense to buy it. I remember one of the coolest things about that first version was an airbrush that worked like the airbrushes in traditional media. I used the airbrush to create the aged grime on the signage in Subway Inn. That was the last painting I did in Pixel Paint. From that day forward I lived in Photoshop.


The app got better and better as time went on. I remember being brought to Stanford University by Adobe as an alpha tester and seeing layers for the first time. I was locked in a brightly lit room with multiple cameras and microphones pointed at me. I sat there facing a large, mirrored wall. I can only imagine the look on my face when I saw the menu that said “Layers”.

I also remember a few years later going to Adobe to see a new feature they had plans to implement in a future version—the Brushes panel. I said it was the coolest thing I had seen since Pixel Paint, which caused the Adobe folks to chuckle. It turns out the guy who wrote the engine was none other than Jerry Harris, who originally wrote Pixel Paint with Keith MacGreggor. My painting Late Afternoon was the first painting where I incorporated these custom brushes. A few of the brushes for this piece ended up in the program.


As an Alpha tester it is my job to push each new version as far as I can. While playing with early versions of CS3 I created my last piece Lunch in Tiburon.


My newest piece is pushing so much, my machine is groaning. However, Photoshop still manages to keep up and force me to find new ways to do what seems to be impossible.

Besides becoming my main tool for working as an artist, Photoshop also changed my life in many other ways. For one thing, I have many books that bear my name as the author and many more as co-author. I am currently collaborating on one with Jack Davis, Cher Pendarvis and Jane Conner-Zizer on painting with Photoshop. They’re old friends that date back to the MacPaint days. I never thought I would ever write a book.

I was a monthly guest on a TV show for almost four years and have been a guest on over three dozen other shows internationally. I host my weekly podcast, Pixel Perfect, which has over one hundred and sixty episodes so far. I certainly never saw myself as a host of a show. I’ve created hundreds of hours of material for DVDs and on-line training.

All these new venues have given me the greatest accomplishment of my career—the ability to teach and inspire many others to pursue their own creative pursuits and try something new. The reward to me has been the opportunity to meet new people all over the world. They in turn inspire me in one way or another. One such person is my friend, Mike Bougher. Here is a man who is afflicted with ALS yet he can say, “I am happier, and more fulfilled than I have ever been.” In spite of his handicap he creates some of the most beautiful art that I’ve seen. And, yes, he uses Photoshop!

These past twenty years have been filled with exciting new adventures that were made possible by a tool that lets you create whatever you can imagine. As I look at the computer savvy young people today that have no fear of a dialog box that has an exploding bomb telling them their system crashed, I can’t help but feel excited about the future. Photoshop has animation, 3D, basically everything you need in one place. I end my podcasts by telling people to sit there and play. Playing with Photoshop is the best way to learn Photoshop. It shouldn’t be considered “work.” Work could never be that much fun.

I have seen many facets of Photoshop’s future and believe me there is still a bevy of new features. Once you see them you’ll never understand how you could have lived without them this long.

The future holds a lot in store for us as far as our creativity is concerned. Now its time to stop reading this, open up Photoshop, play and let your imagination take you on a ride!

-Bert Monroy

To see more of Bert’s amazing work, visit his website –

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