Reimagining Animals From Foliage and Flowers by Josh Dykgraaf

Dykgraaf's work bridges the gap between the organic and the manufactured, showcasing the beauty and diversity of the natural world in a truly remarkable way.

By: THURSD. | 14-06-2023 | 6 min read
Photography Sustainability
Josh Dykgraaf reimagines animals with the use of found natural materials

In the exquisite world of photography, where artistry and imagination collide and seem to merge, Australian photographic manipulation artist and illustrator, Josh Dykgraaf found a niche and now stands out as a true visionary. He is one artist with a unique talent for reimagining animals through the use of found natural materials.

Dykgraaf brings forth a mesmerizing collection of artworks that close the gap between what is organic and what is fabricated and breathes life into animal creations by harnessing the beauty of the natural world.

The Backstory: Who is Josh Dykgraaf?

Dykgraaf is known for his unique approach to photography and illustration. He is renowned for his ability to reimagine animals using found natural materials, creating intricate sculptures and capturing them through captivating photographs. Dykgraaf's work bridges the gap between the organic and the manufactured, showcasing the beauty and diversity of the natural world in a truly remarkable way.


Josh Dykgraaf Reimagines Animals From Foliage and Flowers in His Photographic Art
Tawny frogmouths


Born and raised in Australia, Dykgraaf developed a deep appreciation for nature from an early age. He spent his childhood exploring forests, beaches, and meadows, fascinated by the intricate details and diverse forms found in the environment. This love for nature eventually became the driving force behind his artistic endeavors.

Having received initial training in photography and graphic design, Dykgraaf predominantly showcases his artistic prowess through the manipulation of personally captured images or in collaboration with other photographers. His expertise lies primarily in deploying Photoshop as an effective tool, while also complementing his work with the use of 3D platforms such as Cinema 4D.


Josh Dykgraaf photographic illustration of a magpie


For Dykgraaf, his initial and most profound source of inspiration is Maurits Cornelis Escher who was a Dutch graphic artist. MC Escher made mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. Dykgraaf also cites neo-futurist architects like Finnish-American architect and industrial designer, Eero Saarinen as his other inspiration. You can read more about Dykgraaf's artworks in this article.

The Artistic Process of Dykgraaf

Within his personal body of work, Dykgraaf explores the fusion of space and existence. He delves into the realm of scale manipulation and ingeniously crafts fresh objects and illusions using the textures derived from the elements of both our constructed environments and the natural world.

Dykgraaf's artistic process begins with collecting discarded natural materials such as fallen leaves, twigs, feathers, and shells. He views these items as fragments of nature's story, each with its own unique texture, color, and shape. With meticulous attention to detail, he assembles these materials into intricate sculptures that depict animals with astonishing realism.


Josh Dykgraaf Cassowary with chicks


Once the sculptures are complete, Dykgraaf employs his skills in photography to capture their essence. He carefully considers lighting, composition, and texture, creating a symbiotic relationship between the sculptures and the natural world they originate from. The resulting photographs are ethereal and captivating, showcasing the intricate details of the sculptures and evoking a sense of wonder and awe.

Visually Stunning Works That Are Heavy With Message

Dykgraaf's work is not only visually stunning but also carries a deeper message. Through his creations, he encourages viewers to appreciate the beauty and fragility of the natural world, reminding us of our responsibility to protect and preserve it. 

His use of found materials also highlights the importance of sustainability and the potential for creative expression through repurposing and reimagining what already exists in nature.


Josh Dykgraaf Reimagines Animals From Foliage and Flowers in His Photographic Art


Dykgraaf says: 

“I love making things that bring a bit of wonder and magic into your day-to-day. Things that make you do a double-take and question what it is that you're looking at.”

Dykgraaf's unique artistic vision has garnered him recognition and admiration both in Australia and internationally. His work serves as a testament to the power of art to connect us with the natural world and inspire us to become better stewards of the environment.

Dykgraaf Unearths the Essence of Nature

Drawing inspiration from the boundless wonders of nature, Dykgraaf scours forests, beaches, and meadows, hunting for remnants of the organic world. Fallen leaves, twigs, feathers, and shells are among the myriad treasures he collects. These elements, seemingly forgotten by time, become the building blocks of his extraordinary creations.


Josh Dykgraaf Reimagines Animals From Foliage and Flowers in His Photographic Art


With painstaking attention to detail, Dykgraaf meticulously arranges and constructs these found natural materials into intricate sculptures of animals. Each piece tells a story, capturing the essence of the creature it represents while simultaneously embodying the spirit of the materials used. The results are often captivating visual narratives that blur the boundaries between art and nature.

Works of Art That Scintillate Our Imaginations

Once the sculptures are complete, Dykgraaf's unique artistic process enters a new domain. He meticulously photographs each composition, employing an array of photography techniques to capture the interplay of light and texture. Through careful manipulation and editing, Dykgraaf creates stunning, ethereal images that transport viewers into a world where animals rise from the very fibers of the earth itself.


Josh Dykgraaf Reimagines Animals From Foliage and Flowers in His Photographic Art


His true passion, he says, lies in creating art that deeply resonates with people. The driving force behind his creative endeavors is the profound impact his work has on viewers. Witnessing someone's double-take or observing their visible emotional response, whether positive or negative, makes all the effort worthwhile for him.

The exhilaration he experiences in those moments can fuel his inspiration for days on end, envisioning how his art prompts viewers to question the boundaries of their reality or dive into the intricate details of his creations.

Dykgraaf's portfolio includes breathtaking depictions of sea and terrestial animals. It also depicts birds, their plumage created from a mesmerizing array of delicate flowers and feathers.


Josh Dykgraaf Reimagines Animals From Foliage and Flowers in His Photographic Art


The avian masterpieces are a testament to the artist's ability to harmonize colors, textures, and shapes found in the natural world, culminating in images that exude both grace and vibrancy.

His Works Are an Invitation to Appreciate Nature 

Dykgraaf's work extends beyond the boundaries of art. It serves as a poignant reminder of the beauty and fragility of the natural world that surrounds us. Each photograph he creates is an invitation to pause, appreciate, and celebrate the intricate ecosystems that support our planet's rich biodiversity.


Josh Dykgraaf Reimagines Animals From Foliage and Flowers in His Photographic Art


Through his use of found natural materials, Dykgraaf encourages people to rethink their relationship with the environment. His creations emphasize the importance of preserving and protecting the environment and natural resources, urging people to explore sustainable alternatives to materials that harm the earth’s delicate ecosystems.

He says:

“For the last few years, my work has centered around my series “Terraform”, which explores the relationship between various animals and their habitat.”


Josh Dykgraaf Reimagines Animals From Foliage and Flowers in His Photographic Art
Sacred Kingfisher


His recent work tends to focus on the exploration and conservation of our natural environment. It also puts emphasis on the effects of climate change. In the past, Dykgraaf's artwork has graced the walls of prestigious galleries and museums, including renowned establishments such as Flinders Lane Gallery.

Artworks That Remind Us of Our Duty to Preserve Nature

As a true art enthusiast, you will appreciate that Dykgraaf crafts imagery that has the power to transport you into worlds that are unreal, surreal, and awe-inspiring through his creative vision.

His photographic illustrations, where animals are reborn from found natural materials, are a testament to the infinite creativity of nature and the boundless possibilities of art. Through his deft compositions, the Australian artist invites us to reimagine the world around us and cherish the wonders that lie within. 


Josh Dykgraaf Reimagines Animals From Foliage and Flowers in His Photographic Art
Reimaged Regent honeyeater


So whenever you find yourself in a gallery gazing upon one of his stunning creations, be reminded of the vital role that we, as humans, play as stewards of the earth and the responsibility we have to preserve its precious beauty for generations to come.

All images by Josh Dykgraaf (@joshdykgraaf)



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