Inspirato Magazine: TOPHER STRAUS

Inspirato Magazine: TOPHER STRAUS

By Stephanie Alexander


We’ve all experienced a place or a view so breathtaking that we want it to stay with us forever. In those magical moments, we close our eyes and try to burn the image into our memory. And more often than not, we take a photo hoping that it will evoke the same sense of awe when we look back at it, but photos can hardly ever convey the same feelings we had in that beautiful place.

Perhaps that’s what’s so incredible about Topher Straus’ work—he is able to communicate the essence of the natural environments we love in vibrant, graphically brilliant pieces of art. What’s more, he can turn a photo of your favorite place into a unique work of art that will conjure up those same feelings you had when you visited.

A multi-generation Colorado native and avid outdoorsman, Topher has a love and connection to nature that runs deep. And while that’s one of the biggest influences on his work, he also has a link to art that runs in the family.

“Growing up, I was really fortunate to have access to my great grandmother Florene Shoenborne’s art collection. She was the largest collector in the world of early Matisse work and she donated many, many paintings to the Art

Institute of Chicago, to the Met in New York, and the MoMA. So growing up around these paintings and understanding how they elicit emotion was amazing,” says Topher.

And now, Topher has found his own voice in the art world and is creating for others what those paintings from his childhood did for him, through his national parks series and commissioned pieces.

His colorful and eye-catching landscapes are a modern take on a traditional subject, blending photography with digital painting. First, Topher examines a photograph, looking for prominent colors to create his palette. He then uses a stylus to digitally paint over the photograph with those colors. The painting is then printed onto aluminum via a sublimation process and finished with high-gloss acrylic resin, giving the final product a mirrored look.

“Through the combination of heat and pressure, the oils from the transfer paper cause a molecular combination and the oils actually permanently become part of the aluminum. So the result is super resilient and almost looks like glass,” he explains.

“I got into landscapes because I love nature and the clarity and the peace that it can provide to each of

us. I love how it makes us feel and how it’s a place we can escape to,” he adds.

And even in lockdown, we can visit those places through Topher’s art.

“When life is rough, when times are tough, it’s

amazing how art can impact your soul.”

“The national parks series is really speaking to people now more than ever before because just like going on vacation, people have their distinct memories of these places,” Topher says. “When life is rough, when times are tough, it’s amazing how art can impact your soul.”

Topher says travel is another huge inspiration for his work and why he loves working on commission projects that transform travel memories into something more.

“Part of my art process is experiencing something or someplace. And so I love collaborating with people to bring their adventure and their travels back to life. It’s teamwork, it’s collaborative, it’s a really fun process. I get to become part of people’s families and their lives for generations,” Topher says.

If you’re interested in turning a photo from your travels into a custom artwork, Topher says large landscape or cityscape photos work best. When working with his clients, he’ll hold a Zoom or in-person session to understand more about their vacation experiences and play with color palette variations until he and his client come to a mutual conclusion on the direction.

Art collector Maria Suehnholz shares about her experience with Topher: “I commissioned Topher to create a depiction of Bora Bora based on a personal photograph from my travels there. We collaborated on ideas for color and texture over multiple sessions. It was fun and interesting to watch Topher make changes that ultimately developed into my custom piece.”

See his collection and learn more about transforming your vacation memories into fine art at You can see his art in person during the summer of 2021 at the American Mountaineering Museum in Golden, Colorado. His work will also be shown in the Sonia Monti gallery in Paris during May and June of 2021, and his national parks series will be featured in a permanent exhibition at the Grand Teton National Park’s Visitor Center in the coming year.

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