When photographer and photo manipulator Ted Chin takes a picture, you can be sure that it won”t be a faithful reproduction of what you see in front of you. Instead, you get a peek into Chin”s vast and imaginative interior world, where jellyfish soar through the clouds and unicorns stop by your backyard on a gray afternoon.

The San Francisco-based artist draws inspiration from dreams, mythology, and fairy tales, both ancient and modern. We recently got to talk with him about his vision and process, giving us a closer look into his magical mind.

ViralNova: How did you get started? Do you have a background in photography and art, or did you just experiment?

Ted Chin: I studied multimedia art when I was in college. I had experience in graphic design, printmaking, screen print, sculpture, animation, and photography, but I was more into animation and photography at the time. I didn”t know that I was going to become a photo manipulator, but about a year ago, I saw an event at the Academy of Art [University, San Francisco]…presented by Erik Almas.

At the time, I had no clue who he was, and I thought it was just a typical gallery reception. Next thing I know, I”m stuck in a three-hour-long presentation that I wasn”t ready for, but it was probably one of the best three-hour presentations I”ve ever heard. Erik showed us so many different ways…[to] put a photo together. Then I asked myself, why not make my own photos?

This was inspired by another artist”s drawing on Instagram.

This piece is a collaboration with another Instagrammer, who supplied the image of the intertwined carrots.

ViralNova: What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas?

TC: I grew up reading a lot of manga comic books and fairy tales. I also watched a lot of animation films, and played with a lot of toys, all of which inspired and influenced me in certain ways.

Hayao Miyazaki”s films inspired me [especially]. I also looked into some famous artists” works to get my photo inspiration, such as Man Ray, Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, Erik Johansson, Erik Almas, Herb Ritts, Dan Winters, [and more].

ViralNova: What do you use to create these images? Any specific software?

TC: I use Adobe Photoshop to create all my images.

ViralNova: What would be a dream project for you?

TC: A dream project for me would be working on books or films for [both] kids and adults. I want my work to inspire others just like I was inspired by artists growing up.

This image was created using another photographer”s image of the model, which was then worked into the background.

Chin”s creations are enough to pique anyone”s imagination, and since his concepts are often left open ended, it”s up to the viewer to create the story behind them. And that”s half the fun.

You can see more of his work on Facebook and Instagram. He also collaborates regularly with other artists and photographers, so be sure to check the credits on his Instagram to keep an eye out for more amazing work!