How did you get started doing what you do?
My parents, they encouraged me to get out and explore. My mother like her side of the family are all cooks, bakers, and mixologists. My father is an artist who lit my desire to create images. It’s been series of bumping into a variety of creative experiences by just being out and among people. It all started while I was taking a graphic design night class at Rochester Institute of Technology. I was walking around the art & design building and bumped into the Industrial Design department. They had all these hard models in a case that went the entire length of the wall which was a least a good 40′. All of the models looked like something from the future. I thought to myself, people get paid to dream this stuff up? So I signed up for four years of college in the school of design. By my 2nd year, computers were starting to become popular among my circle of college friends. We all had had our own, but the school did not. By my forth year, I was well acquainted and self taught using MacPaint and Photoshop as well as a publishing program called Ready, Set, Go. This one particular day 2 months prior to my graduation, I see this buddy of mine who is working on some pixel art of what look like a spiked mine. I asked him what it was for, and he said a game that will blow Asteroids out of the water. I knew it right then, I had to meet this person who was making these games. I was able to get his contact information and drove immediately down the street about 2 miles from campus and woke guy up who was sleeping on a couch. This started my career in art for games. Thank goodness I went to college.
How would you describe your creative style?
Forever taking shape. I view myself as somewhat undefined and unfinished, a work in progress if you will. At this moment I would have to say I like keeping a foot in realism but always hinting at or hitting the viewer over the head with fantasy.
What’s your inspiration?
The classics of course, one my favorites being Marcel Duchamp who challenge the system and the ideas of art during his time. The world around me. The people I interact with on daily basis heavily influence the ideas I receive for the most part. I stop and not only smell the roses, but I look under them, inside them and observe the micro verse around them, I try to take in all the details of what’s happening and focus on what doesn’t always stand out, what might be the thing that is always overlooked. The more obscure the subject matter is, the more interesting I find it.
What is art to you?
Art is the expression of ones self. The most selfish act, which is never a bad thing because the word means selflike. So it is essentially from where I sit, a sharing of ones self. Art is also selfless in that it can communicate a message to someone who needs to be reminded of something. Ironically, this isn’t up to me, this is up to the viewer to decide. Everyone sees things differently and I not only respect that, but I find it fascinating when someone sees what others do not.
What does your typical day look like?
I adhere to a regiment that works for me. It’s all meant to be as dull and boring as possible so I can think about my work.
How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
As long it needs to. Anything I create, I see where it could be refined, changed, added to, relit, recolored, etc.. it is endless. I see all the possibilities and it can be paralyzing if you let it be. I reach a point where I have to stop and say this is good right here, time to ship. I don’t like everything I create, but that’s never been the point.
How do you keep motivated?
I commit to myself. I stick to what I do every single day. I know I can improve and see the improvement over time by looking back on occasion. This goes back to seeing all those possibilities, once the process is over, I usually have one of those possibilities stuck in my head. I’ll note a few of those ideas down and work those into the next days piece or later down the road if it seems fitting.
How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work?
Heavily. My office which is my immediate surrounding, is filled with the work
of others who I find to be the most interesting. Externally, the world itself of
course supplies me with endless ideas which I note down.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
To be the master of my craft. I realize this is not an obtainable goal because self improvement, discovery, and learning are all never ending.
How have others reacted to your work?
I have had relatively positive reactions to my work. I’d have to say my mother is my toughest critic. She doesn’t always like certain messages that my images might carry, and that’s ok.
What do you want others to take away from your work?
A unique viewpoint is what is most important to me. Seeing things in a personal way, something we normally wouldn’t expect but without being controversial. Being controversial has it’s place and time, I feel that creating controversy is overly used at this time in just about everything that we produce, report, and create. Controversy seems to fill every nook and cranny of our lives. I’m happy to move in the opposite direction of that.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
Nothing, I knew better than anyone else at that age and I wouldn’t listen to myself at that age anyway. That is the nature of things I suppose.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Create every single day of your life. Second is learn to cook. Third is to know exactly what you are putting in your mouth.
Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Create every single day of your life and put it out there. Publish your work on the internet and don’t ever stop. Is saying easier than doing? Or are we just creating an excuse? If you ever said any of the following; “I don’t have, I can’t, no time, I’m not wired that way, etc…”. Listen to yourself, this is you resisting. Converting ourselves to doing, instead of slacking is no easy task. Recognizing that it is ourselves in the way of our creating everyday is what needs to be discerned. We need stop creating excuses and reverse our thinking. This is a switch that we flip which is the decision that changes our attitude from that point on. When we do, we are able to complete everyday goals with great ease and speed. In fact, this gets you in the zone where time slips by unnoticed. Change the way you think in order to become an everyday creator. Do not tell yourself, I am going to try this tomorrow… instead, just do it, do not leave room in your decision process for an out. I believe we are all capable of changing, because its nothing more than an attitude adjustment.
What are your thoughts on art school?
Any place that gathers people who are like minded and have a willingness to share ideas and concepts is a priceless. Sadly, many colleges have leveraged this and the costs are unreasonable. But change is here and unstoppable on so many fronts via the internet of course. I find that the many of courses and communities are priced in at a level that no traditional college can touch. This approach levels the playing field and more people are taking advantage of this option everyday. Direct interaction is viable though so many applications and it keeps getting better.
Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
My hope is to have show in a physical space some time this year or next at the latest. I’m currently working on my first 3D print, once I have this in a place where I’m happy with it, I will have it up on my website for purchase. I’m also working with a software developer, so maybe a little twitch game would be in order.
What’s your dream project?
I would love to work with a musician/group to do either cover work or motion for a video or stage piece.
What art supplies do you use?
All things digital. I use whatever it takes to get the job done. I used to be a practical artist but I moved to digital as I see it as an evolutionary step. My tools consist of Apple and windows based machines, digital SLR cameras for shooting my own environments, and I don’t believe in owning my own printer. I’d rather get out of my house and go chat with my local printer who uses archival Giclée inks on rag paper. The results are amazingly sharp, vibrant and crisp.
What’s your process like?
The idea I had the day before or something I pluck from the many pages of my notes that I keep. I think about subject matter constantly. I turn off and mute all devices. Find any loud thumping music with a good beat and turn it up. I usually start with building/sculpting a form. If I get hung up on a detail, I’ll switch to creating a procedural texture that is fitting for the sculpt. Then light the scene and figure out what fits for a presentation of the subject, like a landscape or simple studio. All of this ends up just moving like a blur with myriad of thoughts regarding the process as it unfold before me. I go back and forth constantly looking at lighting types to portray a fitting look for the subject. Once I’m good with it all, I hit the render button and walk away. Once I’ve come back, I might change a few things as walking away for a bit helps you reset a bit.
How could the art industry become better in your opinion?
Stop with this notion that any of us need to work for free to get our name out there. It’s disgusting and no other business does that. If you’re creating something for someone, and they will benefit/profit from it, you should get paid. At least an exchange of equal value, but to not be and paid and told you’ll end up with a fantastic portfolio piece? Bullshit. Very few of my job pieces end up in my portfolio. Only when I’ve had full creative control does my work end up in my portfolio. It’s my own work that causes people to engage with me. After talking with many other artist on this topic, they have said the same. Always get paid for what you do. We all have to eat. Pay your artists!