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Artists/Inspiration

I found this artist just the other day and I already forget how I came across her work but I love it. I think I had followed a concept artist on Twitter and Piper’s Twitter page came up on the related profiles to follow.

Piper is a freelance character designer/illustrator/artist that has worked for Nickelodeon, Dream Works and Intel.

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I love how fleshed out her style is already. It’s easy to forget how many different styles of art there are within just one medium. For example, Piper’s work is very different from Pascal’s work even though they both use similar drawing and painting tools in Photoshop to represent 3D objects in a 2D space.

If you’d like to support Piper you can do so on her Patreon Page and also give her a follow on social media: DeviantART Tumblr Twitter Instagram
-Alex

I’ve been following Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York project for a while now but I had not made an Artists & Inspiration post on it yet. Instead of talking about Humans of New York and writing out a big block of text I have found an equally interesting Chase Jarvis Live video interview you can check out.

Chase Jarvis does occasional CJLive broadcasts featuring other creatives and he had Brandon on for an interview not too long ago.

I’ll leave you with the video available for viewing here:

The lovely people at diyphotography.net posted an article about photographer Andreas Levers who has started compositing CGI elements into his landscape photographs. Levers’ work falls right in line with the theme of the last few posts which focus on combining multiple mediums to create a piece of artwork.

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I love how minimal Levers’ landscapes are even with the added CGI elements. I suppose you could argue that work like Levers’ isn’t photography anymore because it has CGI in it but really, who cares? As long as you can make what you want to make I don’t think it matters how you got from A to B.

You can check out more of Andreas Levers’ work here on Flickr or here on his website.

Fall of Gods

Back in February I found the work of Rasmus Berggreen, a great concept artist who has worked on games like Hitman: Absolution. In September of 2014 Rasmus and his company MOOD launched a Kickstarter campaign for a book called Fall of Gods. The book is almost a cross between a graphic novel and an illustrated children’s book. It is filled with pages and pages of epic digital paintings by Rasmus which tell a grand story based off of Norse mythological tales of old.

What drew me to this book Fall of Gods was not only the epic story but also the concept art style of illustration. Rasmus combines drawing, painting, and photographs in photoshop to create entirely new images with a high level of detail and realism. This sort of technique, called “Digital Matte Painting” or just “Matte Painting” before the digital age, is often used in the film industry to replace skies and extend landscapes. If you’re a fan of Peter Jackson’s movie The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings Trilogy you’ve probably seen a lot of Matte Painting on screen without realizing it.

While there is no shortage of concept art on the web there is a smaller amount of concept art that is also combined with photographs and yet an even smaller amount of books that are illustrated in this fashion. I would even venture to say that Fall of Gods is one of a few, if not one of a kind, in terms of the book’s overall illustration style, layout, and storyline. It’s nice to see that concept art feel pushed to the forefront of a viewing medium like this book when so often the concept art itself does not make it through to the final presentation in a video game or feature film.

I’m very glad that Rasmus has a chance to shine in the spotlight a little bit with this book and also reveal a bit more of what a concept artist can really do. I think that professional titles get muddied during the credits of a game or movie and it’s sometimes hard to tell what one department really does that sets them apart from one another. This book really defines the concept artist department for me and makes things a little less murky. I feel like I could better describe what a concept artist does now that I’ve read this book which may be a good selling point for you if you’re thinking about picking up a copy.

And if that’s not enough, Eon Sounds, a “Music scoring, production and licensing company for TV, Films, Trailers and Games” contacted me on Twitter the other day and said that they had made an OST for Fall of Gods. This book has its own original soundtrack. That’s awesome!

 

To add even more awesomeness, 20th Century Fox is picking up Fall of Gods for a movie.

I think that is just the coolest thing that someone could:

  1. Come up with an idea for a book
  2. Write and Illustrate that book
  3. Gain support for their book on Kickstarter and get their book published
  4. Get an original soundtrack made for their book
  5. Have a major TV/Film production company want to make their book into a movie.

I’m so psyched for the movie and also the sequel to this book if and when there is one. I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything else.

 

-Alex

I recently stumbled upon Scott Robertson’s work. Scott is the Former Chair of Entertainment Design at the Art Center College of Design- Designer / Author / Educator / Co-Producer. What sparked my interest in particular was this lecture he gave on creating sources of inspiration. I want to share this lecture with you because I really enjoyed seeing his creative process.

Scott’s work is somewhat similar to what I’m starting to work on now. I haven’t spoken much about what I’m doing at the moment here on the blog but I’m definitely branching out from using just photography to create the images I want.

Scott combines his drawings with 3D models and other photographs and his lecture gave me a glimpse of the type of work you can do when you combine multiple mediums together. I’m not usually a big lecture fan but I bookmarked this one immediately after watching. Anyway, I’ll leave you with the video.

As an artist I get a lot of enjoyment out of watching, listening and analyzing media from outside of the world of photography. But there’s so much “stuff” to consume now in the digital age that it’s amazing anything even sticks with us. Somehow we manage to find the movies and the music we love even though we are surrounded by advertisements for everything all the time.

How do you discern between two pieces of art or music or whatever it is when both things are created to perfection? On an even playing field, how do you decide what song you like more? Well, you probably almost always pick out the thing that you have an emotional response to. You probably always pick something up off the shelf at the store because you like how it makes you feel.

If you’re like me then I bet you have some emotional response to all of your favorite things. Let me give you some examples.

I played Skyrim the other day and I remembered it’s one of my favorite games because it’s so epic and endless that it makes every other game look unfinished.

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Granted, I will say that the developers at Bethesda Game Studios spent years and years and years bringing this game to a fine polish in a way that not a lot of other game studios can even afford to do. It just has this epic quality to it that really pulls everything together and adds this extra level of realism and depth and a mood that you can only get from mixing a bunch of different things together. You can’t really point at any one aspect of this game and say “well, it’s great because the textures all look really nice” no that’s not it. That’s part of it but definitely not the whole thing.

For Skyrim it’s the time period, the vikings, the axes, swords, dragons, magical spells, traps, dungeons, the changing of the weather and feeling that every NPC in the game has a story of their own and that they have just as much purpose and weight in the game as the player does. There are no seams, when you play this game you feel like you are completely immersed like a dream you can’t leave. Everything in Skyrim holds up against the close prying eye of the player. The devil is in the details and the details deliver.

There’s a difference between being able to create something visually stunning and being able to also capture a specific mood or a specific feeling and have it translate to the viewer. Bethesda has done exactly that with Skyrim and it’s something not a lot of artists can do well. My favorite thing and biggest challenge in art is making something beautiful that doesn’t just make you feel something but makes you feel the same thing every single time. That’s why we play the same games over and over or watch the same movies or listen to music right? Because we like the way it makes us feel. That’s why we remember some things but not other things and how we find the things we love despite having a million different choices.

Blizzard Entertainment’s dungeon crawler RPG Diablo II is also a very good example of a game being able to capture a mood and deliver it to a player. D2 is perhaps one of the most atmospheric, dark, creepy, epic games of its time. I love cloudy, rainy disgusting days because of this game. It’s extremely difficult to put into words exactly the feeling I get from this game but it’s there every time I sit down to play and still inspires me to this day as I progress with my own art.

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You know you’ve done something right if your game or your art/music can force someone to not only be in your shoes but also feel the way you intended them to feel. Not a single dark cloudy day goes by where I don’t think “it’s looking very diablo 2 out today.” I’m so far beyond excited to continue my next big project which is almost wholly inspired by Diablo 2.

I think I’ve also mentioned Lord of The Rings in another post but I’ll mention it here too. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies have this same immersive epic effect that I’ve found in these games. To watch these films though you have to make sure you turn your phone off and give the film your undivided attention or else you lose the illusion. Just like if you’re at a theater production and someone comes in through the side door halfway into the performance. You remember you’re not really where the play is taking place and it takes probably about ten or fifteen minutes to regain your suspension of disbelief.

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Peter Jackson could’ve made Lord of the Rings into one film but he didn’t because he knew it would’ve lost something. You just can’t capture the vastness of a story like that in one go. By the time Frodo ditches the ring at Mt. Doom (spoilers) you really feel how he feels, like it has taken forever and it’s been difficult but they did it. If the trilogy was only an hour and a half it would not have seemed like it took a year for them to finish their quest, it would’ve felt like a few weeks at best.

For me, this is what drives my love of art. Anyone can make something that looks good but it might not elicit an emotional response. Some artists just want to make something to make something. How something looks and feels and sounds is all part of the artist’s intention. You can make whatever you want.

I love the stuff in between, not so hot and not so cold. Art that feels like something about fall and winter that you can’t quite put your finger on but it’s there staring you right in the face. That thing that makes you do a double take. For stills in particular, although I have complete free reign over everything you see, I don’t have the benefit of sound or developing a story over time (at least not in one single picture anyway). But it’s all part of the fun, part of the challenge and part of the boundaries and limitations of my medium and I enjoy it for what it is.

 

I noticed the other day that the good guys over at Flickr made a collection of 20 artists under 20 to feature on their website. Find the link HERE to take a look. Some of these artists I’ve been following for a long time and I’m glad to see they’re finally getting a lot more attention in the online community today.

These artists are a prime example of the peers I compare my own images to online. I feel I have created a few pieces I’m proud of that can stand up to some of theirs although I always wish I had more work that I really really liked. I love the process of creating my work just as much as I love seeing the final product but once an image is printed and on the wall I’m onto the next one.

I am working on a few new projects of my own at the moment but I’d rather not give anything away until I know I can actually pull off some of the things I’m trying to do. If nothing else I’m keeping things challenging.

-Alex

I know I did one of these inspiration posts on Imogen Heap some time ago and I think it’s time for another.

I’m a huge huge fan of Imogen Heap’s music. It’s funny really, I enjoy a lot of photographers on the web but for whatever reason I don’t find them as inspiring as musicians or other artists outside of photography. I think part of the reason for this is that when I see a finished image I think, “yeah that’s a cool concept” and seldom do I find myself imagining something else. Occasionally I do find images where, buried in the pixels, is a shred of inspiration or a feeling that I’ll incorporate into my work. For the most part though I find music much more inspiring and motivating.

I hope that makes sense to some degree. Maybe what I’m getting at is music’s often strong ability to trigger what’s known as relational memory to specific events and emotions. Images can do the same and have done so throughout history but for me personally I find those instances to be few and far between. I can listen to a song a million times and feel the same exact feelings upon each listen. But if I look even just at my own pictures my perceptions and feelings toward them change more often over time.

Anyway, I really want to share some of Imogen Heap’s new songs with you because maybe you’ll get some inspiration for your own endeavors. Her new album Sparks will FINALLY come out in August…

I don’t read many novels, most of the books I read have to do with photography or music or something really technical or boring for most people. Kenneth Oppel’s novel Airborn has been on my reading list for a long time. What drew me to this book is that it supposedly was the inspiration behind one of my favorite albums The Airship by Port Blue. A quick fill in- Port Blue is the more ambient/elevator music of the man behind Owl City. So, in reading this novel I wanted to sort of “cut out the middle man” and see what the inspiration was behind this set of songs in The Airship that I’d listened to a million times over.

I think what I got out of reading Airborn was a piece of the artistic process. I can compare the Port Blue album to the novel and see how different parts of the story were interpreted through music. This is something each artist has with their own work, everyone knows where the inspiration came from for their own work, but that may not come across to the outside audience.

My point is it’s fun to experience something that inspired someone else’s work that you like. It’s fun to backtrack the twists and turns of inspiration and watch how the work that is created from something else can evolve and change with different people. I would absolutely urge you to try backtracking with an artist that you like.

-Alex

For my birthday this past week I decided to treat myself to something not directly related to photography. I bought myself a PlayStation 3 gaming system and I have absolutely no regrets. I’ve always been a big fan of Sony’s PlayStation franchise but I’m not really that hardcore into video games anymore. However, it’s been very interesting to see just how far PlayStation and the rest of the videogame industry has come since the previous generation of gaming platforms was released in the early 2000s.

While it’s nice to have better graphics and sound, I think the gigantic leaps that Sony has made are only a means to a greater gaming arsenal. Unlike digital cameras, where the new camera comes out and the old cameras are thrown away, the PS3 simply gives the gamer more options. If I want to I can play newer games that look very slick with a glossy polish to them, and I can also go back to PS1 and still play some Tony Hawk Pro Skater when I feel like it. Every game and every era of gaming has its own respective feeling associated with it and that’s a very important distinction to make, there really was no bad era of gaming like there was with digital cameras.

I can appreciate the time and effort put forth by all the different videogame creators who want to create an enjoyable, seamless and immersive experience for their gamers. For me, a lot of my inspiration stems off of the things that I expose myself to, I watch a lot of movies, I look at a lot of photographs, I read a lot of books, I listen to a lot of music. Videogames are all of those things combined and all of those things have the potential to influence and inspire me. My inspiration rarely comes out of thin air, I’m good at taking ideas and twisting them around and expanding upon them. Videogames are just another opportunity for me to get ideas. Purchasing a PS3 was as much of an investment for my imagination as it was a stress relief activity.

-Alex