Many greetings and thank you for letting us learn more about your artistry and the work you do to spread creativity. Firstly, we want to know more about the humble beginnings of your creative career. How did it all start for you?
Thank you! Like many creatives, I’ve been following VA8’s output over the years; the work you do to empower creativity is inspiring, and it’s great to be here sharing my creative process with you.
So, I started my career in digital art around 13 years ago, diving head-first into 3D with Cinema 4D R11, and since then, Cinema 4D has continued to be my primary tool for creativity. It was around 2015 that I fell in love with collaboration, and the type of output it produces. The idea of bringing together minds and ideas from around the world to form a single visual output was fascinating, and this idea evolved into Yambo Studio. Our portfolio of work is the product of many great creatives and their unique view of the world.
How has the advancement of technology and engineering molded your creativity over the years? What are your thoughts on how the everchanging future can influence artists?
I have always been a big technology enthusiast, interested specifically in its effect on digital art. The moment that GPU rendering first became a thing, I immediately dived into creating massive rigs of GPUs in an attempt to really push the capabilities of 3D rendering, to work in (almost) real-time. I used to think that one day, the machines would be so strong that everything would run in real-time, but its funny how humans always find ways to catch up with technology. As technology improves, and machines get stronger, the demands we make of them increase. In 2012 I would sometimes wait 40 mins for a still render, and the same thing still happens in 2022!
If you had asked me this question a few years ago, I would probably have talked about the possibilities of real-time rendering and WebGL advancements. But nowadays, AI is the real paradigm shift. AI has added a whole new dynamic to the relationship between technology and our creative output.
Art has always had to respond and adapt to new technologies. Like every technological advancement before it, AI systems have the potential to expand human creativity and artistic output, and while some might consider them to be a threat to our role in the creative process, I believe that with the capacity to produce an infinite number of image possibilities at the drop of a hat, the discerning, curatorial eye of the artist will continue to be essential to the creative process.
If you could describe your body of work to a being from another universe, what would you say?
I would describe my work as an exploration of the interplay between vibrant colour, soft texture, abstract sound and movement: essential elements combined and brought to life through CGI to produce dreamlike, hyper-vibrant visuals and surreal environments. My work is always playful, and tends to be inspired by creatures and phenomena that have an almost supernatural mystique to them.
Your clientele has ranged from the likes of Apple to Nike, and everything in between. What productions are you most proud of?
Interestingly, I think that there is a direct correlation between the scope of the production and my love for, and pride in, the finished result. For example, our production for the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is not only (probably) my favourite project of all time, it was our largest production to date—over 20 people from almost every continent were involved. The team management for this project was extreme, but the final result was incredibly satisfying creatively, and one I believe I will always remember.
In your perspective and experience, describe the personal significance of having a collaborative attitude and networking among creatives. How important is it to have a community in the art world?
There are many ways in which collaboration can be beneficial to both the process and outcome. Based on my experience with other studios, it’s rare to do things together. Within Yambo Studio work, visual decisions are not made by a single person but by the constant collective input of all members of the team. We jump between each-other’s 3D files on a daily basis, and each of us brings a unique perspective, filling the gaps in each-other’s knowledge. It’s not about the pipeline, but the respect for the creative input of every team member. I think this is huge part of why the creative outcome of our projects is always unique.
The community side of things is also incredibly powerful, and the way it came about so organically is really beautiful. As a by-product of all the collaborations we have been doing, our Slack channel became a mini creative ecosystem (which is actually migrating over to Discord nowadays, as Slack has become problematic for our workflow). The fact that we have this place where hundreds of digital artists, who now know each-other well, are able to work and socialise together, is very beneficial—it has created a real sense of creative community.
Speaking of community, you cofounded Dissrup Labs, an extensive hub for digital and phygital ventures. We are very sad to hear that Dissrup is closing down, could you tell us about the platform, and why it has had to shut down so abruptly?
Absolutely. Dissrup was a very personal response to the development of the crypto art space, which I felt was finally starting to tap into the true potential of digital creativity; validating the work of talented creatives that have previously been overlooked. I founded the platform as a hub for the very best content, a niche space that would cut through the noise of the digital art boom, to deliver something carefully curated, and valued by the community of artists and collectors that were involved. Together with a small team, we built what we thought was an idyllic platform; a space to connect a new generation of collectors and art lovers to the world’s leading web3 creators — a platform that avoided the trappings of many NFT projects (low quality work, and lack of curation). We wanted to build something that really highlighted how many incredible artists have flown under the radar all these years, beyond the scope of the traditional art world.
My background with Yambo Studio has fostered a community of digital creators, and it was this community that became the foundation of the project. We worked closely with our artists to help them realise their most ambitious ideas, and create truly unique projects (Dissrup Drops) that became one of our standout features.
Unfortunately, mere weeks before our seed round investment was supposed to close, our investors decided to withdraw from the project, leaving us inadequately financed to maintain the platform. Consequently, we have had to cease all platform operations for the foreseeable future becouse of financial stress caused. It is a disappointing end to what i felt was a fresh and optimistic project.
What insights did you and your team gain from working on Dissrup? Do you imagine the project might re-emerge in the future?
While the project was short-lived in the scheme of things, we are nonetheless proud of what we managed to accomplish. We connected many artists to this new space, helping them to sell their work in new ways, and even find a whole other side to their creative practice — hundreds of artists selling their work for a total value of over a million dollars in less than a year must mean something.
We also learned a lot about the relationship between art and commerce, as well as the importance of marketing: you need to get the marketing right before you deliver the project, or you are unlikely to succeed — this is something we learned the hard way.
Of course I’d love to be able to continue with the project, but without substantial financial backing to drive our mission forward, that seems unlikely at the moment, and we know this industry moves on quickly. I think as the digital art space settles down again (it has been a pretty hectic year for all of us), we might start to see the emergence of a strong and stable digital art economy. We believe that this industry is here to stay, and we are excited to see what new forms this might take.
What lessons would you like to leave us with?
I think the most important thing I can share from my experience in digital art is that, regardless of the medium, you need to really believe that what you are creating has meaning—people recognise and are drawn to authenticity. As long as you enjoy the process, you will create meaningful things, and continue to learn. Ultimately, that is the only way to grow as an artist, and it is important to be willing to adapt; learning and changing the way you create, whilst holding on to that central belief that what you are working towards has innate value. If you believe something has value, chances are there will be others out there that agree with you.
I’d like to thank you for having me here to talk about my creative practice, Dissrup and digital art in general — I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds.