Hi Theo, it's great to meet you and thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by us today. We usually start with an obvious one to get the ball rolling. Can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you end up in the digital art industry?
Since I was young environments have always intrigued me. I would craft little worlds of clay or cardboard, draw city layouts and create tunnel systems in thick blackberry bushes. I love the feeling of how objects relate to each other in space and I've always tried to re-create that feeling in my artwork.
Phases came and went as I was growing up. When I was about two, I started drawing strange airplanes. Then I moved on to dinosaurs, cities, and again back to airplanes. At one point in my early teens I decided to pursue a pilot license, which I financed by drawing airplane portraits for pilots at the local airport. This ended abruptly when I was introduced to a Wacom tablet and exposed to some concept art in high school. I stopped flying and started painting digitally. I ended up creating a Deviantart profile and posted frequently on the Sijun forums. Through this I got my first job at CCP games in Iceland in 2007.
I can tell by some of your paintings that you must be well-travelled. Which parts of the world would you say have influenced you the most and is there anywhere that you would like to go that you think will be inspirational?
The place I keep going back to is Asia. I've lived in small, quiet places by the water for most of my life, in the US and in Holland. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, I wound up with a fascination for dirty, sprawling cities. So, over the past four years I've fed this habit in my art by traveling to those sorts of places. In 2008 I had the wonderful experience of living in Seoul, South Korea, working for Reloaded Studios. After that I spent some time in Vietnam and Thailand working on stereoscopic paintings. Now I've just come to the end of a year spent between India, Nepal and Hong Kong, working on the go with my laptop and graphics tablet. It's the lively density and visual chaos that I love about cities in Asia. The mix of Victorian colonial architecture and slums in Kolkata, India has been especially influential. There's always more to explore, but before I start thinking about the next destination I want to just sit down somewhere and focus purely on painting.
This is the question I have been looking forward to asking: where did you get the idea to create stereoscopic paintings and how do they work?
After taking many wobbly stereoscopic photos some years back, I became curious about the possibilities of mimicking stereoscopic depth in paintings. It all comes down to creating two slightly different perspectives of a scene and presenting these two perspectives to each eye separately so that they overlap in our vision. The process of making them involves cutting a painting into hundreds of pieces in Photoshop. I then duplicate the painting and set it next to the original. Either by crossing my eyes or using a viewer, I merge the two images in my visual field and shift each little piece in the duplicate painting to create a second slightly different perspective. Depending on which direction I move objects, left or right, they appear to move farther away or closer. Slowly I'll move each piece into place until the entire scene feels solid. It feels a lot like sculpting, actually. There's definitely the feeling that I'm manipulating something physical in 3D space.
On a side note, it's also fun to exaggerate the distance between the two perspectives, simply by shifting each piece farther. This creates the illusion of a miniature world, or that we, as viewers, have eyes very far apart like some giant creature.