As a freelance concept artist you must have worked on various different projects. What would you say has been your favorite project to date? And are there any projects you would like to work on in the future?
In general I've been most excited by the projects that got me to experiment with ideas and subject matters that I didn't know I would enjoy. Recently I worked on some aerial visualizations for a theme park, which definitely pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone. It was also a great opportunity to work on a project that will actually be physically built, instead of just viewed or navigated on a screen. Working within the boundaries of physical limitations just brought a whole new mindset into the process of creating the images.
So, for the future I want to stay as open as I can with what projects I take on. I don't know what's out there and what I'll even enjoy until I'm actually working on it. I'm open to surprises and I like putting myself in challenging situations. That's the way to discover new directions and keep expanding. It's easy to get too comfortable otherwise.
I have always thought that where you live and the environment that surrounds you will influence your art and that is certainly clear in your case. But beyond that, would you say that there is a specific artist or style of art that has influenced you?
Since I was very young I've always loved James Gurney's Dinotopia books. His work was a big inspiration to me when I first started using oil paints in my early teens. During my pilot phase I was looking at a lot of aviation art. Artists like Robert Taylor and Nicolas Trudgian. When I first started working digitally I was definitely influenced by the whole speed painting movement and Craig Mullins's work especially. Other sources of inspiration have been National Geographic magazine, Moebius, Rien Poortfliet, and the gemstones among the ever-expanding collection of art and photography on the internet.
Something that I have realized over a period of time is that a lot of artists we interview started down one career path and later turned their back on it to take up a career in digital art. Is there any advice that you would give to someone who was thinking of taking that step? And do you ever think about where you would be now if you had pursued a career as a pilot?
Working digitally has been great for me. However, I sometimes feel trapped on the computer. As an artist, so many of my basic necessities, like tools and sources and inspiration, can be found on the computer that there's a tendency to depend on it
alone for these things. On the other hand, working digitally has freed me up tremendously. As a freelance artist I can work from anywhere on the globe, travel, and support myself at the same time. That's something I'm trying to take advantage of as much as I can. For instance, I recently worked on a big freelance project while I took a container ship across the Pacific. That was very fun. So, digital art has opened a lot of doors, but if there's any advice I have it's just to keep a balanced lifestyle and not get entirely absorbed by the computer. Remember your body and get out and about in the world!
A career as a pilot was a dream of mine before I realized art was important to me. I'd spent most of my childhood drawing and painting. As a result, I took it completely for granted. I'd never considered becoming an artist. I was more interested in the subjects I was drawing, like airplanes. I don't think I would have gotten very far as a pilot before coming around to the realization that in "real life" it wouldn't have worked for me. I'm very glad that I learned the lesson at age 16 and not 23.
I understand there was an exhibition in America that displayed a lot of your stereoscopic paintings. How did that come about? Do you think that having a traditional exhibition of digital art improves people's general impression of the subject and raises its profile?
Yes, I had an exhibition in 2010 at the 3D Center of Art and Photography in Portland, Oregon, USA. It's a cozy museum and gallery showcasing antique and contemporary stereoscopic imagery. I made good friends with someone in South Korea who was coincidentally very much into everything stereoscopic. He pointed me towards the 3D Center as an outlet for stereoscopic art.
I've had a few digital art shows over the years and people have been very supportive and curious about the medium. So, from my experience, I'd say having a traditional show has improved at least someone's impression. Digital art is just new, and people I've spoken to often times don't know it's possible to "draw" and "paint" on the computer.
One thing that I really enjoy when I am looking through your portfolio is your ability to come up with unique ideas. Your overall style of painting is really quite different and recognizable, and the stereoscopic paintings are obviously unique. How important do you think it is to stand out and be able to come up with original ideas and styles?
In my personal artwork, uniqueness in itself isn't my goal. I just want to paint what inspires me. That's what makes me happy. Occasionally something unique might come out of this, but I think uniqueness is hard to plan. It just comes along every once in awhile for certain people, or during certain stages of their artistic development.
I often find that although artists can be very quiet and humble about their ambitions, they are, in general, very ambitious. You seem to have achieved a lot in a short space of time, so what would you say is your greatest achievement to date and do you have any goals, artistic or otherwise?
The ongoing challenge is to keep painting. Perhaps I'll have a sense of achievement years down the road if I stick with it. In general there are tons of things I still want to learn. So far, I'm just very happy to have kept drawing and painting since childhood. As for specific goals, every time I make a painting it feels like I'm adding a piece to a mysterious project I'm working towards, but can't yet clearly see. My goal is keep putting the puzzle pieces together until it all suddenly clicks. Hopefully this will keep me occupied for some years.
Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by us. You're a fascinating artist and the team and I have really enjoyed looking at your stereoscopic paintings. I hope to see a lot more from you in the future.
You're welcome. I've known about 3DTotal for a long time, so I'm happy to have taken part. Thank you!
Cross-eye 3D Viewing Instructions
1. Slowly cross your eyes over the pair of images until a third image appears in the middle. If you see four images
you've crossed them too far.
2. The middle image may appear out of focus at first.
3. Relax your gaze without uncrossing your eyes. The middle image will pop into 3D.
To see more by Theo Prins, check out Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 5
Digital Art Masters: Volume 7
and Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection
< previous page