Interview Series 2012 – 3D Artist and Illustrator Mark Gmehling

Interview Series 2012 – 3D Artist and Illustrator Mark Gmehling

Mark Gmehling might just be an artist to expect to see in the history books in the near, yet seemingly distant future. A Jack of All Trades, Mark is one of the few who can also make the claim that he is a master of each as well – though he’d be too humble to say such a thing. Whether fans are marveling at his surreal graffiti, admiring his simple (and often humorous) marketing campaigns, or envying his myriad of sculptures, no one can deny: Mark is a force to be reckoned with.

Artist Portrait: http://vimeo.com/31742309
Mural Painting Video: http://vimeo.com/28281678


Where do you come up with your creative ideas? Are they client driven or purely ideas from your creative side? Take us on a journey through your creative process.

The client always has something to communicate but in 99% of the jobs I’m asked to interpret the message in my own, personal style wich is fun on the one hand but even more demanding on the other hand because I need to deal with some ethical “Donts” I dont have to care for in my personal work. My personal work is driven by my perception of daily life. I like to illustrate things I notice in the triviality and absurdity of human life. Mostly its talking about human attitudes and behaviours.

What areas of CG work do your commercial projects tend to include?

I’m specialized in character design. It always starts with a briefing, research, concept development and scribbling a few directions I see work and send to the client. Then the client chooses his favorite direction and I develop a final concept sketch or animatic for final production approval. I work with Adobe CS5 suite and Maxon Cinema 4d mostly and use a wacom tablet.

What 3D software do you regularly apply in your projects and to what effect?

I’ve been working with c4d for about 10 years nows and I have no regrets. I was lucky ebough to grow with the application. 3d is not just delivering special “effects”. 3d applications give you the possibilities to create a universe, its look can be sketchy, cartoony, photorealistic or whatever.

Many artist start off in 2D and as they advance their career they move to 3D – How did you make the transition to 3D from 2D – or have you always been using 3D?

No, I have a quite classical background. Switched from skateboard to graffiti, studied art, painted with oil and charcoal, worked as a musician a few years, studied graphic design and discovered the computer as the most efficient tool to bring my ideas to life. The fascination of combining pictures and sound brought me to animation where 3d applications are something you cant miss. Soon I noticed the possibilities and was obsessed of make the 3dapplication a tool I was able to control.

Can you tell me about your interest in graffiti art and street art? How do these influence your 3D illustrations?

I think the spirit of streetart is its entertaining and storytelling appeal. Streetart is a visual alternative to the visual noise we are surrounded by in public space. Streetartist meet the challenge to arrest attention in an overstimulated environment. Inventing new styles and visuals and discovering new channels to communicate is a basic part of the game. It makes people chuckle or think or just entertains but in the end its always straight and easy to understand communication. My illustrations carry something of this spirit.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in 3D arts but cannot afford the software or schooling?

Nowadays its not that hard to dive into 3d. The internet offers nearly unlimited training ressorces. I learned 3d by myself too. But a bit obsession is needed,

“3d” is a complex topic that is not only about knowing how to push some points along the z-axis. As soon as you are capable of modeling you’ll recognize that proper lighting is another complex topic for itself. Animation is another study path etc.

What key skills do you believe an artist needs to succeed as a modeler or 3D illustrator in the industry?

I see a lot of stuff that is technical on very high level, but often it lacks in terms of aesthetics, storytelling or artistic skills. Good modelers and 3d artists are always very good artists drawers or painters that just pushed their limits further.

As an artist, you have defiantly defined your own personal style  – can you tell our readers how you defined your style? (when was that “ah ha” moment?)

One of the main a-ha moments was when I stopped reengineering the works I admired, stopped sitting in front of the monitor saving “tests”-files.

When I really started facing the basics- thinking about what I want to say. When I stopped questioning my personal stuff, stopped comparing it with the genius artwork you find in the internet and decided to accept and believe in my “genius”. Sounds weird but it really helps. This kind of self-conception is needed to stay focused while avoiding getting confused every few days.

Do you have any final advice for our readers?

Believe in your very own instincts, work hard and develop your personal universe of aesthetics. You’re the only one that your work needs to bear up again. And this is hard enough if you’re a perfectionist.

Maybe we’ll meet at pictoplasma Berlin in April 2012, I’ll have an exhibtion there and do a lecture about contemporary characterdesign: follow this link for more information, cheers! http://berlin.pictoplasma.com/conference/mark-gmehling

About Sean

Hi, I'm a graphic designer who runs the Smartpress.com Blog. I enjoy good design, Red Bull and playing Minecraft. I studied digital arts and design and entertainment business at Full Sail University.

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