The 3D dream scenes of artist Blake Kathryn have the power to transport viewers to another world – one of rich color palettes, shiny androids and a neon-tinted alternative reality. Its unique appearance has attracted customers such as Adidas, Fendi, The New York Times and Adobe. She recently animated the visualizer for & # 39; Panini & # 39; from Lil Nas X currently being viewed 47 million times on YouTube. Published the night before the release of his debut EP, her smooth cyborg looping animations accompanied his second single after the success of "Old Town Road", propelling the idea that he is more than a one-day fly.
Kathryn studied at the University of Florida with the intention of advertising, but she was attracted to studying graphic design. After her graduation, a move to New York City started her career, stimulating her interest in the music industry and visual arts. After experiencing a polar vortex and dreaming of the sun, Kathryn went to Los Angeles, where she is now inspired by tech-free walks that eventually appear in the form of iridescent palm trees in her art.
I spoke with Kathryn about her experience with Lil Nas X, how she uses her subconscious mind as a tool and advice to come in 3D illustrations.
For the sake of clarity, this interview has been slightly modified.
When did you first start in 3D and how did you start learning?
In March 2015 I remember this as specifically as it was when the 100-day project started on Instagram. I promised to shake myself out of my vector minimalist style prior to this challenge. I flipped through old work a few weeks ago and it's wild to see how rough those early days are. That said, I went through a fairly general autodidactic path: overloading the tutorial Greyscale gorillaYouTube, Eyedesyn, you name it. I fell in love with the possibilities of breaking into a 3D canvas. I have never looked back and am happy to say that it has completely reformed my career.
You focus a lot on creating these dream images and worlds. What do you find most satisfying when making this?
If you always live in your own head, it is sometimes nice to realize the aforementioned escapes. I have always been a head-in-the-clouds daydream and blessed with vivid dreams about the ordinary. That unconscious means is almost endless and so often the takeaways to which I cling are my surroundings. Nothing is ever quite right or grounded in reality. Trying to realize those moments and to bring them into a tangible medium is both very personal and therapeutic. Emotionally, the creative process feels like a reassuring nostalgic memory, but it never really happened or disappeared.
Where do you get inspiration from?
The best inspiration always comes when I don't try, which is a frustrating fight that I hope to hack. My go-to methods are tech-free walks, browsing through books, sketching while you decompress & night and go through all cinematography-heavy films – classic or new.
I absolutely love the work you have done for Lil Nas X. What was it like to work on that project? How did it come about?
Thank you! It was a wildly fast ride. I think from the start of the kick-off to the last episode it was about three, maybe four days? In our first chat, Montero (Lil Nas X) had a general overview of what he wanted the direction to be, and from there he had a generous level of creative confidence in the vision that I could best convey. It is such a blessing if you can collaborate with people with that mentality. With the shorter deadline, I selfishly wish I had just a little more time to expand over a moment or two, but his fans seemed really excited about what we came up with, so my heart is very full. It only happened because I was in contact with a Twitter thread! So hey, sometimes your cold-call style works.
What does your creative process look like today? From beginning to end.
Analogue starts with illegible notes, chicken scratches, lists with considerations regarding lighting / material. I then proceed to consolidate anything and everything that is written or visual in a single space – Miro signs have been useful to collect that lately. From there I organize the chaos a bit, write down a clear pronunciation / composition and dive into it digitally. As soon as a piece feels ready for use, I go to the pole and generally enjoy adding painted light, surreal finesse, etc. Like the icing on the cake. My favorite moment in the creative process is between finishing a piece and sharing – it is an intimate self-fulfilling state.
How long does it usually take to make a piece? Have you streamlined this process?
Differs! I was a quick little demon, but my job was also a lot easier – a single focal point and negative space. Now that I enjoy a more complex approach to my work, time has of course risen. Sometimes an idea strikes, I run with it, and in less than a day it is just right. Then there are other days, and more commonly from late on, where I have four-plus work going on that I switch over in the course of weeks until there is a good one. If I had to give an estimated average of working actively on a personal piece, beginning to end, then most would be ready within eight to 14 hours.
How do you rest and charge yourself when you have no ideas?
Speak my current language. I have allowed client work to deflate me more than is likely to be healthy this year, leaving me quite dry for personal studies. We largely accept this at first, but understand that you cannot spark something if there is nothing. Just like my favorite inspirational routes, I find charging the most successful when I unplug the power cord. Let the mind wander and feel free, in an almost meditative state, which is currently rejuvenating the concept muscles most effectively for me.
What software do you use to create your illustrations?
Cinema 4D is my bread and butter. Supported by After Effects, Photoshop, Daz3d, Redshift and very occasionally Zbrush and Substance Painter. There are so many applications that for some projects can feel like a complex dance.
Which hardware do you use every day? Which PC build do you have?
It is a fleshy modified space ship. I have a full-size enclosure with four 1080 TIs, an i7 processor, 128 GB RAM, etc. I work on Windows, being a PC, and I'm not tired of a UI snob to get Apple on start. I've been GPU rendering alone for a while, so it works pretty well for me, although I have to be careful with temperatures during demanding projects. This summer was a toasty.
What are some of your favorite creative tools and resources?
Aside from my uses I mentioned, I love Forester, it's great to work with foliage and develop a fast digital green thumb. I used Octane for structuring and rendering, and have now largely switched to Redshift, which is also great once you get the hang of it (not to mention stable). As for creative sources, I really enjoy weekly to biweekly library trips just to wander around and find something essential to inspire my personal work.
Your style is always so consistent between your personal work and that of customers. How does your approach to the customer differ from your personal?
That means a lot, thanks. Customer work usually goes faster in the process, the assignment speeds up the goal, and from there it corresponds to my usual flow: writing thoughts, sketching and gathering inspiration about how elements can work together. It is quite analogous to the first formal creative assessment, regardless of the project. With personal work that is also largely true: I will add bookmarks to pages, remove thoughts and bring those physical and digital references to a consolidated space when I feel it is time for some magic to happen.
Tell me more about H + Creative. What is it like to work with a creative agency and have representation?
Representation is a very personal choice, but for me it has been such a relief and it has certainly secured some of my larger projects over the years. Not dealing with the logistics phase, arranging most business aspects, and in general a person who mediates between myself and the customer *chef & # 39; s kiss*. That said, it's an intimate, professional relationship that you naturally want to have in the long run, so I waited until I found someone I really had to deal with for current and future goals before I made the commitment.
Where do you see yourself and your work evolving in the coming years?
I consider myself a 3D designer, I want this to develop into an artist while continuing this chapter of my work. By that I mean that I am being taken on more purely for myself (not just skills), I accept projects that have a personal meaning and also evolve outside my current medium. If the work gets less, I look forward to learning a game engine for starters. The future seems compelling and I would like to contribute to that vision.
What is a dream project of yours?
Concept art for a science fiction film, preferably ecological or architectural, and to do more interactive work, such as game concept art or actual design.
What would you recommend for people who want to learn how to work in 3D but don't know where to start?
When entering a technical field of design or art, the most important thing is to first find your "general" program that works best for you. I recommend Cinema 4D, although I have a handful of colleagues who are also responsible for Blender. Once settled, you spend the less-than-fun task of learning the interface and then it's time to get dirty with some polygons! All I have learned is the result of searching for educational resources online such as Greyscalegorilla, Eyedesyn, YouTube and the always reliable method of trial and error.