"Computers make excellent and efficient servants, but I have no wish to serve under them."
This quote sits at the top of Abel M'Vada's Tumblr page like a mission statement. An artist, Gif animator, graphic designer and sometime musician, it was his Gifs in particular that caught our eye - dramatic, futuristic, flush with neon - and all sharing a slightly malevolent edge.
The clever thing about M'Vada's work is that he manages to not only produce arresting moving images, but they all make a profound statement of some sort - often around our enslavement to technology.
The first to contribute to our YouTube digital showcase, in the below interview we ask Abel about his creative process, how he got into digital art and where it can go from here. It provides an excellent insight into the mind of a 21st century digital artist who describes himself, perhaps with tongue in cheek, as a "man of mystery and citizen of the internet".
You can (and should) check out his work at abelmvada.tumblr.com
How long have you been making digital art and what made you start making it?
I first started making digital art in the early 80s when I got my first computer, a Commodore Vic-20. Learning how to make pictures, music and animation by programming was what hooked me.
How would you describe your work?
Multifarious and largely random. Except for Tuesdays when I would describe it as nonsensical and flabby. Maybe even gassy.
What are the themes or influences running through your work?
There’s definitely a science fiction vibe in most of the stuff I do. Comic book art has been a always been big influence as well. You can’t so much see it, but music plays a massive influence on everything I do.
With digital art it surprises me that you start with a pencil. It almost seems a contradiction moving from a limitless tool (pencil) to a digital tool which in a sense has more limits... Do you have no problem recreating your drawings in digital?
Most of my ideas usually come about away from the computer, so a pencil sketch is the best way for me to remember them. Often those sketches get refined and serve as a pre-visualization and reference point once I get to work on the computer. Having a relatively coherent starting point that I can work from makes life a lot easier - it’s like having a set of instructions to follow - and it makes it easier to improvise or to change things as I go along if I need or want to.
What would you say the key is to producing good moving digital art?
Learn to dance? I don’t know that there is any one key to it. I’ve seen so many different and surprising things from assorted artists, all of it amazing. Every Gif is going to have it’s own kinetic requirements, so it may be best to let the piece dictate the movement, rather than the reverse.
How do you approach creating short looping visuals (as in the Gif format)? Being limited in this way, does it force or encourage a special kind of creativity?
It’s useful to look at the way things around you move - people, trees, traffic, machinery, whatever - and pay attention to their inherent rhythms. Often you’ll see patterns or just notice interesting things that trigger ideas for making loops.
Working with the constraints of Gif art doesn’t really need or force you to use a special kind of creativity, but it does give you more focus. You give more consideration to each element of your work and your reasons for going this way or that. Any artist working in any medium will eventually figure out for themselves that constraints sharpen their focus and make them more creative.
Are there any other digital artists you admire?
Loads of ‘em. Big Blue Boo (bigblueboo.tumblr.com) comes to mind. He seems to have an endless supply of fun ideas. Nadrient (nadrient.tumblr.com) is another artist doing great work - cool gifs and fantastic music too. Seijiro Kubo (seijirokubo.tumblr.com) is someone whose work I’ve been checking out a lot lately - really amazing illustrations.
All of them share two things in common: none of them have been to my house, and all of them use digital tools to make some inspiring stuff. I could name many more doing work that that really inspires me, but then we’d be here all day.
Do you think digital Gif art is currently in a fledgling state and still coming to terms with the art form?
Fledgling? Gif art is older than some Gif artists! Surely by now it’s fully fledged and wearing its big boy pants. Of course, someone clever will come along and do something with it that no one will see coming. Not me; I’ll be busy making smart-arsed comments about how gif art wears big-boy pants.
What do you think are the future possibilities for digital art?
Sadly, most new developments will be either driven or co-opted by large corporations and used to sell you more shit.
How important to the world is digital art?
It would be really self-serving for me, a digital artist, to go on about the importance of digital art. Also, honestly, most of it is of no importance whatsoever. Like funny cat videos, Lady Gaga, and hipsters - completely inconsequential, but fun to laugh at.