Aryel Huckaby (aka digital artist Nadrient) is one talented dude.
Born in Costa Rica and now residing in Southern California, the visual design freelancer and student has created live shows, worked with the likes of FOX ADHD, Giphy and Electric Objects, scored the music for short films, and he is still only in his early 20s.
Though he hales from the sunnier parts of the world, conversely his work seems to take its origins from dark rainy dystopian cities. He points to "isolation" and "drowning in technology" as two of his themes and these are clearly articulated in the visuals he created for our Artist Showcase.
"Thrive" throws the audience into a neon futuristic landscape in which a "humanoid" hovers above or inside some kind of machine. The title suggests this future might bring us a new definition of the word and the attention to detail - from the rain to the shading - is used to striking effect.
In the following interview we asked Nadrient to reveal his artistic processes, where his ideas come from, and what he thinks will be the future of digital art.
How long have you been making digital art and what made you start making it?
Having grown up in the burgeoning digital age of the late 90's and early 2000's, my roots in creative mediums show an early convergence of digital and traditional. That is to say that when my dad was teaching me something like Photoshop in elementary school I had already been sketching and doodling for a while, so they naturally met. I am sure most people also remember their first attempts at making complex pieces in MS Paint, myself included. Also, my grade school friends and I would make mini booklets of stories that would be accompanied by illustrations, which I feel established a bit of my early fascination with narrative tied to the visual world.
How would you describe your work?
It's a difficult question to ask most creatives since we are constantly in it and have a hard time looking at it from the outside, which is quantifying something that seems as if it's constantly changing. Referencing the previous question, in regards to being fascinated with narrative tied to visuals, I believe my work plays many times with the implication of narrative. I enjoy creating these environments and spaces that imply something beyond the camera's focal length. I also definitely enjoy playing around with texture, adding grain and such, so that might be a binding element to my work as well.
What are the themes or influences running through your work?
I watch a good bit of film, play games, read literature, your standard art consumption. Depending on when you catch me there will be an influence that seems more salient than the others. I am definitely very influenced by the 80's/90's revival scene when it comes to certain visuals, as well as tracing the origins of those influences back to their source, Michael Mann produced or directed films and shows are a pretty easy place to start.
I could sit here for a while and pick apart my work for the amalgam of influences that it is, but that would probably be dull for most. It would probably be easiest to identify some recurring themes in my work, visuals and music. Common themes I come back to: isolation, drowning in technology, mess of wires, expansive environments, reverb, lost connection. Here is also a list of some films I have seen to maybe help gauge where my roots lie; the ratings are not really that important, but rather serve as a reminder to myself that I've seen the film. My influences are varied and widespread which I think ties in nicely to my rambling and convoluted responses.
You also make music - do you find that your music crosses over into your art and vice-versa?
I find that I do think visually when approaching sound, I picture the shape of the sound as well as what environment it would be suited to. Having done a bit of scoring for short films this is definitely a useful tactic, as well as when I approach how to represent my music visually (e.g. album covers, music videos), which I believe is an extremely important step.
Which do you find easier to make? Art or music? And what are the similarities in the creative process if any?
I think they both carry many similarities when approaching the workflow, in the way you gear up for ideas and such. I enjoy jamming when making music, as well as sketching out ideas for visuals; both come from a place of somewhat improvisation.
What would you say the key is to producing good moving digital art?
Since good is subjective, I'll try to explain it from my perspective (which is not necessarily good either). I try to think not only about the concept, but about the presentation/composition, playing with camera angles, lenses, focal lengths etc. I try to think of how I would approach it if I were physically in that environment, how I would see it or want it to be seen. In this way I try to draw many parallels between photography and the framing you approach in that field.
How do you approach creating short looping visuals (as in the Gif format)?
Like I mentioned before, I enjoy improvising, opening up a program and creating shapes and textures to eventually form a final outcome. That being said, I do enjoy approaching a certain style or concept by going through the process of pitching, sketching and going through a few drafts towards the eventual product. The Gif format helps me to execute ideas that could be implemented into larger concepts, possibly with a narrative, while still creating a piece that stands on its own.
Are there any other digital artists you admire?
As with naming influences it is difficult to remember them all. With any medium it's extremely interesting seeing what everyone is doing with similar tools and resources. The internet has given me the pleasure of not only finding others to be inspired by, but given me the chance to reach out and sometimes collaborate with them. Here is a vastly incomplete list of some fantastic creators, in no particular order: The Night Sea, BadCodec, Abel M'vada, Jelly Gummies, Louis Crevier, Kidmograph, Beeple, Fornax Void, Sasha Katz, Kyttenjanae, Zolloc
What do you think are the future possibilities for digital art?
I appreciate older technology and use it when creating, but the evolution of our tools excites me as well. Seeing how far we push the boundaries to integrate digital art attached to our bodies will definitely be interesting, making our whole bodies into screens perhaps; this may be another underlying concept in my work. Maybe we'll live long enough to see the day when facial expressions aren't emotions, but large emojis/avatars that we've chosen to represent ourselves because we're sentient screens and in this way nobody remembers what their original face looks like. Look at me rambling on again like an 80's sci-fi fever dream.
Thank you for indulging me and my frenetic half-answers. Here is an internet expression to show that I am pleased with life :3
For more on Nadrient: