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Interview George Grie for Italian magazine Robot

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(Robot is a well-known Italian magazine dedicated to everything about sci-fi and fantasy such as television, movies, games, and books. Associazione Delos Books, Milan, Italy, www.fantascienza.com).

Q; Welcome in Robot, George! You have been one of the first digital artists in the world. Could you tell us the story about the first encounter between your Art and a computer?
A; My first encounter with a computer had happened quite a while ago. To be precise, it was about 1989. I had been fascinated by some graphic designs of video games and I felt immediately that the new computer technology can add tremendous artistic skill power to a creative individual. At that time, I started modeling simple 3D scenes and exploring further artistic possibilities of computer software. Looking back, I realized how awkward and amateur my experimental attempts were. However I knew right away that with the right set of computer skills the rendering output of newly created artworks could be improved tenfold.

Q; We've been reading your 2003 Art Statement. It's always a matter of Digital Art vs. Traditional Art, pixels vs. brushes, or something has changed in 2012? In your opinion are now electronic tools a more consolidated medium?
A; Digital art is not better or worse than traditional art, period. It is simply another medium as watercolors are to oil painting or acrylic drawings are to pastel sketches. The artist is the one who makes the art, not the computer program any more than the brushes and canvas make a masterpiece. Indisputable, digital tools have many advantages like layers and more importantly - UNDOS. Nevertheless, artists are the ones who in fact paint like one would on a real canvas, using creativity and imagination, and struggle with the artistic tasks like one would. A digital painter may certainly spend many hours on their paintings just as any traditional artist would. One day, sooner than you think digital art would not be frowned upon as just a shortcut to quick cheap artistry. I do not believe that anybody has any doubts about the value of digital art; it is everywhere. I think the dilemma of digital art vs. traditional does not exist anymore. The popularity and availability of digital media made it a number one choice for any creative individual. There are certain pockets of resistance of traditional fine art media, but they do not have such a distribution platform as the Internet, in order to share, discuss, refine and publish one's artwork. Please do not get me wrong, the classic fine art education is the key for any artistic success, just the tools have changed from manual to digital.

robot magazine covers interview george grie
Q; What about the software able to turn your ideas into a finished product?
A; Below is the short list of software that I use regularly: 3D Studio MAX, Adobe Photoshop, Terragen, Poser, DAZ3D, and Adobe Illustrator.

Q; Has your business with IBM influenced your hardware choices?
A; No, not really. IBM is not exactly in the graphic design business. The majority of hardware elements that I am using are coming from other, most likely gaming related companies. If I need to store a large chunk of data and process it quickly, IBM would be my definite choice.

Q; Please describe your Studio, your tools, your actual workstations.
A; There is nothing special in my workstations. The modern conventional computers are capable to perform fast most of the video and graphic applications. Unless you are involved in the business production which requires hours of video footage and complicated 3D scenes, there is no need for sophisticated and heavy equipment and a set of computers that I am using suffice.

Q; As the founder of the social network Interartcenter.net, do you think community art projects are still a valid window for emerging artists?
A; In my opinion, it is all individual. Some artists are enjoying working in a group others don't. However, someone's involvement in any art projects could bring new experience, visions, and simply friends.

Q; Have you discovered yourself new artists? Are there other colleagues following Neosurrealism?
A; I did discover a good number of new talents. It seems like the computers invoked a new creative vibe in people. I cannot tell that there are other artists who follow Neoserrualism since it is not clearly and academically defined. Time as always will tell what is what.

Q; Your illustration are really full of 'surrealism'. Where do you find your inspiration? In dreams? In real life?
A; Dreams are not a very good source of inspiration for me. Most of my creative ideas are coming from real life. An inspirational impact could be triggered by literally anything, a window view, a TV commercial, or a scene from a movie. Many of my artworks are heavily charged with the emotional struggle or uneasiness, which doesn't mean that they reflect my personality that is rather a response to my philosophical views.

Q; While are you painting, do you listen to music? What about your favorite genre and groups?
A; Music is an important part of the creative process. Depending on the artwork subject, I can change my tunes from ambient to heavy rhythmic soundtracks. Even though, I am a big fan of modern alternative music my artworks are created while listening to the industrial metal by Rammstein as well as the classic lyrics by Ozzy Osbourne or Pink Floyd.

Q; Are you currently working to new artistic and personal projects?
A; Yes, I have many projects under my belt, some of them are long term and promised to be very innovative like creating surrealistic 3d environment for a an American composer. The environment is supposed to interact with the pianist's improvisations by changing shapes and colours as well as subject matter of the 3d stage. I still have the day to day short terms projects to illustrate books, magazine covers and CDs that come and go.

Q; What advice would you give to artists pursuing a career as a digital artist?
A; My advice would be simple - create, learn, be yourself, the sky is the limit.

George Grie, June 18,2012
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