“Fractal art is a form of algorithmic art created by calculating fractal objects and representing the calculation results as still images, animations, and media. Fractal art developed from the mid-1980s onwards.The Julia set and Mandelbrot sets can be considered as icons of fractal art.”
-Fractal Art, Wikipedia
philsh is a renderosity artist specializing is fractal imagery. If, like me, you don’t know a lot about creating fractal imagery, it’s a kind of dance with visual algorithms where you are never quite sure how the image will turn out. The balance between control of your images and the happy accident is one that philsh relishes, which is why his work is so striking and evocative.
philsh has posted over a thousand fractal artworks since joining renderosity in 2006. His image views are off the charts (almost a hundred thousand) and it’s easy to see why. Take a look at his most favored fractal art piece (dragon’s lair) at the top of this interview/article. Dragon’s Lair (as it’s titled) is a wonderful image that is not only technically accomplished, but has a unique “otherworldliness” that leaves the viewer with a sense that if a dragon did show up, it would be incredible.
I had the pleasure of interviewing philsh for this Renderosity artist profile and found him to be irrepressibly energetic. It’s easy to see how this artist's energy is transferred to his work. There is a brightness about philsh that you smile soon after starting to talk with him. I suspect he has this effect on people all the time.
“I started doing this fractal stuff on 01/01/2006! As for art in general: Art since I was 6, computer graphics since 1985 (when the Mac II came out).”
I majored in fine arts (w/ a painting major) at volunteer state community college for 2 years, took off a couple of years to work (ugh! ha ha!) and then finished my BFA at MTSU with a major in commercial art and a minor in photography.
Done w/ a bunch 'o commercial art (after 20 years!!!) and tryin' 2 do some sho-nuff art these days! ha ha ha! lottsa lottsa phun!!!!!
Current Residence: Tennessee
Favourite genre of music: Jam bands
Operating System: Windows XP
Favourite cartoon character: Homer Simpson
Personal Quote: “Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile!"
philsh: Hi everyone! Proud to be here! Hey me phriends, gtoon (ricky grove), and me long time phriends at Renderosity!! Hi all! Here we go!!! Smiles!
Ricky: I'm not as familiar with fractal art (most of your work appears to be using fractal generators), how did you come to choose this form of art? How long have you been creating this kind of work?
philsh: Started looking at and downloading some cool images for desktop pics and I realized the fractal ones were the ones that really drew me in, so I looked into the programs peeps were using and started messin' w/ apo and such on 1-1-2006. I so love this stuff, in many ways my pieces are more of a collage as I combine a lot of images for the final thang, soooo much phun!!!
Ricky: Three artworks seem to stand out among the Renderosity viewers: earthview (most views), dragon’s lair (most favorites) and tint of dawn (most comments). Can you tell me about how these works were created? What were you trying to do with them? Did they turn out the way you wanted them to?
philsh: Both earthview and dragonlair were about a year and a half-ish into the new stuff (lots 'o layering in photoshop e w/ fx and such) "dragonlair" hadda cool story w/ it and everyone loves gold! Ahhahaha! I was just gettin' into Xenodream then and pretty fired up about it!
"earthview" was really a phun one, although I liked several others better myself...who's to know? "a tint of dawn" was one of the "just for phun" series which are essentially fractal/photoshop gestural drawings...created quickly whilst letting the hand and brain flow.... that's one of me favs!
Ricky: I've been going through your over 1000 images in your Renderosity Gallery and have been struck by how many share qualities with one of my favorite paperback cover artists - Richard M. Powers. He didn't use fractal imaging software like you do, but his shapes and colors are a lot like yours. Do you know this artist? And, if you do, how has he influenced you? Here's a link to some of his work: Richard M. Powers
philsh: Whoa! An amazing thing to ask, g! Nope, not really aware of his work at a conscious level (till now!) my work is sooooo totally influenced by my lifelong luuuvvvvvv of science fiction!!! The first real sci-fi book I bought (besides comic books) was "Contact." I remember reading it in class in 6th grade (hidden inside a text book during class, hahahaha!) and I bought it because I loved the (as I now know, Richard M. Powers) cover (I still have that book!)!
Ricky: Quick question on your hardware and software. What is your set up and what do you use? Especially for mixed media work.
philsh: Windows dual core w/ an nvidia 1gb video card, 4gb ram, Apophysis, Xenodream, Photoshop, Groboto, and a bit 'o Poser.
Ricky: Can you describe a typical workflow for a fractal art piece? How long does it take you to complete?
philsh: I generally render fractals 1st and open a new photoshop file and just...start! 1-15 subjective hrs w/ contemplation time running from an hr. to several weeks (some get put on the back burner before a plan is born) lol!
Ricky: How much does accident play in your art creation?
philsh: Ahhahaha! Lots! It's a lot of "controlled accidentiality" (accidentiality...is it a word? if not...u heard it here 1st pholks! lol!).
Ricky: Who are the artists that have influenced you the most?
philsh: Soooo many, me phriend! People around here, and so so so many others...writers, visual artists, musicians, teachers...the list is vast!!! Although, I gotta mention Jack "King" Kirby! The king is gone, but not forgotten!
Ricky: Lastly, have you had any formal art training? do you create other forms of art?
philsh: On training, yep...always took art thru elementary and thru college and many years doing print graphics. As for other forms of art...I'm loving this digital madness! Such phun!!! :) Smiles, grins and grits! :)
Ricky: Do you have a picture we can use for the profile?
philsh: Hey man! Let's just use me usual pic "on the beach w/strange balls" hahahah! created by me phriend Don Nance (or nondance as he refers to himself).
Ricky: How would someone get started with creating fractal art?
philsh: My advice to get started is this : start! Hahaha! Get Apophysis (and Apo 3d) which is free, and render an image! Be warned, fractal generation and digital art creation is highly addictive!!! Ahhahahah! :)
[Note: Apophysis is a free-ware application for creating fractal art. Good tutorials at the apophysis website to get you going]
philsh: Hi everyone!!! Here's a new one [June 23, 2014] called "old school." It's influenced by Richard M. Powers!!! An old school sci-fi artist that I just became aware of thanx to ricky grove!!! Although I refer to this as "old school," this man's work is as relevant as the day is long! He did a zillion sci-fi book covers and was a major influence on my stuff (although I only just recently realized it!). Thank you for looking! :)
Thanks to philsh for taking the time to answer my questions and for making it so pleasant to write this article. For anyone who wants to learn more about fractal art check Renderosity’s Fractal Art Showcase, Fractal Gallery, and Fractal Art Forum, run by KimberlyC and Lenord, for more info and excellent support/encouragement.
Ricky Grove [gToon], Staff Columnist with the Renderosity Front Page News. Ricky Grove is a bookstore clerk at the best bookstore in Los Angeles, the Iliad Bookshop. He's also an actor and machinima filmmaker. He lives with author, Lisa Morton, and three very individual cats. Ricky is into Hong Kong films, FPS shooters, experimental anything and reading, reading, reading. You can catch his blog here.
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