SAAD MOOSAJEE PROFILE
Saad Moosajee's career as an artist was inspired by one simple factor: boredom. On a family vacation in India, 12-year-old Saad was restless and bored on a seemingly endless train trip. Someone suggested that Saad check out the latest version of CINEMA 4D they had loaded on a computer. Not one to dabble in the arts, but with nothing better to do, Saad opened up the program and began to explore. Hours turned into days and days turned into an obsession that's lasted years. Now 16 years old, Saad Moosajee is dedicated to creating art and his favorite tool to use is CINEMA 4D.
In only four short years, Saad has produced a breadth of work that belies his youth. Stunning portraits, unique typography and cutting-edge landscapes are just some examples of work that is striking coming from any artist, let alone one so young. Inspired by his dreams, his artwork has an unmistakably surreal quality that's enhanced with both literal and metaphorical dark contrasts. "Although that's something I have a natural affinity for," he explains, "it's not like I'm some sort of person who's obsessed with Gothic Art or something like that. I just like working in a darker environment."
Once told that he would never be taken seriously as an artist until he turned 30 years old, Saad quietly rebelled from this form of ageism early in his career. "I never actually start off telling people how old I am. I usually do the reverse, I'll show them my work. And that fools them on how old I am," says Saad. "In terms of big brands and the agencies, I generally try not to tell them because it's hard for a brand like MTV or Nike to actually trust working with somebody [my] age."
Avatars Of Woe
Despite continually experimenting with his art, working as a freelance commercial artist and acting as creative director for the successful art website slashTHREE, it was only about a year and a half ago that the self-taught artist decided to get serious about creating art and "put a lot of time into it and maybe do it as a career." He explains, "After goofing around with CINEMA 4D for about three years, I decided maybe I could do something more meaningful [with it]."
Shying away from the 'artist' label and simply calling himself a digital illustrator, Saad cites H.R. Giger, Rene Magritte and Banksy as his influences, but he is most inspired by movies. Naming matte painter Dylan Cole (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Superman Returns, Avatar) as his idol of CINEMA, Saad says, "He's definitely a guy who I'm chasing in terms of technical ability and just art in general."
But before he can take Hollywood by storm, Saad still has some homework to do. Namely for the accelerated classes he takes in math, geography and physics in high school. "I've always put school before art," he explains. About to enter his junior year, Saad must somehow strike a balance between his burgeoning career as an artist and maintaining his A- average as an honor student. "I find that some of the most creative people out there are also some of the best educated people," he adds.
As creative director for slashTHREE.com, Saad contributes to and curates the popular group exhibitions the site puts up online. These exhibits feature 65 – 100 pieces of still digital imagery (along with photography, computer-generated music and the occasional motion piece). Initially, the site didn't receive much traffic, but since Saad came on board slashTHREE has been averaging 50,000 – 60,000 unique hits a month.
With all the changes and added responsibilities that have taken place for Saad over the past four years, one thing has remained the same: CINEMA 4D is without a doubt his favorite tool to use. "I had no idea that you could use it for so many things," he says. "After I heard that they used it in movies (noting that C4D's body paint function was used in the films Ghost Rider and Spider-Man), then I realized that this was a really amazing program."
What's kept Saad exclusively using CINEMA 4D, instead of other software, is that it is so simple to use. "The way everything is set up is incredibly easy," explains Saad. "But the results you can achieve with the program are endless because of all of the modules that are available you can make it your entire 3D workstation.
"You can throw it into body paint and in conjunction with advanced renders create a realistic object or scene quickly only using CINEMA 4D."
Saad credits C4D as the key to helping him create one of his favorite works, "Inferno." The piece was commissioned by Oxfam, a charity agency in Australia, for the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art via the online art collective Evokeone. Saad's assignment: raise awareness about global warming.
Framed against an apocalyptic setting, the focus of the piece is two hands that "represent the positive and negative of the earth," explains Saad. "In the palm of the right hand is an image of Earth revitalized; this is the view of our saved planet. In the palm of the left hand, is the image of the earth incinerated, the result of what will happen if global warming continues."
To create the hands, Saad took a regular Poser file and deleted all the objects except one of the hands. He then went into detail with structure and modeling tools, creating a second hand with the symmetry function. Cropping portions of a stock photo of a sunset, he made it into a bit map to use to texture the objects. Due to the usage of the bit map, the hands had slightly blended in with the photo. To finish fully blending the hands, Saad post-processed the piece in Photoshop with a combination of adjustment layers and digital painting. The result is a startling work that is provocative and clearly original.
From Saad's continuing experimentation with CINEMA 4D emerged a new technique: creating typography using C4D and creating logo illustrations. The best example of this is a series of T-shirt illustrations Saad did for 361 Degrees China.
"All forms in this image series were created in CINEMA 4D and then slightly modified in Photoshop, the usage of CINEMA 4D gave the illustrations an extra sense of depth which seemed to really please the client."
Through years of trial and error with CINEMA 4D, Saad recommends a smart and simple way to becoming proficient with the software. "(Get) the approach right…and learn everything technically. Then it just comes down to how dedicated and motivated you are," he says. "Work the programs properly by actually reading the instructions. Find videos and resources [to help you] rather than fooling around for a year and then deciding to do these things, so you're not wasting your time."
Using CINEMA 4D to continually strive to create art that is original, Saad bristles at copycats who all too often (literally) recite Salvador Dali's famous line, "Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing."
"People are just flat out copying others' styles of work," says Saad. "But you can't really say that everything has been done before because there are so many different possibilities with the amount of technology that exists to create work that no one would have even known was possible before.
"I don't want to sound full of myself at all. I think my work definitely has a lot of room to be improved in terms of its creativity and uniqueness," says Saad. "I would say that some of my work is pretty unique in terms of its technical procedures, but visually there's definitely some more room for me to make it my own sort of trademark style where people immediately recognize [the work], 'Oh, this is Saad Moosajee.'
"I think there are a lot of guys who are a lot better than I am. And I don't think that I would be comfortable with saying that my work is going to be remembered yet," says Saad. "I hope to have a successful career, but most importantly of all I want to have 10 or 15 pieces of art that even a hundred years later I could still look at it and really be impressed with them."
For now, the farthest Saad will look into the future is going to college. Not trained in the traditional school of the fine artist, he's looking to study art at RISD or Brown in order to grow as an artist. "Not only does that open up a new category of work," he says enthusiastically, "but it also helps you improve your current work with truly understanding grand master compositional skills and lighting."
To see more of Saad Moosajee's work, go to www.saadart.com.
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Article by Scott Strohmaier
Scott Strohmaier is a writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and son.
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