Let's Talk With Frank Picini [fpicini]

deemarie · September 26, 2005 5:16 am

Its that time again, when all the ghosts and ghouls come out to play. Who better to join in the fun, other than the Dark Lord of Inspiration, the Spirit-Master, himself, last years Halloween Contest winner, Frank Picini [fpicini]. Come join with me, as we explore the muse behind the man ...
Congratulations again, on winning last years Renderosity Community Halloween contest. What was the inspiration for your masterpiece, Deciduous Man? Actually the original title was Evidence of Autumn. I was inspired by a song from Genesis of the same title. I had been meaning to illustrate something that would express the whole fall feeling within my style something surrealistic as well as a bit dark. I recreated an older image for the contest and took the concept a little further. Thats when I also came up with the new concept and title Deciduous Man. A place where man can reflect beside nature, and shed his problems within nature with hopes to rejuvenate again. Deciduous; to lose or shed your leaves.
Message2419560.jpg Last Years Halloween Contest Winner by Frank Picini [fpicini]
A lot of artists have Fine Arts degrees; yet, are unable to make a living with their art. Do you feel that you became a professional artist because of your talent, your degree, or because you were at the right place at the right time? Well, actually I have a Fine Arts degree. I spent most of my post college years painting and trying to decide whether to continue painting, or to find some other career in art. I spent many years moving around art studios never feeling like I was really enjoying the art I was creating. I had been trying to get a job as a graphic designer for a TV station for years. I finally learned how to use a Paintbox which was the main computer system used in just about any TV station in the world. I finally managed to land a job at CBS Network here in NYC in 1990. Thats when I started really using and understanding computers. It made designing more interesting, and allowed artists to easily adapt to their new set of designing tools without feeling restricted. My talent definitely helped me get jobs from that point on. Ive been at WABC-TV in NYC for 13 years now. I do a lot of 3D animation for promos for WABC-TV, as well as for Live with Regis & Kelly. As a traditional artist, how has the advent of the computer as an artist tool changed your art and your way of looking at art? Message2419559.jpgI seemed to adapt pretty easily to computers. Ive taught myself most of the programs that I know. I feel that with all the new software out there, an artist now has many tools to create. Of course having a good design sense and a knowledge of color and lighting is a must. Now I look at the creation process in many dimensions. I come up with a concept and design it, but you need to have the foresight to determine which programs to use and how to composite it. It never hurts to be able to save as many versions as you want also. You cant do that with a canvas. I look at digital art very seriously now. I also think the world is finally recognizing, or should I say accepting, digital works of art and illustration as real art. Ive been involved with the Macworld digital art contest for many years now. I have been fortunate to be amongst the winners the last 3 years in a row. I also got to speak on a panel of artists at Macworld 2003 in NYC on the techniques and processes of creating award winning digital illustrations. Do you feel that working with promotions, production animations, and creating graphics for a television network has helped or stifled your artistic creativity? Good question. Most of the people I work with are always commenting on how can a style of artwork, such as mine, come from the same person they work with. Actually I would say that my knowledge of fine art and illustration, lighting and color has actually helped me at my job whether its a promo or any 3D animation. Fortunately teaching myself 3D animation software at work, in turn has helped me in my personal Illustration work. So you can say that they both helped each side grow and learn new things. When I do news graphics that are 2D illustrations I often go to a 3D program to create something and then bring it back into my 2d program of choice. Again knowing how to use a production pipeline really helps to create and composite much faster, and with less problems. There are times when I have to create an animation, for example, of a plane near miss at an airport. I have to pre-plan my plane Targa sequences from my 3D program, and as they are rendering Im compositing in After Effects with other elements at the same time. Then I need to bring it all together with any Photoshop elements and any special effects from within After Effects. Plus, everything has to match an audio track from the Reporter. Having this knowledge of using a pre-planed pipeline approach, and knowing which program to use for certain elements, is important for meeting deadlines at work. My approach to illustrations is exactly the same. So, my work experience and personal work help each other equally. Through your work, you have access to a large variety of computer graphic programs, which are your favorite? My all time favorite 3D program is Cinema 4D. I do all my modeling and rendering from within that program. I use Poser all the time at work for medical illustrations. I composite all the poser obj files within Cinema 4D, and then export renders into After Effects projects from C4D. Cinema 4D allows you to export a complete multi-pass render to After Effects with separate passes assigned to different animating layers, which allows you to manipulate the individual elements in After Effects. So, those are two of my favorite applications both at work and at home. Photoshop is my third favorite. Almost everything I do, goes through Photoshop for its final completion, with the exception of 3D animations, which are completed in After Effects. Do you currently create your art exclusively with the computer ... do you miss the feel of a paintbrush or the smell of the paints? Yes, all my personal artwork I create is done on the computer. I do miss painting on a canvas. The one thing I dont miss is the preparation and clean up stages. I love the fact that you can save so many versions of your artwork in any stage that you want and never have to wash brushes. I always use a Wacom tablet to paint and airbrush. As far as the smell goes I do miss that. Ive always used acrylics to paint and we all know how fast they dry. Its a blessing to know you can leave your artwork at any stage on the computer and comeback to it anytime and pick up right where you left off. You have a unique artistic style, often delving into the darker side of your imagination please introduce us to your muse. When people always ask me that question, Im always at a loss of words on how to really explain where the inspiration comes from. So heres a go at it. As far as I can remember my art has always been surrealistic in nature. My art grew up inspired by Salvador Dali. When I started creating art, around ten or twelve years old, I was in awe of his work. Everything I created from that point on I tried to approach it the way I thought he might. I even sent him artwork for his birthday, a couple of times, where he stayed in NYC. Dreams also had a big influence, and still do, on my artwork although when I was younger, it was harder to transcribe them to a canvas. When I went away to college to get a BFA degree, my work progressed to more of a psychological or metaphysical nature. As an art student, the schools counselors always felt we needed to take courses other than art to make us well rounded.
Message2419588.jpg A Thousand Lights won't Lift the Dark by Frank Picini [fpicini]
So, I was pleased to see that they had just introduced Parapsychology classes. Taking some of these classes helped me deepen my imagery. Since I got into digital art, in the last 15 years or so, I have dug deeper into the psychology of art imagery as I come up with a concept. Also, my work is also inspired by lyrics to music that I listen to. Ive discovered many lyrics from Bush and Perfect Circle that I illustrate to. If you look at many of my artwork titles, and know their music, you will recognize them. Your works are an inspiration to many; what words of encouragement can you give those who look upon you as their muse? One thing I like to pass on is that an artist should always use as many programs (tools) as he or she needs, to get their artwork to produce the right feeling to their viewer, that they felt when creating their imagery. After all, we create art to invoke a mood or feeling from our viewers, so they can interpret them also. And, when it does, and you get responses that are all different from each other, than you really know you did your job. Once you feel comfortable with creating in various programs, I think it makes it easier for an artist to get their meaning across in their art. If you are fighting the application it will drain the creative process. So I suggest that artist try and learn as many programs as possible. I know Ive been fortunate to have them available to me, and not everybody does. However, if you can try different things, and experiment with new ways to do them, it will give you a new approach to your imagery. Thanks for letting me express my thoughts to you on my creative processes and feelings on the state of digital artwork. Its been a pleasure posting and receiving the great responses to my artwork on the Renderosity community. Thanks, Frank
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All images within this article are copyright and used with special permisson from Frank Picini [fpicini]. Any use of these images without written permission from the artist is prohibited.

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Article Comments

bpmac ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 26 September 2005

Congratulations Frank, great to read your interview. Always a pleasure to see your work. -Bruce MacLeod

riki1943 ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 29 September 2005

Cool l'homme plante Bravo !!

Jay7347 ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 29 September 2005

Your illustrations are nothing short of inspiring. The best of luck and satisfaction in your creative endevors! -jay