The Many Faces of Luca Oleastri
March 28, 2010 2:33 am
Interview with Renderosity Bryce Artist Luca Oleastri [duo]
Luca Oleastri is not only a man of many occupations; he is also a man of many names. The Renderosity community knows this amazing Bryce artist as duo; yet he is better known throughout the art community by his alter-art-ego…INNOVARI.
Over the years, Luca has worn many hats: surveyor, illustrator, FX consultant, magazine Editor-in-Chief, and publisher. Yet, no matter what name he goes by, or what hat he wears, his artistic-soul belongs to the world of computer graphics.
I invite you to sit down with me and get to know the story behind the many faces of Luca Oleastri; a man with a magical laughter and a heart of gold.
Dee Marie: You have a wonderful eye for detail, especially in regards to the artful way that you pose the human figure. Is your artistic talent self-taught, or have you had formal art training?
Luca Oleastri: I graduated with a degree as a Surveyor. My artistic talent comes from within, as I have had no formal artistic education. I’m a totally self-made man, both as a 3D artist and in my professional non-artistic life.
In the 1980s I created a Special Effects company, where I worked for 10 years as a model maker and designer. From the 1990s to the 2000s, I worked in the publishing field: first as journalist, than as Editor-in-Chief…and after, as a publisher in my own publishing house. During the years I’ve covered all those professional roles counting only on my personal abilities, and my curiosity in every professional field that I’ve touched.
My Worlds ©Luca Oleastri ~ Extra Vehicular Activity ©Luca Oleastri
Dee Marie: You have a very impressive resume. When did you first realize that you wanted to become a digital artist?
Luca Oleastri: Becoming a genre illustrator has been one of my dreams since I was young. I’m an avid reader of science fiction. The majority of the science fiction books that fill the shelves of my home library were purchased because of their cover art. I’m also a collector of Sci-Fi and fantasy illustration books (I have nearly every illustrated book that was published—worldwide), and over the years I have spent a lot of time studying and admiring them.
Another Green World ©Luca Oleastri
Dee Marie: So, your love of Sci-Fi and fantasy illustrations pushed you to the world of digital art, or did you stray to other artistic mediums first?
Luca Oleastri: As model maker, at first, I created spaceships and dioramas from scratch. I tried to reproduce the mood that I saw in the illustrations that I loved. Yet, even when I was able to reach heights in the field of plastic modeling, I never managed to get exactly what I imagined. I then tried my hand at recreating my visions with an airbrush. However, I soon found out that it was a medium requiring enormous skills; not allowing for error or afterthought.
Dee Marie: Do you recall the moment that you realized you were inevitably hooked on digital art?
Luca Oleastri: In 1997 I discovered Bryce 3.1. I simultaneously discovered that digital art was the media that was for me …. It was at that moment I became a Bryce “otaku.”
[laughs softly, while sporting a sly knowing glint in his eyes]
Dee Marie: When did you go from dabbling with Bryce to becoming a professional digital artist?
Luca Oleastri: It was not until 2005 that I was forced to become a professional digital artist. From 2000 to 2005, I worked at Qubica (a multinational company based in Italy), where I filled the role of product designer. It was there that I created an abundance of 3D work (a lot with Bryce). In 2005, Qubica merged with a large American company, and I (along with 10 other people), lost my job. I was 42.
Dee Marie: That must have been devastating?
Luca Oleastri: I do not know what happens in the United States when you lose your job after 40, but in Italy, after 40 you're too old for any kind of job, even if you're highly qualified, as in my case (too old for rock ’n roll, too young to die). [sad laughter]
So, I was forced to re-invent myself…again! I decided to do what I liked doing: Fantasy and Sci-Fi illustrations. After sending thousands of personalized emails (not spam) to promote myself and my works all over the world, I began to get requests for commission works. At first for a variety of genres–but, many of them were for fantasy and Sci-Fi. [more laughter, this time robust, joyful]
Dee Marie: You have defiantly proven, “When one door closes, another door opens.” While on your travels into the wonderful world of computer graphics, what other digital software programs did you discover?
Luca Oleastri: Poser, of course, but also Wings 3D and any other strange 2D and 3D programs that would allow me to speed up my work. I love to use strange and little-known software, such as GroBoto, and many other unusual programs. I also use Adobe Photoshop, a lot!
In my works of art, my goals are not to achieve photorealism, but to produce illustrations. Working within Photoshop, I will often remove details and make everything less cold.
UFO Energy ©Luca Oleastri ~ The Tunnel Under The World ©Luca Oleastri
Dee Marie: When you create your works of art, what is your creative process? Does your artwork come from a vision, or do you start with a blank page and let the image work its magic?
Luca Oleastri: I don’t use sketches. My works came from visions that change during the implementation of artwork, directly in 3D. Sometimes I start putting something down, then I change everything. This is one of the reasons I still use Bryce. Only “good old” Bryce gives me the creative freedom that no other sophisticated 3D software can give.
I’ve also used Maya. But, with Maya, to do something “displayable” takes hours, and sometimes my customers want to see their vision come to life in minutes, not days. On the other hand, Bryce cannot do all the things Maya does. However, after ten years of “Brycing,” and with the help of Photoshop, I can force Bryce to do things that it should not be able to do.
Dee Marie: Has living in Italy, being surrounded by the artworks of The Masters, influenced your images?
Luca Oleastri: Sometimes, but many times not. I can understand that overseas artists could be crushed and inhibited by the weight of such an abundance of artistic culture and history, like we have here in Italy. That’s because modern and contemporary art are not popular in Italy.
That is also one of the reasons that I look at the Classic Masters of Italian art…and then I keep them locked in a drawer in my mind. That is, anyway, what I think when I look at my art, I do not know if my cultural artistic heritage still shines from my works. You tell me. [hardy laughter]
Dee Marie: I think that even though the majority of your works of art depict futuristic situations, that they are still steeped in the realm of Italian history. How could your art not reflect your heritage?
Luca Oleastri: What certainly shines through…is that I’m definitely European.
Dee Marie: On a similar subject … do you have an artistic muse?
Luca Oleastri: I have an artistic “hero” and a couple of artistic muses. My artistic “hero” is Syd Mead. For decades, he has been the best car concept designer, as well as the best movie concept artist on the market (his work can be seen in the movie, Blade Runner). His style, with his "new era of design" concept, is nearly unattainable for me and for the media that I use. I did manage to get close, when I created this tribute image.
Syd Mead Tribute ©Luca Oleastri
My artistic muses are Chris Foss and Peter Elson, two well-known science fiction illustrators of the 1980s. I’m a huge fan of both artists. Foss is a great painter, and in his works you can really feel the paintbrush. Elson was more of an illustrator (a great illustrator), than a painter. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack in 1998, but his work still influences me. As a fan, I strive to achieve the style of both artists in my work.
Traders Fleet (tribute to Peter Elson) ©Luca Oleastri ~ Planetary Outpost (tribute to Chris Foss) ©Luca Oleastri
I don’t know why, but as a professional artist I feel very close to the Peter Elson approach to commercial illustration. I admire his work so much that I made a tribute site for Peter (The Unofficial Peter Elson Homepage), where I collected most of his illustrations. It was such an honor to receive compliments from Elson’s sister, who inherited most of his original paintings.
Anyway, besides my artistic “hero” and muses, I think I have developed a personal style in my works.
Dee Marie: Besides your artist muses and heroes, does music play a part in your creativity?
Luca Oleastri: Yes, I do listen to music when I create, but mostly I listen to the radio. I especially like to listen to the people who talk on the radio. I work at home and I spend a lot of time alone, in a sort of golden prison at home. The radio keeps me company.
Dee Marie: As an artist and author, I too can appreciate the need for human contact. While on the subject of writing, how did your role as Editor-in-Chief of the movie magazines Fangoria and Gorezone, and the role-playing game magazine, Kaos, influence your artwork?
Luca Oleastri: As I mentioned, I worked in the film industry for 10 years, in the field of special effects. I also saw almost all the Sci-Fi movies that existed from 1900 to today. I can say, without exaggeration, that I’m a leading expert in Sci-Fi cinema for my country. That was how I came to be the Editor-in-Chief of the movie magazines Fangoria and Gorezone. So, yes, fantasy, Sci-Fi, as well as horror movies have greatly influenced my works of art.
When I was young I was also a RPG player, and a “mad painter” of metal (I still have a ton of them somewhere). Metal miniatures perhaps influence me on the approach of colors and textures in my 3D images.
Dee Marie: You currently have several beautiful art books on the market, featuring your remarkable illustrations. When did you establish your publishing house, Edizioni Scudo?
Luca Oleastri: After my almost 10 year experience in the publishing field as a publisher, I swore that I would never again be devoted to paper publishing. But, my “printing demon” was still there. In late 2007 I bumped into an old friend, Giorgio Sangiorgi, whom I had not seen for 20 years. He had become a rather famous Sci-Fi writer and we decided to form Edizioni Scudo (Shield Editions).
Edizioni Scudo is more than a publishing house…it’s a cultural association; as we also act as publishers, promoters and editors. Because we have no budget (and for now, we don’t want to), we use Lulu.com to print and sell our publications. Anyone can publish on Lulu.com. Our secret to sales is promotion.
After more than three years of work, we (Edizioni Scudo) are well-known in the Italian science fiction and fantasy community, and we publish young writers along with very important Italian and international authors. All the writers give us their works for free, on a gentleman’s agreement basis (all the copyrights remains to the authors). In exchange, we promote the authors and their works, earning some money (not much), just to cover a little of our commitment.
Dee Marie: I fully understand how many hours can go into publishing, editing, and promoting. Running a publishing house is work and time intensive, plus, it takes time away from your artwork. What motivates you?
Luca Oleastri: The main reason is that we love all aspects of fantasy and Sci-Fi. Also, now that a few big publishing houses are looking at our work in the field, we are motivated by collateral personal benefits. As to our future in publishing, we can only wait and see what will happen in the future.
[Luca sports a huge knowing smile]
Dee Marie: Do you have plans to publish art books by other digital artists besides yourself?
Luca Oleastri: Yes, and we just did. Some months ago, we published a full-color illustration book by Giuseppe Festino, who is the doyen of science fiction professional illustrators here in Italy.
I’m also planning to ask Renderosity artists if they would like to be a part of an illustration book, but presently my time is short.
Anyway, if someone is interested in publishing with Edizioni Scudo, we are open to the world. An important criteria for us is that an artist should have at least 100/200 works, so we can choose the best. As we like to include 80 to 100 images within a book. Also, if you have a 3D comic, or graphic novel, you are welcome to submit your works.
Dee Marie: You are a true modern Renaissance Man. What do you do outside of the art and publishing world for fun?
Luca Oleastri: Country bow shooting, playing music with my band, and walking in the woods. I have no time to play games on the PC or console. For me, it is more fun to play with Bryce or Poser.
Dee Marie: What encouraging words would you give to an artist just starting out and wishing to make a living with their art?
Luca Oleastri: I can honestly say that I have found employment as an illustrator not because I'm the best (there are many artist on Renderosity that outclass me a lot), but because I work professionally: I'm not expensive, I'm very fast, I do exactly what the customer asks, and deliver works by the agreed deadline. Keeping deadlines is very important! Those are the basic rules to be a professional illustrator, and that is what customers want.
It pays off to be especially quick, because normally everyone wants things yesterday. You must get used to going over your image many times (usually 3 or 4 times). You also have to have a lot of patience with customers; who often do not know exactly what they want. At the same time, you must be very proactive…therefore, be neither a slave nor a master to your customers.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to be extremely patient and balanced, remembering that your customer is paying and in the end the customer is always right. Ironically, many times you will find that the client was right all along, and his ideas, mediated by you, were better than your original ideas.
Most of the art in my book Ufos, Aliens, Ifos and Other Mysteries (in English), were commissioned, and almost all have been reworked at least three times.
Dee Marie: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down with Renderosity. Do you have additional parting “words of wisdom” that you would like to give our readers in regards to digital art or publishing?
Luca Oleastri: Just try, just dare; you have nothing to lose. If you are young, you have totally nothing to lose…you have only everything to win. If you have talent, just follow it, but only if you really, really, really believe in yourself and in your talent. Otherwise, it is better for you to stay home, or do work outside the artistic field.
By the way, I want to thank all the Renderosity staff, and the whole Renderosity community. During the past 10 years we have grown together, and I can see the results and improvements in me…and in you! I sincerely believe that if Renderosity did not exist, I probably would not do what I do. Thanks to a lot people!
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March 29, 2010
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