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About Deviant Member James FlaxmanMale/Australia Groups :iconmindfultriphammer: MindfulTriphammer
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I’d planned 2014 as a time of change. The expected change didn’t come about after a run-in with UK customs, but the unexpected change has worked wonders.

2013 was a pretty tough year. Some of this stemmed from inadequate housing and a general sense of alienation; but I’ve dealt with both before. The real killer was my failure to replicate the modest success I’d had selling work in Sydney. After three years I can say it plainly: as much as I like Melbourne, Melbourne doesn’t like my art. It’s worth noting the art in question improved a lot in those three years and moreover diversified, but that still wasn’t good enough. I made a grand total of one local sale (Dystopia) and two interstate (Shepherd and Aeolius). It’s also worth noting I never asked much – $50 to $100 was the norm for prints or ink drawings, some of which took several days – but local viewers were more inclined to give other artists $3000 for black circles clumsily daubed on blank canvasses. There’s a lesson for you here: technique (which I’m still working on) and dedication (which I have in abundance) counts less than canny politics. Reading the fine print, ie. wall text, will reveal those seemingly clumsy black circles are in fact a brilliant commentary on the evils of imperialism, stolen children, genocide, ecological xenophobia, blah blah, ad nauseum, directed at a comfortably affluent, fashionably guilt-ridden, unimaginative white middle class. This is not a revisionist rant; I'm just asking how black circles can undo past injustices, or how they add anything to their creators’ written words. At least I know I’m not alone; a recent London show called “Australia,” which displayed this sort of thing in abundance, met with universal scorn from critics – kinder assessments used words like “clumsy” and “provincial” while one likened a work called “Sydney Sun” to a “cascade of diarrhea.”

Towards the end I no longer felt angry or frustrated so much as tired and resigned. The increasingly absurdist works in the “In Extremis” series were my main creative response. My move was my main practical one. Hobart’s a very different place to any city on the mainland; first impressions from the air were one of spectacular natural landmarks and smaller-scale development. Landing confirmed a lot that I’d heard; the “For Lease” signs on empty buildings bespoke a weak economy and the frequent backpacker hostels one largely reliant on tourism. It seems less a state capital than a country town at times; most venues are shut well before midnight and most streets are empty well before then. More positively, housing is cheap, traffic jams are nonexistent and the people have been helpful and friendly. It’s far less cosmopolitan than most large English-speaking cities, but that’s not necessarily bad in an increasingly homogenised world.

More positively again, I’ve got the best room I’ve had in my life; and with fewer outside distractions I’ve been getting a lot done. The cooler climate is a plus – it makes concentration easier and reduces the strain on my laptop as well. I started out by colouring two of the many detailed drawings done in 2013, almost none of which I’ve posted; but I wasn’t too keen on the results. Something always gets lost in the process, and the potential of the drawings themselves is never fully realised. The frustration prompted me to get back into digital painting – what began as an experiment (Consortium Fireshark) turned out better than expected, and from there I’ve steadily improved. The 40 vehicle concepts refined throughout 2013 have made the process easier, and I’ve saved myself a lot of time by dropping textures over block colours instead of painting them by hand. The textures themselves are mostly taken from photos of Melbourne’s industrial zones.

This stuff won’t be to everyone’ tastes, but it marks a real technical breakthrough – for the first time I feel I’m working with Photoshop instead of struggling against it. The process is also a lot faster, which won’t hurt when it comes to commissions. I’m currently trying to decide between focusing on vehicles (as was the plan for this year) or experimenting further in both style and subject matter.

I’d lastly like to thank everyone who has offered me support. It’s meant a lot over the past year and has helped to keep me motivated. I’ve now got internet at home for the first time since 2012, so correspondence will be easier. I’ve sure got some catching up to do…

Thanks for your time, and good luck this year,

  • Mood: Content
  • Listening to: Gibraltar (Royal Marines)
  • Reading: Coldbrook (Tim Lebbon)
  • Watching: Damn fine local scenery...
  • Playing: N/A
  • Eating: Basic rations
  • Drinking: Coffee


jflaxman's Profile Picture
James Flaxman
Current Residence: Hobart, Australia
deviantWEAR sizing preference: L
Print preference: Varies
Favourite genre of music: Metal, classical, dark ambient
Favourite photographer: Archival
Favourite style of art: Surreal, imaginative, visionary
Operating System: Crappy old PC
MP3 player of choice: Loud
Shell of choice: Armed and mechanised
Wallpaper of choice: Skin
Skin of choice: Metal
Favourite cartoon character: Too many to name
Personal Quote: "So much work, so little time."

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Apparently you're not the only one having trouble getting past UK customs! [link]
Thanks for the link! Nothing I read there surprised me at all.
I've mentioned Giger in one of your gallery posts, but it finally dawned on me who the artist is that your work most reminds me of:  Dougal Dixon, especially his work in "Man After Man."

Along with Giger, he's one of my favorite artists in the area of science fiction art that has a dark and/or biological aspect.  Giger certainly manages to deliver a lot of disturbing images, but Dixon stimulates more thought with much more measured doses of the macabre.  Not surprising, I guess, from an artist who is also a paleontologist and geologist.  Your macabre work is also thought provoking more often than not with a style that seems suited to hard science fiction concepts.

As I only subscribe to your gallery, it's possible you've already mentioned Dixon -- if so apologies in advance for the redundant comment.
FollowinTheBlackBird Feb 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for faving "Rust". I'm happy you like it.
No worries! If I hadn't been so tired I would have posted a comment. Large disembodied heads in barren landscapes have a timeless fascination. I've touched on this in "Ozymandias Now" and more recently in "Tintin's Head." There are plenty of real-world examples, but my favourite's the one in Shelley's short poem "Ozymandias," a great account of ancient hubris.
FollowinTheBlackBird Mar 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Perhaps you wouldn't mind taking a look at Rust 1920x1080 by FollowinTheBlackBird . It is a resized version of the piece I submitted for inclusion in a music video project. You might want to get involved yourself. followintheblackbird.deviantar… I'd be happy to let you know when he is accepting art for the second piece.…
CyberdyneStudio4 Feb 23, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I've been checking you out for a long time and I have to admit I nearly favorited everything in your gallery. You and Keith Thompson are some of the most talented artists I've come across, granted he has his own website so I don't think he uses DA. At any rate I realized that inspirations and influences like the work you do surpasses me by a long shot. However, I'm much more of a writer than I am an imagery based artist. I mean make no mistake about it, I can write a full length story for every piece of art you have in your gallery and turn it into something far out that will be worth reading in a book.
I read your journal too and can say that I relate with what you had to say. One of the things I wish was that I had the money to spend on a concept artist. A guy like you would definately bring out the fear and horror of Spider Tree. A story I've been working on that was meant to be a Children Horror Fantasy tale but then the ideas I had for the monstrosity would most likely give children nightmares. So then the concept was changed and I figured that despite the fact the story involves Children you think hard enough about films like Chuckie, The Good Son, Children of the corn, Orphan, etc.

All of these films use children mostly as the killers and not the victims, but the movies themselves aren't intended for kids. Ironic isn't it? At any rate, my idea was to create a strange Fantasy/Goth Horror story but my skills are limited. I once dreamed of doing an animated film but hell I guess that dream won't happen either. I guess what I'm trying to say is that your work is a strong inspiration, and I truly love what you've been doing. lol I wish I had your talent, I can only imagine how far I'd go if I was at your level. I had ideas for Horror magazine covers, Books, Films, Posters, you name it. Too bad I can't afford you, I mean I don't have $300 or so dollars. If I did and had an actual business that profited from this type of thing aside from cheap commissions I usually do for around $40 or $60 and even then that's barely enough for me to feed myself with.
I read this last night but I'm still reeling - take that as a compliment! My work received near-total indifference until I started posting it online, and even though it's been five years I'm amazed at how well it's gone down.

Keith Thompson has been a big influence. I first saw his work in 2007 and joined DA a short time later. He's got an account but it's more limited in scope than his site.

I'm a big fan of the horror genre, though I lean less towards writers like King and Koontz than Lovecraft, Barker and Lebbon - their penchant for protagonists who are isolated, marginalised, or face overt hostility has always appealed to me. I'd be keen to read some of your work.

I'd love to get $300 for every commission piece I do, but I've rarely been paid at all. I've had lots of practice skipping meals! That said, I've often worked for free when I like an idea enough or feel it will be an interesting challenge.

You sound passionate about your work, and that's what matters in the end. I've stuck to my guns, as hard as it's been, and I feel it's starting to pay off. I'll send you an email address via notes.

Thanks again for the encouragement, and good luck with the writing!
CyberdyneStudio4 Feb 24, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I don't understand, why would anyone overlook your work? You have a lot of neat material, no fuck that. You've got something, really. Your work is exactly the type of material I've tried to create but see I'm afraid to admit that in some artists eyes I might as well be called a "fraud" I use a program called Poser, and it's notorious for people that want to get away with creating 3D art without much effort UNLESS you model all of your own textures and everything from scratch, I don't. Pretty much I'm using other peoples stuff that they made that I paid for to use as my own. About the only "rights" I have is to the characters, but I couldn't sell anyone the clothing, hair, etc via file sharing because it would count as copy right infringement despite I pay a shit load of money helping these people create a lot of the things I use in my art.
So if someone asks me "Did you make the clothes?" I tell them "No, this or that person designed the clothes, I'm only responsible for a few things which would be the lighting, the renders, the Character model minus the textures like makeup, etc. And the writing content I provide."

The reason why I went down the "Cheating" Path is because I'm too lazy to learn how to do all of my own work entirely from scratch. I get frustrated and it's bad enough I Still have no idea how to blend layers and images in Photoshop to create backgrounds for some of my scenes that need them. Especially for outdoor scenes, or a scene where a character may be standing in front of a window. One of the many logical reasons why A LOT of people are using Poser is because it's easy, it's not even a program made for designing characters, it's pretty much used for setting up scenes, models, and rendering. It can do animation but fails in comparison to software programs like Maya and 3D Max the king and Queen of 3D animation software. Smith Micro created poser as a solution for people that wanted a simple basic way to design characters without much pressure or hard work. Granted the people that do make the products for people to buy and use are known and referred to as "Vendors" no one really calls them "Artist."

 Mostly because they don't too much create art except for illustrating the product they want to sell. I've always been fascinated in writing though, not creating via "art" in terms of imagery until I started seeing animation films like Final Fantasy Advent Children, all of a sudden I had ideas to become the Tim Burton and Walt Disney Of CGI with the exception of taking a James Cameron approach to movie making because I liked The Terminator franchise and adored the risks that Walt Disney took with his villains, especially his female villains. It was like he had a guilty pleasure of turning all of his female villains into Dark Mistresses that always dominated a submissive female character. I use to think Ursula was lesbian because of how she behaved, and I knew right then and there it wasn't age appropriate for kids.
I was also more intrigued by most of the work coming out of Japan like Wicked City, Ghost In The Shell, Vampire Hunter D, etc. I knew right then and there that I wanted to be a superior story teller. So I had to write all my own stories, but I was lacking something....CHARACTERS.  I need visual ideas of characters, and because I was afraid to learn how to draw, and knew I couldn't afford expensive programs like Maya to learn it (Even though I have it now). I sough an easier solution, that's where Poser came in. I got involved with buying a lot of products to use, and I felt that it was just a short cut, because since I didn't have a team to work with...It was a lot of work for me to do by myself. I would tell myself that if I could afford to, I'd just start a Studio Business and take risks. I do have ideas that would do well in the studios if I could find someone who wanted to be a Co-Writer.

Surely your work to me is the best I've seen, and I like what I saw. Somewhere in the future if I can make enough I wouldn't mind paying you for your work. No artists should be overlooked, especially if their really good and passionate about what they do. 
Your gallery is full of everything I like! Awesome art! And of course, watching! :)
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