Featuring James Knowles in Energy
Energy's feature is James Knowles, AKA GrungeTV has been with us for several years now, and has produced some of the most interesting 3D work in our community.

Lum: First off congratulations on being this exhibits featured artist, what was it like working on this particular exhibit?

James Knowles:Thank you, I'm honoured. When I heard the theme would be 'Energy' I thought this would be a cool project to work on, and I anticipated the pack would be full of vibrancy and dynamism. And the team certainly delivered that!

Lum: So lets first get to know you a bit more, hobbies, interests, and how you got into doing the kind of art you produce?

James Knowles: My first love in art has to be Sci-Fi as I grew up on a stable TV diet of Sci-Fi programs/movies. I also love music (who doesn't?) and my taste ranges from 80's pop right through to melodic death and a fair chunk of styles in between. I started to produce the kind of art I do as I tuned more and more into digital art. I come from a very traditional background, and back then I used to excel in pencil drawing and also enjoyed painting with oils, watercolour and acrylics. In my last year at uni, however, I became fascinated with digital art and that was the start of my digital dabblings which led onto meddling with 3D via Cinema4D, and combining the results with Photoshop.

Lum: You have been with the Luminarium now for almost 3 years, in that time how much do you think your work has changed? And in what way do you think the group has helped you and your work?

James Knowles: I think since joining the Luminarium, I've started to appreciate other people's work flows more, which invariably has affected my processes slightly, ie, trying out new ideas I'd never considered before. The group has been a great help in obtaining different reactions to WIP's; no two people see into an image the same way, which results in sometimes invaluable feedback from different perspectives. Of course you can't always follow every bit of advice you get, as you'd end up with several different images, but sorting through feedback gives you results you hadn't expected, and usually for the better.

Lum: Working on a set theme is always a challenge especially when trying to create an image that best fits that theme, how difficult was it for you to produce those 2 very different images you made for this exhibit and whats the thought behind them?

James Knowles: I'd already had 'VolcanInk' as a rough idea on my hard-drive when the theme was announced, and straight away knew it would fit the concept of energy. I just had to alter the lighting and colours somewhat which then gave me a good render to start working on. The other image 'BlockShock' (I know, sometimes my titles are good, and then other times..!) came about as I wanted something to directly contrast with the organic, rounded forms in 'VolcanInk'. So the obvious choice was very hard edged cubic forms. I deliberately chose to keep it relatively flat looking, again, to contrast with the other image, and to keep the colour scheme quite limited also. As a result, it still has an air of 3D about it but is more representational as opposed to 'whole'.

Lum: Whats the process you go through to create an image? For instance the image VolcanInk, how do you go about making something like that?

James Knowles: VolcanInk was a basic render which started off as an experiment with metaballs in C4D. A lot of this type of 3D work is trial and error, tinkering with lights, materials etc., until you start to get a sweet-spot. I used GI lighting for the scene, with a plane with a bright blue luminance channel for the above light, and a visible orangey light underneath, with some noise added, to give it that smokey effect. The rest was all photoshop, levels and contrasts, adding the bright orange flecks and the blue, spirit-like elements floating upwards.

Lum: You clearly have an interest in many different mediums, Photography, Abstract, 3D, Traditional. How do you find the time to work on all those different interests, and is there one in particular you are especially fond of?

James Knowles: That's a good question. Since our baby daughter arrived in January, it's been quite difficult finding any free time to enjoy my projects and keeping a full time job on the go! These days, I just tend to squeeze what I can in as and when possible. If I have to choose my favourite working style, it would definitely be 3D abstract - there are no boundaries and no right or wrong outcomes with this style. It's all improvisation!

Lum: Have you ever had to do any work for a client(s)? If so then how was that different than working on your personal projects? If not then do you see yourself potentially going into freelance in the future or even studio work?

James Knowles: I've had quite a few commissions for clients and have to say I enjoy doing that kind of work, as you can build up a good rapport with the client, and also get regular feedback as to how the image(s) are coming along. The only difference with client based work and my own personal projects is with my own projects, I'm my own client, and I know exactly where the image will be going without any external influences telling me otherwise! Either way, I always try to create what I think is my best visually pleasing images. I would definitely consider freelance as an option, and wouldn't mind studio work either for that matter.

Lum: Where do you see yourself taking your work? Whats your goal?

James Knowles: If I could build up a decent client-base over time, I would love to be self-employed as a graphic designer/Illustrator. I currently work in sales for a very well known multi-media company in the UK, which doesn't let me use my creative skills in the least! My current goal is to quit the job I'm in and get into a creative role asap.

Lum: What's your favorite piece of work you have done? and what makes that particular image so special?

James Knowles: That's a tough one! My images vary so much in style, and like you said earlier, I use quite a few different mediums, so it's hard to pin one image down as my personal favourite! I did a collab with Smiling Demon in 2009 called 'HyperGraf' which can be found here: http://grungetv.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d1z2gks and that was a great outcome. It's almost as if there wasn't much of an effort going on, but we pulled off a great image in my opinion. If I had to choose one of my solo images, I think it would have to be The Guardians of Tanmaugh http://grungetv.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d32hofg probably because it felt so much fun to do, and went through quite a few changes along the way, and for me it looks nice! It started off as just another abstract, but ended up resembling the kind of Sci-Fi image I used to love as a child (for some reason it makes me think of Chris Foss' style of art).

Lum: What advise do you have for people who are either just getting into the area of Abstract 3D or might want to try it out?

James Knowles:I suppose my advice would be never to get disheartened when things aren't going as planned. Abstract 3D by its very nature is all about change and creating the unknown or unseen! Play and go with the flow. Be comfortable with taking chances and making mistakes. Some of my abstracts have come about purely by chance or as a result of pressing a wrong button! And remember to save and save often (and to start saving incrementally every time you hit a point with something you like but are about to make a radical change). It's a bit cliché, but just have fun with what you're making and always try to inject your own individual style into it.

Lum: Before we finish up here do you have anything else you would like to add?

James Knowles:Just keep on creating. Whatever it is you do. And don't feel scared to try new techniques if the opportunity arises, even if you don't get anything out of it, at least you've tried, and more often than not you'll find something useful comes out of it. Also, if you're putting up work for feedback, never take criticism the wrong way; I've seen people getting upset over genuine feedback comments in the past, and sometimes it's become nasty! Take everything that's offered with a pinch of salt, and always try to absorb only the constructive elements of others' comments, that way you will be sure to evolve as a creative.