Featuring Matthew Attard in Gaia
Matthew has been part of the Luminarium since our 4th exhibit, now 14 releases later he gets the feature he deserves for always producing unique artwork in his distinct style. His artwork is always high quality, normally full of unusual ideas and often with an added bit of humour, he is truly an asset to The Luminarium.

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

Matt:This exhibit was very fun for me, I haven't previously done more than two artworks for an exhibit, so the fact I managed to get three done this time says something about my eagerness for the theme which fit my artistic tastes perfectly. I would have done four if I didn't run into computer issues halfway through.

Lum: How about a little about yourself to get us started, hobbies, interesting facts/anecdotes?

Matt: I'm a guy whose primary interests have changed very little since childhood, and that determines a lot of my artistic themes and hobbies today. The Gaia theme was perfect for me since I have a genuine love for nature starting from being a little kid always drawing flowers, trees, clouds, whatever I saw outside. This also made me take up gardening in my teen years and onwards too, drawing plants and flowers isn't enough, I like cultivating and growing my own real ones too. Astronomy is another long-term hobby of mine and that shows up in several of my pieces. I have always found the universe fascinating to look at and learn about and I love sharing my knowledge of both these things with the new and eager to learn, and what better way to do it than create illustrations, either realistic or pure fantasy/science fiction that grabs people's interest.

Lum: You have been part of the artist team here since our 5th release, what is it that you enjoy about working within the group?

Matt: What I enjoy most is the fact critiques are fair and dealt with just the right amount of force. Other "professional" art sites intimidate me actually, I'm not hard-shelled enough to willingly put my work up somewhere where every pixel of it is going to be beaten down by the hardest critics, I think that would destroy my motivation more than encourage it. Critiques on the Luminarium's forums are more fair and considerate of the artist's feelings and personal attachment to the work.

Lum: I'm glad we can help you improve without destroying your drive! You have made 3 very distinct pieces of artwork for this release, why don't you take us through the creative process for one of these pieces?

Matt: I'll choose the last piece "A World Beneath the Earth" for this, as it's my personal fave of the three and follows my most typical workflow for all landscape art. It starts out in Vue, yep, for landscapes I jump straight to Vue before doodling anything since I have more freedom to play with lighting and composition in a 3D environment and I sometimes accidentally come up with something better than what I imagined anyway. In Vue I used several terrains and lights in a dark atmosphere to create the cave the whole scene takes place in. The glowing mushrooms and the crystals were basic models I made in Cinema 4D and imported to Vue. I knew I wanted two main colours and played with some combinations very different to the final choice (red and purple for instance) But I settled on something organic (green) and warming (orange) since I wanted a warm, almost prehistoric mood to it. Several of the plants are customized Vue vegetation, often given glowing materials on some parts, different textures, forms etc. I love using Vue's plant editor since I'm a picky plant-lover like that. The plants surprisingly weren't used in a Vue "ecosystem" which is normally fast and easy, as I wanted a specific composition of plant types, so instead I rendered the plants separately and composed them in Photoshop. Photoshop is where the magic happens, plain-looking renders get a good painting over by me, extra details, depth, contrast etc are all added and it always makes a render look 100 times more artistic!

Lum: A lot of your work requires heavy 3D work, and long render times. How important do you feel patience is for an artist?

Matt: Patience comes to me naturally as a guy who never gets anything he desires straight off the bat. I can't recall ever getting instantaneous results on anything, so waiting days, or even weeks for something I want to have or achieve is expected right at the beginning. This also is helped out with my previously-mentioned interest in gardening, which is definitely not a hobby for the impatient or lazy. Still, even I snap when renders go wrong and files get ruined. So it is probably more about dedication than patience. Dedication will outlast patience, as I have still continued working on something even when my patience for it ran out.

Lum: What about where you get your ideas, do they come easy? What are your main sources of inspiration?

Matt: The same stuff I mentioned as my hobbies. Nature and all branches of that - whether it be landscapes, plants, weather geology, all kinds of things that the Earth shows and does that reminds us it's alive and powerful. Astronomy too - why limit myself just to Earth after all when there's a whole universe of spectacles out there. But I also should give games a credit too. There's often a lot of cool stuff in good o'l videogames and some of my ideas have stemmed from those.

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

Matt: This is almost impossible to answer since I've been doing art for so long and the hundreds I have in my deviantART gallery are just the tip of the iceberg of a long history of drawing. I might say that my "Solar Scapes calendar" is my proudest acheiverment. It's a few years old now but still holds up to my present day standard of work. It depicts landscapes viewed from areas of the Solar System as I have always hoped to see and so far I have not seen a calendar like it. I worked on it for many months making it one of my biggest projects too.

Lum: Do you have any advice for those who are just starting down the digital art rode?

Matt: Yes, and that is don't expect to become professional overnight. There's a misconception in the air that digital art is "easy" but it requires all the skills needed to produce good traditional art, plus learning all the features and tools in your choice software. Experiment a lot too, you don't waste any paper from doing so and the undo feature is right there so mistakes aren't as big of a deal in digital art. If you are using a program or operating system that is crash-prone then never forget to save often, since forgetting has cost me hours of work I had to re-do all over again. Seek to improve and get commissions someday but never let the desire to become professional ruin the fun of art. You lose motivation to draw if you are constantly only drawing what others expect of you. Comfort zones aren't as evil as some preach they are, no-one should deprive you of drawing your favourite subjects regularly, but of course - try not to be a one-trick pony that recycles the same theme over and over without a little variation either.

Lum: Finally do you have anything else you would like to say?

Matt: I would say that to keep motivated in any artform you need to give yourself a healthy dose of subjects you enjoy drawing and some variety to keep things from going stale. Also take time to remember what inspired you to start it all too, I have forgotten at times and lost motivation as a result. It's important to have artistic goals but don't them them stop you from having fun while making art.

Lum: Thank you Matt, it is an honor having you as part of the team.