For a few releases now, Jonathan Maurin aka Aeon-Lux showed us his ability to create masterpieces by mixing photo-manipulation and digital painting with so much dedication. With that, we are proud to feature Jonathan in Illuminate V!

Lum: Firstly I would like to congratulate you on becoming our latest featured artist, how does it feel to be featured?

Jonathan: Thank you very much! I'm very proud to be the featured artist. There are a lot of good artists in Lum, so be the featured is an honor. I worked to improve my skills since my beginning in the group, and I'm glad to see my efforts were noticed. It's a recognition but not the end of the road, it's just a step. I want to thank all the members of the group because each pack is a work of the team.

Lum: What defines art for you? And where do you see it?

Jonathan: Art is a way to communicate our ideas. It's an awesome opportunity to talk and think. With visual art we can have this dialogue without words, so the expression must be more strong. We explore people's dreams with a picture. It's fantastic! Before the 80's we could only see art in the museums, but with the development of technology, there is an acceleration of the creative process and there is more and more production. Today art and artists are everywhere...

Lum: Why don't you tell us a little background about yourself? Hobbies, interesting facts?

Jonathan: I've been passionate about visual art for a long time, but I wasn't good at drawing. So I saw the artwork of others and aspired to be like them. I was interested by the other media where the visuals were important: video games, films, comics, mangas, .... I loved reading books with fantastic or sci-fi worlds. Authors like Tolkien, P.K. Dick, F. Herber, R.A. Salvatore are my masters to create a complete universe. It's awesome for imagination to discover worlds like the Middle earth, the Underdark, the planet Dune,... Now I try create my personal concept but I am continuing to read and see the new worlds created by others. It's an incredible source of inspiration.

Lum: Without much of an artistic background, and entering the digital-art scene relatively late what was it that got you interested in digital art originally?

Jonathan: In the beginning I started with photo manipulation because I could create pieces of art without having to draw or paint. I could create, and it was a big satisfaction. Over time I wanted to be less dependent on stock images because it's too restrictive. So I began the matte painting, and I added a little touch of paint. Progressively I created just in digital painting. Now I am more free and I create the visuals I have in my head. I use a lot of different processes: drawing, painting, compositing, 3D,... But sometimes the technical difficulties curb my process, and it's why I want to always improve.

Lum: You have been producing a lot of really high quality artworks recently, any insights into your process you would like to share?

Jonathan: I don't have a special process, but over time I have learned few tips. Just a little, but precious advice. Before you begin, you must think about the piece and have in your mind the complete picture of the illustration. This planning allows you to accelerate the process of creation and remove any hesitations. Second advice: look all around to find inspiration: nature, city, film, music, people, book, ... all can be a source of inspiration.

Lum: What is it that you enjoy about being part of a group like The Luminarium?

Jonathan: The Luminarium is my art school. I have improved my pictures since my entrance in the group. See my portfolio and we can note that my best pictures have been made since I've joined. It's fantastic to receive advice and constructive criticism from great artists like Bobby Meyer, Sebastien Hue, Kuldar Leement, Maxime Des Touches, Erik Schumacher or Alastair Temple. When I post a work in progress, I know these men will help me to make a better artwork. Sometime it's hard to hear that your picture is not good, but ultimately this criticism helps me and makes me a better artist. My other source of satisfaction in the group is the collaborations, it's fantastic to process a concept with other eyes. For this pack I created a picture with Stoogie, and I learned a lot of things by working with him.

Lum: Do you have a favourite piece of artwork which always blows your mind? And what is the favourite piece you have produced yourself?

Jonathan: Choosing just one piece is very hard because I like a lot of artworks and a lot of artists. Recently I have seen the project of Noah Bradley: the sin of Man. I find that his picture, "Our Grasp of Heaven", was just extraordinary. Go to see his work, the world he is creating seems awesome.

For my part I like my lastest contribution featured in this pack: "Contact in Abyss". It may be my most complete picture between mood, light, background story,...

Lum: Are there any artists or musicians that you particularly look up to, and what is it about them that makes them so special?

Jonathan: I admire a lot of artists and some creators are in the group like Kuldar Leement or Chris Cold. But the masters of illustration who give me the desire to create my own concepts are Gary Tonge for the science-fiction, Alan Lee and John Howe for the fantasy and Luis Royo for the dark side. Actually there are more and more artists, the expanse of the Internet allows me to see a multitude of artworks everyday. Quickly I can say I like the work of Zach Bush, Feng Zhu, Kekai Kotaki, Jonas de Ro, Andree Wallin, Mathieu Lauffray,... Go to see these awesome artists, because sometimes, they give advice or tutorials on their website. And they give a little idea of the perfection in the modern visual art.

I'm not an expert of music, but I like work concept with the original sound track of film. The music of our member Scott Stedman is very inspiring too. For me it's interesting because this kind of music gives a mood for a long time. The ideas of creation come more easily. I like the OST of clash of Titan, Transformer, Tron Legacy, Kick Ass, ... Each OST gives different feelings.

Lum: Striving for improvement is something that is a good sign in an artist, a feeling that they can always do better. If you keep this up, where do you think you will be in 10 years time?

Jonathan: Hard question. Sincerely, I don't know, but I want improve my skills and develop my style to continue to create new concepts and more characters. Maybe in 10 years, I'll be a concept artist doing freelance work with cinema and video game studios. It would be a dream come true for me.

Lum: Onwards and to the future! And on that note, I'm afraid this is the end of the interview, it's been good fun. Any last words for the readers?

Jonathan: Thank you so much again for this awesome recognition. Being the featured artist was a objective in my entrance to the group. Now it's a reality and that motivates me: I must improve my skills to become an even better artist, we can always learn new things. Thank you readers if you read all the text, just one thing again: creating is a better solution to escape the real life that could be hard sometimes. It's an awesome source of satisfaction. Listen to criticism and advice, and work, work, work to improve your skills. Don't let anyone discourage you. Anybody can create, so let's go...