Artist Ada Sokol on the evolving role of 3D in visual culture
- Bryony Stone
- 25 January 2018
Ada Sokol sums up her work with two words: “innovation, sleekness”. A chance encounter with the Paris-based, Polish-born artist and 3D designer’s work quickly had us hooked and digging deep into her portfolio rich with commissioned and personal projects. With a flair for 3D rendering which is so photorealistic, it left us wondering where the constructed ended and the real began, Ada is a future talent destined for great things.
What made you first begin experimenting with digital art?
I never defined my work as “digital art”, I was just experimenting with different mediums and software, so my first 3D renders were a sheer coincidence! In 2015 I was commissioned to develop the visual promotion for one of the exhibitions („Private Settings”) at the Museum of Modern arts in Warsaw. The show included artists closely connected with the young internet movement like Jon Rafman, DIS magazine and my friend Gregor Rozanski. I was motivated to create something completely progressive and new for that occasion, so 3D came as an experimental medium. That is how it all started and I’ve been fascinated by its possibilities. Another influence has been that of my father, he is one of the first 3D designers in Poland. In the 90s he started to create architectural visualisations. I grew up exposed to specific 3D software language and seeing alternative realities being created on a daily basis. So I was learning by osmosis and because 3D was in my environment, I was not intimidated by it. At the same time, I was fascinated with exploring the tendency of art to comment and reveal the impact of commercialism on our daily life. Artists like Timur Si Qin or Simon Denny speak loudly about contemporary capitalism and how society is driven by it. This convergence of medium, technique, social commentary and curiosity happened organically and this tension has been apart of every project I have been involved in.
Did you study or are you self-taught?
I was studying fashion design when I quit my studies to start working in the industry. Then I started learning 3D on my own. I’m not sure if I would have taken the same path, but at that time it seemed like a natural progression. I have no regrets. I’m interested in visual and conceptual arts, fashion, broadly defined beauty. And 3D was and still is, an unusual and very modern medium to express it.
Give us an insight into the process through which you make your work.
It starts with developing a clear vision and concept. Then the iterative process of bringing together visual ideas, designs and mood boards together with all collaborators happens. Next, you assess the technical approach and feasibility of visualising these ideas. Often 3D models are developed or recreated from scratch at this stage. And finally, when all elements are ready and agreed upon- the 3D scene, models, lighting and proper materials get set up. Rendering time is sometimes really long. If you want to be a 3D designer you need a certain amount of patience.
How has your practice as an artist evolved over time?
I would get completely bored with my work if my practice did not evolve. Changes and updates to 3D software require that I am always developing my technical skills and trends and cultural shifts impact the things we want to communicate in the industry. Each day I’m learning, trying to improve and accelerate (without impacting quality) the process. Also, I’m always collaborating with different creatives, so I get to absorb the brilliance they bring to the project.
Can you talk us through a couple of recent projects that you’ve enjoyed working on?
I’ve really enjoyed working on a visual series that was part of a collaboration between Gentle Monster (an eyewear brand) and Moooi (a design brand). Eyewear designs are interesting as every detail has to be thorough. Also, the brands trusted me in terms of the visual result, so I had much freedom in this project. Still one of my favourite collaborations is with Etienne Garachon on a fictional brand and jewellery collection. We worked together on this project for a while and so devoted plenty of time to develop all the details: from the brand name, the concept behind the collection to the jewellery designs and final visuals. There was a real freedom and joy in pure creation: nobody gave us any direction, deadlines or aesthetic guidelines — the only boundary was our own motivation and imagination.
Where do you see 3D and digital art going in the next couple of years?
3D will definitely grow. There is a huge demand for sustainability in fields of production, technology and visual communication. And 3D fills the gap between product production and image making in the era when we, as a society, are producing way too much waste. Thinking about sustainability: what if we produced something completely new that could be sold to customers before it was even manufactured? When brands are launching new products, it’s easier and safer to use 3D. In addition, some designs would not be possible in reality, but with 3D technology they can be shown in a photorealistic way. It’s completely futuristic and still many people do not want to use it. 3D will never replace photography, but at some point, it will have the same level of meaning in visual culture.
About the Author
Bryony joined It's Nice That as Deputy Editor in August 2016, following roles at Mother, Secret Cinema, LAW, Rollacoaster and Wonderland. She later became Acting Editor at It's Nice That, before leaving in late 2018.