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Work / Illustration

Hudson Christie’s illustration trickery uses depth to create textured, flat pieces

The first time you look at the work of multidisciplinary visual artist Hudson Christie, you’ll be certain that his shapely illustrations are digital renders. But to our surprise, his textural work is “95% traditional, with only touch-ups, colour editing, and lens corrections applied in Photoshop,” he tells It’s Nice That. “There’s always a bit of mystery about how exactly the picture was made, which is an important component of my work.”

This mystery develops from the fact that each of Hudson’s two dimensional pieces are built using a physical process. “I’m attached to working in two dimensions, though I use three-dimensional methods to arrive at a final artwork,” he explains. Letting us in on his technique which uses depth to create a flat image, the artist begins by “polishing a drawing until I’m happy with the composition,” before then using “paper and polymer clay to build miniature dioramas which I then photograph,” says Hudson.

Transferring an idea from drawing to sculpture is not easy however, and “often means manipulating the design in odd ways in an effort to adhere to deliberate or accidental distortions of perspective I included in the drawing,” says the artist. “Every photo of mine includes some form of forced perspective in order to trick the camera.”

Consequently Hudson’s pieces often include floating objects, built up on top of each other gently balancing, which lead you to question how on earth he has actually created it by hand. “The naturalistic shadows and lens distortion that come with photography are a funny counterpart to the simplistic shapes and textures I use while building backdrops and figurines,” he says. “The end result is often a bit uncanny because of this. I deliberately make the scale of the model ambiguous and leave few visual clues about my process in order to disorient the viewer and encourage a suspension of disbelief.”

Once Hudson has completed an image, he then archives or destroys the set created, “leaving the picture as the final artwork,” further showing how a flat image, despite the three-dimensional process, is the desired outcome. “I see the sets as disposable and don’t show them.”

After studying illustration at OCAD University in Toronto, Hudson regularly works as an editorial illustrator using his unique technique for publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker and Bloomberg Businessweek. Each of his pieces are created in a detached garage he shares with another artist the It’s Nice That team are fond of, Brandon Celi.

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