Nicole Ginelli pays tribute to five female artists using Adobe Stock 3D assets


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For Found in Adobe Stock, It’s Nice That has commissioned creatives to explore the world of Adobe Stock’s collection to make a new series of works. The project asks each creative to dive into the depths of Adobe Stock as a starting point, and then devise new short stories or create new worlds from chosen images. We follow each creative’s journey on their stock narrative endeavours and unpack how they used their individual findings to make innovative final pieces.

Regular It’s Nice That readers will be no stranger to the misty colourful works of Nicole Ginelli. From Warner Music, Pitchfork and MTV, the Brooklyn-based illustrator and animator reinterprets her signature aesthetic of vintage neon glows for each client. Though some of her work may look typically girly on the surface, the underlying concepts within Nicole’s work stretch far beyond its pink dusky hues, and she often leaves hidden secrets within her compositions for the more attentive of viewers.

In this latest commission for Adobe Stock, Nicole has been recreating iconic artworks from female artists using the 3D Stock library. Transforming some of the most significant artist’s works in history into a revamped 3D animation of today, Nicole has reinterpreted the works of Yayoi Kusama, Suzan Pitt, Martha Rosler, Lisa Frank and Georgia O’Keefe.

Though some would feel daunted by reappropriating some of the most important pieces of feminist art for the digital realm, for Nicole the task at hand proved pretty qualmless. Especially considering she often uses stock imagery within her own practice, specifically to nail the perspective of objects at certain angles. If she’s using the stock image for a photography project for example, Nicole can recolour and add texture to an image, personalising each element to Nicole-ify the stock image and with the help of a few handy technical tips.

When she first browsed through the multitude of 3D objects within the Adobe Stock library, Nicole’s first thoughts on the commision led her to think “object oriented art”, more specifically, still lifes and art history. And after a substantial amount of rummaging around the digital library – which consists of basically everything and anything, from a vintage cigarette holder to an impressive number of celestial planets – Nicole eventually came across the model of a kitchen knife which sparked some inventive new ideas.

“Martha Rosler immediately came to mind,” Nicole tells It’s Nice That on finding the 3D Stock image. As a budding artist, Nicole was greatly informed by Martha Rosler’s magnum opus Semiotics of the Kitchen and it helped to define her creative mindset to come. And just like that, the American animator realised the theme that would extend throughout the whole Adobe commission; exploring imagery made famous through specific artworks.

The lightbulb moment struck a second time when Nicole came across a 3D Stock image of asparagus which immediately stirred up associative imagery with Suzan Pitt. “Her animation work is so special to me,” says Nicole on the formative American film animator and painter.

From there the ball just kept on rolling. Nicole found the ideal cow skull, pumpkin and butterfly to represent the works of Georgia O’Keefe, Yayoi Kusama and Lisa Frank respectively. “I grew up idolising all these artists,” she says, “their aesthetics and work have become deeply embedded in my brain. So this idea of paying tribute to them through meaningful objects felt like a special channel to explore.”

Once she decided on this theme, Nicole began building up the rest of the three-dimensional scenes. She describes this aspect of the commission as “a bit of a hunt”, digging deep into each artist’s archive of images to find a suitable relic within the Stock library. But luckily for Nicole, Adobe’s extensive bank of imagery provided exactly what she was looking for; taking a particular interest in a foray of large colourful flowers which she managed to incorporate within each piece.

“When I work in 3D, I often work abstractly so it was a fun change of pace to work with realistic objects” adds the animator. By considering all aspects of the discipline – from lighting, texture and movement – the commission opened up entirely new approaches for Nicole. With the slightest tweak, new textural opportunities presented themselves through Cinema 4D and the artist thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with the materiality of each surface, establishing a variety of ethereal gradients and colour ways to redefine the geometric structures on screen.

For the Lisa Frank inspired animation, a personal favourite of Nicole’s, it was important to base the work within a fine art context. “Of course the first thing you think of when you think of Lisa is colour, so of course I served that,” adds Nicole. “I wanted the piece to feel packed with imagery, like you’re entering a beautiful over the top surreal world.” Drawing on Lisa’s nearly-saccharine vintage posters and stickers, Nicole replicated the artist’s brushstrokes of yesteryear while adding a bubblegum machine, teddy bear and butterfly scene into the mix.

Envisaging each series as a looping sculptural short from the start, Nicole approached the animated commissions from a pointedly sculptural lens. “All the pieces follow a similar creative process,” she goes on to say. “First, I collect the 3D model on Adobe Stock then bring them into Cinema 4D. Then, I start animating and build the flow of each scene.” As each of the artist’s works are communicated through different mediums, one particular challenge for Nicole involved honouring the differing processes that went into making the originals.

When it came to paying tribute to Suzan Pitt’s Asparagus, Nicole remembers how
the short from 1979 changed her life. “I’d never seen animation being used as an outlet for that kind of surrealist, experimental work before” says Nicole. “So when I experienced her film, it propelled me to pursue animation.”

Taking four years to make, Nicole describes the original short as “moody, dark, so beautiful and lush.” She plucked out the distinctive imagery of an asparagus bunch, flowers, pills and a hand, finding suitable equivalents in the 3D Stock library in keeping with the original’s otherworldly tone. “Lisa recently passed away,” adds Nicole sadly, “so this is my note of thanks to her for inspiring me and so many others to start animating.”

In Nicole’s tribute to Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen, the third animation pays homage to the iconic feminist artwork and its statement supporting nonconformist gender roles. In the 1975 original short, Martha stars in a grainy black and white video recording as a cooking show host. She presents a number of kitchen utensils to the camera, identifying them to the audience then demonstrates unproductive and often violent uses for each device.

In turn, Nicole sought out some of the six-minute-short’s main characters from the Adobe Stock library. Successfully locating a suitable knife, fork, grater and spoon in digital 3D form, Nicole was sure to apply a fuzzy VHS aesthetic to her revolving animation in After Effects; a key aspect of Martha’s early video work. “I wanted the animation to feel choppy and abrupt, similar to the deadpan humour and movements in the original film” she goes on to say.

“This one is a bit of a mash up of some of Yayoi’s greatest hits,” says the animator on paying heed to the spot-loving phenomenon that is Yayoi Kusama. Initially taken with the artist’s famous pumpkin series and selfie-tastic infinity rooms, Nicole spotted the perfect opportunity to transform the Japanese artist’s work into the digital by building a reflective world in Cinema 4D. Going onto incorporate a number of Yayoi’s other signature works including oversized flowers and a reservoir of reflective chrome spheres, Nicole’s tribute to one of today’s most popular artists is unmistakably Kusama.

While setting up the early animation roughs for this particular tribute however, Nicole was temporarily blinded by the multitude of shiny, reflective layers. “I created this revolving mirror cube in 3D and animated some dots to also travel across the mirrors. But after looking at the multi-coloured flashing dots infinitely reflected in the mirrors for a while, my left eye went blind!” remarks Nicole. Luckily for her, after closing her eyes for ten minutes, the blindness gradually faded over the course of the day and she can laugh about it now that her sight has fully returned. “I felt like Yayoi was also in on the joke and now I’m curious as to how flashing dots impact our sight.”

Hanging on the walls of the house where Nicole grew up was a Georgia O’Keefe print she remembers staring at as a youngster. A self-professed lover of the American artist’s elegant work, accolading Georgia O’Keefe was something of a no-brainer for Nicole. “I combined a few of her painting references here and tried to focus mostly on the scale and texture of the objects.” Opting for a pair of antlers and flowers to best signify Georgia’s painterly output, for Nicole, it is the texture of Georgia’s work that makes it “really special”. As a result, she places equal importance on these elements in her 3D work.

Once the 3D objects had been brought over from the stock library and built into suitable scenes on Cinema 4D, Nicole then rendered each scene as an image sequence, brought it into After Effects and started animating the disparate elements. “I like to go a bit wild on colour changes, adding in different effects to bring in some compositional depth,” explains Nicole. And once she perfected the overall look, that’s when she adds in the animations, backgrounds and transitions in between the scenes.

As well as creating five innovative animations using Adobe Stock’s 3D assets, for Nicole, the commission not only provided her with an opportunity to flex her research skills into each artist’s archive. But fundamentally, “Paying tribute to these artists has been gratifying and challenging, deepening my connection to their work,” she explains on the matter.

In previous work, she tends to hide little references within her animations or illustrations, including other artist’s cultural imagery within her own and in turn, rewarding the attentive viewer with secrets into Nicole’s analysis. And exploiting this with full force in this commission, Nicole is eager to see “what I have learned during this process” both technically and conceptually.

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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