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Interview with Francesco Mai

3DM3 published interview with Francesco Mai, artist from Italy who create rtworks in original style. Must see.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hello everybody. First of all I would like to thank all staff of 3dm3.com especially Vlad Nalimau and Sergey Guziy for the opportunity of this interview.So let’s begin! I was born in Italy, in Milan,in the 1972. I always went to scientific school until the University of Biology that however I have interrupted halfway for dedicate completeness to Computer Graphic and photography, two of my big passions since I was teenager.

When have you started learning cg? First was it just your hobby? What kind of experience have you got? Tell us about your career in cgi.

Everything started when I had for gift from my parents a Commodore Amiga 500, I think it was in 1988.Before I never touched a computer; I had only seen in the room of my friends, like Vic 20 and Commodore 64.It was there that I fell in love with the creative possibility of the computer (with all limits that could have that machine 20 years ago..) I stared learning C.G. with De Luxe Paint and Image.And from those far years I never stopped to study and to experiment with the PC. You are right.. At the begin was only an hobby but years after years it became a work. From 2003 I began to works seriously and I have carried out many exhibition with a lot of satisfaction. And many others are in preparation.Moreover this summer I will have thepossibility to have my own gallery in Italy.

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You’ve got an original style. How did come to such kind of art? What is your main aim while creating such artworks? Have you got some kind of general concept?

I am very attracted from the organic shapes and from the structures of the Nature,both the macro and the microcosmos. Certainly my studies of Biology influenced me. I am particularly enchanted from the “textures”of crustacean and all their aculeus. And I am also attracted from the plancton and microplancton seen into the Scanning Electron Microscope. My purpose when I creating my artworks is mainly to amaze and to exceed myself. Then I try step by step to create something that doesn’t exist in Nature but is probable true at the first look. By the way many gallerists think that my artworks are photos taken from mt really handmade sculptures.Often my proposal of exhibition is refused because they think to have not enough space in their galleries for my big and heavy sculptures! But for me is an honor.But now come back to your question: usually I don’t start with a fixed idea of what I want.I can say to you that step by step I (try to) rule the Chaos until I achieve a situation full of power, beauty and balance: I love to experiment with the endlesspossibility of software.

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What do you use for modeling, texturing and rendering your scenes? Why did you choose this software? Do you make a lot of post-processing to achieve desired look?

Until Luxology modo’s arrival I always and exclusively modeled and rendered with Newtek Lightwave 3d. But since I tried modo I never come back!I like its unbelievable ease and results that is possible to achieve in few hours. 1since from few years I have also begun to use Maxon Cinema 4d for rendering only for is extremely high quality of rendering engine. I have to be sincere: this category of software is now so evolved and powerful that the choice between one or another is only a matter of taste. Concerning the post processing I can tell you that I don’t use Adobe Photoshop and similia very much. Normally I adjust a bit the contrast and the color saturation:nothing else. Just some sharping before printing…

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On the average how many time do you spend for creating each artwork? What do you like the most: texturing, rendering, etc.?

I give the same importance to all the three passages (modeling,texturing and rendering and don’t forget that the idea and the setup of scene are essential). Usually I need from three day to a week to complete from the beginning project to the last pixel.I like very much the creative process so I never boring: maybe the most difficulty is when I start to model for a new roject,when the monitor is empty. Something verysimilar to the writer’s white page syndrome…

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Your models look very detailed, how many polys are there? What PC have you got to handle this?

As a rule there are more less two millions of polygons. I have got two PC; a dual dual core AMD Opteron with two giga for modeling and texturing and a more powerful dual Opteron dual core(so a quad-core)with three giga for rendering. I am very excited to buy in near future a double quad-core system. This poly-core trend is very useful for us digital artist. In fact the software that we normally use is extremelyoptimized for the multi thread and ultiprocessing.

Zbrush has a lot of “artist friendly” tools that may speed up modeling and texturing a lot. Have you tried it?

I have just taken a look at the demo version of Zbrush 3 and I have followed some tutorials of Pixology. I have to say that is a monster of creativity and extremely power and easy to use. When I will have more time I want to buy and begin to learn with the Gnomon courses; I see that there is a lot of materials about Zbrush. Maybe is a little far from my”conservative”idea of CG but I also understand that this software is so revolutionary that sooner or later I will need for my works. I think that Zbrush is more proper for organic modeling(at the end my modeling is more”classical geometrical”)But will come the day that I I will use in pipelineproduction.

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As far as I know your artworks are showed not only in the on-line galleries but on real exhibitions as well. Are there some “should knows” while creating printable version of the images?

During my exhibition I can expose works at the dimension of 160*120cm, with an average of 100*75cm.As you can well know for so big LAMBDA prints you need a tremendous resolution.In fact my rendering are very generous in ixels,until 14.000*10.000 and sometimes even more! I am a bit maniac of the details;all my works are “pixel pure”. I mean that there is no interpolation like Genuine Fractals or Photoshop enlargements. The only interpolation that I use is when I prepare the images for my web-site or when I have to send some attachment with the email. With so large images the render times riseexponentially,especially with reflective and refractive materials.

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Why did you choose not figurative but abstract art? Can you name us some of your favorite, not cg, artists, maybe from Italian ones?

I have chosen the abstract genre because the figurative one I see every day with my own days and although I could create fantasy characters or extremely details heads they could not give me all that enthusiasm and that energy that instead I receive from my “Alien Digital Sculptures”. I think also that in the figurative art there is only a way to read the work.Instead the abstract one has a multitude of interpretation.

I am very fascinated to create numerous interpretative reading keys in the spectators; there are who sees animals,who sexual implications, who metaphor of life and so on.I have only two great artist in my heart.One is my father Gianfranco and the other is the unsurpassed HR Giger.

Someone tells me that I am the new Giger;maybe there are some point in common with our personal research but he will be always in the Olympie of the greatest Artist. Someone else instead writes me that I remind two big Italians artist: the brothers Arnaldo and Gio’ Pomodoro. I am honorated for tthese comparisons.One thing is sure: I am fascinated by biological and mechanical components link together.Also rusted and polished materials are very attractive for me.

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What keeps you motivating with creating more and more amazing images? What are your plans for the future? Do you have some ideas on new artworks?

The motivation is to astonish me and the people who see my works.Another motivation is to create objects that do not exist not even in our mind. For the future I want to participate at CG fairs especially in USA.I would like to be expose in a Museum of Moder Art. And also to be published on the CD cover of some heavy metal band or in some playbill of SCI-FI film. To be honest I have so many ideas that a single life is not enough. Maybe Ineed a second life……

How do you prefer to spend your spare time? What music accompanies you?

I like very much travel in far and totally different country. As I tell you at the begin of our interview I am also a photographer. I love the glamour and the reportage in country like Madagascar, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and so on. I my next project there is also the idea to organize some charity photography exhibition for this wonderful and unlucky nations.concerting your question about music I can confide to you that I like all sub genre of heavy metal like, death and epic metal and so on. Dark Tranquility, In Flames, Therion, Amon Amarth, Dark unacy, Whitin Temptation… The list will be long…. But I also like classical music like Bach and Mozart. Also Paganini and Vivaldi, two of my favorite Italian usicians. Sometimes I prefer a religious silence during thecreations process.

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What can you advice for those who’d like to create artworks in their original style? What skills and knowledge first should they have?

First of all I recommend to STUDY (not to READ) the manuals of their software and all external material that could be found on Internet, for example tutorial or special courses.Gnomon or Kurv Studios sites are very useful and can help them a lot. My personal advice is to EXPERIMENT (better on fast machines) and to observe a lot the shapes and how the light interact. Do not try to copy someone else. The personalstyle sooner or later will come out with all its disruptive power.

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