- 17 JANUARY 2023
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- COURTESY OF ARTIST
Ones To Watch! Interview with 3D artist Sweet To Sour
Digital art is evolving rapidly along with computer technology making the creation of digital media more and more diverse. With that, artists are often more focused on the process than the end result and take an experimental evolutionary approach to create immersive and sublime artworks.
For this special series of Ones To Watch, we are shining a spotlight on Sweet To Sour. The Mexican 3D artist whose creations explore the paradoxical encounter between sublime and disturbing through surrealistic dark animations with a sour touch of lunacy and a pinch of dreamlike delightful brightness.
Hello Sweet To Sour! Thanks for joining me for this interview and journey into your brightful and surrealistic realms. Could you introduce us to your pathway as a digital and 3D creator?
It's my pleasure to share with you a more verbal and intimate approach of my project, thank you for the invitation. I met 3D thanks to a class at college. I fell in love with it. At that moment I understood why no other artistic medium had seduced me as much, me being a deeply creative woman by nature. Writing, photography and drawing will always be part of my life, but in 3D I found my home. Being a person thirsty for experimentation, a lover of visual harmony and overflowing with bottled feelings, digital art became my personal diary, my lab and my safe place. I remember that my incursion into 3D and Covid happened simultaneously, so I had no lack of time to dedicate to learning; and my best teacher YouTube had the honors of spending sleepless nights by my side for several months. After that everything is history, I worked, I felt, I wrote, and I spent more time on my computer creating like never before. After months of playing with softwares, colors, and styles, Sweet To Sour was born.
“Dark yet bright art” is at the core of your work, how would you describe the intersection between the two, and what was your reference when starting off with this concept?
I've been a questioner my whole life. I've been debating with "what is and what ought to be" for as long as I can remember. Why should darkness be represented by black and somber tones? Could I be able to represent deep fears, mundane traumas, and despairing thoughts using white as my primary color? Using light in the aura of each piece? Will I be able to execute uncomfortable pieces that hypnotize people with their brightness?
And why do I seek this? It´s what I perceive in the human mind, as my greatest inspiration. In our human psyche lives beauty and light, but brutally flooded with uncanny and terrifying corners; and if you look closely, so does my art.
Surrealism inspired many to think outside the box and break the walls of society’s standards. Surrealist compositions are characterized by moments of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and illogical reasoning. How do you think digitalisation has helped artists like yourself to draw a new surrealistic movement?
I find digital art and surrealism to be extremely relatable. In the case of 3D art, software has been developed to the point where it can mimic the physics and logic of the real world. Water, fire, smoke, clothes, particles, skin... And part of the great beauty that I personally find in this type of art, is how malleable this imitation of reality can be. And if ever, in your most illogical and twisted dreams you glimpsed something impossible, with digital art you can create it. Even with so much realism, that it could pass for an alternate reality, as we can see in computer-generated visual effects in cinema. This opens up for digital artists a workbench with infinite possibilities for exploration, expansion, customization and creation. And for the surrealist movement, it is a brutally powerful technique that allows us to represent the irrational and the absurd.
How would you describe your art to be the new surreal?
I consider my art to stay true to the main premise of the surrealist movement by being an absurd and dreamlike alteration of reality. The subconscious, fantasy and the unusual are part of Sweet To Sour's DNA. I see myself as an artist belonging to the same movement as Remedios Varo, Dalí or Leonora Carrington. I find the contemporaneity of my art in the modern themes and historical context underlying my work.
In your most recent animations, marine life plays an interesting and visually appealing role. What enlightened/inspired you to include marine animals in your visuals?
I am pleased to answer this question. The ocean is one of my great loves. Having it in front of me, swimming in it or diving in its depths fills me with feelings of gratitude. And personally, it is one of the most beautiful sensations I can experience.
I still remember the first time I dived... I was so scared and had such a hard time executing the maneuvers to dive, that I almost gave up and climbed back on the boat. It was a deeply frightening moment to be on the surface where the violent waves could easily deprive me of oxygen. But when I made it down I remember thinking "this is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life, and I am so lucky to witness this beauty in front of my eyes. I´m so glad i didn´t go back to that boat". It was a deep, instinctive feeling of awe followed by one of the most beautiful and peaceful moments of my life.
Since then having the ocean in front of me is a sacred moment where my silence and the sound of the water can live together for hours. To lose my sight in the horizon reminds me how big the world is and how small my worries are in comparison. The sea shares with me its strength, its vitality, its peace and its greatness. It reminds me that I am stronger than I thought I was before I forgot it.
That is a feeling I continually experience with my art. It's a see-saw of emotions, expectations, fears that often end up with me surprising myself.
Another unique highlight of your work that stood out to me is the living skin of your subjects. What inspires you about creating through skin? Does human or animal skin also play a part in your art?
Skin is an important part of my pieces. My favourite part of the process has always been texturing and shading. I consider it one of the factors that give away that the work is by Sweet To Sour. The skin of my characters usually reveals details about the subject matter of the artwork. I usually let my hands free to experience the feelings that inspire the artwork while brushing over the model. I dedicate more than 10 hours to each of my skin textures, all of them thinking about what the character has lived, who she is and what she's feeling. There is never a specific plan, it is always a surprise for me how it will look at the end. I try to take special care to keep the skin realistic and at the same time add a layer of magic and celestial glow to them.
From sound design, to concepting, 3D designing and Creating such masterpieces like yours must take a lot of time, energy and motivation. What is like your creation process behind the scenes and how do you make it from start to end?
Definitely, motivation and time are some of the resources that my artistic sessions require; and I'm happy to dedicate a lot of my energetic resources to Sweet To Sour. For me, making art is not only a pleasure but a necessity. My relationship with my art is flooded with joy, constant learning, and moments of absolute peace; but also with frustrations, problem-solving and the search for alternatives. Softwares have taught me to creatively solve complex situations knowing that in the end, I will succeed. This fuels my internal engine not only when it comes to working, but also reflects on me as a person. Self-awareness, and personal and professional growth is what Sweet To Sour gives me in exchange for the time and dedication I give to art.
There is nothing written when it comes to creative processes. I am an anti-routine person. Routine is comparable to a bucket of water that extinguishes the fire of my creativity. When I´ve tried to establish precise steps to follow when creating a work I end up abandoning the piece. Over time I have learned that each piece is born differently, grows, and is developed with different eyes; therefore it demands a different and personalized process.
They all have a different birth. Sometimes it all starts with a dream, a note on my cell phone, after reading a book... the possibilities and variables are literally endless. And I try to ensure that the creative process is always different from the previous one. I try to apply new techniques and knowledge to each work, which usually leads to unknown paths. And that is what keeps me far from a routinary process and close to a constant evolution.
My works all differ in process, but they all have something in common: they represent the synthesis that came after asking myself difficult questions.
What Should we expect from Sweet To Sour in the coming future? Any projects, highlights?
2023 will be a year of many plans and objectives, including collaborations, NFTs and the study of new techniques and software. Thank you very much for having me and for all the questions. To all the artists and art lovers reading this, I thank you for supporting me and my art. Best regards from Mexico.
Interview by @danieleverse