Daniel Aristizábal is a Medellín-based 3D artist who is interested in everything that has to do with culture, from the most sophisticated to absolute camp. In his work, geometric shapes confect with surreality, and the results are electrifyingly quirky. Although we only spoke for the first time two weeks ago, it feels as if I’ve known Daniel for much longer. At length we covered subjects such as artificial intelligence, politics, and the tendency for history to repeat itself — and, at one point, his art.
After a childhood in Colombia, Aristizábal studied graphic design in Barcelona and became interested in the emergence of 3D rendering technologies. His passion for 3D has spawned collaborations with Coach, Refinery 29, and Hatsu. Drawing inspiration from everything around him and the various topics he reads about, Aristizábal is concerned with the preservation of humanity and the future of Earth. Relentlessly creative, the 28-year-old is currently launching a motion and 3D design collective called Lazy Eyes Studio with his best friend, Beto.
An incredibly interesting person whose art reflects his fascinations, meet Daniel:
What is it like being an artist in Colombia? How have your studies in Colombia and Barcelona informed your work?
Well, I think being an artist or in the field I’m trying to work into, digital arts, it’s not so easy around here. There aren’t so many opportunities; people aren’t very appreciative of it. They don’t perceive digital art like a work of art over here… it doesn’t have the same relevance that you would perhaps find in Europe or in the states. Here, they don’t see digital arts as much of an art form. It’s more like a tool for advertising over here.
In Barcelona, the story is the complete opposite — over in Europe, the digital arts are something you can find a more strong following for, it’s more respected in a way — it’s like this is the way of the future, like with VR, this is going to happen. They’re more open to VR and what’s going to happen next. In that sense, over here, we’re a little behind. There’s not so much respect for that. But I guess that happens in places that aren’t at the forefront of technology. That’s okay for me though — I like it like that, to be honest.
How did you, as an individual, become interested in 3D and digital art then?
I went to study motion design in Barcelona, and I remember that I had the choice to do a degree to focus on 3D. But, I was like no I don’t want to, everything looks so cheesy in 3D… and I didn’t know anything until 3 years ago.
After a while, I started to work and study in Barcelona, doing my own thing, and I started to know people who working in digital art. I started to be attracted to it — like this is cool, I can see myself enjoying doing stuff like this. Then I came back to Medellín — because my visa expired — and with a friend of mine, we started a studio two-three years ago. It didn’t work at that moment. But, I talked to him, and said that if we want to do something cool or different, we should include 3D in our work.
So, I went to study motion. And because he’s an industrial designer, he’s going to do 3D. That didn’t work though because after 3 months he took another work offer. But we were studying 3D on our own — we started to play them. It was a very self-taught way to learn; I’m constantly talking with my friends and I’m figuring out things on my own. So, my approach to 3D was a very casual thing, to be honest, and I haven’t stopped since then. It’s a fun thing to do.
What do you wonder about? How do you explore these things in your art?
Well, right now, I am very interested in artificial intelligence. I’m trying to read as much as I can about it because I firmly believe we are doomed. We don’t serve any purpose to Earth anymore — so, we should produce something… you know, something, I’ve been really thinking about is how we are going to judge art in the future done by some robot: what’s going to be the aesthetic criteria in the future? What will art become? That’s something I’ve been wrapping my head around. So, I’m trying to read everything around that.
And also, you know how history tends to repeat itself — we are living in this fascist time around the world. We had an economy crash in 2008… things are mimicking the 1920s and 2008, and the rise of these ultra conservative assholes around the world. What I’m trying to do right now is read about what was going on during these periods. because art is a response to the environment — so I’m trying to focus on the art movements that were booming in those areas. But, I think something is going to happen over there — something with technology. I think the next big think will be a remix of that. I don’t know what it’s going to be yet, but I presume the new shape of digital arts and art itself is going to be around that. So, right now I’m trying to read as much history as I can about history and artificial intelligence.
Can you tell me about your work with Refinery 29 for 29 Rooms and their collaboration with Primark?
Well, I actually contacted Piera — the director of Refinery 29, directly through Instagram and sent her my illustrations. I told her I would love to work with Refinery 29 and she forwarded me to one of their art directors. We started with something small — and afterwards they contacted me to do the WILD thing, and afterwards, they asked if I wanted to do illustrations for 29 Rooms. And to be honest, at that moment, I had a shitty computer and I almost crashed that work. They were ultra big renders, and to be honest, I was only 3 months into 3D; I knew nothing!
Can you tell me a bit about launching Lazy Eyes Studio, and what your vision is for your new collective?
I’m doing it with a guy here in Colombia, Carlos, he’s one of my best friends and a super talented guy — we’ve been working on it for the past few months.
I like to be my own boss — I don’t like to be told what to do, I’ve had that problem since I was a little kid (laughs). So, I figured I’m not good at this, but, I’m good at collaborating with people and working one-on-one. I started to work on Daniel or Darias, for the last 3 years, and I felt exhausted, to be honest. I felt the pressure was too much — always producing something for people to like. And I felt that I couldn’t explore things that I wasn’t really into. For me, growing is something you have to do with other people. And the idea of a studio is something that’s growing in me for a while. My dream was to have a studio of my own, you know like, do the art direction and work in a small amount of people — nothing big, nothing fancy, but having people I trust. So, I pitched this idea to my friend. He quit his job and we started to do this.
What I want with Lazy Eyes is to support my work behind a more refined structure. I feel that my approach to design has been a very casual one so far, in all aspects. Also, going by another name other than my own allows the studio to be more open to new ideas and not be subjected to my own personal interests, having said that I wanna keep Daniel Aristizábal as my own artistic/random endeavor project.
Who are some of your favorite Instagram accounts and/or visual magazines these days?
Growing up, who were some of your favorite artists? Have they had any inspiration in your work?
I would say, Wayne White, Dali, Magritte, Yves Tanguy and Ettore Sottsass, and to be honest comedy and comedians are perhaps my biggest trigger. I love the way of using non-sequitur to create humor and unexpected twists. It’s something I try to infuse my work.
Amidst such crazy times, what are your goals going forward as an artist in 2017?
That’s an interesting question because it’s something I’ve been something I’ve been reflecting on the past year, because to be honest, I’ve felt that my stuff sometimes seems superficial, in a way. And I know why it looks like that. That’s not something that really reflects who I am as a person; that’s just an aspect of myself, like this is something that I do when I enjoy only colors. Lately, to be honest, I’ve been kind of outside this posting images on social media thing. I think if you start to follow that logic and that behavior, you start to lose whatever it is that makes you different. You start to just work for people, in a way. You start to work for your Instagram. I’ve started to feel that — the sensation that I was just not doing something I love, but something that I happen to do for work. One of the things that motivates me, one of the things I feel very passionate about, is nature — the future of us, the future of animals.
Right now, I’m thinking about how I can incorporate that into my work — how I can make more political discourse. And I’m not the only one with these feelings. I think we come from an ultra shallow time of likes and following, and at the end of the day this doesn’t mean anything.
I think I want to put more substance into my work — create something more meaningful. I think we need it, and I need it — to have a discourse. During the birth of Nazis and fascism, artists became aware of art and how they were shaping society, and I want to try to contribute with something. I think right now, I would like to have a more militant item to my work.