Interview with JamesMcKenzie
Elayn: Congratulations on winning the 4th of July contest, James. You’ve given us a satire that’s all American. Tell us a little about the inspiration for your piece.
James: Thanks! It's funny because I wasn't actually going to submit an entry for this competition but then convinced myself to. Originally, I was thinking of doing something historical, more of an Independence Day vibe with powdered whigs and redcoats. But my generation grew up with the 2nd gulf war and Bush so I thought that something more satirical, that represented that era, really defined what the US and the 4th of July represent to me at least. I really wanted to capture the whole early 2000s vibe with news images showing coalition and US soldiers in particular standing around ruined Iraqi streets.
Elayn: How long have you been making 3DX art? How did you get started?
James: Well I've only been doing 3DX for the past couple of years as a hobby. And I released my first 3DX comic - Gems - in early 2021. But I've been into 3D and matte painting since my teenage years. I saw G4E back in 2014 I believe and started playing around with DAZ and blender soon after.
Elayn: Describe your creative process. What tools do you use, and what do you draw inspiration from?
James: I don't really have a set creative process. Each image, text or animation (which I've started exploring recently) starts differently. But generally I play around with a couple of ideas, listen to some music and look at reference pics or movies. Then, once I find a theme I really like, I get going. Generally, if I'm doing a still image, I'll use Daz as a base for the render. But I also use a variety of 3D programs. My background is Architecture, so if I need to create a 3D setting I'll use programs like Revit, Sketchup or Cad, and then move into Daz or Blender. I'll render in either of those two programs and then edit in Photoshop.
In terms of inspiration, I watch a lot of movies and shows. I love post-apocalyptic and historical themes so that's where my inspiration tends to come from. But music plays a big role in the feel and ambiance in each image and story is always really important. I like to imagine what the characters in my renders are doing, what they're thinking. In this case, the two futa soldiers are enjoying a moment of R&R after a tough operation liberating some town. They've decided to pose for the camera in all their glory.
Elayn: This leads perfectly into the usual question about what you listen to or watch. So, what music and movies really inspire you? Is there a particular theme or era in history that you find particularly interesting?
James: In this case I listened to quite a bit of hip hop. Otherwise I can listen to a great variety of genres - from hip hop as I said, to minimal, rock, metal, pop or even classical. Depends on my mood really. But I tend to stick to one genre per image. Movies-wise in this case I watched a couple of early 2000s flicks about the first gulf war. I think it was the Manchurian Candidate and another one with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.
In terms of history, it's similar. I've got a fascination for the Napoleonic wars but also the late medieval era and the roman empire. I'm also a post-apocalyptic genre fan. I love to see how cities decompose. So I tend to gobble up any movies or shows about that.
Elayn: Is there a particular style or theme in architecture that speaks to you?
James: I'd call myself a modernist. Architects like Mallet Stevens really inspire me. Contemporary architects like Glenn Murcutt or Renzo Piano are also a big source of inspiration. Otherwise I'm a big fan of Brutalism. I think for my art, that's really what drives me. But I also love older stuff like Victorian or Haussmann in Paris. Again, it really depends on context.
Elayn: I’m not familiar with any of these except Victorian, so I looked them up. Brutalism has an interesting look. It’s like 80’s sci-fi meets Soviet industrialism, or a Front Line Assembly song rendered in cement. I can see why it is inspiring. Do you find it inspiring only architecturally, or does it inspire your 3DX as well?
James: Yeah, Brutalism was basically invented by the soviets. The modernist movement was linked to it. In fact, you get some of it in Milan and London too. I don't know how big of an impact it has on my 3DX stuff, but architecturally and in terms of artistic inspiration, it's definitely high up for me. I mean I love massive concrete structures in general. There's been a lot of work done around bunkers and the like that really fascinates me.
Elayn: What is your favorite fantasy that you can only show through your art?
James: I don't know if I have a favourite fantasy. I think what I enjoy about 3DX is it allows you to show perfect or unique bodies in unique situations. It's not just a photoshoot or a live-action porno. For example I loved the space invasion contest because it allowed me to bring an Alien theme to my 3DX work. It was fun to imagine both the terror my female character felt at being in front of this alien futa creature, and maybe her arousal too. And with regards to this contest, being able to play with satire was also a lot of fun. The big-swinging dick approach became a caricature that I wouldn't otherwise be able to represent literally in SFW pieces. And overall, despite the fact that I love depicting female characters, being able to play with futas is something only 3DX allows.
In my SFW art though I like to really explore post-apocalyptic worlds that I'd love to see in movies or shows.
Elayn: Tell us more about your interest in the post-apocalyptic genre. It seems like a lot of the influences and themes you’ve mentioned combine there.
James: I got into it originally as part of my graduate project studying architecture. I wanted to show the aesthetic qualities of ruins and the value of overgrown landscapes and cityscapes. I began creating matte paintings in photoshop and various 3D programs. First, without people, then I discovered Daz and started adding characters. It's always in the back of my mind and I think in the future I'd really like to create a post-apocalyptic 3DX set or animation.
What other themes do you want to explore in the future?
James: I really want to explore more cyberpunk themes and especially lighting. I enjoy contrasts in my work so I’d like to create more environments that combine both old historical buildings with futuristic designs.
But also fantasy and maybe look into creating some lingerie in marvellous designer for my characters. Otherwise I’ve got more sci-fi in the ropes.
Do you have any advice for artists and writers; generally, and specific to 3DX?
James: I'm still very much learning the ropes myself so not sure if I can offer a whole lot of advice but I'd say that story is key. I find that the content I post that both gives me the most satisfaction and provokes the best reaction from the 3DX community is stuff where I've really put time into researching a storyline, characters, and context. With regards to writers mainly just proofread and avoid repetition. Also, don't hesitate to draw inspiration from writers you love.
I'd say that specifically to 3DX, bigger doesn't always mean better. I find that sometimes showing less, and sticking to more realistic proportions (even with futas), creates a far more appealing aesthetic. But hey that's just my opinion as it does seem to be a central theme in today's 3DX and everyone has their own taste.
Anything else you would like to say to your fans?
James: Well, I’m really flattered that my piece was chosen as I’m still very much a novice! I welcome any feedback and thanks to those who support me! And thanks Elayn for the great questions!
Thanks for the interview, James! You can see more from JamesMcKenzie at his gallery here on Slushe. Check it out!
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