Interview with zOh
Congratulations on winning the SFW contest, zOh. You’ve given us a vision of eroticized affluence. Tell us about the inspiration for your piece.
Thanks! I just want to give a huge thanks to everyone that voted, and also to extend my congratulations to all my fellow artists who entered. Honestly, I didn't really leave my comfort zone for this one, I think most of my art has a glamour feel to it, but this time I figured I'd turn the glam dial all the way up. I definitely drew a little, and I mean just a little, inspiration from Paris Hilton. She used to represent an enviable, fantastical (literally, since it's all a façade) lifestyle. That job has been picked up by all the Instagram models now, but the whole ultra-rich, sex-fueled lifestyle has always been a fantasy of mine, and bringing fantasies to life is, after all, what we do here :D.
How long have you been making 3DX art? How did you get started?
It kind of just feels like yesterday but it's been a little over a year now! I've actually been a fan of 3DX for quite a while, but around when the pandemic started I decided to try my hand at it. Everything was completely new to me, but I quickly found that I loved it, and because I loved it, I immersed myself into learning and expanding my skills. Before I knew it, many of these artists that I had admired for years were now my peers. I love the community, I love the process, I love the artistry, and I'm just so glad that I started.
Describe your creative process. What tools do you use, and what do you draw inspiration from?
Once I have at least some semblance of an idea, I start fiddling around in Daz and Blender to get the basic unlit scene down. I honestly hate posing so once I'm satisfied with posing, sculpting, and composition, I move on to lighting. I try out different lighting methods for what usually feels like an eternity, and when it's "good enough" I pop out a test render and take it to Photoshop for post. I usually go back and re-render again and again whenever I notice things that I want to change as I'm working on it. It's important to take breaks from a piece and look at it again later with a fresh eye, so I usually end up working on a single piece anywhere from a week to a month.
Sometimes I know exactly what I want a piece to look like, but oftentimes I don't. When I first started I drew inspiration from photos but these days I draw a lot of my inspiration from 2D art. Most 2D artists have honed their craft for, usually, their entire lives. They know exactly how to stylize to elicit certain emotions, and what to emphasize to achieve that stylization. Not to say that photographers don't do that, but photographers have to work within the physical limits of the real world. Both 2D and 3D artists have no such limits.
Are there particular photographers or 2D artists that you find most inspiring, or is there a particular style within these mediums that speaks to you?
This probably isn't too surprising but I'm often inspired by all the big-name Rule34 pinup artists like Sakimichan, Logan Cure, Dandonfuga, and others. That whole single-subject, sexy-portrait, kind-of-like-a-comic-book-cover style is fairly common, and I know many people find it too gaudy, but to me, it's perfection. It's glitzy, bright, and colourful. It's in-your-face with sexuality without being too hardcore. It's clearly intended to arouse and make people go "wow".
I know we're talking about 2D artists, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the 3D artist Sevenbees. His works are in many ways similar to the aforementioned pinup artists, but the way he masterfully blends realism and stylization always makes my jaw drop. I've learned a lot from him, sometimes personally, and I'd even credit him as my main source of not necessarily inspiration, but motivation. I'll be happy if I ever reach a fraction of his talent and skill.
Do you listen to music or watch something in the background while you create? If so, what do you enjoy most?
I definitely can't watch anything as that would be way too distracting and I'm kind of incapable of multitasking. I do, however, listen to music in the background. This is a little embarrassing, but if you take a peek at my playlist, it's pretty much all dance-pop. Honestly that probably explains why I keep putting my girls in strip clubs.
You’ve mentioned ultra-wealth, glamour, and pinups. Do you have a specific focus within these themes, or another favorite fantasy that you can only show through your art?
I don't think I have a specific focus within those themes themselves. I do have a fascination with the tangentially-related subject of sex-workers, or at least a romanticized version of it, but that's just one of the many recurring fantasies that show up in my art. I jump around a lot. Sometimes I'm making video game fanart, sometimes its strippers, sometimes it's sci-fi, and sometimes its all of the above. Once it was a snake. The themes or subject matter I'm into is kind of all over the place, but I guess those are actually the big ones (except snakes).
I will admit I end up creating blonde bimbo-esque rich girls quite a bit, but I'm honestly not sure why. Maybe it's because, from a technical standpoint, everything is so clean and perfect and it satisfies the perfectionist in me. It might also just be because it fits the beauty standard that's been driven into me through decades of porn and media consumption.
What other themes do you want to explore in the future?
I want to explore more cinematic, narrative-focused compositions. In particular ones with noir or dystopian themes. I'm a huge fan of cyberpunk, gritty sci-fi, and dark fantasy. I've tried my hand at some more cinematic compositions but I don't consider those pieces particularly successful. That style of art represents a significant technical challenge, but there's also the surprisingly difficult problem of making it sexy at the same time.
Given your interest in pinup art, do you feel that setting presents a challenge? While character is at the heart of any good story, the themes you mention also tend to give huge emphasis to setting.
Oh definitely. Building a compelling setting, especially in a single image, is much harder than with characters. Especially because that setting could be comprised of many characters all adding to the overall scene. Settings and environments in general are something I struggle with, but over time, and with practice, I do hope to improve.
Do you have any advice for artists and writers; generally, and specific to 3DX?
I could tell people to stick to their passions or keep striving for improvement, but honestly, the best advice I can give is to be aware of and avoid one of the biggest psychological pitfalls that exists: craving validation on social media. I actually think 3DX has a huge leg up on this over mainstream artists because our community is so open, helpful, and friendly. With that said though, I see some unhealthy behaviour, especially among younger artists. Social media is important for marketing and networking, but it's important to stay introspective and not go chasing likes or using it as a primary source of motivation. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a beautiful speech on this titled: How craving attention makes you less creative and I encourage everybody to watch it. Specifically with regards to 3DX, everybody has their own fetishes and tastes and it's impossible to cater to them all. As long as you're happy with it, then that's all that matters.
Anything else you would like to say to your fans?
I just want to give a big thanks to all my fans for supporting me, all my fellow artists for helping me out, teaching me, and guiding me, and to Slushe for giving us a non-judgmental platform to post our work.
Thanks for the interview zOh! To checkout more from this awesome artist, visit zOh's gallery here on Slushe!
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