Brady Walker: Shall we begin? The first question I have for you might seem a little unusual, but I’m curious to know what sets your work apart from other 3D artists who animate abstract forms.
Mazor: Well, I would say that I try to convey a sense of peace and relaxation through my work. I want the viewer to take their time and appreciate all the small details in my animations, as the elements move slowly and fluidly, almost like they’re influenced by the wind or flowing water. I aim to create something peaceful rather than aggressive and fast-paced. I tend to use pastel and soothing colors, such as pastel greens and yellows, rather than bright, contrasting colors like reds and deep blues. I enjoy using smooth gradients between colors for a seamless transition. I believe all of these elements define my artistic style.
BW: Do you have any other specific design principles that you follow during your process?
M: Yes, absolutely. I always try to envision my compositions as a large puzzle, where each object is like an individual piece that interacts with its neighbors in some way. I aim for each piece to influence the object next to it, conform to a group of objects, or interact with its surroundings.
It’s not a random collection of objects surrounding each other. Instead, they are like living things that interact with each other, bumping and splitting, with a sense of organic movement. I also avoid using sharp edges, instead opting for smooth and organic shapes. Though when I’m using architectural elements like stairs, windows, and doors, there will naturally be sharp edges.
Overall, my goal is to create a feeling of relaxation and something pleasant, without being visually or motionally aggressive. Sharp edges are rare in my work. These are the guidelines I follow during my creative process.
BW: I really love Corner Shop, which you recently minted on Ninfa. It reminds me of your MakersPlace pieces, The Terrace and Oasis. Do you see yourself moving toward more figurative, realistic-lite figures or is it a back-and-forth? If the latter, what prompts a scene vs an abstract figure?
M: I actually enjoy blending both styles. I love creating surrealistic scenes that have realistic elements mixed with abstract shapes that don’t quite make sense. I combine the two concepts. I have a lot of experience in 3D architecture and enjoy creating spaces like buildings, rooms, and even bathrooms. I blend this experience with more artistic and abstract shapes and forms and put all of that in motion. So, my work blends elements of both styles together.
BW: I’m curious about how you incorporate storytelling into your work, especially when it comes to abstraction. Your scenes are often recognizable as something we’ve seen in everyday life, but with a twist. Do you think about storytelling in concrete terms or settings when creating these scenes?
M: Yes, most of the time I do incorporate some storytelling into my work. Take, for example, the concept for Corner Shop, which you just mentioned; it began with a film I watched featuring a beautiful villa in Italy, which is my favorite country to visit. And it was a busy street, old buildings, lots of people going in and out, walking across the screen, a very lively village center, and I tried to capture the vibe of this sunny Italian village in a 3D scene without portraying people. It’s about capturing a feeling or vibe that you might experience when visiting such a place.
Another example is my piece Leaving Ginnungagap which is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a big stepping stone in my artistic career because I tried new techniques and was really happy with the outcome. The piece was displayed on big screens at a huge event in Lisbon last year. The story behind it is about a soul being saved from the void, represented by the big structure that is floating, which is a portal for entry for a lost soul in the void, which is based on the Norse mythology of the Ginnungagap.
So, I always try to incorporate some sort of storytelling into my work, even if it’s not very clear at first. It adds depth and meaning to the piece.
BW: There are at least two of your MakersPlace pieces that are inspired by Norse mythology, Jörmungandr’s Scout and Leaving Ginnungagap. How do you set about envisioning these stories in such a unique way, one that doesn’t seem to hint at the subject matter, save for the title? I imagine that a lot of people creating something from these stories would go on to create something that kind of looks like the world of these stories, whereas your work doesn’t do that.
M: I’m very influenced by references such as movies, games, books, and other media. I take those basic ideas and try to create something in my own style, even if it doesn’t appear to be related.
Jörmungandr’s Scout is an example of this approach because I was reading a book about Norse mythology, which features mythical creatures of immense size and power. I attempted to translate that into a living creature that was beyond mechanical, which is something I am also drawn to. HR Giger’s work has had a big impact on me, particularly his ability to blur the line between what’s mechanical and what’s alive.
So, I start with a reference or story as an influence and then create something in my own style.
BW: How do you know when a piece is finished?
M: Well, that’s a very good question. I don’t think any of my pieces are ever absolutely perfect for me, because as artists, we are always striving to improve and perfect our work. But I do know when to stop and consider a piece finished when I look at the final result and feel happy with it. Of course, there might be small details that could be improved, but overall, I am satisfied with the piece. I spend a lot of time working on a single piece, so at some point, I have to acknowledge that it’s time to stop and move on to a new project.
BW: How long does it typically take you to complete a piece?
M: It really depends on whether it’s an animation or a static image, but on average it takes me a little over a month. The rendering stage alone can take a lot of time, especially for animations where rendering the frames can take multiple days or even a week. I also have hardware limitations that I have to consider. So for bigger projects, it can take up to a month.
BW: At what point during the creative process do you find yourself getting the most frustrated? And how do you overcome that frustration? Or is it all smooth sailing.
M: Far from it! I get frustrated when I’m trying to develop a concept that I think has potential. I’ll start working on it, following my sketches and references, and then as I invest more time into the project, I start to realize that it’s not turning out the way I wanted it to.
At times like these, I can feel like I’m on a road with no exits, and it can be disheartening to realize that I may have to abandon the project. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can be quite frustrating.
To overcome this, I try to take a step back, take a break, and reassess the project from a fresh perspective. Sometimes I’ll come back to it later with a renewed sense of purpose, and other times I’ll simply move on to a different project.
BW: Do you save the projects you abandon?
M: Yes, I do save them all. Sometimes I revisit them to draw inspiration from certain elements that I liked. It could be a specific shape, texture or material that I really enjoyed working on, even if the overall composition didn’t work out. Saving them allows me to reuse those elements as a base for future projects and enhance them from there.
BW: So when you encounter these frustrating moments or creative blocks, what do you do to overcome them? Do you have any specific methods, or do you just power through?
M: Well, powering through doesn’t really work for me because if I’m feeling stuck or frustrated, I don’t think I can force myself to be creative. I think creativity must come naturally. So if I’m not feeling it, what usually works for me is to step away from the project, shut down the computer, and do something completely different to refresh my mind. It could be anything really. And then I come back later, maybe on the same day or the next day, with a fresh perspective and new ideas. That often does the trick. I believe it’s important to allow myself the time and space to step away when needed.
BW: Do you have any analog creative practices, such as drawing, painting, or music?
M: Well, for almost all of my projects, during the initial reference phase, I tend to have a sketchbook and a pencil with me. I like to jot down my ideas and concepts on paper. So I check for references on the computer and explore works from fellow artists, while keeping my sketchbook by my side. I let my imagination run wild and record my ideas to use later. However, I don’t have any formal experience with analog techniques, so I’m not a skilled drawer by any means. It’s just a tool for me to save my ideas.
BW: Can you walk me through your creative process, from the initial seed idea to the finished product?
M: Sure. Like I said earlier, my process starts with inspiration from various sources, such as movies, photos, or other art that triggers an idea. Then, I collect references related to that concept and sketch out some quick drafts in my draft book. Next, I create a mood board on my computer to gather references for color palettes and other visual elements.
From there, I start creating in 3D, blocking out the composition and customizing the lighting to set the mood of the scene. It’s an iterative process where I continue to sculpt the shapes, improve the lighting, and create more objects to make them interact with each other in the composition.
Once I’m happy with the composition, I move on to texturing, coloring, and animation. I experiment with color palettes and materials until I find the right fit for the composition. For animation, I research and decide on the type of motion I want each object to have.
After animation, it’s time to render and then move on to post-processing. I do some color grading and add small details and effects, such as noise, to enhance the animation. And that’s it!
BW: How do you manage your time and priorities as a full-time graphic artist while also working on your personal projects?
M: Well, it’s not always easy, and it requires a fine balance between my workload at my full-time job and my personal projects. When I have particularly busy weeks at work, I may not have much time to work on my personal projects. However, I always try to gather references and do some small bits of work in any intervals that I can. I often work on my personal projects on weekends, holidays, and during off-hours when my workload is less demanding. It’s important for me to take breaks from the computer and spend time outside in the real world too. So, it’s a matter of finding a balance that works for me.
BW: Who are some traditional artists, outside of the crypto world, who heavily influenced your work and approach? This could be visual artists, filmmakers, musicians, or even thinkers or storytellers.
M: One of my oldest inspirations is definitely H.R. Giger. I’ve loved his work since I was a kid and the movies it inspired, like Aliens. I also appreciate some abstract artists, like Picasso. But I have a special affinity for sculpture. I love seeing sculptures in real life and I go to museums frequently. Sculptures provide a 3D perspective on shapes, which inspires me. As for movies, there are many that influence me, but I’m particularly drawn to French movies because of their unique visual style and attention to detail in color grading and contrast. They may be slower-paced compared to traditional or commercial films, but they’re amazing. So, I would say analog and traditional art forms are my main influences.
BW: What’s coming up next for your art? Are you excited about anything in the new year? Are you trying anything new or reinventing your style in any way?
M: I’m currently focusing more on surreal scenes and experimenting with a mix of surrealism and abstraction, as we discussed earlier. I’m also planning to create longer and more complex animations that give the viewer a sense of a moving puzzle where all the pieces interact and influence each other. My goal is to convey this even more in my upcoming work this year. I will be dedicating more time to animation and surreal scenes, while also exploring abstract-only scenes that allow for complete artistic freedom without limitations. Overall, I’m excited to create bigger, more immersive animations that are engaging to the viewer.
BW: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self about art and creativity?
M: Well, I would say, first of all, don’t rush things. When I first started, I was eager to create and show my work as soon as possible, but that’s not the way I like to work. It’s important to learn and research on a daily basis because there’s a wealth of new content being created every day. Additionally, it’s crucial to create connections with fellow artists. At the beginning, I worked in isolation and didn’t seek feedback, but now I value the importance of feedback from my peers. It has allowed me to grow and improve my work tremendously.
Most importantly, if it’s not fun anymore, it’s time to stop. I’m in this for the joy of it because creating art is liberating for me, and it’s not about the money or recognition. When it becomes frustrating and adds to our daily stress, it’s time to take a break. Art should be a gateway to escape daily stress, not a source of frustration.
BW: As a quick follow-up, can you tell me how you go about learning every day?
M: Sure, I always try to stay up to date with the latest advancements in 3D rendering engines and new materials to improve my modeling skills and optimize the rendering process. I research online, check YouTube videos, and subscribe to newsletters from the big players in the industry to stay updated with the latest developments. Additionally, I take online courses and attend workshops to learn new techniques and improve my skills.