Around the age of sixteen, Leroy van Drie moved to a new neighborhood with not much to do. Whiling away hours sitting behind a computer, searching and exploring new programs, he came across PhotoImpact 11. Fast forward twenty years, and under the tutelage of Adobe Photoshop Magazine, Google, and Youtube, all that time spent in front of the computer has been put to good use. 

Now at age 31, Leroy van Drie is a 3D artist, designer, and freelance creative. He has worked on campaigns for the likes of JBL, produced album covers for Dutch artists Jonna Fraser and Frenna, and has recently released his first collaborative NFT, where he was invited by Jacob Eisinger (@yippiehey) with 16 other artists to create his version of Eisinger’s trademark HÆND.

“A lot of my followers would say I have a recognizable style, whereas I don’t quite see it that way.” Struggling to offer a description of his art, the concept of an artistic style is something Leroy still finds difficult today. “As I said, I’m still searching but if I believe my followers then I have already created one. Just not intentionally.”

 
 
 
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The term “metaphorical visually-pleasing art” is how Leroy describes his work. This takes into account composition, story, colors and typography. “What I’ve seen around me is that lots of people are specialized in just one thing, which is great. But when you excel at one thing, you sometimes lack in others, for example, typography or compositing. I like to think I have mastered a bit of both.”

 
 
 
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Like many creatives, one of the key things Leroy values in his client projects is freedom. “The most fun projects are the client projects with total freedom in which the customer fully trusts you and you can really do your thing. For me, that’s the moment where I feel blessed and can just experiment and play around whilst getting paid for it.”

One of his recent projects involved designing the artwork for the upcoming album 'Championships' by Frenna x & Jonna Fraser. With just two days to come up with the concept, the final design features a 3D model of a championship ring, combining the metaphorical lion and eagle representing the artists. “Just one 3D scene, with 3 different camera angles, which creates 3 different artworks,” he writes on Instagram

 
 
 
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Personal projects, on the other hand, offer a different kind of challenge. When it comes to his own projects, Leroy explains he is likely to be ten times more critical. “I’m a huge overthinker, so it happens quite often that projects won’t be finished or just get stuck in my head and never get to the screen.” Something he has been busy working on over the last few months is designing 3D conceptual versions of high-end collaborations, imagining the likes of Nike Air Jordan 1 x Gucci and Nike Air Jordan 1 x Louis Vuitton.  

 
 
 
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Leroy credits the internet for all he’s learned over the last twenty years. From checking tutorials on YouTube to feeling inspired by others’ work on Behance or Instagram, the increasing impact of technology in creative spaces means being a graphic designer has never been more exciting. “You have to see the internet as a huge library and the artists around you as the living Van Gogh’s and Picasso’s,” he tells Talenthouse. But importantly, that does not mean there’s a shortcut to a successful career. “What really makes you a good designer is practicing a lot, hours after hours, mistake after mistake.”

Programs Leroy turns to most often include Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Cinema 4D, Marvelous Designers, and Daz3D. NFTs are now also offering a huge opportunity for digital artists, Leroy among them. “In the beginning, when I just learned about the existence of the NFT scene, it was very overwhelming for me. Artists around me started dropping pieces and making a lot of money in a short amount of time.” Watching this unfold had a somewhat opposite effect on Leroy. “It created a huge creative block. It seemed all too good to be true.”

For some it is, but not for all.“The secret to NFTs is not just good artwork,” Leroy explains. “It’s about creating an audience, a hype, a community.” Once you have the ball rolling then Leroy believes the art will do the work for itself. These increasing changes to the art industry offer a chance for digital artists like Leroy to have their work recognized and legitimized in more traditional spaces. 

“This is just the beginning of a new era. Print is not dead but big brands will come into the Metaverse and create a whole new industry for the digital artist,” Leroy says. “So a bit of advice to many, especially myself, stop overthinking and hop on that train.”

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