Growing up, Misha Shyukin always wanted to be an artist. Born in Liepāja, he spent his teenage years glued to the game Quake 3, a multiplayer first-person shooter game. Starting to create forum signature graphics and short video clips inspired by the game, “at some point those things started to be more fun than playing the actual game,” he tells Talenthouse.
From there Misha spent a lot of time making 3D spheres and cubes and uploading them to online galleries such as deviantart.com. The wheels were in motion for his childhood dream of becoming an artist and after graduating from the FH Aachen in Communication Design he spent three years in London working with various studios and artists.
His digital and 3D works play at the intersection of realistic rendering techniques and experimental abstract compositions. Whilst multiple experiences have contributed to moulding his artistic practice, Misha believes it is his upbringing in post-soviet Latvia that underpins his attraction to dark and stormy environments clear in his digital works.
“Abstract, experimental, digital artworks with a strong focus on exploration of the physicality of materials and objects,” is how Misha describes his work. “I don't tend to keep specific themes. Still, I think some patterns are formed by themselves—for example, a significant influence in my work is synthetic materials. I like the aesthetics of bubble wrap, foil, and foam packaging. Using those in unusual situations and playing with their physical properties.”
One such material that is undoubtedly familiar to all thanks to the last few years, is the face mask. Misha’s project Quarantine was created in his newly found spare time during the pandemic, exploring new software to design and experiment with the potentials of protective gear. Playing with the uncomfortable balance between real and surreal, Misha tends to opt for software that simulates objects’ physical properties in his work. “This gives the work something unexpected,” he explains, “Since you can’t control all aspects of simulations.”
Some of his notable projects include working on product films for the Nike Flyknit Superiority shoe range released as part of the Rio 2016 Olympics campaign, as well as his Nike Strike Series, a fast-paced project focused on the exploration of various lighting conditions and possible shader animations for motion capture content. He also worked as the lead CGI artist on the launch film for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept ‘Laptimer’ watch, developed in partnership with Michael Shumacher.
To improve one’s creative practice, Misha always recommends considering a break from client work for a short period and focusing on personal projects. One such project that offered a mix of technical and creative challenges is Artificial Bloom, a self-initiated series exploring the variety of organic structures and natural patterns. Taking the biomorphic design approach of living forms as a starting point, symmetry, tessellations, logarithmic spiral shapes and patterns within patterns were all considered in this series of still life images and animated short clips.
And for Misha, this is only the beginning. “At least in my area of work, new technology makes things much faster. New GPUs and software make it much easier to get into digital art and create beautiful images,” he explains. His advice is simple. “Just try making stuff and share it with friends and peers. I always get nervous and excited before sharing new work online, but it is a great feeling.”
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