MatCloudOne half of our TEN S3 duo for May 2014, Mateusz Chmura admits to often having his head in the clouds. “Sometimes I like to go above it all, between our present reality, infinity, and the universe. A bit like clouds, as it were….”

Also known as MatCloud, a translation of his last name, which means Cloud, the Polish artist grew up around the Warsaw National Opera, where his father worked, and all the different props and accessories fed young Mateusz’s imagination. “This environment had a huge impact on my imagination and helped develop my creative side from a very young age. Even today, I draw inspiration from it.”

Today, he is a multi-disciplinary freelance artist – graphic designer, product designer, art director and photographer – who loves to work around the theme of wonderland and reality, which is present in all his works and publications.

We spoke to Mateusz about himself, his work, and being a part of Fotolia’s TEN Collection

Fotolia: Hello, Mateusz! Tell us about yourself and your background…

Mateusz Chmura: Hi, Fotolia. I’m freelance graphic designer and digital artist from Warsaw, Poland. I’ve been working in this field for a couple of years now. I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, where I completed my studies in Industrial Design, which I chose because it’s multidisciplinary combining many other areas of art.

I’m keen on both 2D and 3D, and I love to combine and fuse different techniques (photography/CGI/sketches/fine art/sculpture) to achieve a tangible expression of intangible ideas.

Fo: What is a word that defines you?

MC: My last name in English means cloud. Sometimes I like to be above it all, somewhere between the realm of reality we live in and the vast infinity of the universe – just like clouds!

But seriously, I think I’m a perfectionist.

Fo: How would you define your style?

MC: It’s something between reality and wonderland. I take some ingredients from both of these worlds in order to create my own visions.

Fo: Have your origins and the culture of your country influenced you?

MC: I grew up surrounded by magical decorations, sets and props of the National Opera House in Warsaw where my father works. It’s had a big impact on my imagination and creativity since I was a little boy. I take inspiration from it even today, whenever I go backstage.

I was born and raised in a city; the contrast between my fascination with the wildness of mother nature and the urban jungle and pop culture are among my favorite sources of inspiration.

Fo: In your opinion, what are the qualities required for a photographer/designer?

MC: There are many characteristics that are of importance but I think openmindness, creativity, out of the box thinking are the ones that come to my mind. In general, a good designer or a photographer has to be an acute observer of their surroundings.

A little bit of craziness is also a good quality; a  bit of a daredevil spirit, temping you to play with your talent and have fun developing your skills.

The TEN Project

Lucia Giacani and MatCloud

Lucia Giacani and MatCloud

Fo: Why did you join the TEN project?

MC: Well.. why not?

It was a great honor to join the TEN Collection and find myself amongst these great artists.

The opportunity to work with a professional photographer, someone like Lucia Giacani, was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Fo: Do you often work as part of a pair, as in this project?

MC: I usually work alone and I like to take care of every single detail of all my projects, but I don’t mind collaborating with other artists. You learn a lot, when exchanging experience with someone else, especially one with a different background, skills and ideas, but who shares the same passion.  You are able to enter a completely different level of creativity. This can be extremely inspiring.

Fo: How did the collaboration with Lucia go?

MC: Working with Lucia surely was a great experience for me. We speak different mother languages, so the communication could have been tricky, however we discovered that both of us studied Industrial Design so we have a common ground to fall back on and we worked great together.

We started discussing and exchanging some ideas on how to show each organ and which of the organs we should expose in each photo. We made many sketches together and went through a lot of anatomy images.

We also worked with an anatomical dummy with removable body parts that we painted white to do some test shots, which was helpful as I wanted to recreate them from scratch in Zbrush and be able to customize the colors, lights, reflections etc.

ten-02-lucia-mateusz-800x533Fo: How did the set theme inspire you?

MC: The machinery of the human body always fascinated me, so I loved the idea from the start.  The vision of presenting organs from a beautiful woman in such a bizarre way, and with a strong message beneath this glamorous and elegant picture, really appealed to me.

Throughout the project Lucia and me came up with some other ideas we would like to work on in the future and we both are looking forward to it.

Fo: What messages, emotions or ideas did you intend to convey through your creation? And what was the motivation behind this choice?

MC: Lucia came up with this beautiful, artistic and quasi-religious idea of being clean inside after extreme lifestyles choices that people make; for example, eating only organic food, giving up smoking, and torturing ourselves in gyms.

Nowadays, even our interiors are judged. My role was to create human insides in 3D and make them look authentic.

Our internal organs are a bit gruesome in reality. I wanted to present them as elegant and beautiful as if they were white marble sculptures – especially the heart, which I wanted to look like a jewel.

Working Methods

Fo: Can you describe your usual work methods in a few lines?

MC: I like to mix variety of techniques and experiment with them. Fine art + digital mesh? Why not?

When an idea comes into my head, the first thing I do is consider which technique I should use to illustrate it best. Pen and paper is always handy, but then I often turn straight to 3D software.

I use different programs for different purposes – Rhino or Modo for product design, and Zbrush for more organic forms. I make renders in Zbrush and/or Keyshot. Every image always lands in Photoshop for the final touch.

With these simple yet powerful tools I can bring all my ideas to life.

Fo: Were your tools and work methods different for the TEN project?

MC: Not for my work methods, but working in a studio was different. I had the opportunity to use some new tools such as a 24‘ Wacom Cintiq tablet which allowed me to literally touch my 3D models, move them around, draw and sculpt them right on the screen, with just a simple touch. It truly improved my workflow.

Tips and Tricks

Fo: What tips and tricks do you use most often when working?

MC: Firstly, it’s important that when doing a photomontage to understand the light directions present in the original photo. Then you have to create or match the same light direction, so as to make the image more authentic.

When you work in CGI software your images are usually crystal clear, and since I like to give my creations a more analog feel, I add some lens blur filter, making a chromatic aberration in layer RGB channels in Photoshop. I also add some dust on the lens texture on the top layer.

However, if you want your image to be sharp, using Highpass filter is always a good idea.

When rendering 3D models I usually make a couple of renders, using different materials, shadows, reflections, and environments, and then I mix them on layers in Photoshop, to achieve the desired result. That wouldn’t be easy, or even possible, to do with a single render.

Fo: Mateusz, thank you so much for your time!

You can see plenty more amazing work by Mateusz at both www.matcloud.com and www.be.net/matcloud, and he’s on Facebook, too!