In Focus: Prince
of The Obsessed Maniacs
Interview done by Forcer of Planet Earth
Hugi has an audience with one of the most active graphics artists on the scene today.
Forcer: Hi Prince, how did you find out about the demoscene?
Prince: It was back in 1991 when a fellow of mine (menace) and me watched some c64 demos. We had never seen anything pushing that machine to the limits like those demos did - and so we started learning to code Assembler. I always was fascinated by the fact that a machine can do its own movies, and I recall doing some stuff of my own in Basic or "Game Maker" (by Activision, I think) from the mid-80s on. But Assembler was a revelation. Everything was so structured and incredibly fast... In 1992 we founded the group "the obsessed maniacs (tOM)" because we needed a label for our first Amiga game. And in 1993 there was a magazine which did a regular c64-demo contest which we won a few times. That was the point in time where we got in touch with other users and sceners. I remember swapping with about 80 people all around the world at that time. ...yeah... Those were the days... :-) Our group grew bigger and we started to attend some demoparties. The fascination and atmosphere of those hook me up to the present day.
Forcer: Are you one of the oldschool sceners who decided to come back?
Prince: Well, actually I never was gone. Sure you've got some years in which you don't release anything for whatever reason. And the c64-core of our group got incredibly slow since the late 90s. So I decided to take some experience in painting PC-graphics. (Dude... that was a decade ago... I'm getting old :-)) Since 2001 I have been trying my very best to enrich the easter-party compos with my works. It's up to you deciding if they do... Two years ago I had a accident which knocked me out from "real life" for five months. So I decided to get more active in painting stuff. I learned about some trick or two and kept being busy ever since.
Forcer: What motivates you to spend time on the scene and where do you get your inspiration from?
Prince: The scene. Hum. It's all about fun and friendship. It's about competition in a very friendly way. It's a nice little club of intelligent people who know what they're doing and can party like hell. That's motivation enough, I think. Oh. The inspirational thing... shhh. It's a secret. Internal stuff, you know!?... No. being serious: for me it's either one of two ways of doing a graphic...
The first one is to research a topic and do my very best to compose a clever and complicated scene. The initial idea may be some word I caught at some place, a movie or a comic. There was a time for example when I did some quite complex comic-works which included lots of details the original in a magazine never could hold. That was the time when I began to experiment with huuuuuuuge canvases. And since I began to realize that digital space is not of matter I pushed my machines to the limit in order to put more and more details in. For that you'll have to connect all those details to make sense and let them interact in some way or the other. This gives you lots of inspiration to try either clever or incredibly silly things. And you'll have to be fast. very fast. No time to think. Otherwise a painting 10000s of pixels wide wouldn't be ready until the next compo (although it takes weeks or months to get a picture done that way). I think it's lots of unconscious things that get into my pictures. That's quite nice because when I see the result printed and hanging on a wall (for being several meters wide) and I talk to other people we can discover things together and have a laugh - connecting details and trying to invent some kind of story that the main-motive was never about. That kind of exchange is the hell of a motivation.
The second technique I am into now is to let unconsciousness rule my way of painting totally. For that I grab a bunch of pixels - which may be an interesting structure of a photo or a previous painting - and enhance the given structures by enlightening or darkening them. From time to time I'll have a deep look at the random work so far, and let associations flow in order to detect a figure, a scene or something like that. It's quite thankful to work that way because you don't have to research anything, you don't have to care about colors or anything else. Just paint. After a while there's a tendency in which way the final result may go. I do about 20-30 sketches that way every month. Of course not all of them make sense. But the better of them... You'll find them in the compos all around the world. I would never have expected being so busy by generating original material that way. And as long as it works and you'll get entertained by watching... who cares? *lol* After all it's about entertainment, isn't it?
Forcer: I totally agree with you it's all about friendship and meeting new people. You told me before the interview, at some point, you did 25 high quality full screen pictures in only 12 months, which I believe is new demoscene record. :) I actually don't know too many people who could do it. Did you have any break between the pictures?
Prince: A record? Nice. It's just a circumstance that just happened. I tend to keep busy all the time and therefore have a lot of output. And I think the demoscene gives you a very nice platform to present your work and receive acknowledgment. What else can you wish for? In fact it's not about how much you release but of what quality your products are. And as long as people like my work, and all the new features I try, they're bound to get more of it. As long as your work doesn't get boring for you as a creator or - even worse - for an audience, it's fun to push it further. So I try to develop new features in each of my gfx. I usually do not have any breaks between the gfx because usually I do several at the same time. You can paint a picture to death without seeing it, if you only have one production at the time. I think it's important to keep a certain distance to each picture. So some of my pictures take months to complete for implementing a new idea or an unsuspected twist. That's what keeps me interested in doing graphics: you'll never really know what it will look like in the end. Sometimes I revisit some images in my biiiig drawer and notice they're already ready to release. "Insecti-side" i.e. was one of those. Beside of that... yes, you could say i'm quite a workaholic. And I do love the things I'm doing!
Forcer: What software do you use? I'm guessing it's mainly Photoshop but do you also use any other software?
Photoshop is the big mothership, of course. But I use other software as well. Often I'm in need of a fancy background. For that I either use "Bryce" or "Cinema4D" for modelling.
certain points there isn't a software that can do a feature effectively, so you have to code some stuff yourself. Actually it's just tools. There's lots of them and I did try many. some get useful, others don't. For example I did try "poser", a program which you can do figures with, and thought: "man, this is the holy grail". But it wasn't. The workflow was much too slow - for now that I developed an own style to do my figures in a quite faster and more creative way. Usually I don't get sticked to any tool. There are plenty of ways to achive some aspect you need for your image. and any solution will do. It actually doesn't matter what it looks like, as long as the message of your content gets transported and the visuals fit in the whole concept. You'll have to fix some odds, of course. And you'll need some kind of container-software - some black cauldron to collect and brew your ingredients in. And at the moment, that's Photoshop for me.
Forcer: Speaking about Photoshop are you one of those graphics artists who keep every single line/shape on each layer and end up with 300+ layers where finding certain elements can be a bitch?
Prince: Keeping certain layers in folders can be helpful but it's still a pain. Ah. The layer-thing. For my graphic "Arrival" (2008) I did use layers for sure. There are hundreds of figures and each one has four layers (body, hair, clothing, shadow). Furthermore, there are dozens, if not hundreds of other objects. And each of them got its own layer. And I have to say... dig it! Layering isn't much of a help if you do complex work monumental style. It does cost you time to get things organized and a lot of diskspace if you got hundreds and thousands of layers. You'll get completely mad (believe me, I did at certain times!), you don't really need them. Sure, it's nice to keep things in shape and may alter some elder work in your image. But how often does that happen? Quite never, in my case. Nowadays I tend to render all work I have done for a day to a single layer and save it. That works quite well. Of course there are times where you are swearing not to have done so, but it's kind of part of the process. And it's quite fun to be aware of the fact that mistakes may lead to whole new and sometimes unexpected concept. So: who needs layers? If you know what you're doing, you even don't need an 'undo'.
Forcer: What are your favorite subjects to draw and what is your favorite combination of colors to use?
Prince: The most challenging subject to capture in an image is the moment of a specific emotion. I often use my "feature creatures" to set them in strange situations and try to give them an unusual expressional face in order to catch the watchers attention and to introduce an abstract - often absurd - situation. The face of a human being is by far one of the most interesting things you can observe. There's so much expressions which let you look into a person's soul. And it's quite fun because sometimes a single line or a small pile of pixels are enough to alter those expressions fundamentally when you're painting. Now - I don't draw any humans but some really freaky creatures which really don't have a naturalistic demand but that's even more challenging. Usually I look at a bunch of pixels, try to find some figures and then I think about how their face would fit best to the expression of their body - and which artefacts they do need in order to gain an emotional state which the watcher may identify. That kind of eye-catcher works quite well in order to get into an image. Then I try to gather a whole world around this situation. I don't think colors are too important for an image. As I gather my stuff from random pieces, most of the time colors are given by that. Sometimes I switch the hue-level or alter their intensity. But usually I accept colors as they're given by the fate of randomness *huhuhu. spooky :-)* I think it's more important to get the balance between lights and darkness well done. That, btw, is the way our eyes do it. By finalizing an image sometimes I do an overlay of warm colors for liking them very much. But it depends on my mood.
Forcer: Which picture that you worked on was the most exciting and interesting for you and how did it do in the gfx compo if you decided to enter it?
Prince: Oh! That's easy..: the next picture is the most exciting. Always. Honestly this is a really tough question as I try to do experiments in each of my images. It's always fun to gather knowledge. Maybe it's "dieChefrocker" because accidently I discovered the style that I am now into. A whole new world of associations. maybe it's my "Hall Of Fame" which would it be printed in full size was 10 meters wide. This was one of the projects I had very much fun with because beside the main motive I have had hidden 333 (actually a few more :-)) small faces. When I presented this at the Revision party I managed it to become some kind of contemporary art. I prepared fotoprints of each of those faces and glued them onto big posters. Everybody was welcome to pick one of those photos but had to name the character he chose. It was really fun and worked quite well. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to win the competition. *sniff* :-) The other day I made a call on a thread on "pouet.net" where people could send me some suggestions for absurd ideas to be drawn for my "revision court". Of course no one knew the subject of that image. And people stuffed me with the most stupid ideas. But that what it was about. I integrated about 50 of those small motives into my final image. It was fun big time. But didn't do too well in the compo, again. That actually that happens quite often to me. The most ambitioned and progressive works of mine don't do as good in competitions as I expect them they would. But that doesn't matter. It's all about the fun. And I like it when competition entries become more than just bits and bytes. When people got affected with the idea of getting part of the whole release. I wish more of them would vote... . But I'm quite happy, satisfied and thankful that most of my releases jump into the top 3 of a competition. You cannot always win. And there's one in every crowd (minimum!) who does better than you...
Forcer: Can we expect new demos from the obsessed maniacs and where do you see yourself in 5 years on demoscene?
Actually it's an permanent itch to scratch! I have several demoparts in my drawer. But the challenge is to gather all the guys to one place in order to party like we did in
the old times.
We stay in contact although we live in different parts of our country... It's not as easy as it used to be in the old times, when you just went to the neighbourhood to meet the guys. Those guys now have something called a "real life", you know!? Anyway. It wouldn't be fun to release something just on my own. I think it's important to gather as a group of crazy people, that we are, to exchange ideas and create something bigger anyone of us could do alone. There definitely WILL be some demoactivity by the obsessed maniacs again. Time will tell. Copyfault and I do some kind of ultimate c64 gfx-painter for the Mac/PC at the moment. And we tend to release some one-filers we call mini-demos in order to prove we're still out there. The 64 scene is something that keeps you fascinated. You may run out of time. But you'll never run out of ideas to let this computer do things it never was intended to do. Personally I don't know where I will be five years from now. To be honest: I didn't expect to spend some 20 years in scene as I started. Neither did I expect to get voted to the top 3 of a gfx-compo any time. But... hey, those things happen. And I'm fortunate to see those things happen. I think that's the thrill of the scene: you'll never know what you're up to do next. There are plenty of creative challenges. Maybe I will return getting a coder again. Modern machines are quite decent toys. Or maybe it's an old school... gameboy-demo... or whatever... who knows. Maybe I will start to develop some musical skills. Most likely I will still terrorize the world with my strange images. Honestly: I cannot tell. I don't have concrete plans. Just to do what is fun I think is the best you can do. That's the spirit as I define it.
Forcer: Prince, thanks for letting me interview you.
Prince: Thanks for having me!!!
Forcer: Do you have some special greetings?
Prince: well, I'd like to greet all those guys who know who they are! You know who you are! ..and all those freaks and fellows I got to know through the years!
Forcer: Is there anything else you would like to say to the readers?
Prince: visit demoparties, everyone! It's such a nice community where everyone's welcome. Develop something on your own and compete with other masterminds. Have fun!!!
Prince gallery at artcity
Revision 2012 - Think Big!