Interview with Space Art Veteran @Hameed

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ErikShoemaker's avatar
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Space Art Week

I would like to introduce Hameed, a longterm artist and art appreciator, who signed up more than 14 years ago here on DeviantArt. Hameed had a lasting impact on the space art community since the early days, but is also known across DeviantArt for his work as volunteer for the 3D galleries. In 2003 he even received the Deviousness award for his outstanding work for the community. I'm happy to be able to interview him for this occasion!




Welcome Hameed and thanks for taking the time to answer a few of our questions for Space Art Week! Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?

:iconhameed:

I'm Hameed, male, 39 Years old, I live near London in the UK, I have been a digital artist now for some 17 years and I've been a member of DeviantArt for 14 years. I received the Deviousness award back in 2003 for my work in the community here. I enjoy working in 3D and 2D, I have been using photoshop since its earliest PC versions, and 3DsMax since pretty much the days of MS-DOS.



17 years, wow! While DeviantArt v1 dates back to mid 2000 (I had to look it up in the timeline actually), signing up in Feb 2002 still makes you one of the first members to join this website. Probably only a handful from that time are still active today as you are. What made you sign up? Do you remember what DA was like back then, and how it changed over the years? Funfact: Your user ID is 203299.

:iconhameed:

Even funner fact, I joined on 02/02/02. :) I came across DA a fair while before I signed up though, I think the site itself was only about 6 months when I started lurking. Found myself coming back here more and since it was pretty much the only art site on the entire internet at the time. The community was tiny, yet highly interactive, and very encouraging to new artists, which is what I admired the most, and has kept me here for so long.

I recall some dark days in the sites early history when we were living month to month with the servers being overloaded, and a lack of funding. Also the site looked completely different, and was more of a place for skinning (themes). Everyone here owes people like Jark & Spyed and all the others a huge thanks at the very least, they went through some tough times to keep this place going. I had the fortune to watch all the problems be overcome, thanks to their hard work, the community survived and flourished into the 37 million or so people on here today! It's truly awesome to think about let alone be a part of.


I had the fortune to watch all the problems be overcome, thanks to their hard work, the community survived and flourished into the 37 million or so people on here today!Hameed




It's really hard for me to imagine DA like this, seeing how vast and professional it is now!
In cosmicbound's history article we learned that you are also one of the founders of the space art genre here on DA. How did the space art scene develop over the years from your point of view?

:iconhameed:

When I first found this place there was only one space art image here, wallpapers were the popular category but contained lots of abstract art. Being a fan of the space art genre, and a HUGE fan of Greg Martins work, i had the feeling that if introduced, space art could be a popular genre here. So I set about seeing what I could do to introduce it.

Up to that point I had some 3D and Photoshop skills, but had only ever made stuff for work/fun and never done space art. So I decided to have a crack at it, and the feedback and encouragement from the community led me to try another, which was popular enough to make it to the DTF (daily top favorites) section of the site at the time. Around the same time one or two others joined in, and space art slowly but surely started making an appearance on the site.

I think another pivotal moment is when I released my (now out of date and in storage) 'Planets' series, instead of deciding to release them one by one, I uploaded all twenty or so images in the set at one time on the same day. My own popularity at the time, and the fact that Jark made a minor news article about the set on the same day, lead to the DTF page being covered in mostly my work, this is the equivalent today of most DD's for a day being mine, no small achievement, and so gave both my work, and the space art genre massive exposure. If space art wasn't a thing on DA up until then, then you could say it arrived on that day.

Needless to say, my unprecedented success and the given exposure it caused worked wonders for the genre as a whole, others saw that it was popular and tried to join the fray, and the seeds of the space art community were sown on DA. And I for one am grateful for it, it's been an amazing privilege seeing all your works over the years.



The Edge Of Infinity by Hameed Cosmic Encounter by Hameed
Some of Hameed's earliest space art projects, "The Edge of Infinity" (left) and "Cosmic Encounter" (right).


Thanks for sharing this incredible story! I wish I had been there at the time to see it for myself.



On your profile you state that you have a particular interest for astronomy, cosmology and even theoretical physics. Do you have a science background, and is this where your fascination for science fiction and space art comes from?

:iconhameed:

I'm not a scientist formally, I guess you could say I am a science enthusiast, I have always been a curious person. Before I became an artist I was an amateur astronomer, and to this day enjoy following the latest breakthroughs in physics, purely out of interest, and more often than not in great depth, with same level of fascination as that of a child with its new toy. In my own life science has always been a positive influence, and much like sharing something cool with your facebook pals, I enjoy whenever possible introducing people who don't fully appreciate it to the amazing and awe inspiring world of science, albeit in my case, through Space Art.



I enjoy whenever possible introducing people who don't fully appreciate it to the amazing and awe inspiring world of science, albeit in my case, through Space Art.Hameed

:iconhameed:

The pivotal thing that took me from being a science enthusiast that could draw to becoming a Space Artist, was the movie 'Contact' based on the book of the same name by Carl Sagan. After being blown away by that amazing story, and the still unmatched space art VFX in it, I found myself trying out more and more space stuff. I was 26 at the time, and unfortunately for one reason or another had never heard of Carl Sagan. When the words 'For Carl' popped up at the end, I had no idea who he was, but before I left my seat at the cinema I knew I would be learning who that was.

And I did learn about him, and his hard work in promoting science to the public, was a huge inspiration to me to try to do the same. My only regret being I didn't know about him when he was still alive. Between Carl's inspirational work in space science, and Greg Martin's timeless space art works, I had enough to keep me driven to do what I could to keep the genre growing.



Jewel by sirgerg
"Jewel" by Greg Martin, aka sirgerg.


I agree, Greg Martin inspired a lot of space artists and probably still does today. Let's hope he makes a comeback as space artist one day.



You're a self-taught artist yourself - was it mostly learning by doing, reading tutorials, or how did you get where you are today? Any tips for beginners?

:iconhameed:

My initial interactions with Photoshop were to do just that, very basic photo manipulation/ colour retouching works. Eventually I got to try my hand at the clone brush, and that lead me to try out more self created work as opposed to editing. As the tool set in Photoshop grew I got to develop and try out more and more complex scenes, this led to some of my earliest works which never existed beyond my PC's hard drive.

As for 3DsMax, well that's also the same story. I followed its development closely, from its earliest release, and got to try its tools out as they were developed. I did follow what the industry was doing with it, and the various techniques that were developed to make the most of the then new 3D based 'CGI'. It's arguably a lot easier to learn something as complex as Max when you're there from the beginning of its development. I can imagine it being utterly daunting to someone starting out with it these days, given how complex it's become. Also, at the start, I didn't have access to a large amount of tutorials, given digital art itself was just starting out at the time.

Today you can find hundreds, if not thousands of tutorials for 3DsMax and Photoshop, my suggestion to anyone starting to learn either Photoshop or 3DsMax would be to take full advantage of them. Join DeviantArt, I mean actually sign up, make works and submit them here, interact with other artists, the feedback they provide can be hugely useful. Value the comments you make and the ones you receive, take aboard any criticism and see it as a challenge to do better. The community here IS amazing, make the most of it, remember all you need do is interact, and people WILL reciprocate.

Look through the galleries here and find the images you love the most, then look at them closely to find out why exactly you like them so much. You can learn a lot about yourself by doing this, and it can help give you ideas and inspiration for works of your own. Always believe in yourself, keep your art original by avoiding trends, try to make each piece totally different from the last, challenge yourself, and MOST importantly of all, ENJOY what you do.



Rose Nebula by Hameed Convergence by Hameed
"Rose Nebula" (left) and "Convergence" (right) by Hameed.


That's most useful advice, and for me it was the same thing: I was lurking on DA for a while, but only signing up and interacting with people got me motivated and helped me improve my art a lot.



From your answers it's obvious that one of your true passions is actually 3D - how exactly did you get started with 3D art? Did it have to do with your work as community volunteer?

:iconhameed:

I was a 3D artist before I came to DeviantArt, as well as in science I have a keen interest in visual effects, and was in awe of 3D and its potential capabilities from the outset. When 3dsMax was launched I jumped at the opportunity to use it as soon as I could. Back in those days it was being developed by Kinetix and relatively easy to learn. I think I was in love with it within a few days of first trying it out. 3D software like Max gives you some extremely useful & versatile tools to play with, and I would recommend learning it to anyone.



Arachnid Mech (1080p) by Hameed
"Arachnid Mech (1080p)" by Hameed.





We talk about art on DA a lot, but let's go beyond that for once: Would you say space or science fiction art has potential for commercial applications?

:iconhameed:

I would say so yes, the space / sci-fi genre is obviously popular. Sci-Fi shows like StarTrek and Sci-Fantasy epics like StarWars have done a lot to engrain the genre into people's minds. As a race i am sure we are only just beginning our love affair with science-fiction. As previously sci-fi only dreams quickly become everyday realities, I think it's more important than ever to keep the imaginations of future engineers inspired with new and good works of sci-fi, we have only just scratched the surface.

Anyone willing to to do what it takes to learn the software and research the genre properly, and get good at it, shouldn't have trouble finding commercial work for their efforts. Whether that's making posters, or working on the next big budget blockbuster at a vfx house, I like to think there will always be room for space / sci-fi artists going into the future.


Well, scifi artists definitely have a wild imagination. Where are our flying cars and instant pizza predicted by Back to the Future? But let's be thankful we are still 3 years short of the events from Blade Runner. :nod:



Now a tough one: Name your favorite deviation on DA, one from your own gallery and one from someone else's. And please explain in a few words why you love them.

:iconhameed:

Had I been on the site only a year or so, this would have been a lot easier, but after a full 14 years and counting, it's very difficult to choose from the huge body of works I have been exposed to from here. I will have a go though:

For my own works, I will choose two since I am in two very distinct genres here:



Origins by Hameed

Origins (above, 2D):
Made back in 2004, I really love how it turned out, and it's one of the few of my own wallpapers that I have used myself. It was made during the early space art explosion on DeviantArt,  and reading through the comments, seeing the usernames, takes me back to that amazing time in the sites history, and makes me feel a better person for having been a part of it.



The Time Machine by Hameed

The Time Machine (above, 3D):
Because it was such a huge project, and I really and truly enjoyed the year and a half or so I spent researching it, as well as the actual modelling/texturing/rendering process. It turned out so good, I sometimes can't believe I actually managed to pull it off. It serves as a reminder to me that if I choose to, there's nothing I can’t make in 3D, and that's a nice feeling to have.


:iconhameed:

As for the rest of DeviantArt, well choosing a single image would be unfair and I cannot possibly choose one given there are so many, across so many different genres that I admire, so I will just point you all here: hameed.deviantart.com/favourit… (my favourites, from over the last 14 years).



These are stunning artworks! I'll overlook that you evaded the second part of the question. ;)



And now for the final question... your guilty pleasure?

:iconhameed:

This one is easy, and is oddly related to my work on here. About three years ago, I decided to research space battles and soon found myself looking at games. Now I'm no gamer by any means, but as a massive fan of star trek, I decided to try out Star Trek Online. Three years later, and I'm still there often, and even have a lifetime subscription! It's still the only game I know and play, and I did end up learning a huge amount about battles in space and on the ground, but the research period is definitely over and I'm still very much addicted. :) Anyone else on STO who wants to hit me up in game can feel free to PM me via O.o @ infinitespaces. It would be really nice to do some runs with fellow deviants.



Haha, I'm no trekkie, but the geek in me is tempted to google STO right now. :D




Thank you, Hameed, for this inspiring and insightful interview! I hope that, despite your secret passion for Star Trek Online, we'll still have you with us for a long time!



Comments15
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Lintu47's avatar
Lovely interview! :love:
ErikShoemaker's avatar
glad you like it!
thowni369's avatar
I will forever be grateful for his works in the early days that inspired some of my early works later in 2005-2006. Nod 
ErikShoemaker's avatar
oh cool! Do we by chance know your old account? :)
thowni369's avatar
Nah, being stupid, i deleted my old account aeons ago. toni-niskanen i believe it was. Although by googling you can find some of my stuff still. :D
ErikShoemaker's avatar
I think that name does ring a bell somehow.. anyway, welcome back! :D
TodallyNotAmazing's avatar
Its really cool seeing how much DeviantArt has changed throughout the years, I sometimes use the wayback machine and see how much has changed.
ErikShoemaker's avatar
have you seen the timeline? www.deviantart.com/timeline/ You can go way back and see screenshots of the old versions. Pretty cool :D
Chromattix's avatar
It's quite interesting to see it took until 2003 before someone set the gears in motion for a genre I assumed was here for the start (being originally a wallpaper and skin site - you'd think dA would have a lot of space stuff already since it translates so well into themes like that) Most people from then aren't even active anymore, they're more like relics of the past that still-standing trees in the forest of dA today, it's always good to know some still remain now. I guess you gotta have a passion for dA that goes beyond just promoting your own work to last sine many who are only here for that give up when they realize they're not making much off a site dominated by teenage pony fanatics :giggle: I stay because I think dA is a genuinely interesting social platform and I'd choose it over Facebook anyway =p

I always thought Daily Deviations were always a thing too - I'm surprised to learn they weren't. I can only remember as far back as when they used to appear at the side of the page a couple at a time (2006) but man - 2003 I was only using the internet a couple of times at school to watch the same silly Flash cartoons over and over because I didn't know what else to look up. I didn't grow up in a tech-savvy environment but I wish I did so I could have gotten a jump on things earlier like Hameed did :D
ErikShoemaker's avatar
I agree, I wish I could have been there to see the sudden space art boom for myself! It doesn't surprise me that much actually that it hasn't been a thing on DA all the time, simply because space art is not really a huge deal on other websites either. There seems to be a unique space art bubble around DA and I guess we can thank Hameed among others for that. :D
Chromattix's avatar
Yeah it doesn't seem to take off much elsewhere. I think because many regard it as being more of an illustrative tool (such as scenes for sci-fi movies, as well as graphics for scientific documentaries and books on the subject) rather than being a subject as artistic as portraits, landscapes, abstracts, etc. It's certainly hard to find a target audience to try and sell the stuff to so you really gotta do it for the love of it since it doesn't always have much earning potential ^^;
Casperium's avatar
I agree, and while I have made some money in movies/tv/book covers etc with my space art, I would love to see it bought to be put on walls etc. But unless I put a star ship like the Enterprise in it (which I wont due to copyrights) then few people want the artwork for itself.
Casperium's avatar
Hameed is one of the best space artists out there. I know I have learned a lot from him and been inspired by his artworks. Good choice for an interview. :)
ErikShoemaker's avatar
I loved his answers too, he's a like a window into the past and seems to be really enjoying what he is doing. Very inspiring! :D Thank you for your comment! 
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