Daily Deviation, Given 2018-03-10
Daily Deviation, Given 2016-11-05
Hello, thanks for interviewing me! My name is Jessica Darling; I'm twenty-eight and I've been making fractal art for fourteen years. I'm also very passionate about literature and writing (especially speculative fiction and poetry) and co-lead a local writers' group here in Montana.
Oh, this is a big question.
My first brush with fractals occured at a math and science day-camp when I was twelve or thirteen. I selected a workshop about "Infinity and Dimensions" or something like that, and the presenter showed us a Sierpinski triangle and claimed that is was approximately one-and-a-half dimensional. I remember being extremely skeptical and unsatisfied with this claim, because she did not explain why that was the case, or how something could even have a non-integer dimensions in the first place (of course, years later I read about Hausdorff dimension and everything made a lot more sense). I think she also described the chaos game to us, but at the time I didn't really appreciate the concept.
And then one day I was searching for free desktop wallpaper and I found this website (which I'm genuinely shocked is still online; I was expecting to have to wayback-machine it). I was instantaneously fascinated. I loved art, I loved math, and at that age I was very drawn to semi-philosophical musings about infinity. So fractal art was tailor-made to push all my buttons.
But the final and most decisive thing was signing up for dA (I don't even remember why I originally did) and seeing the art of rougeux. His pieces were seriously next-level. Texture? Fractal art can have texture??? It probably sounds weird now, but in 2004 such a thing was very novel. And there was this whole category, full of images, with software notes in the descriptions, that anybody could upload to. Suddenly it wasn't just a cool concept I knew about, but something I could actually do.
I started out with Apophysis because it was free, but I found the editor incomprehensible at first. Back then there were pretty much no real tutorials. The plugin architecture hadn't been implemented yet and I'm pretty sure the first version of of Apo I downloaded didn't even have the julian variation. Very strange to think about now! Also I was rendering on a single-core CPU and the wait times were beastly. But really the biggest issue wasn't the program; it was my understanding. I wanted to have control over what I was doing but I felt like I was just stumbling around getting lucky.
So I bailed to Ultra Fractal pretty early on (but not permanently, it turned out...), which came bundled with tutorials that explained the basic interface, and immediately spent a lot of effort trying to imitate rougeux. It took me about a year to make anything I was truly happy with, and another year to be able to do it consistently. Those early works are still viewable in my scraps. Sometimes it's good to remind myself what a learning curve it truly was.
I use Apophysis, Chaotica, and Ultra Fractal. I sometimes goof around with other digital art, but not to any great results yet.
I sell prints here and there but not with any kind of consistency, so it is mostly just a hobby.
Oh boy, this is another immense question.
Getting involved in deviantArt's various fractal chats (starting in #UltraFractal before everyone coalesced at #Aposhack regardless of program) was the single biggest step I ever took in expanding my fractal skills. This was around 2008 or so. I met, among many other people, Platinus and esintu. Of anybody I think they have had the biggest, most direct and lasting influence on my art.
At the time, I was using Ultra Fractal pretty much exclusively. When I finally bit the bullet and decided to learn Apophysis for real (around 2009/2010) it was Platinus who helped me the most. Now I use apo just as much as, if not more than, UF, and ultimately I'm not sure if I could have gotten to that point without him. We still exchange params all the time. He's constantly coming up with new ideas, and is just a wonderful person and friend in general.
esintu's influence on me was in terms of artistic sensibility: her work has an organic, funky feel, with so much attention paid to simply finding novel shapes and framing them in thoughtful compositions. It's about presentation, but not in a way that feels over-slick or merely about production value. Talking to her really solidified for me that technique and difficulty are far from the end-all-be-all of artistry in fractals. I really encourage everyone to take a deep dive into her gallery if you haven't.
Artistically, I would cite Beesknees67, IDeviant, s31415, eralex61, Kaeltyk, guagapunyaimel, and infinite-art as some of my biggest influences and idols. Even though I haven't had much in the way of direct interaction with them, their art has affected not just the way I make fractals, but also the way I think about artistry in general.
Fractal art can be a truly communal and collaborative artform; that's one of the things I love about it. It's just not going to be possible to list everyone I've ponged with, everyone I've had very fruitful conversations with. I've absorbed so much from so many people in tiny pieces each time. There's lyc for teaching me oodles about math and rendering, and also for just general chatting about aesthetics, and awesome music recs. There's SuicideBySafetyPin for starting Aposhack, always being down to toss params around, and demonstrating just how far a paramset can be tweaked. TaraRoys for writing the exact tutorial I needed to understand what the hell an affine transform is. OutsideFate for having a super distinct voice and style that I think a lot of artists could learn from. There's Fiery-Fire, piethein21, ChaosFissure, lindelokse, zy0rg, tatasz, skulkey, milleniumsentry, Jimpan1973, davebold370, misterxz... It's far from an exhaustive list, but I feel I owe a little bit to every single one of them.
Experienced yes, by definition. But skilled I'm not so sure about. I think it can be tempting to phone in a piece with tried and true techniques. It's not even always a bad thing; sometimes you just want to have fun and go back to your own favorite ideas, which is perfectly fine. And also there are benefits to exploring a concept or particular subject matter in-depth and from every angle, to making a series instead of just a bunch of standalones. But where do the diminishing returns start? It seems there's a fine line between having a recognizable personal style and merely being repetitive. I guess I would say that disciplined practice accretes skill (paradoxically, the disciplined practice approach also works for sharpening creativity) as long as you are making a conscious effort to stretch yourself. And I definitely make a conscious effort to stretch myself, but it shows more in some pieces than others. For everything I publish, there are a bunch of test renders and work-in-progress paramsets left on the cutting room floor. That process more than anything else is probably what improves my art.
This is something I struggle with and probably always will. I have more of a generalist approach to fractal art than most people I think... I do both IFS and escape-time, both structured and abstract. This is related to what I said in the last question about "recognizable style vs. repetition". I definitely err on the side of variety. On occasion I post stuff that is isn't necessarily good, but it's weird and it tickles my brain even if it is very rough around the edges. But other times I'm a major detail-oriented perfectionist. Actually, I don't think those two attitudes are as contradictory as they might seem.
Nevertheless, I do think there are some unifying aesthetic threads throughout my body of work. What are they, exactly? I'm too close to my own art to answer that, I think. Experimentalism, perhaps? That's such a broad term though. milleniumsentry once described my art by saying "The middle ground can be pretty far away sometimes."
I actually have a tutorial that does exactly that! It's representative in some ways (exploratory) but not in others (only one layer). I often say that I "build" my fractals, because it really feels like I'm putting a bunch of disparate pieces together. I want to understand the contribution each setting makes to the final product. I'm actually highly methodical with the way I traverse all the different options and parameters. Like, when someone sends me apo params, I'll dissect them by first moving around transform one, then changing the variable settings, then moving it AND changing the variable settings. And when I'm done with that, I go back to the original and do the same to transform two, getting a feel for everything one transform at a time. I do not think this is at all contrary to the spirit of experimentalism and spontaneity. In fact, it's the best way to make sure you actually tried everything, even stuff you may not have thought of otherwise. Otherwise it's too easy to skip right to whatever worked last time, whatever's comfortable and already-understood.
But of course there's so much more to it than that. For instance I usually start with form and apply color near the end. In UF I breed layers by sticking the whole fractal in a layer group, duplicating it, changing some things, and layering the whole group back on the original. When I'm making substitution tilings I often start with pen and paper and have to do a whole bunch of trig along the way. Etc etc etc; the answers are different for every program and style.
The best way to get a feel for my process would be to do a collab with me. I'm open to it anytime from anyone; just hit me up on Discord.
Idk, I just like to make art. Maybe when I was just starting out I would have had a more concrete answer to this question. But after fourteen years, it's like... there's not an endpoint. I guess I just want to always be doing something new. I want to make people say, "Oh, that's different." Not with every single piece of course. But I don't want to settle down.
Screamed internally and fanned myself and flopped onto my bed and frenetically refreshed my message center like a very stereotypical 15-year-old, hahaha. Wondered if I'd ever create another fractal that good, ever again (it took a while, actually!).
Sometimes, even the most simple things can be complex. Unicellular by FarDareisMai ( Suggested by alyn and Featured by damphyr )
Jess (FarDareisMai) immediately caught my attention with her username, a reference to a classic fantasy series, The Wheel of Time. I always love seeing her art, each a framed, elegant depiction of what can be done in fractal design. She is a wonderful member of the community, and is constantly ready and available to help, especially in the fractal Discord. I can't imagine the community without her wonderful presence!
FarDareisMai is an unique artist. She loves to create fractals using methods normally considered wrong, or to be avoided, to create bizarre and unique masterpieces, rich in details and The colors are vibrant but without exaggerations, the gallery never ceases to amaze and even the scraps folder is full of beautiful images. I've been following her since 2011 and it's always a surprise to see what she can get out of the magic cylinder of Apo and UF!
Far has been one of my favorite rivals and contemporaries for a long time. Her and I are like binary stars, gravitating towards each other as we fall through the void of space, hurdling towards our, though far off, inevitable ends. She's mentored and pushed and guided me in times when I needed that the most and aspiring for her approval has, more often than not, helped me produce my very best pieces. She's simply foundational to the structure of the fractal art community, not only through her display of her craft, but also through her support of others. And honestly, anyone is truly lucky to ever have her as an artistic partner.
Jess' work is always fresh and well produced, a product of many years of practice and wide exposure to art. Originally an UltraFractal power user, she became the "Chaotica Queen" for years and contributed much to its manual. The fractal scene would be much poorer without her care and dedication.
So who is Lukas? Lukas is just a regular 18 years old fractal artist from Czech republic.
Currently I'm in a 4th year of medical highschool with specialisation of Medical lyceum, which means I'll be taking finals soon. There's not much to do in my free time, since I'm trying to get the best results and get well prepared for the entrance exams at my (hopefully) future medical faculty. But when there IS a free time, I definitely love to spend quality time with my family, and make some fractals for relaxation!
Aspiring to become a cardiac surgeon one day!