The pressures of society affect human beings all the time, like a hammer and anvil in a blacksmith’s workshop. People, news and events affect us personally, leaving their mark on our souls and minds.
To mitigate these situations, different defence mechanisms come into play in our brains, and we all try to use them to understand what is going on ‘inside’.
Jonas Pfeiffer, a.k.a. Jopfe, has developed his own mechanism, a method that through the creation of elements and characters in 3D art, explores our subconscious, prompting us to ask even deeper questions about our existence and our relationship with the social taboos we face every day.
Using his life experiences as a creative trigger, Jonas transcends current reality through worlds he creates, taking the viewer into dimensions that are static in time but which our eyes recognise as part of our Ego, and our farthest nature.
Celestial creatures, emotional personifications and truthful eyes are the elements that distinguish his 3D art as one of the most interesting and empathetic of these times, allowing us to experience almost directly what he himself has been through, and now wants to share.
The following is an interview with the artist, we invite you to support his work and follow him on Instagram and other social media channels. Here you can also find the portfolio with all of his artworks.
Hello Jonas, first of all thank you very much for accepting this interview. Let’s start by tell me something about yourself, your influences and how you got in the field of 3D art.
Well thank you for the interest in my art. I’m always happy to see people connecting with my art and wanting to know more about it.
About me, I’m a 32 year old partially self taught Motion Designer and 3D artist. I studied media design where I learned a lot of design and art basics but then developed a special passion for moving images. I was employed at a little animation studio for three years and then decided to go freelance to have more freedom in deciding what kind of project I would like to work on. Besides doing commercial work I always enjoyed experimenting with new things in my spare time with no restrictions whatsoever. Furthermore I figured that working on personal pieces had a therapeutic effect for me when conventional therapies failed.
Which was your main influence in this kind of visual works? Your projects seemed deeply connected with the interiority of the human mind and its logical e instinctive processes, when did you start on working on these kinds of topics?
Visually my influences are works from other artists from various disciplines. Photography, fine art, digital art, music.
As for the intention of most of my works you’re right- I’m often playing with the theme of the human mind. Probably trying to understand what’s going on in our heads. The decisive reason for this is a heavy blow of fate that completely shook my life almost six years ago. I suddenly felt like a complete stranger to everything that I knew before and the whole world just felt empty and surreal. After a long hiatus and several failed therapy attempts I gained motivation to start creating again and used this motivation to work on an animated short film in which I tried to process my current thoughts and feelings in an artistic way. This short is basically the base of everything I’m doing until today, both visually and substantively.
Now each of my animations or artworks illustrate a specific feeling or mental state I was or I am dealing with.
The majority of your production includes feminine and masculine figures covered in different textures and patterns. I guess that their bodies are the basis for much more insightful meanings that you express through a contrast of colours and, sometimes, texts. What are the true meanings behind some of the sentences you make on them?
Well, yes the texture you’re talking about is the component that connects pretty much all of my works. I’m not really comfortable going too much into the details but it’s pretty much things that I wrote down in early attempts of self therapy that moved me or came to my head. The most recognizable probably is the quote “I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart.” which is a verse of a poem of the same name by E.E. Cummings. The poem was playing a big role during that time I really felt a connection with it so it became part of my work.
One of the things that thrilled the most about your style is the importance you give to the eyes. They are always different, as I can see, but (and correct me if I’m wrong) they seems included in some “big plot” that connect them from one artwork to the other. If it’s true that “the eyes are the doors to the soul”, what are your characters eyes saying to the public most of times?
Yes you’re right, the eyes are playing a big role in my artworks. I never really thought about what the eyes “are saying to the public” in one sentence but it would probably be “don’t just believe what you’re seeing”. The biggest issue I had when I was mentally struggling was that I felt misunderstood by pretty much everyone around me and people seemed to be blind to things that were obvious to me. “JUST SMILE ALREADY!” was the first artwork where I used a common smiley as the texture of the eyes. It is the equivalent to the questions like “How are you doing?/All good?” which I was struggling with constantly.
The always smiling eyes also can be seen as criticism of the social obligation to never show weaknesses (“You’ll get over it.” or “We all have our packages to carry.”) that I felt at that time.
When you have to think to a character, where do you find your subjects? Is there any step-by-step process that you follow in order to give life to your creations?
As I said in a previous question, most of the time I start with a specific feeling or thought that either I have or that I would like to trigger for the viewer. Sometimes the intention changes or develops while working on an artwork but most of the times I manage to stay true to my initial idea.
Technically when talking about characters I have a base model and a few base textures that I developed over time which I’m using depending on what I need. To then tell a story or to convey a certain feeling there are a few things I’m taking advantage of specific camera angles, intentional lighting of the scene, animation of the character (especially the eyes) and sometimes by music and sound fx. I also really like creating looping animations because it then has a potential to really drag you into the artwork and might even develop a hypnotizing effect.
In relation to the previous question, I want to talk about one of your latest collections – “The Celestial Beings” – every artwork looks like a true masterpiece and it’s overwhelming how much details are visible in each character, considering their visual complexity and overall figure. I know that you were inspired by the Bible itself, but why you decided to approach this kind of topic?
That’s a really good question. Well firstly I’d like to thank you for your kind words. I really put quite some effort in this series and it means a lot to the that so many people feel connected to the artworks. The most frequent question after I shared the series is whether I’m religious or not. I did grow up in a protestant family and was baptised and confirmed but I never really took the bible in a literal sense. I would say I believe in the core values of brotherly love/charity but beyond that it’s kind of hard to imagine for me.
I was aware that biblically accurate angels have been a thing on the internet for a while and I came across a few illustrations randomly without knowing what they actually meant.
At some point I was getting curious and started researching where they come from and quickly found out that they are actually based on paragraphs of the bible which blew my mind. For the first time I purposely started reading the bible to scan for those illustrated angel descriptions (Which nowadays appears to be quite convenient having an online bible with multiple translations and versions and with a search function). The more quotes I found the more I was thrilled and sucked into the subject and ultimately started creating my own interpretations.
I love how you created an entire world for the Angels and the other human characters to live. It gives the whole creation a “sense of existence”, like a dimension in which these creatures are stuck. How did you design it?
When I first started creating the creatures I just put them in front of a layer of clouds but it was completely missing a sense of scale. So as you noticed correctly I needed to come up with a method to make them appear as dominant as I wanted them to be. The best way to do so was to put them in relation with something everybody knows the size of and also can empathize or identify with. That’s how I came up with the foreground object and the human being which then also worked as the visionary interacting with the angel.
In addition to that I also added flocks of birds, lots of animated dust and cloud layers and distance fog to amplify the scale of the scene even more.
Your collection has being very well welcomed by the online public and, also, was considered one of the most realistic interpretations of the angels. What are your thoughts about this?
The fact that the series went viral completely blew my mind and I was not expecting that in any way. It really seems to be something that moves people all over the world and I’m still overwhelmed by the reach my works gained. I’m getting messages from all over the world of people sharing their visions and dreams with me which can be frightening from time to time but overall makes me happy because people feel that deeply connected to something that I created.
I’m not sure if I can agree with the fact that my version of the angels is one of the most realistic interpretations, but I think what might make them stand out is the fact that they are sort of photorealistic and animated. Also, there are quite a few things where I decided to move away from what the bible verses say for artistic reasons which then sparked off quite a few discussions in the comment sections. The number of wings, the overall texture obviously, placement of the eyes or if those should be literal eyes at all, missing legs just to name a few.
Considering the genre of this project, will you find any other similar ideas to work on?
Yes, I do and I’m already working on additional artworks to add to the series. Not least because of the numerous messages and comments I received I found a few more chapters in the bible which contain really interesting narrations of other creatures and visions that I’m really curious to explore.
Now, a different question. As a 3D artist, what do you think about NFT. Are you a seller or are you just interested in crypto art?
I know this is quite a controversial thing among artists but yes, I do like the idea of NFTs if used correctly and I’m actually a seller and collector myself. I sold a few artworks on the Ethereum blockchain but then transitioned to a more eco-friendly blockchain based on Tezos. At that time there was a marketplace/platform called Hic Et Nunc which pretty much was an experimental punk-like approach in contrast to the well designed and strictly curated platforms on Ethereum. It started as an experiment but really involved during the last year and it’s still my go to platform/blockchain when it comes to NFTs. Just through the community of Tezos NFTs I got to know so many new artists and actually found new friends who inspire me ever since and it also made me do a lot of collaborations with like-minded people which I’ve never done before and is one of my favorite things now.
Overall, my sympathy for NFTs is not the financial aspect (I never really made a big buck and always try to re-invest my gains into other artists) but in making new friends, doing collaborations, supporting other artists and being inspired and motivated by just seeing what other artists are working on every day.
Last one. What are your recommendations for younger 3D Visual artists who wants to find their way in this industry?
That’s a tough one. I guess trying to think less about what tools to use but instead trying to come up with ideas on how to visualize your ideas with the tools you have access to might be a good starting point. You don’t need to have the newest and shiniest tools to illustrate a feeling or thought.
Explore different styles and approaches, get inspiration by other artists and try to find your own visual language.