I’ve known Niels for a while and his fractals always astound me. Enjoy this interview with him as he expresses how he makes fractal art and what it means to him.

Basic Background

How did you first discover fractals?

I bought a tablet to get into drawing more. Then when I was downloading lots of different programs to try things out. I found the aposhack chat and downloaded apophysis. At first I used it to use random batches to stimulate my imagination and draw faces and weird animals from them. I went from there to raw fractals.

What attracted you to fractal art?

I think the way of learning new things in fractaling is really fun. I did not have a real opinion about fractals before i started to make them myself. It was this fun of learning something new that made me stay. From there I started to appreciate fractals more and got a better idea of how fractals look like in general. 

Was there a particular artist or style that you were first captivated by?

No

When did you first start making fractal art?

In august 2010 I started the faces and weird animals. With the raw fractals i started 2 months later.

What are your personal artistic goals?

I hope to surprise a lot of people that see my art. Many people never seen anything like fractal art. The more people get to know it the happier I am. Its an artistic goal that does not have much to do with myself. For me I think there are a lot of points I can improve and I wanna keep developing myself. One of the things I’m working on these days is to combine the looks of the abstract pieces and try to fuse them with a structure of some sort. This sometimes be conflicting when details of the abstract part fade away. Also the aesthetics on such pieces I find really hard. So enough challenge there. Luckily people in the aposhack help me improve. Some other goal I have is to print more pieces in large to see how fractals with a lot of detailing works for large measures. I think most of the fractals made these days are made for screen display. Different things are important when printing them in large. What works well and what doesn’t I’m hoping to find out.

Fractal Art in General

Give me your perspective on what fractal art is. How does it make you feel?

Fractal art is everything. When I want to relax I can just make something simple and when I’m eager to learn something new or have an idea in my head I can get really enthusiastic. There are so many possibilities and at those fractals you realize that more then you already did. Also sometimes when I’m sad I make loonies. That style comes so intuitively there is no risk of getting frustrated by the fact I cannot get the looks I want. It makes me happy at that point and that is what I need.

As you can read there is always a way to translate your emotions into fractaling.

Currently you’re studying math at the university, does that impact your fractals?

Yes it does. It helps me understand the mechanism behind all the visual aspects. This can be helpful when the fractal doesn’t look like what I expected. At that point I can find the reason why it’s not doing so in order to fix it. This often has to do something with xaos.

Some other way that my study influences my fractals is in some ideas. A while ago I experimented with spherical linked to something back to spherical because I thought it would be like taking the conjugate of an element from a group. Such ideas I wouldn’t have when I didn’t study math.

Seeing xforms as functions with a domain and co-domain can be helpful too. This can give ideas on what make when doing something technical. 

Creative Process

What is the purpose of you creating fractal art?

It depends from fractal to fractal. Often I just want to have fun. Making fractals with other people is in general even more fun then making one alone. I really enjoy making collaborations with other fractalists.

When a fractal comes from a concept or idea I’m just eager to see how it would look like. Of course I have an idea of how it could look like but its good to see it working in practice. Also to be able to share and see what other people think about the idea and maybe make something of their own in the same concept. Its cool to see how people interpret things in their own way.
Apart from the fun of making and sharing it’s also a way to express myself. These are often the more abstract works which I’m not always posting (somehow they are too personal).

What drives you to create more artwork?

I think a lot of drive comes from curiosity. There is done a lot in the past but there is so much more at the horizon. A lot is possible but not everything looks nice. So sometimes you can’t really know whether an idea will work or not. It is always a bummer when it doesn’t but brings joy when it does.

Another drive is the community. Sometimes people come up with the coolest things and then I get enthusiastic and eager to try it myself.

Not to forget that sometimes there is no real reason and I just want to make something because I want to.

Do you have a source of inspiration? If yes, what is it?

I think the main source of inspiration are the people from the fractal community. I have the luxury I don’t face “artist blocks” that often anymore (also because the field I’m discovering and trying to improve myself is rather large). But when I did, I often got out by talking to other fractalist, watching their galleries, watching my own gallery. Or just open Apophysis and try simple stuff and hope you get some idea. Often ideas will come eventually as long as you don’t worry that they wont come. I think some artist demands from themselves they make the best they can. I guess that just gives pressure and won’t really help making something nice.

How do you approach creating fractals?

It depends much on what I’m intended to do. I almost always start from scratch. When I don’t I had parameter from other fractalists. Most “standard” structures I know by heart because I’ve practiced them a lot. If I make a fractal I don’t want to bump into technical issues. Getting frustrated does not help the creative process.

When a fractal comes from an idea I often draw graphs for the xaos of that piece. The remaining challenge then is to make it nice to see. If the main idea is tending to get ugly I change direction.

Do you aim to create emotion in your artwork?

I think it’s almost impossible to not put any emotion in a work. It should come naturally in some way. Also in fractaling when you try something different the mood of the piece can change. Then, because you are looking at it, your own mood can change too. If you start on a piece while sad maybe you get happy during the process and you end up with a happy piece. I think main key is to let such thing happen. It would be bad if you end up with a piece that translated your feelings but you want to make it sad because that was first intended. Then the emotion will be put in somewhat artificially. Something people might not see in the first place but might pick up even when they don’t notice. I think when making a fractal you should just go with the flow and not worry too much.

Would you say your fractals are more technical or artistic?

In general I use a lot of technical aspects and structure based things. But I hope this doesn’t exclude them from being artistic. It’s a way of interpreting artistic which is always a hard question. I intend not to see technique as a goal but as a tool. Ideas often come from some technical part. So it can be a reason to make a piece but it shouldn’t be the goal.

Do you have favorite variation? Why?

I have several which I could not do without. Loonie I can always count on to not let me down and helps me deal with emotions. Whorl is cool too and looks a bit like loonie. For the more technical pieces I use flux a lot. Mainly because its easy to work with and you can fill it with everything you like (cylinders, bubbles, left half planes). This makes it very versatile. And I like the way it looks of course.

Name the one variation you can’t live without.

Linear because its in almost every piece I make. Also loonie and whorl are linear based so if I have to give up on those I would still have something.

Tell us about your favorite personal fractal piece. Break it down. What thoughts went into the making of it. Did you accomplish what you set out to do? How long did it take to make? How do you feel about the completed work?

Such a hard question. I have several personal favourite fractal pieces. The most special one is not to be seen on the internet and I regret to have had it on my exhibition. One of the reasons its a special piece is that its truly mine and only I know the beauty of it (the people that have seen it are lucky but might have forgotten and now they will never be able to see it again). It’s a simple piece with spherical linked to a whorl and a bubble for blurring.

Now it would be a bummer for you readers to not tell about some other piece so I’m going to talk about “loonie tribute”. The title says it all. It’s an ode to loonie. When I was making it I really knew from the beginning what I wanted to make and what would be the points of special attention. there are 2 transforms only 2 times loonie (one with a bit of linear). Special attention went to coloring blurring and weights. And for me that really paid of. It’s special also because it is an ode to my favorite plugin. I have it hanging on my wall in large (1 meter x 1 meter) and I look at it every day. There is a lot of motion going on and that is really important for me.

My “favorite idea” is the one I had on “my little fermat” but because its not well executed it is not my favorite piece. I’m planing to revise it but have that idea for over half a year now so I don”t know if it will happen. My most awesomest collabs are “splash” (even though i cannot quiet remember my share in it) and “sirpiet”.

What is your least favorite fractal piece? Why?

I think its “painted” maybe because i was expecting more from myself at the time (and i should have)

Gradients

How do you choose gradients?

Most of the time I pick one from the standards and mess with the hue and contrast and such. I almost always try the same ones. Some people think its a criteria to use different colors each time to stay original or something but that would force me not to pick some colors I like and I just want to pick the ones I like.

Sometimes a fractal screams for particular color settings so then I go for that.

Do you make custom gradients, or stick with standard?

As said earlier I stick with standard (even though with the hue and everything there is a lot possible)

Do you have a favorite color combination?

I think blue/white that gives this icy look I do like a lot. Also orange white is one of my favorites.

What’s the one color you can’t stand to see in fractals?

Well more or less the color combination yellow purple makes me shiver.

Other Artists

Do you have a current favorite fractal artist?

Yes, Chaosfissure since he is active and has a very nice own style. Definitely someone that inspires me these days

What is your favorite work by them?

That is “Splash” of course haha. I’m a bit biased in that choice so for a second choice I would go for “Ciu Delena Est”.

And so concludes our interview with fractal artist Niels. I hope you have enjoyed. You can explore more of his artwork on his deviantArt page.