French visionary Pierre-Alain D - Art from the other side
Pierre-Alain D., founder of 3mmi Design, is a french digital artist / illustrator & webdesigner who has developed a dark -but not only- and intense vision of graphic design through the years. Working mainly for the music industry, he also like to work on all kind of graphic projects. Described once by a blogger as a “one man graphic army”, in addition to photo manipulation, he also like to work on photography, webdesign, programming, music and video report. He also created and managed for 6 years a metal webzine, which gave him a broad vision of music and its universes, and music is his main inspiration…
HMA: How did the passion for the graphic arts started and what is your education background?
Pierre-Alain D.: It started from music, essentially. I'm a huge metal fan since my childhood, I'm also guitarist, so, as most of metalheads, it is about a visceral passion and it has never left me, it's a part of me, of my life. From this point, I naturally have always looked with a special interest at all the artworks related to the musics I loved, fascinated by all those dark and mysterious universes. Originally, I'm a computer / network technician, I also worked for 5 years in the French Air Forces. After this professional period of my life, I needed more and felt a great desire to express myself differently. As said before, metal was already a part of me, and I decided that I will have to make my part of the job by and for the metal. After a long time watching at all those artworks, I tried myself to work on some graphic stuffs. The first results, of course, was not so conclusive, however, it was beyond my expectations, I had some great feedback, so I continued to work, again, and again, and again. But this is a passion over all. The passion of metal, simply, the hard desire to extend music throught the huge graphic possibilities. So, you see, my background isn't related to graphic design at all, I'm a 100% self educated in art, and I think it is sometimes a kind of advantage, I'm not formatted at all, all my art is instinctive, and I really do what I want, and how I feel. It took a lot of years of perseverance and patience, learning and always searching for my own way. I'm just beginning to find it, I guess.
HMA: What are your main areas of creative expertise?
Pierre-Alain D.: I mainly use Photoshop and make heavy photo manipulation. I also use digital painting a lot to stylize my compositions and to make artificial lights, this is a very important point. I also make any text layout (CD, DVD, books, flyers, posters etc...). Sometimes I make logos, websites designs/programming. If the starting ideas talks to me, I can manage a graphic concept from A to Z. I think I'm a bit “multi-task” because of my insatiable curiosity. In any case, my expertise is to understand the vision/universe of a client, and to suggest him something that is the most related possible to his music/feelings, but also to offer something unique and personal.
HMA: A lot of bands often consider the visual designer an integral part of the band for helping creating the experience, what are you experiences in this matter?
Pierre-Alain D.: Of course, I strongly believe that the visual part is inseparable from the rest of a music project. A band should never underestimate this side of the job. Even if the graphic designer is not an official member of the band, there must have a strong link between him and the band to transcribe in the best way the band's universe, to keep it faithful, original and efficient in the same time.
HMA: What kind of relationship music artist and visual artist share and have in common?
Pierre-Alain D.: Again, it's all about the music, I guess. Sometimes the bands come to me and tell “I saw the band list you like on your website, we have a lot of tastes in common”. It helps to set the connection. After, it's all about communication (mainly emails in my case), but also about trust, this is really important for me. I usually really need the band to trust me, I work better in this way, we're not machines. I don't like bands/clients coming and imposing a too much restricted concept or too much parameters, it must be a two-way work, this is imperative, the result is always better in this way. Even if I'm of course opened to concepts, I always need to keep this kind of freedom, that's how I work.
HMA: What are your computer programs of choice… and is it MAC or PC?
Pierre-Alain D.: Mainly Photoshop and InDesign. I also really like Inkscape, a free vector progam that is very efficient. I only work on PC, I'm not an Apple addict at all... maybe because I'm a technician, so I like to manage my computer / workspace exactly like I want. But beyond the softwares, there is always a very important step in shooting / finding the right stock images, it can take some times...
HMA: The cover art for “Stories From The Nile” is really exceptional… how did you achieve this incredible quality?
Pierre-Alain D.: Glad you liked it. The thing is that I have always really liked all that is related to the middle-east, and specially about its mythology. You know, the pharaoh times were full of violence and blood, but also a glorious time of civilization. This period also cultivates some persistant and mysterious legends. So, I always wanted to work on this history, and I think I will continue in the future. About “Strories From The Nile”, it was about making a kind of portrait of this eternal side of the mythology, those dynasties, the ancient times etc... we all have an image of this. For this artwork, I worked in a special way that mainly use negative layers to extract the strict necessary light of each piece of photos I used (and there a lot in this one). That's why you can see this kind of “ghostly” effect in the image, I guess. I wanted it to look like coming from beyond the grave, but with the elegance that characterized those old dynaties.
HMA: “Cage of Torment” is one of our fevorite; describe the technical elements and final touches?
Pierre-Alain D.: Hum, of course in that one we have -to me- a great model, the position was primordial: he really expressed the feeling of exceeding I was searching for. All the rest came naturally. I had in mind the idea of leaving the physical world throught a kind of decomposition, the guy turns into another state, I often use this concept/idea, it's almost an obession. If you look at all my work, I think you'll see it easily. The idea of transcendence/mutation is something that I always have in mind. This idea can upholster different forms.
HMA: Your artwork range from mix media, photography, painting and CGI, are you a master of all arts or do you use image libraries as well collaboration with other artists?
Pierre-Alain D.: I use my own image libraries as often as possible, I have a Canon EOS 60D for that, and 3 or 4 different lenses. I love to go in the nature and shoot different elements for my future manipulations. Sometimes this is not possible to shoot a special element or a special model, so I also use image libraries when needed.
HMA: What are you currently working on?
Pierre-Alain D.: On some cd covers and booklets for bands from various places of the world. Currently, it is often on some digipacks, and I love that!
HMA: Art and design influences that have had an impact in your career?
Pierre-Alain D.: Mmh, this is not an easy question because I really have a lot of influences, going from photography to music, digital arts, sculpture and so more. This is a global influence, I love a little part of all but of course, I have a special feeling for all that promote dark and insidious emotions.
HMA: Can you recommend any great tutorials for Heavy Music Artwork and for our readers?
Pierre-Alain D.: I don't read any tutorials any more, so I'm afraid I can't, but I guess the web is full of great tutorials.
HMA: Thanks for this interview.
Pierre-Alain D.: You're welcome, I thank you for giving an interest to my art. You're making an amazing job with HMA, this is really nice to see a website fully dedicated to metal artworks, they are few, but yours is really well done. Highlighting this part of metal is full of sense and interest. Keep it growing.
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