Digital flora: a conversation with artist Andréa Philippon

Speaking with STIR, French-Swiss artist Andréa Philippon discusses his digitisation of natural, floral forms, his interest in NFTs and his influences.

by Manu SharmaPublished on : Dec 15, 2022

The visual artist Andréa Philippon creates vibrant digital renditions of natural floral life. His work brims with an energy few manage to capture when creating digital art that is based on natural forms. He tells STIR, “I love to take pictures when I go on a hike or just have a long walk in a park, and I greatly enjoy creating my personal database of stuff that I like. I have always wanted to make organic nature in 3D, and I always tried to achieve this with many failures, but a few years ago, I decided to focus on it in great depth, and began to spend all my spare time learning the software and tools that could help me reach my goals. After three years of progress, I could finally create my own special little “thing” if you will, and I was so happy about it! Now that I have learned the process, I would love to spend more time in order to go deeper.”

Digital Garden Aranea Rosa, 2022, video Video: Courtesy of Andréa Philippon

The artist describes his creative process as a matter of step-by-step building: his flow stems from a focus on an aspect of his craft that he wishes to master, and he often begins from scratch. Creating his little plants can get complicated very quickly for Philippon, so practice is crucial. He usually tries to visualise briefly what kind of shape he’s trying to achieve, and begins crafting the main stem. Then, he adds more details, and animates his piece at the very end. He explains, “Most of the time, I arrive at something completely different than I had in mind, and that's the beauty of the process. I never know what I am going to end up with. When the plant is animated, I focus on the lighting and texturing phase, which is one of my favourite parts. I could spend hours just having fun with lights and colours, trying to catch the best image in the amount of time I have. When I am happy with the result, I prepare the renders and compositing and then add a piece of music I like. This last part is essential to me. Finding the right song can take some time and is never easy, but it sets the tone and communicates the feelings that I wish to share with the visuals.”

Digital Garden Palma Rex, 2022, video Video: Courtesy of Andréa Philippon

Philippon is a freelance Swiss-French designer based in Lausanne, Switzerland. As a child, he was fascinated by computer technology but also loved the outdoors. He says, “I loved being in the woods, at the river, in the forest, playing in nature for hours, and doing silly stuff with my friends.” 

Digital Garden Papilio Fern, 2022, video Video: Courtesy of Andréa Philippon

However, the artist’s life would have taken a rather different turn; if for a detour: he worked in the hotel and catering industry for almost eight years before deciding to return to school to follow his old passion of creating images. He had an intense three year formative practice in an art and communication school in Lausanne, which proved to be very challenging for him, as he continued working as a waiter at night and on the weekends to pay his bills. Despite his hardships, he received a diploma that helped him understand the multimedia world better. Today, Philippon says he is happy to admit that he works full-time as a freelance 3D generalist.

Digital Garden - Rotundatum Rubus, 2022, video Video: Courtesy of Andréa Philippon

The Swiss artist discusses his influences, saying “I keep discovering new artists, who influence me in so many ways, but I can't say that I have a major one that dictates my choices. I recently discovered Alphonse Mucha, who is a real inspiration to me today. Reuben Wu's photography work is fantastic as well and if I had to name one digital artist, that would be Ondrej Zunka, with all his fantastical creations. There are so many talented people and plenty of inspiration to be found out there. It's easy to get lost when it's about creating your own stuff, so I like to follow my own path and not get too influenced and distracted by others' work.” Recently, Philippon had the chance to work on a piece for Björk, which was an unexpected yet fantastic opportunity for him, excitedly he tells STIR that there is a great deal more musical work to come: “working on a project where I can express myself and experiment with things around nature; where all  is connected to a musical masterpiece, is a matter of immense enjoyment for me.”

Portrait of Andréa Philippon, 2022, Image| Digital Garden | Andréa Philippon | STIRworld
Portrait of Andréa Philippone, 2022, Image Image: Courtesy of Andréa Philippon

The artist finds the emerging crypto space to be an exciting prospect, and is monitoring it closely. “This is an exciting subject. I try to stay up to date, but there is so much going on, and I am no specialist. I think we are just at the beginning of what the crypto world is going to become. Let's hope that this will genuinely help our societies. From an economic point of view, the original idea is genius. I think Bitcoin will be adopted by a massive number of people eventually, but it will not be the dominant currency of the world. At least not for a much longer time. But who knows. What has been created around Bitcoin, with the Altcoins, is super interesting,” he shares.” Philippon happily acknowledges the many new possibilities for digital artists on the horizon, and above all, as a digital creator himself, views crypto as an excellent opportunity for those practitioners who wish to live off of their creations. He continues, saying “NFTs resolve a problem that couldn't be resolved without the blockchain and, of course, many other issues as well. Our societies are increasingly connected, and I hope blockchain technology will positively impact the world, but many things will need to be enhanced in the future. I don't know where this will go, but it seems that it is here to last; that much, at least, is clear to me.” 

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