Interview with CritiKiLL
by NdK (May 2000)
Let's start with the obligatory first part of a lot of interviews.
Can you please introduce yourself to the readers?
Ok lets start with some general information about me and myself. My real name is Gordian B. and I'm 23 years old. I was born in the north of Germany in a city called Hamburg. I'm still living there and I am studying Graphic-Design since april 2k at the "Hamburger Technische Kunstschule (HTK)".
Technische Kunstschule? (translation: Technical Artschool) Do technology and art mix well?
The name does irritate sometimes. It means they teach the basics in graphics & design, which you'll do by hand & computer (The word technical just refers to the digital way of communication/graphic design.) We have classes like: headlines, word visualizing (pictogrammes & symbols), layoutdrawing & design, comic & storyboard, photo-design and much more! The whole kind of drawing/design/arts is taught there! Our teachers are known people from the business world and different other sections, in fact that's the reason why I have to pay tons of money for this school.
That sure beats the math classes I had to take! But please, continue your introduction...
Before this study I tried myself as a law-student but it failed and was a disaster. I wasn't really interessed in it and it was just the lazy way I wanted to go - a little bit studying and a little bit working and a lot of hanging around. At this time I collected a lot of skills by making some pixel artworks. I also made Drum'n'Bass tracks. The result of the day was horrible; I was spending almost my entire day with making graphics like Flyer, scene pictures, internet screens and music!
At that time I still lived with my parents. They lost faith in me and were dissapointed by the way I tried to handle my life. But nowadays I finally do the work I like. I also moved to another part of my hometown, where I'm living with my girlfriend... and her cat of course.
You wrote you do the work you like. What would that be?
"The work I like" is simply the graphic/design thing and all around that... I like to do graphics. Every task is a new challenge for me. I study in the morning (there are our professors at the school). Ofcourse I do some of the tasks & projects we have to do (in the evening), but the rest of the day is filled with making money! I have to pay a lot of things!!! :(
I have no graphics related job, at this moment I'm working in establishment for seniors - there I have to do civil-work for 12 months after school! In the senior-residence we are nursing old people - I mostly make the meals or take them out to have a walk. Yes, like taking the dog for a walk! hmmm... but dogs aren't as stupid as these seniors ;) (NdK: There is a motive for a really cool picture in this scene. hint, hint... )
Sometimes I make flyers for parties or some graphics and layout things for an internet provider. I also know some guys in a game company (FEB) where I will maybe start working after my exams, who knows. They are making Playstation/PC/N64 games and a lot of them are sceners, who are still making fat scene-stuff! Maybe you know the game "KillerLoop"? It's their 1st. commercial game.
What kind of computers have you worked on in the past?
At the age of 14 I recieved my first computer. It was really a hard fight to get this computer, but I finally got my first Amiga 500 homecomputer. I think this was early 1989 and all my schoolmates had (just) the C64.
Before I had my Amiga I was very envious and frustrated, because everyone seemed to have one except myself. In my first Amiga days I spend my time playing all those great Amiga-classics, I was a young gamer-lamer. After some months of playing a friend of mine gave me some instructions about making graphics with computers. It was my 1st contact with Depaint Deluxe II! I was a great fan of his work because he made such cool graphics. I learned all the tricks and shortkeys and collected experience.
In 1993/94 I hardly thought about which computer I should buy - Amiga 1200 with AGA-power or a 386SX33 MHZ with 14" Monitor and VGA card (no SVGA!!). I recognized that the PC was a good basic machine and the development was fast growing. It was a widespread computer and I hoped a lot of the freaks would jump on. After a friend of mine showed me DPaint 2 Enhanced on his PC, I bought my first PC !
A short time after I made my first 256 colour pictures in SVGA because I updated my PC and got a SVGA-Card. I bought my first HandyScanner and tried to scan my handdrawn stuff. It was a good thing because the years before I made too much with the computer. I forgot to use some natural things - your hand, brain & a pen.
On to graphics. Let's start with a hot item in the graphics scene: What do you think about the 'copy'/'no-copy' discussion?
First we have to clarify the meaning of copying pictures! A lot of guys out there have the opinion that a copy is enough, but I don't share that opinion. What if someone does a totally similar and exact copy of a original one?! For such a result you can scan it or copy it in a copy shop. Where is the creativity in that?? Finding a "cool" motive isn't very creative, I think!? Sure, the technique of copying is sometimes stunning and it helps you to train your eyes and pixel-qualities, but thats it !
My works are sometimes copies, too - but only partial copies ! I often see photos or pictures and think "my goodness such a beautiful face - I have to use it in one of my pictures !" I then take a PART of the picture (for example a face) and copy it, NOT the whole thing with all it's expression, colours etc. The result is something new and unique - it was there before, but it is a total different thing after giving your own touch to it.
But for myself I try to look at my environments and surroundings as exactly as I can, to draw everything as natural as possible. I'm of course one of those people that wants to make it better and better. I never like my own shit to 100% ! I think every picture could be better. At the moment I'm also painting more oil-based abstract and reduced things but it depends on my mood and ideas. Maybe I'll take some shots and scan my handdrawn/painted stuff to make something new next time - who knows...
What do you think of artists that create 'copies'?
I think a lot of a scene-graphics are copies; I've seen a lot of comics, airbrush-art and especially fantasy paintings in books before! But there are also a lot of sceners I do respect so much for their work. The main problem is that you have often no proof whether something is a copy or an original. There are too much visuals out there worldwide.
Some people show their scanned sketches or significant steps but you can count them on one hand. There are just a few step-by-step pictures flying around. Maybe the reason for is that they like to keep their own way of making art a secret - I don't know...
What do you think of artists that create originals?
I respect every medium quality no-copy picture more as a high-end pixeled burner copy picture! I have to say that the idea of a picture counts for me as 50% of the overall result. The other things like composing/arrangements, colours, technique, forms are important too. For myself I'm often frustrated because of my ideas. I think most pictures are boring ...
About the creation of your own pictures: Which programs/tools you use?
In the early days I used Dpaint most of the time (There are some of those pics in the gallery in [320*200 - 256]). Today I'm using AURA (TV Paint) and Photoshop, sometimes MetaPainter. Aura and Dpaint are perfect to start sketching with your mouse. Photoshop is perfect to handle your by-pen drawn stuff.
Do you start by sketching on paper?
I often do some scribble work on paper to get an overview.
What is your technique?
I try to keep my mind open for different methods. For example drawing sketches with shadow and highlights -> scanning in black/white making shapes -> colouring different shapes and areas with airbrush -> making highlights, textures for backgrounds etc. There are a couple of techniques possible. The art-filter section in Photoshop for example is important for me.
How do you work out your palette?
First I'm thinking of the colours which fit together. I think it is very important to have a good colour-balance in your image. The best colours for me are the light greyed ones. Colours, which are too pure aren't my style. I use the "colour-balance" feature in Photoshop to control layer-based areas. Photoshop is definately the best colouring thing available. The colour-setting possibilities are fucking great. Today I'm just making hicolour-pictures. 256 colours is too litlle for me now, so I don't have a problem anymore with the colouring... fine thing ;).
You can have a look at my old 8bit stuff in the gallery - I'm definately not someone who knows how to handle 256 colours in a perfect way. I never had pleasure to use just a few colours after svga-cards appeared back in the middle/late 90s.
What are your favorite smudging tools?
I often use the motionblur thing by defining an area and setting the direction of blurring. For this tool I just mark tiny positions of the image. My next favourites are airbrushing (by making layers and colouring them). Crossed strokes ( in german it is: malfilter/kreuzschrafur) is my favourite tool to make complex-looking textures (escpecially good to use for big surfaces). I noticed these structures in a lot of scene-productions, it is a very popular feature.
Where do you get the ideas for pictures from?
Mostly photos from magazines or personals, movies depends on situation and your work. Music is enormous important to make something good - it helps me to keep my balance. I often switch between motives because I can't see the pictures for a long time.
How much time do you generally spend on your work?
Uhhh.... There are sometimes sessions where I'm sitting 6 hours a day in front of a picture without knowing time is flowing away. Some works are quickly made in one or two sessions. Other pictures take a half year, because first I worked on it some hours every day - then I couldn't see it for a while. After leaving it on my harddisk I sometimes find old stuff and finish it.
What keeps you motivated to create new pictures?
Primary it's a personal thing. The pictures aren't easy to realize. To handle the different tools perfectly is a cool and difficult thing. It might help my in future, when I'll maybe have to do commercial graphics & design - It's good to know how Photoshop works.
Everyone is able to do some superficial work with PS and other tools, if they are trained in basic digital graphics. But if you know the limits and finesses of these tools perfectly, you have the chance to be a good graphician. Another reason for creating such pictures is the sub-art-culture. I think the pixel-scene is an own art-form and I like to be a part of it. It is so much fun to create and watch these pictures. And it's a nice thing to get critics and feedback on your own work.
I like the style of scene-gfx, it's total different to other artforms. With the help of paint-tools you're able to create photoralistic scenes which look pretty cool. You can draw every detail and highlight easily (compared to oil-painture or acryl-painted pictures).
Have you ever tried raytracing?
Some years ago I tried out 3D-Studio (version 3 or 4, I think). It was running on MS-Dos 6.0 and I did some experiments with it - mostly logos and simple objects.
I like this way of making graphics a lot, but I never tried again to create 3D, because of the complex structures of those tools. I'm really interested in doing 3d, but I don't know where to start! I'm very envious towards all those people that make these great scenes by a few simple mouse-clicks. But I'm still interested in it, maybe I'll get some training by Yoda or Ronny (I hope so).
How do you think tracing relates to non-traced scene graphics?
I like both kinds of making digital pictures. Every kind has its own advantages, and of course you can combine them. Traced images are of course a great thing, and you are able to realize objects and scenes, which you would never be able to create by pixeling or drawing the same thing reversed.
For my own I like the pixelled motives a little bit more than others, because they look more dynamic to me. The traced images often become static and too clean to me. The pixel-thing is more natural, and you can compose more easily. But there are still some dudes (Hi 3D Addict) which are perfect in their 3d-buisiness. One day I'll learn how to handle Softimage and Lightwave ...
About your picture "Mitternachtsschnulze". Is there a special meaning to it?
Nothing special, a man and a girl who are thinking of each other and while they are thinking of each other they are closing their eyes... It's a kind of a romantic scene.
Are you satisfied with the final result?
No - I'm never satisfied with my final pictures - I'm a damn perfectionist and that is the reason why I waited such long time before releasing own stuff.
When did you create this picture and how long did it take you to create it?
I started drawing it back in October '99 and finished it in Jan/Feb 2k. It was not a uninterupted work, I made it in a lot of different sessions. The total time was about 18 hours, I think.
It was difficult to colourize the original sketch by using the airbrush. To let the faces look like a photo was the most difficult thing, it took over half of the total time. The background is rather simple because there are no details.
What tools did you use?
My pen, Photoshop for the airbrushing, highlights, colouring and background. Aura for making some accents by using the draw function.
Where did you get the people from?
I don't know about the girl and I am not sure about the guy. I think it was a picture in a music-magazine. I don't have this picture anymore.
Where did you get the idea for the picture?
I saw these 2 faces and thought I just had to make a picture of these people because they would fit together. At the Dialogos Party (I think it was Dialogos) I saw a picture by Saffron. His picture was rather cool, very stylish. (NdK: CritiKiLL is referring to "Second from surface", nr. 20 in our Saffron gallery)
I think he made just the 4th place behind my "Girl of Ipanema", which is a little bit strange because his art-work was much better than "Ipanema". On Saffrons Picture you can see a man looking downward and in the background is a landscape-scene.
"Mitternachtsschnulze" was a try to make something similar. The result is something different... hmmm... (Thanx to Saffron for his inspiration!)
If I remember correctly "The girl from Ipanema" has to do with South-American music?!?
Yes you're right The girl from Ipanma is s song by Astrud Gilberto. It's a bossa-nova/samba-jazz song from the 60's. A very successfull song, and ofcourse one of my favourites. I associated the picture with this song, but I don't know why exactly.
It's a stupid thing - "The Girl from Ipanema" was one of my first releases with my new handle, CritiKiLL. Actually that name should have been used for music releases, but I made some Azuma internal graphics. The guys told me that they were good enough to be released at a party! So I gave them to Ronny, who released a lot of my pics at different german parties because I often had to work on those weekends...
So CritiKiLL should not have used for your graphics releases? How did you come up with that alias anyway?
Hmm...... Isn't a good one, I know that, but it fit to me. I'm very critic (the word critikill sounds a little like it) about my own work and that of others. The next thing is the music. I told about making some D&B things myself - The music is very loud, fast and impulsive. It's like a "critical phase"... But I changed some letters into "kill", which fits to the D&B sounds again... kill-ing your ears with fat basslines and superb and fast 2-steps...
... but I interrupted your story about "The girl from Ipanema". Is there more to it?
Ok, back to the story - Ronny told me that there was a discussion about my picture. Some people said the face from the "Ipanema girl" was ripped from a Made picture! (Hmm don't know which one they meant - I think I know every picture of him!?!?!?). In fact I didn't copy a pixel of Made's picture. The girls face is a partial copy of a "Cool water" advert back in 1998!
Nowadays I don't like this picture; it has nothing special and is totally unready. The composing is OK but the style is a big mess for me now and I hate pictures with dolphins! I think the most-used motives in the pixel-scene are eyes, dolphins and of course girls. I did it myself, but nevertheless - boring boring boring...
Does the art of other scene-artists influence your graphics?
Yes of course, there are a lot of sceners I do respect so much for their work. Most of my work is the result of watching all these stunning scene-graphics. Cyclone, Made, Saffron and a lot of other pixel-artists influence my work. If they wouldn't exist I wouldn't make my graphics the way I do right now. I respect artists who add their personal touch. Like Cyclone - he has such cool colouring. Made for his smooth perfection, and Saffron for his noble colouring and motives. There are a lot of others, I could go on for a while...
Besides computer-art, do you have an interest in other art?
Yes sure I'm a great fan of art. My personal life without art would be boring. I'm not the man telling or writing golden words to society, so I try to express myself with painted art. Except painting/drawing qualities I have no more significant talents to show off, or to use, in buisiness later.
I like different artforms but the most important for me in the past were expressionism, surrealism and graffity. There are also a lot of photographs & designers I consider more as artists for their work. I always try to keep my mind open for every kind of visual art.
Do you think you will still be active in the scene ten years from now?
Uff ... difficult thing, but I think ten years are a long time and I think sometime you have to cut the line. For me it is almost impossible to invest so much time in this artform in the future, because I want to earn money in a few years. But who knows?!? But I don't know any scene-graphician older than 25 ... do you? (NdK: More than you think are over 25 :-) I think the most of them have grown out of it.
Do you have a view on how the scene will change over the next couple of years?
I think there isn't much scene about us, compared to the years before. The quality of releases is much worse than 5 years ago. I think there are just a few older guys, who try to keep the scene alive. If you look at the scene there are just a few big crews, who are making all the masterpieces. Haujobb, Tbl and some others. I hope that some younger talents will join the scene, it's time to make some new paths. But if ask me directly how long the scene will exist I estimate about 5 years.
Any last thoughts you want to share with the Universe?
... try to keep the scene alive - it is really worth to do ;)   I never was successfully involved but nevertheless keep on burning!
Thank you very much for the interview!
I have to thank you and your team for giving me the chance to sign up without any fame in the scene... Respect and peace to you all at GFX zone and the whole scene !!!
Visit our CritiKiLL gallery.
CritiKiLL can be reached at this email address
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