Interview with Visualize by Tobias Franzen (tobiasf)

January 1998

    First of all, who are you and where are you from?

    My real name is Timo Harju, also better known as Visualize, and nowdays I am in groups like Pulse, Jamm R. and Radio. And I'm from Kouvola, Finland.


    Why, how and when did you get involved with the demo scene?

    I got involved with scene actually by coincidence. I had just gotten a Amiga 500, and I met this one coder who lives also in my hometown, Kouvola. He asked from me that did I know any graphician who could draw well? I told him that I could draw some. At that time I was working on Deluxe Paint on Amiga, and the graphics I drew were just plain awful. And this was in early 1991, I believe. I had no experience about pixeling, but in some strange way I liked it. So I just kept on practicing my skills.


    What type of graphics do you like to work with most? Please describe your style and technique.

    What type of graphics I like to work with most? I like to draw humans a lot. Especially ladies, because I have a serious homophobia. But seriously, I think that people add life to your drawings, the kind of life that other things won't. My technique is mostly based on influences. Some of my 'idols' and influences to mention: Dave McKean, Bill Sienkiewicz, Simon Bisley and H.R.Giger. I have only one rolemodel from the scene, which is Ra of course. Of course there are lots a other talented people around. But I like to keep my 'idols' few numbered. I like to keep my style very colourful, and have lots a details in them. And when it comes to my pictures, I always keep the wise words of H.R.Giger in my mind: 'There is no point in drawing something that you might aswell photograph.' Therefore I always have some unatural elements in my pictures. Things that cannot be found on nature or somewhere else for that matter. I also like strong contrasts.


    What programs do you use?

    I used to work with Deluxe paint on Amiga, but nowdays I have moved more to PhotoShop's direction. But sometimes I still finish up my pictures in Deluxe Paint.


    What do you think about pixelling versus using-whatever-tools-are-available?

    Hmmm. I have also done a lot of other forms of art like Pencil skecthes, painted with oil colours, used pastel colours and so on. But I think that pixeling has it's sides. First of all, you are so much in control, so unfortunately there won't be any place for a artistic coincidence, if you know what I mean. But while you pixel, the work can have lots a details, things that you can't do while painting for example.

    But some people seem to think every type of graphics except pixelled images should be banished from the scene. What is your opinion here? Should we allow only pixelled work in graphics compos, or should we perhaps allow any kind of graphics, even 3d and photographs? Or should we classify everything and have separate compos?

    No, I think that scene really needs different talents. But you have to keep in your mind that pixeled graphics is the very original form of visual art in the scene. So, it should always come first. I think that the separate compos is the only answer in here. And it would be kind of dull when there would only be pixeled art? People who say that the pixeling is the only way of art are in my opinion very wrong. But photographs? I don't think that they would really fit into scene. Too many problems would just arise.

    I guess you're right about photos not fitting into the scene very well, but the problem is that you can't always tell a good pixelled image from a 3d scene or a photo... and vice versa. And sometimes there is no difference. What about photos that are heavily retouched in photoshop for example? Or 3d scenes with pixelled textures?

    I think you are right about that. There seem to arise lots a problems when it comes to these graphics compos. But I have two rules: 1. Retouched photos are always fakes. 2. And 3D scene is always 3D scene whether you pixel the textures or anything. But a good eye always knows the difference between pixeled image from 3D scene. I still haven't come across a 3D scene for example that I would have fooled me. A good pixeled image should always come from nothingness. There shouldn't be any 'photo' in the background to help you, or some mathematical formulas to help you make the image more real. A good pixeled image should be directly from you, not from someone else.

    Personally I don't really care about 'protecting' the art of pixelling. If someone wants to pixel because he feels he can make better pictures that way, then fine, but it doesn't have a special value just because it is pixelled, not to me. To me it's all about what you achieve, not how you do it.

    What I meant was that do you then think it's fair when someone pixels a image to the graphics compo, and someone wins with a photoshop photograph fix?

    I would like to answer 'yes', that's the way I'd like it to be. But I'm aware that it wouldn't work, mostly because of the nature of compos: 1) The voters are young males, most of which are not graphicians themselves, and this means that photos of nude women would always win. (Always *wins*, actually...) 2) The entries are generally projected on a fuzzy 'bigscreen', for a short period of time, so you can't see any details, and you can't go back and look at them in any order. However I don't like the idea of graphics compos at all (regardless of these problems). They drive artists into the mainstream. If there were no compos there would be no fair or unfair rules, there would just be art. (Including scanned photographs. Your own photographs, of course.)

    In that case it means a LOT to me anyway. You are right about the result, not how you do it, but I thought we were talking about compos in general, silly me. My point is that it is not fair. I got my placement in the scene because of my images, not because I only fixed some photo's. That's why I am always above some people who actually scan or something like that. But you are also right about that, that the compos usually suck bad. I have had my bad share of graphics compos in my past. But I'm afraid that we don't have much of an choice. Nowdays seems like artists draw only for compos. It is rare if someone actually releases a demo for example that won't take part in any compo. Compos are required in order that scene would actually survive.

    Just a thought: Maybe the scene would be a better scene if there were no compos at all?

    But wouldn't you think that recognizing 'not-your-own' photographs would even be more difficult than spotting a copied picture in pixel compo?

    Of course. That's why it wouldn't work. Not in compos, at least.

    And what do you mean by mainstream? Mainstream is a way where everyone can agree with one another. The problem with originality is that usually it's limited. Ok, you get to express yourself, but to me drawing also means pleasing someone else, maybe save someone's day by creating stunning image? Or give inspiration to someone with your 'mainstream' picture? I think that scene would turn into pretty selfish place if everyone would only do the things that please only themselfs.

    You may be right about that, but when I used the word 'mainstream' I was thinking about graphicians drawing pictures with the sole objective of maximizing the number of votes. (This typically means nude women.) Such work at least doesn't inspire me.


    Danny is leaving the scene, because of the growing amount of graphicians who fake and steal images. What is your opinion on that?

    I think that Danny's statement is very profound, and I believe that it tells you about scene more than you could imagine. And yes, I have a VERY strong opinion of people who 'fake' their images in order to get some 'fame'. These are the very same people that poison our loved scene. They take out everything that the scene stands for. I truly wish that Danny's absence will teach the scene a very valuable lesson.


    What do you think about the scene in general and it's future?

    Eventhough the scene has it's own faults, I still like it very much. I live so modest life that the best things in my life have actually happened to me in the scene. About the future? I really don't know, but it seems that more of the 'original' people who formed the scene are now leaving. And I think that nothing can replace these people. And the thing that worries me the most is that 'copying' other people's styles has become a science. I like scene because it's all about expressing yourself.


    Were you at The Party '97?

    No, I'm afraid that I wasn't in TP97. I wanted to be there so much, but my work was in the way, so I didn't have any 'freetime' that I could actually use.


    Do you have a homepage or a gallery?

    Well, I have a sort of a homepage. But I have thought about making a 'real' homepage for me, where the best art of mine can be found. But if anyone wants to see this 'not-so-official' homepage of mine, it can be found from site: This homepage is made at my work, so it might be a good idea that I make a real one instead.

    Okay, this interview turned out to be more of a discussion I guess. Anyway, thanks for your cooperation, Visualize!

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