Tell us a little bit about your history as an illustrator.
For me, my creativity started with painting and drawing when I was in high school. I then discovered digital art which changed everything for me. I linked this new great passion of mine with technology and took a degree in graphic design and commercial art at the Design Institute Palladio in Verona.
Whilst school was fundamental for my education and learning the programs necessary for my work, it was the commitment and above all the passion that I have for this job that allowed me to achieve excellent results.
I soon found that photo editing software gave me the chance to combine drawing, painting and photography together to make my dreams and ideas come true. Nowadays there are no limits to what we want to create.
How would you describe your style?
In my recent artwork, the human being melts with nature and its four elements to give birth to my inner world, ethereal and imaginative, hanging in balance between reality, dream and fantasy, in which colour and sensibility have the predominant role. It’s a harmony that binds man and nature in a perfect way and which unfortunately nowadays seems to be a utopia. Piles of tree branches, clouds forming hair, faces that melt with air and sky, human silhouettes that arise from expanses of earth and roots… this is my visionary world.
Describe a typical ‘day in the life of’ Emi Haze.
I usually get up around 7 or 8am in the morning and check my emails and social media and I try to bring together the ideas for my new projects. During a typical day, I will work on a single project in order to focus more on what I want to achieve without any distractions. Lunch is around 1pm and then I start to work hard on my projects.
I like to work until late at night most of the time. I think the best moment to develop my artworks is at night… no sounds, no distractions… it is the perfect time for my creative phase.
What couldn’t you live without (creatively speaking)?
I am a big fan of cinema: it’s a great inspiration for my work. I love every kind of movie especially indie movies and art movies.
“In my opinion, everything in every moment has an artistic side”
I think research is something fundamental and necessary for my work. In my opinion, everything in every moment has an artistic side, the aesthetics of things, people around me… For me everything has its own importance, images, textures, sounds, fragrances, my creativity is constantly stimulated.
What’s on your desk?
I have a very large desk with a 27” iMac, two 30” external displays, a 27” Wacom Cintiq and a MacBook Pro.
I’m very tidy when I’m working so I try to keep it clear of all other objects.
What tools do you use in your workflow?
I very much use Blend Modes—Multiply, Overlay, Soft Light—to obtain peculiar effects in the combination of different layers and textures, for instance, the double exposures. The blending allows me to combine in the best way different elements, colours and images in a single work, creating shape and colour compositions beyond imagination.
Adjustment layers are another essential tool. For me, colour is an element of primary importance for the final perception of the artwork. Thanks to the application of colour adjustments to every single layer—like Curves, Levels, HSL, Selective Colour—I can always have the complete control of the colour throughout every phase of my work.
Layer masks are one of the most important tools in photo editing software for me. The main advantage to using layer masks is they can be changed at any time—they are “non-destructive”, meaning they will never destroy image pixels. Using pixel masks you can work with thousands of custom brushes and special brush tip shapes on your mask.
Watercolour, acrylic paints and ink are some traditional tools that I always combine with my digital artworks. I have a big collection of different brush strokes, ink marks, spray painting, acrylic paints, washes of watercolour created by hand on textured papers, which I have built up over time and scanned at a high dpi ready to be used during the digital process.
What do you listen to when you’re creating your work?
Music is one of the keys to my creative process. Listening to my favourite artists like Sigur Rós, Radiohead, and Bjork, helps me to immerse myself in my creative world and to have the right mood to inspire and develop a new piece of work.
Explain a little about your process of creating one of your images.
Before getting into digital art and illustration I began with drawing, painting and later graphic design. I always loved the gesture and the warmth in a hand-drawn sketch, in a stroke of acrylic or oil paint, in the splashes of watercolour or ink.
So today when I start developing an image I try to include my manual skills in the strokes and in the use of colour. Digitally importing that into my artwork.
In a single image I combine hundreds of layers with many graphic elements and textures. All the blend modes, layer masks and adjustment layers I use to make the starting image less digital and more similar to a painting or a drawing.
This phase of manual embellishment is then merged with the strictly digital one.
By selecting parts of different photo images, I use the double exposure technique to try to blend the human body with nature and its four elements, fire, air, water and earth.
What is it that you find so captivating about double/multiple exposures?
Bringing together two or more photos creates a coherent image that can be beautiful, nostalgic or unsettling, depending on what photos you use and how you combine them.
With double exposure, you can create a surreal and fantastic world beyond the imagination.
“With double exposure, you can create a surreal and fantastic world beyond the imagination”
The reason for using this technique varies, but they are surely created for the same purposes – beauty and uniqueness.
Who are your top three favourite visual artists/photographers?
I could name many artists, painters and digital artists that have influenced me, at first in my painting and later in my digital art. Mentioning only a few of them would be reductive, because all the art world is the fundamental source of inspiration in my creative process, and I’m referring not only to visual art but also to music, filmmaking, photography and fashion.
Your desktop workflow involves using the Wacom Cintiq, how does using the iPad to create your work compare?
Working on Wacom Cintiq and iPad is absolutely fantastic. I really like working on a very large workspace. This is one of the reasons why I prefer to use my Cintiq when I work in my studio.
One of the advantages of the iPad, in addition to mobility, is the possibility to use many gestures, which often make the workflow more pleasant and fast.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career and why?
Being able to combine my greatest passion with my job it’s what makes me most proud.
Working every day with many amazing brands, agencies and studios in a lot of beautiful projects is very gratifying.
You can view more of Emi Haze’s art here