ERIK FERGUSON: A MEDITATION ON HUMAN CONNECTION

There is a strong organic presence in all of his work, often involving skin or skin-tissue moving in a realistic manner, detached from its natural surroundings.

By Balthazar Malevolent

ERIK FERGUSON: A MEDITATION ON HUMAN CONNECTION

Erik Ferguson is a half Scottish, half Norwegian CG artist and director, living and working from Bergen, Norway.

Ferguson’s body of work depart from more mainstream CG art in that he depicts textures and tactility that are unsettling to most,largely focusing on organic realism inspired by nature.

There is a strong organic presence in all of his work, often involving skin or skin-tissue moving in a realistic manner, detached from its natural surroundings.

Pushing the boundaries of organic beautifully grotesque CG, Ferguson feeds his legion of Instagram followers a constant stream of his tests and experiments from the account @fergemanden.

As a boy, I was mainly interested in soccer and all kinds of sports. It was only when my dad bought a Commodore 64 that I started getting into computers. During my childhood I really enjoyed playing video games such as “Prince of Persia” and “Eye of the Beholder”.

Taking the decisive step towards the visual arts came much later though. Together with a friend we bought a camera and an editing PC with some basic editing software installed on it. The idea was to make music videos and short films. From that I moved on to discovering Cinema 4d and Lightwave, which I used to learn the basics of 3D and lay the groundwork for what I do today.

I graduated with a Degree in Media and Cultural Studies from the Queen Margaret University College in Scotland. While working on my degree, I was simultaneously getting more and more interested in 3d animation. In order to be able to cover both what I had to do and what I loved, I would often stay up all night.

Upon my return to Norway, I decided to accept a position at Bug, a Norwegian production company specializing in motion graphics, visual effects and 3D animation. At Bug I first used 3d Studio Max, as it was then called. Later we moved on to Houdini, which has really gained a lot of traction over the past few years. I ended up staying at Bug for nearly 8 years, holding different positions as an Artist, Creative Lead and ultimately as a Head of Post-Production.

I wanted to focus on my own creative initiatives more, so I moved into a freelance position, working now with clients around the world. I am now mainly working on a series of short films centered around a character I have created named “Rasch“. He looks like a tumor with legs. People are simultaneously repulsed, fascinated and amused by “Rasch“, to the point where I’ve had up to 700 000 plays and 15,000 likes for some of his images/videos on Instagram. One of my fans recently called Rash “scardorable”, because he is cute and creepy at the same time.

I generally develop my sculpts for 1-2 days, then I move everything to Houdini, exploring where I can take the sculpt and what I can do with it. I then end up compositing in Nuke. I try not to spend more than a total of 2-3 days from the initial sculpt to the final animation on these personal tests. The idea is to have fun with it all.

I started with version 11 of Houdini and first I played around with cloth sims and Houdini wire solvers to achieve a soft and wobbly look for my creatures. But the breakthrough came when Houdini’s Finite Element Solver was released. Using the Finite Element solver added significant realism to my animations by using it’s physically correct volume preservation. Combine this with detailed sculpts and textures from Zbrush, throw in some motion blur and depth of field from Mantra and a lot is done.

Until recently, I focused on publishing my work on Vimeo. But that’s mainly a platform for industry professionals, so your work is evaluated by a narrow segment of people. Social media platforms such as Instagram on the other hand are like gigantic focus groups, where everyone can “vote” on their favourite designs.

When I first signed up for Instagram and began showing my work, my designs got so many likes and shares I thought “Wow, I am onto something here!”. So I started testing my concepts that way. I think it’s particularly important when people don’t just like, but comment on your work. This shows that they are truly engaging with the artwork. I can get hundreds or thousands of comments to an image or video. I take that feedback and work it into my future designs.

Erik Ferguson

In other news, Rick Owens Fall 2021 fashion show. On the subject of underthings, the pentagram briefs from the January men’s show reappeared here wrapped around evening clutches, the implication being that these alien females had handled the “unhinged male aggression” that those briefs signified.

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