Today we talk to Nat, a VP artist based in the US whose been in the VP community for 7 years, enjoy;
First can you tell us a little about yourself, where you grew up and what attracted or inspired you to get into this art form?
I currently reside in the US and came across the virtual photography community almost seven years ago. It initially started as space to share excess photos that began to fill up my phone and computer. At the time I was really only taking photos in GTAV but I discovered so many others that share photos from all types of games. I was quickly drawn to the sense of community and engagement.
How did you learn this form of digital art?
There was definitely a growing process. I did not take the best photos but I really strived to try new techniques and perfect my craft. I’ve always had a passion for photography and art. I have studied art and have taken a few photography classes. I was naturally drawn to photo mode however it was a learning curve to translate my knowledge to in game photography. I feel I’m still learning even today!
What drew you to the cyberpunk genre?
The aesthetics of Cyberpunk is something I appreciate so much- the cinematic qualities that are so haunting and nostalgic for so many sci-fi fans. I love so many films that resonate with this genre and I couldn’t wait to explore this vast open world game.
What in your view is the best aspect of the cyberpunk genre CDPR got right with 2077 and what do you feel they missed the mark on?
CDPR did such a great job of the vastness of the open world concept. They really created such an immersive world; the sights and sounds uniquely of each district. That being said the mechanics of exploring can be difficult with the 1st person perspective especially when so much effort went into the ability to create super customizable characters. Same goes for basic travel via the vehicles. I wish there was a way to swap viewing perspectives.
What message, to you, does the cyberpunk genre imply or relay as a viewer, fan?
Life is short and unexpected. Live your life to the fullest, don't let inhibitions stop your potential. Speak your truth and don’t worry about what others think.
What photo/GFX tools that are not in 2077 would you like to see in the sequel Project Orion?
I am a console user (Playstation5). Custom lighting especially similar to (TLOU Remastered) lighting effects would be amazing and give us console users the ability for multi colored lighting. I also think motion blur would be a cool addition as well as improved FOV/DOF tools.
What drew you to the 2077 game specifically? What keeps driving you to keep making content for it?
Customizable character options especially after the update where we could change V’s appearance. Being on console it can sometimes be limiting to “stage” a photo and not have the aesthetic I wanted to capture. I feel better equipped to do so after the update.
What about the 2077 characters specifically got your interest? All time favorite NPC in 2077 and why?
I like to people watch in Night City. I’m drawn to “Scavengers” who are typically found in groups all across town - recognizable by their holo type mask. Maelstrom are some interesting characters, I feel like I could find a new variation at every turn.
If you have to pick one, team Judy or Kerry? Why?
If you have to pick one, team Panam or River? Why?
Team Judy & Panam; I liked their resilience. I just felt like we got to know them better in the story.
What tools do you use to make your art? How long does it take to go from idea to posting a pic? What's the process?
Being on console my tools are techniques in game to achieve better lighting. For instance, I use the photo mode action poses (with muzzle flash) to illuminate my character or others I’m trying to photograph. I’m also conscious of my environment when taking pics. Sometimes you can find light rigs in alleys or gangs (they are meant for in-game distraction) but make for great light sources as well!
Once photographed I post edit in Foto Photo Editor or Adobe Lightroom depending on what adjustments need to be made.
How long have you been doing this art form?
Nearly seven years! I’d love a way to work with brands or dev. companies that would be my next goal.
What are your thoughts about AI art, cyberpunk or otherwise? Is itreally 'art' in your view or just several 'stolen' images mushed together? What is your take?
I think of AI art as renderings…art that is it’s concept phase however that doesn’t mean that it can’t resonate with an audience. It walks that fine line with who can appreciate the piece behind the work and vice versa. I think AI art is cool to see but personally I would not hold the same appreciation when comparing to the original artist. I’d like to add these are my feelings on AI generated images which are a generated composite. I’m aware there’s a likeness of this argument that VP is similar in this regard. However, when a photographer is able to bring a stylistic component that is original and their own aside from what developers intended I think we have the makings of original art.
Where do you see the virtual photo art form 5 years from now? Will we be able to easily tell it from actual photos by then and if not does that concern you?
I hope awareness of the medium increases. I wish for more opportunies of dev. Companies working in unison with VPs. They create such awareness for their products and extend the longevity of the game exponentially. As far as the latter, I hope graphics increase to that level but there are numerous games and VPs who photograph at all graphics range. I think as the technology improves that is very probable that we can no longer discern.
What trends in the VP space do you foresee becoming big in the field? What trends, aspects of VP do you hope gets left behind in the past?
My wish is that the space continues to grow and more spaces become available to showcase VP work. I recently showcased my VP work at the London Games Festival at an outdoor exhibition. I hope for many more of these opportunities for all VPs as it only increases appreciation of our medium. As far as trends, I hope photo mode tools increase and virtual photographers are able to convey necessary tools that become the standard for all games.
I hope that our passion for this medium does not result in paywalls which unfortunately has begun to already happen. Locked emotes, poses, skins/outfits these are tools we use to arrange a photo. Especially coming from the console, these are sometimes defining variables in how we are able to compose a photo. I hope we can get ahead of this trend now and convey that these things should be available to everyone.
What has been your most positive experience in the 2077 community and on the flip side what has been your most negative?
Luckily I have only had positive interactions. However, I think most of my VP in Cyberpunk circulated through my friends and followers. It’s hard to gauge if I would consider saying I have a foothold in the Cyberpunk community but after this interview I can now say otherwise!
Fav couple (not necessarily official couple) you have done or would like to do VP for and why?
I wish I could photograph Misty and Jackie, I thought they brought out the best in each other. Plus we didn’t have enough photo opportunities between the two so it would be cool to see.
Do you think these are skills you'd like to make a career of on some level or you prefer it as a hobby?
That would be a dream but more likely I would like to work with companies as a means for a review or sorts. Or preview and review photo mode tools would be a cool opportunity. I seen other VPs pursue that avenue and it’s inspiring to see!
I've seen a lot of memes from artists that imply if you do vanilla art you will hardly get any notice, but if you do spicy art you'll get tons of attention. Do you feel those memes are accurate for better or worse? What are your thoughts on that?
Haha, I’ve seen the discourse on this topic. I have to say I agree, I mean I see why it gets good traction. To each their own, I’ve seen some really tasteful shots covering everything I think it can be done in a really artistic way.
And my most controversial question... Which of the following labels would you assign to whom (one use each)? ;)
Marry, BFF, FWB(friend with benefits), Close Friend, Casual Friend, Indifferent, Dislike, Hate, Mortal Enemy, Kill
: Casual Friend
And finally what are the socials people can find you, and do you do commissions? Any final words to the readers? Thank you for your time!
You can find me on Twitter and IG at @NemesisNat
Thank you so much for this opportunity! Looking forward to Phantom Liberty and all the future VP work to come during this exciting time!