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DigitalFruit- Saskia Freeke

DigitalFruit is an interview series from Adafruit showcasing some of our favorite digital fine artists from around the world. As we begin this new decade with its rapidly changing landscape, we must envision our path through a different lens.  Over the next few weeks we’ll feature many innovative perspectives and techniques that will inspire our maker community to construct a bold creative frontier.  The only way is forward.

Geometric Shapes / 200923

1. Where are you based?

Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

2. Tell us about your background?

I remember growing up, I used to love making things and explored a broad spectrum of creative crafts. Needless to say, being young in the 90’s fueled my pursuit of new challenges and techniques with a lot of aspects found in computers and game consoles- aspects that can be found represented in many facets of my present-day work.

Following high school, I steered my focus towards graphic design on one hand, and physical work on the other. I loved playing with this delicate balance- the combination of physical design stimulated by classes on designing shop windows and exhibitions, and digital work, which balanced out by my studies in advertising, presentation and communication.

Eager to learn more, I continued on this path; I enrolled in a bachelor studies of interaction design at the art academy. The combination of physical and digital work continued, for now I was both designing interfaces and building interactive physical installations. A great leap forward, however, was the expansion into a user-centered design process.

As one could expect, I ran into and learned “some” programming during this period. Actually getting into programming only started when I drove myself to research it on my own- getting my hands dirty after I finished my bachelor’s. This skill proved complementary to the master studies in Computational Art I would get into later, which allowed me to increase my knowledge in programming by applying my coding knowledge to my process of creating art.

 

Geometric Animations / 171024 & Geometric Animations / 171028

Geometric Animations / 171029 & Geometric Animations / 171030

3. What inspires your work?

Graphic design hugely influences me, simple geometric shapes and grid structures are incorporated in almost all of my work. Structured patterns both in geometry and everyday systems control me and give me control. I derive ideas from a wide variety of museums and art events, but I can also be inspired by random things on the street. 

I could put together an endless list of things that never cease to amaze me, but bluntly stated, we can safely say that these variations are paramount:

  • Large works such as murals and sculptures (sculpture gardens, yay!)
  • Games, game art + UI design & gameplay and mechanics.
  • Interface culture & playful interaction theory

 

Geometric Shapes / 200602 & Geometric Shapes / 200607

4. What are you currently working on?

At the moment I am dividing my time between my own artistic work and several design commissions- and trying to keep a fair balance between the two.

For the last five years-and-counting, I have been working on my daily art project, creating one digital artwork every day. The common theme is that I use simple geometric shapes to create patterns and animations, using code to generate them.

Geometric Shapes / 200823

When I started out this project, my expectation was I would do two or three months, with a slim chance of making it to six. As it turned out, I kept going and never stopped until this day! An important reason for this is that this project allows and enables me to explore artistically. Also worth mentioning is the fact that over the years it has made my coding skills evolve in such a way that coding has become one of my main tools. 

As said, I try to always have a good balance between design commissions and my own artistic work. I currently have a few exciting design commissions I’m working on (and I’m available for more!), and for my artistic work, I’m in the process of exploring a new way to get my digital work on paper. The way I’ve created physical works so far is putting my work to paper using my Axidraw plotter or using a laser cutter to cut shapes out of wood. The idea I’m experimenting with at the moment is to use my pen plotter to draw on linoleum, carve it by hand and make lino prints. I’m especially excited about experimenting with the paint and layers of the print.

Blended Extensity #0 – Plotter Drawing

5. Describe your process and what tools you like to use.

Naturally, tools used heavily influence the process and workflow. For my daily artworks I predominantly use Processing, which partially defines the procedural side of how my works come into being. As for the artistic process, over the years I have been experimenting with the process that underlies the creation of my “dailies.”  Since last year I have been pursuing to classify my iterations into weekly themes. These enable me to explore and experiment with specific visual rulesets over the course of a week and change up my artistic process by periodical new beginnings, revisitings of old trains of thought and persistent fresh perspectives. 

As for physical tools: as mentioned earlier I have a pen plotter machine!  I love experimenting with different kinds of paper and wide varieties of pens. Having a handycrafty background, having craft and workshop tools around to grab and play with ideas really helps my artistic process along.

Geometric Shapes / 200929

Geometric Shapes / 200205

Geometric Shapes / 200211

6. What does your workplace or studio look like? Do you work in silence or listen to music while you work?

At the moment I’m working from home for a couple of months, not especially because of the pandemic crisis, but because my studio is situated in a building that’s being renovated with a lot of construction work going on. I’m very much looking forward to moving back into my studio before the end of the year; my all-new studio will be bigger than my last used to be and I will be sharing it with a good friend!

At my studio I usually have a ‘clean’ area, dedicated for screen-based i.e. computer work, a space merely featuring a desk, dressed by some plants. The rest of the studio is prepped as what I would describe as “a little artist maker space.” It has enough room to make physical works, featuring an area for electronics and some other machines (such as the my plotter machine) and also leaves some storage space for materials, tools and artworks.

 

Entangled Gem no.1

Perpetual Flow no.1

7. How has technology shaped your creative vision?

I remember playing Super Mario Bros. when I was young and getting really excited by the idea of creating games and art for games by myself someday. Growing up in an era in which computers and technology would evolve really fast helped (being open to) seeing the possibilities of working with technology. A playful approach to working with technology gives freedom to explore endless imaginative possibilities…

 

Geometric Animations / 200312 & Geometric Animations / 200313

8. Any tips for someone interested in getting started in the digital art form?

Allow yourself time to explore, play with tools, techniques, and processes, even if you don’t understand them fully yet. Don’t aim for something perfect, aim for playful exploration!

 

 

 

 

Geometric Animations / 19021 & Geometric Animations / 190214

9. Where do you see generative and digital art heading in the future?

Blockchain technology will have a positive impact on the value of digital art, which I think is very exciting. My hopes are digital art will become more and more established as legitimate exhibited work in museums, both new and renowned. Other than this I have no idea, the future will tell.


Geometric Shapes / 200813

Saskia Freeke

Links:

https://www.instagram.com/sasj_nl/

https://sasj.nl/

 

DigitalFruit is curated by Adafruit lead photographer- Andrew Tingle

https://www.instagram.com/andrew_tingle

https://www.andrewtingle.com


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