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James Merrill An interview with XX: Mixtape's featured artist
An Evoker for over three years, James Merrill has seen the ups and the downs of being in our prestigious group. Over the years, he has consistently produced simplistic yet catchy 3d works, vectors, and other pieces that stand out from the crowd. It is our highest pleasure to bring you this interview with such a young, stylish designer.
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The Interview

Ted Yavuzkurt: {1} You've been with Evoke since the beginning, and here in our twentieth release, you've earned the title of featured artist. How does this feel? How has the journey been?

James Merrill: It's be great, to see a couple of artists collaborating at the beginning evolve into what Evoke is now, a robust community of designers and artists who consistently raise the bar each release. To be featured is awesome, I have so much respect for my fellow evokers. We got much love.

Ted Yavuzkurt: {2} Tell us a little bit about James Merill. We've all known him as an Evoker over the past three and a half years, as eraxer and now as dshPls. Tell us a bit about the man behind the mask.

James Merrill: Heh, I'm a pretty plain 21 year old dude. I work as a Flash developer for a small agency down the street from my apartment. There's only two web people so every project contains a bit of my science in it, usually I work as an animator and programmer. I've found an infinite source of inspiration in electronic music, which is usually what I'm tuned into as I sit down and create stuff. Usually I stick to 3D modeling but recently I've been experimenting with vector forms and shapes, I thrive on learning and understanding new ways to create art.

I thrive on learning
and understanding
new ways to create art

Ted Yavuzkurt: {3} Your initial work here was highly based on 3d modeling (I still have a copy of your 3ds tutorial downloaded!) How has your style changed over time until now where you create some of the most innovative and multimedia pieces in Evoke releases?

James Merrill: You can totally see the progression in my gallery. I started with a fascination towards plain 3D modelling and as you go along you'll see my start "painting" my stuff to add a traditional feel I guess. From that came more basic vector forms that are showcased in Mixtape. I don't know why I moved away from 3d, but I'm really digging simplicity right now. I can't continue to follow the same pathway to creating a piece of art more than a couple of times, it would just be boring and lame.

Ted Yavuzkurt: {4} Do you see this same type of progression with the group as a whole? Are Evokers in general reaching towards simplicity or is the trend different in your opinion?

James Merrill: It's hard to say, we have a lot of diversity. Every release we have artists who introduce new ideas and ways to look at art, I don't think it follows a path towards simplicity but I do thing the creative change I speak of is a consistent phenomena. Which just means these people are fucking awesome.

Ted Yavuzkurt: {5} Can you walk us through your artistic process a bit? How do you go from a concept to a full work? Do you just sit down and let it flow or is there a methodical work process from start to finish?

James Merrill: That's kind of been changing for me actually. Usually I'll start with an idea, then create a basic form in 3dsm or Flash that kind of works with it, while still maintaining a nice composition, then beat the shit outta it in Painter and flip in between that and photoshop for awhile. Sometimes I love to make small meticulous details that take hours of concentration to perfect, but that also makes my head feel like it's gonna explode so I haven't been doing it so much.

Ted Yavuzkurt: {6} How did you go about producing "Music in form?" What programs did you use? How long did it take? Was there a concept behind it (it represents the mixtape theme quite well!)?

James Merrill: I've been really into urban artwork in the last couple of months(decorating my apartment with it) so I set off to make something kinda like graffiti but with curves like I'd imagine a song would look like. I'm not on LSD. Seriously though, ups and downs, sharp movements, a linear format. I built it in Flash(who uses flash for graphics??!) and then tweaked it for awhile in painter and Photoshop.

Ted Yavuzkurt: {7} What are your usual sources of inspiration for work? Are there certain artists or musicians that inspire you? Do you like music while you work?

James Merrill: Depends really, lots of times when I'm driving on the highway in the rain or the dark my mind will start producing ideas or images. usually when I start something I tune into some IDM or Drum n bass, I really like Pandora, it kicks ass for finding new music. As for art I feel more creative when I detach myself from the "scene" of whatever's popular this month, so I don't really have an answer for that. I recently went to the visionary art museum in Baltimore which was pretty inspirational though.

Ted Yavuzkurt: {8} When I look at one of your works, I can tell you did it. How did you go about developing such a characteristic style? Do you have any advice for newer artists trying to cultivate a personal style?

James Merrill: Yah I see this problem alot, people who follow trends never become unique. My advice has always been to stop visiting dA or artgroup sites(except evoke ) and see if you are still motivated to make art. If you are, then eventually you'll develop as an artist on your own. Of course you need technical skill too which comes from experience and learning. That's kinda what worked for me and results may vary.

Stop visiting
and see if you are still
motivated to make art

Ted Yavuzkurt: {9} Where do you see yourself going personally with art? Are you going to stay in this as a career or do you see other things in your future?

James Merrill: It's hard to say, fortunately I could live anywhere and freelance my Flash skills, so I'm not worried about a lack of work, I just hope I don't get bored with it one day. New technologies are coming out all the time so I'll always be occupied at work. However with my personal artwork I'm going to move back into 3D stuff soon, and pursue a style more like 'music in form' from this pack. Erqu(a good bud of mine and long time evoke artist) has something that I consider my second piece with this style, we'll have to see where that goes. In the long term though I'd like to get more into traditional art.

Ted Yavuzkurt: {10} Have you ever ran into any problems keeping you from pursuing art? A lot of artists run into tough patches of no motivation or inspiration, how do you recommend dealing with this?

James Merrill: Yes, it happens to us all. Usually I get too attached to other peoples opinions and even if they're positive I feel like people have expectations for me, which makes it really hard to be creative. It's usually just a temporary issue, I try and make things with no intention of ever uploading them anywhere and that usually helps. Then I don't have to deal with any outside forces and I can just have fun with it.

Ted Yavuzkurt: {11} For the sake of posterity, I'm giving you Dalla's famous top 10 quiz:

1. Favorite Food?
Some good Americanized Chinese food. Sesame Chicken owns.
2. Do you think you're sexy?
I got some style
3. Pepsi or Coke?
Diet Pepsi, I'm addicted to the cancer causing chemicals in it.
4. What's your favorite gaming console?
I've given up on videogames forever. But PC for sure.
5. Favorite band or musical artist?
Too hard to decide.
6. Blonde or Brunette?
7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Dunno, I'd have to travel for awhile before I decided.
8. Favorite Sport?
9. Mac or PC?
I use both all the time. I like OSX more than Vista but I can’t do anything on my mac!
10. What is your current homepage?

Ted Yavuzkurt: {12} Ok James, lastly before we wrap this up, is there anything you'd like to pass on to all the artists reading this? A quote? A phrase? A book to read? Give something we can take away from this.

James Merrill: I'm a corny motherfucker, so I'd just say if you really want to get into advertising keep at it, I dropped outta highschool but kept improving my skill set and finally I got a job that I love. I've been here for almost 3 years now.

Ted Yavuzkurt: {} Thank you very much for your time James and congratulations!