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Tony Rivera An interview with XXIII: Voyage's featured artist
Introduction Matt Dobson
Tony Rivera has been with Evoke from almost the beginning, and has come back better than ever for our 23rd exhibition, Voyage. His intergalactic submissions wowed us all, relentlessly perfected until they were of the highest calibre. He is a deserved featured artist, and a prime example of someone who just loves to produce art.

On behalf of Evoke, I am proud to present this look into the life of a true creative.
... It feels good to look at
what I made, then smile and think:
"whoa, that came from me"...
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The Interview

Matt Dobson: {1} Ok, let's get this started. You have been with evoke since our 5th exhibition, what's it like to be featured after all this time?

Tony Rivera: It's pretty amazing, I'm really thankful for all the help I've had, and wouldn't be where I'm at if it wasn't for this community. Evoke has really helped me grow, it's members have provided me with great critique, and have in turn given me the desire to push my creative boundaries.

Creating alt. realities
sharing my day-dreams
in static imagery

Matt Dobson: {2} What makes Tony Rivera tick? What inspires you to make these great artworks?

Tony Rivera: Well for one, lots of free time, haha. My inspirations seem to be the things I enjoy most at the moment in my life, be it video games, movies, or architecture. (I love architecture, mostly modern/futuristic.) I love the feeling I get when I make something I'm satisfied with. I think it strikes a spiritual note within me possibly. When I create, it feels good to look at what I made, and smile, and think "whoa, that came from me.." Maybe I feel like this world I live in isn't cool enough, or that my reality is fairly boring. I like to think I'm creating alternate realities, and sharing my day-dreams in the form of static imagery. Another driving factor is the hope that someday someone will want to pay me to do what I do. It's just a very time-consuming hobby for now. Mostly though, I just enjoy making art and sharing it with others.

Matt Dobson: {3} Tell us a bit about you. What's an average day for you like? What are the things you really enjoy doing? What sets you apart from the crowd?

Tony Rivera: I just moved actually, and my schedule is total chaos. Some days I'll just spend the entire day in front of the computer, doing art or talking online, and some days I'll be busy with life issues. (Being a neat freak with my room, job hunting, randomly going to musical shows with my housemates.) My IDEAL average day would be working a 9-5 job, getting home afterwards and enjoying my hobbies, and going out to explore my new surroundings on the weekends.

As far as what I like to do, digital art is a given, and I also like to play guitar. I've probably been playing about 13 years.. Music is also a field of art that I like to create in. I also enjoy the night life, whether it's going to a show with the housemates, or just a walk on the streets, it's pretty to see all the neon signs and street lights at night. (Probably because I wasn't raised in a city.)

I think I'm mostly just your average guy really. Except that I like crazy music, am not that big of a sports fan, don't like coffee or beer, and I am creative.

Matt Dobson: {4} How did you become interested in digital art in the first place?

Tony Rivera: Ah, this is a question to which I'm sure many designers have the same answer. It all started a few years back. When I started using the internet a bit more, I found a gaming forum. Yep, it all started at a forum. I had never even heard of digital art, but when I joined the forum, I noticed most of the members had these'signatures', which were all very colorful and cool looking. So I decided I wanted one too, and would make one for myself. I started with small 'signatures' at the forum, and eventually stumbled onto deviantART, and then onto the 3D abstract scene. I saw people making cool things, and I wanted to make cool things as well.

So here I am, 7 years later, making cool things! But I have to say, seeing the larger images with 3D abstract for the first time is what really got me addicted to the art scene.

Matt Dobson: {5} During those 7 years you had a fairly lengthy hiatus. What made you stop? and what brought you back?

Tony Rivera: I actually had a couple I think. What made me stop was my weakness and inability to cope with demand, and lack of satisfaction with my works. Exposure was a much bigger deal to me back then. I felt the 'need' to create something to keep others interested, and then my lack of creativity and dissatisfaction would just consume me until I decided to stop trying. That combo is quite a killer, and in the end I think taking a break was mostly due to not being satisfied with what I would make, and feeling like I wasn't good enough. I just wasn't impressed with what I made back then. I came back because I got a little more free time in my life I think, and started looking at what everyone was making as of late. I was really impressed at how much everyone else had improved on the digital art scene, and I got the urge to participate again, and push harder to create better.

Matt Dobson: {6} What advice would you give to someone who is in a creative rut like that?

Tony Rivera: It's like the "time heals all wounds" theory. Time will build your spirits, and when you're feeling in a particularly creative mood, get back in the game and give it your best! Wait it out, and just do other things you enjoy, because life is short. Maybe somewhere along the way something will inspire you. When you get your artistic desire back, keep trying things.

You'll eventually find a method of creating art that works easily for you. Some call it style. It's harder for some than others, but I think what matters most is that you enjoy making art. If you're not enjoying yourself, don't force it. Go ahead and take a break, someday you'll be back, and maybe better than ever.

If your creativity is strained because this is your profession, the best advice I could give is to find things that don't sap so much of your creativity. An example would be taking something in real life, and re-interpreting it with your own style.

For me that would be looking at a picture of a building, and re-creating it in 3D, while putting my own spin on it. Creativity is a little more precious and harder to come by than skill, and is linked with one's enthusiasm for making art in my opinion. Translating real-life things into art, that process requires only skill, and doesn't eat up so much of your creativity.

I think the best way to go about making art and staying satisfied, is to have an image in your head, a solid concept to rely on, a goal in mind, and work towards it until you can't anymore.

Matt Dobson: {7} Like I said before, you have been with Evoke for a long time now, how has the group changed from when you first joined and how do you think it will change in the future?

Tony Rivera: When I joined there were a lot of members who started designing around the same time I started. Lately now, there are a lot of talented fresh faces that make better stuff (in my opinion) with only a couple months of experience than I was making when I had about 3 or 4 years of experience... There's always an unexpected surprise around the corner.

Also when I joined, the community was younger, and I think we all idealized being a group with similarities. (All of us making abstract, a majority of people making 'vector art' or 'abstract 3D'.) But now everyone has grown artistically and have branched out and developed their own styles and skills, everyone strives to bring something new to the table. I believe whether we consciously think it or not, we embrace that we all come from different walks of life, and share our influences through our critique and thoughts.

I believe we will continue to grow, and continue to improve.

Matt Dobson: {8} Looking through your gallery shows a great wealth of 3D work. What makes it your favorite medium?

Tony Rivera: It's the control I have. It is the control over the outcome, and how comfortable I am with my programs. After knowing a program like the back of my hand, and knowing how to get things done or achieve things I want, 3D just seems easy, like it has become part of me. One of the main benefits of working with something fully 3D is being able to easily change the composition or lighting without having to re-create an object entirely to get a different angle, like you would have to do if you were just drawing, vectoring, or digital painting.

In a creative mood
get back in the game and
give it your best!

Matt Dobson: {9} Are there other mediums you wish to experiment and work with?

Tony Rivera: I'm actually working with a few now. There is landscaping and atmosphere (VUE), and then there is organic modelling/sculpting (ZBrush). Eventually I'd like to get a tablet so I can strengthen my ZBrush skills, and I'd also like to strengthen my ability to make concept sketches (Traditional, pencils and paper.)

Matt Dobson: {10} What advice would you give for those people who want to delve into 3D themselves?

Tony Rivera: Find yourself a good tutorial website. Maybe read a manual. Or if you're like me, just open it up and be prepared to spend countless hours fiddling with the program to find out how things work. You'll eventually dedicate it to memory. Also find a willing mentor! Some people are so knowledgeable, and could easily teach you to achieve what you're looking to do.

Matt Dobson: {11} Are you considering taking your skills as a 3D artist forward and into a related career? What would your dream job be?

Tony Rivera: I am. As I said before, I hope someday I can get paid to use my 3D skills. I've actually used concept sketches before and have been able to translate them into 3D, so I think my dream job would be being a CG animation artist, either for movies, or cutscenes in video games. I think it would be really cool to work in a studio environment with talented conceptual artists. With all that creativity flowing, inspiration would come so naturally in that type of environment I think.

Matt Dobson: {12} As always, her's Dalla's top 10 quiz!

Tony Rivera:

1. Favorite Food?
2. Do you think you're sexy? 
Yep. Gorgeous. :D
3. Pepsi or Coke? 
Pepsi 4 Lyfe
4. What's your favorite gaming console? 
Tough call, but I think I'm going with PS3.
5. Favorite band or musical artist? 
Another hard decision. I'll go with Killswitch Engage.
6. Blonde or Brunette? 
Come on, you're making me choose?!
7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Somewhere cool, like Japan, or New York.
8. Favorite Sport? 
Live hockey, or maybe boxing.
9. Mac or PC? 
I'm a PC kind of guy.
10. What is your current homepage? 
Google Chrome's 'Most Visited Page List' page. Mysterious, I know.

Matt Dobson: {13} Is there anything else you would like to say to anyone reading? Any shoutouts?

Tony Rivera: Special thanks to you Matt, João Oliveira, and a few other Evokers for giving me such helpful critique and thoughtful input on my works for Voyage. I couldn't have done it without you! Shout out to Parker Gibson for keeping it real, and to Tyler Lehman for an awesome collab!