Like many Millennials, I was groomed to graduate high school, attend university, earn a degree that will land me a job, get that job, perhaps fall in love, and eventually have a family!
I’m stressed out just writing all of that.
Current trends show that Millennials look for versatility and flexibility in the workplace, and strive for a strong work–life balance in their jobs. Based on this, I have decided to interview Millennials who have taken alternative career/life pathways and are making a mark through their own entrepreneurial pursuits.
My first subject is digital artist, Alex Nye.
I met Alex Nye at a summer camp when I was in middle school. The camp was designed around creative workshops that included photography, archery, painting, crafting etc. Alex and I remained friends through high school and college, and now he is an inspiration as he takes a non-conventional route to pursuing his passion and life-balance. Alex recently earned the Best in Show award at Captured 3 in Santa Barbara, exhibits at galleries in CA and NY and his first solo show was in his hometown, Albany, NY, at Capital Repertory Theater including 15 of his pieces.
Upon graduating from high school in upstate New York he earned a B.A. from SUNY New Paltz. At age 25, he now lives in Santa Barbara, CA and identifies himself as a Multimedia Digital Artist under Alex Nye Art and Prismedia LLC. When he made trips to New York City I assumed he would crash at my apartment, but instead he told me he would be taking photos of New York all night. At first I thought he was crazy, but he would later show me what he accomplished from sleeping under or on a bridge – a 4D image of the lower Manhattan Skyline from sunset to sunrise.
I had a chat with Alex to see how he makes his mark in Generation Y.
Do you identify yourself as a millennial? And why.
I would. Aside from the year I was born, I like to think Millennials are also open-minded and inclusive to different ideologies. I feel that the direction I took my art was especially affected by the time period I was born into. My style of photography is the result of an expanding digital age. I embraced the possibilities of the platform I was given, while I might have been a painter or sculptor had I been born in another century.
After graduating college you never went into a 9-5 week to week job. Why is this? And how has it affected your work ethic?
This happened because I was driven more by creative passion than financial stability. I chose to pursue a path that was rewarding in ways other than generating income. However there have been significant challenges in being more independent. Among other things I have to make my own schedule, be my own boss, and be my own harshest critic. I often find myself on strange and inconsistent sleep-schedules, but often, late night working is when I tend to be the most productive and creative. When there is no definitive beginning or end to my work day, I become in permanent work-mode, and have trouble determining when to cut it off or take breaks. Admittedly, this structure makes it difficult to stay as organized and efficient as possible. However on the other hand, I also thrive in the freedom to experiment, get distracted, and make new discoveries along the way.
What does it mean to be a digital artist?
A few years ago I chose to use the title, “Multimedia Digital Artist” because it’s more encompassing, and I didn’t want to limit myself to just one medium or specialty. I realized the things I was interested in – Graphic Design, Video, & Photo – are all based in a digital medium. Even my photography seems to go beyond what is traditionally known as “Photography”… into a realm of extensive digital manipulation, creating images that could not have been produced with a camera alone.
What goes into making one of your (4D) pieces?
I could discuss this subject for days, in fact I’ve written pages and pages about my technical process as well as the conceptual train-of-thought theories that are involved. Here is a condensed version of the technical process that is typically required to create a 4D composite:
Re-visit a specific location multiple times, and set up identical shots. Wait up to a few hours at a time to capture the same scene as it changes throughout a given day. Capture timelapses of up to hundreds or thousands of images as different people, cars, lights and objects cross in front of the lens. Bring those images into Photoshop as layers. Use transparencies, gradient masks, and blend modes to selectively blend lights, colors and these other elements together into one surreal composite.
When you are creating – are you setting out for something in particular or is your artwork improvised?
It is really a balance of control and spontaneity. Often times I will extensively scout a specific location and angle to shoot from, either in person or via google earth. In other cases I find myself wandering around a city, making discoveries and getting inspired by beautiful perspectives as I go. Whichever route I take, it is very hard to predict what a 4D image will look like while I’m capturing the pieces of it. I may have a vision or goal while shooting, but it’s only once I get into photoshop that the blending possibilities are revealed. At which point I can be very selective about how the layers are stacked and blended together.
What inspires you?
Obsession over my craft. The continuous desire to learn new things, improve my skills, and be a creator in a world of consumers.
What motivates you to continue your craft?
Probably the feedback. I love to bring beauty into the world and to see people get enjoyment / positive reactions from it. I want to create things that brighten someone’s day. Most people don’t create just to please themselves. It’s about entertaining, and beyond that, encouraging people to think or look at the world differently.
What do you want or hope to gain out of being an artist?
Make discoveries about the world and about myself.
Make people happy. Support a family.
Leave something behind that will outlast me.
Make sure to keep following my blog to see who I feature as my next inspirational millennial!