This years’ nomination of our Sky Captain Series to the Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Awards gave me a perfect excuse to publish a blog post on 2nd May with some reflections regarding international Steampunk contests (entitled: ‘Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Awards 2014… and beyond’). Amongst other things, I suggested in this blog post some international creators that I would really like to see awarded and just the following day I discovered the amazing ‘Aurea Mediocritas’ gallery of Juan Manuel Molleví.
Juan Manuel is a Catalan digital artist from Tarragona (Spain) recently graduated in Publicity and Public Relations but already working since some time in the field of advertising creativity. His ‘Aurea Mediocritas’ gallery displays small invertebrates transformed into vulgar utensils and, as is this imaginative exhibition was not enough, he approaches this challenge trying to achieve a baroque-Steampunk feeling. Does it sound good? Have a look below to see his works, though you should visit his blog in order to see them in its full-resolution glory.
I cannot deny that curiosity was killing me… how would this artist’s approach combine insects and jewelry? How would look like one of our pieces metamorphosed into insect? Which one would you choose? My vote would go for the Vigilat Planchette… so I could not help but get in touch with Juan Manuel. The result is the micro-interview you will find below.
D.- Let me point out that we have been very impressed by your Aurea Mediocritas series (and considering its impact in social media it seems that we have not been the only ones). We see it like a breath of fresh air that evokes Steampunk without falling into the trap of cliché. This said, how did you discover Steampunk and why have you chosen it as source of inspiration?
Juan Manuel Molleví (JM).- I remember my first approaches to Steampunk came from Japan, specifically from the hand of mangaka creators of Full Metal Alchemist and Ergo Proxy, I discovered during my adolescence and it fascinated me. Later, when I started working on my personal projectsI began to get bored of photography we might call conventional or fashion, and I was clear in early 2012 that I would only use my camera as a major source not only of creation but I knew the postproduction would have a much greater weight. So I’ve been experimenting with various styles which provide a scenario where I create my own stories, and the Steampunk is one with which I find myself most comfortable.
Actually, I have two main sources of inspiration which I think have formed me as a digital artist. The first one is Rebeca Saray, well known in Spain for his compositions and workshops, I keep from her what might be called the staging because like her, I always use my own models to the raw material; then is Nekro, who unlike her, uses stock images, but his work is simply exquisite and extremely inspirational. From Nekro I have learned that I can do whatever I want with Photoshop and not to fear the blank canvas, so, I always start from my own photographs and I build from them.
Concretely in Aurea Mediocritas, I wanted to experiment first with RF images to go on with the Steampunk, I realized the first concept, Coleóptero de Bolsillo worked quite well in social networks, and I decided to continue the series, which I have not yet thought of leaving because this allowed me to set the style and I want to continue learning.
D.- You have recently presented a new line of work influenced by this retrofuturism too, combining a modern look with rococo and Steampunk aesthetics. What should we expect from it?
JM.- This new line, which I have named Bestiario de Aves, I think it has much to offer yet, I just fell in love when I saw the rapid acceptance it had as a result of working with my model Javier Gomez, so I plan to continue exploiting it. Following this “story” of the birds, which for the moment it is formed by a self portrait and Javier, I want to make it grow with a new addition, this time a girl, possibly trapped in a cage playing with some birds. Everything will follow a very trendy and elegant style mixed with classic Rococo voluptuousness.
D.- As we focus our activity on jewelry and Steampunk is one of our main influences, I cannot help but ask you this… have you ever considered the possibility of designing jewelry?
JM.- Following the first image of Aurea Mediocritas, the pocket watch beetle, some followers said they would like to wear it, and some others also told me I should also design jewelry. If the opportunity arises, I would not reject it, but for now I will continue creating jewelry and accessories specifically for my own sketches.
D.- Many thanks for your time, just one last question to bring this micro-interview to an end: we are paying a lot of attention to Steamgoth, do you have in mind any darker line of work for the near future?
Actually, I’m working on something at the moment which could not approach to Steamgoth because I am not planning to get into the dark, I plan to give pure white shades, but I want to transmit malevolent feelings and mischievousness, thus I do not know if this it still included within. Anyway, I want to experiment with more intense emotions, so I would like to dwell on the mystery and fear a bit later.
We cannot do otherwise but to invite you to follow Juan Manuel updates in his Facebook account. Do not hesitate to share with us your feedback about the jaw-dropping creations of this artist!