Nicolas Monin-Baroille, aka “The Unknown Being", is a digital artist based out of Offenburg, Germany. Over the past decade his inspiring passion for art has led him to explore many creation techniques such as digital illustration, photo manipulation and 3D design, as well as various styles and genres such as abstracts and typography. The collection below exhibits this evolution as well as Nicolas’ extraordinary attention to meticulously perfect every detail in each of his artworks. While Nicolas concentrates primarily on digital art, he’s also currently exploring new medias. “I’ve let the boundaries fall down and then there’s just this big blank room…” he says, “and I just think to myself, that’s it, now you can do everything you want.” Throughout his career Nicolas has worked with prominent international clients including BNP Paribas, AMODA and Juta Takahashi. Since 2009, Nicolas is a member of the Slashthree Core as well as Intrinsic Nature.
1. Never, ever has talk about the definitions of fabric, cloth & textile been so interesting. Can you tell us how these three words inspired you to create your recent project “Fabric”?
Actually it was pretty simple. I was using a texture with a few very straight lines, a photograph of my own to be exact. I played around a lot with it, decided to use the liquify tool and transform it with Photoshop until I got some sort of wavy plane. It went by quickly and I copy-pasted more planes beneath each other. It just popped into my head and I was starting to realize the forms and feel were something completely new and fresh.
It went on and ‘WOVEN’ was born, also one of my favorite works to date. Once I finished the big shapes with liquify it led to a really life-like form and by adding the lights and shadows manually I had complete control of the look - it was probably the most realistic thing I ever made. What you see now is the result of a spontaneous exploration, adding upon a thought, evolving into an idea.
“Backyard Magician” | Exclusive Edition Aluminum Print
2. The creation techniques used in “Fabric” as well as in many of your other works seems pretty diverse (digital illustration, photo manipulation, 3D design). What technique do you rely on the most? What tools and software make the magic happen?
After ‘WOVEN’ I saw the huge potential of the style and branched out to try and find techniques in other programs or through different means, which also made my workflow much easier. I would say that the Digital Illustration takes up most of it, even though the style itself was built upon Photo Manipulation.
I haven’t fully explored the 3D versions, but I know how it’s done if I need it. Artworks like ‘Coercive Persuasion’ were made by simulating cloth in Cinema 4D, which is easier and much faster as well, since you can add light to them in a realistic way in less than 20 minutes. I just choose what I feel suits best. Each of the techniques in each program has it’s own touch, as you can see, so sometimes I prefer Illustration to 3D and vice-versa. It all depends on what I need at the time.
“Tripping Over” | Exclusive Edition Aluminum Print
3. Many of your earlier works include very cool homemade typography of letters and dates. Today we find your works gravitating toward an equally cool abstract/3D style. How would you describe your artistic evolution over the past few years?
I would definitely say that I grew out of various things I did in the past. I could easily go back to what I did earlier, like Typography, but I feel like the current exploration of work I do is very important for the future, so I kinda concentrate on that. And the 3D style is not exactly new, it’s just a revamped version of what I did back in 2008-2009 using the new knowledge I gained throughout the gap of those years. And I’ve been doing Abstract for all my life pretty much. When I change styles it’s usually just going back for the love of doing something like ‘xy’ again. Maybe sometime in the future I might do something entirely different and then feel like going back to the ‘Fabrics’ style. Who knows, but I love this stuff.
“DIVISION” | Exclusive Edition Aluminum Print
4. Were there any guiding artists or inspirations that influenced you to become the artist you are today?
That’s a mean question, haha. I would say the whole Digital Art scene is my and other Artists’ playground and if someone shines through or inspires us it’s generally that sense of community and feeling like there could be a breakthrough any day.
There are too many friends and buddies to list here that helped me or still help me, they know who they are if they read this, and I’m glad they were there when I needed them most. Today, I notice that I restrained myself to get inspired by others, simply because now I brim with creativity since being able to do exactly what I want.
This is also a big factor of what made me what I am today, I’ve let the boundaries fall down and then there’s just this big blank room… and I just think to myself, that’s it, now you can do everything you want.
“HEARTCORE” | Exclusive Edition Aluminum Print
5. Let’s talk geography. You live in Offenburg Germany, situated just next to the French border and north of Switzerland. Has this melting pot of different languages and styles enriched you artistically, or are we just hopeless romantics for creative European culture?
I absolutely love my area, no questions asked. I may be biased a lot, but the Schwarzwald/Black Forest is a gift of nature. Offenburg is a beautiful but also a rough city and when I don’t want to see anything urban I just walk, take the bike or my car and drive a few kilometers away. It’s like 5-10 km to the Black Forest. I can go deep into the woods, or just visit the rural areas. Switzerland is just like the pictures, haha.
There’s also a cool art scene in and around Basel (not only Art Basel) that I like to visit. And France is also a completely different experience. Strasbourg isn’t too far away either and it’s a beautiful city, a cross of Germany and France in one place not only because of History but also because of the close vicinity to the border. The Drei-Länder-Eck, as well call it here, is a fantastic possibility for anyone that comes to visit or stay here. I can only recommend it - also artistically you will not be disappointed if you search for the right places!
“Stapled” | Limited Edition Aluminum Print
6. You’ve worked with many international clients and have been featured on/in countless sites and magazines. Any professional or personal projects you are currently working on or looking forward to?
Yes indeed. There are a few things coming up that I can’t talk about yet, but let’s just say I am not sitting on the couch watching TV all day. The year goes by fast (April already!!) and has busy moments like I am currently experiencing. That being said, I really enjoy working, being busy is a privilege sometimes.
“Still Life” | Exclusive Edition Aluminum Print
7. “An artist by day, a ______ by night”…Do you have any hobbies or passions besides art that keep you busy and happy?
“An artist by day, an entertainer by night” - It’s no secret I’m the clown and happy-guy for my friends and family. Always highly positive and always bringing in any - no matter how small - motivation. I like joking around. As for hobbies and passions besides art making or drawing, or photographing… haha.
I am a film fan, I love watching great movies, sometimes I like watching terrible flicks as well, or the good old action movie, sometimes while working. I like getting out besides working, doing a Photo-Tour with my friends, going to place (sometimes even at night) and photographing around. Music is my passion, I dreamt of making my own, maybe, who knows? I have an ear for the smallest things in music, it’s crazy, tends to end up with me liking some music that may sound weird to others though.
But really, I enjoy doing so many things it’s impossible to count. Even simple stuff like hanging around the family is essential to me and keeps me up and going. But seeing my father and my mother working or laughing, my heroes, that’s what makes me really happy.
“Popup” | Exclusive Edition Aluminum Print