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Written by: Tamara Stanton
GMUNK is driven by a desire to be uncomfortable. Enigmatic and elusive, the world-renowned design director seeks to learn from unfamiliar spaces.
Over the course of his career, he has applied his science-fiction-inspired, psychedelic style to a wide variety of mediums. His repertoire includes short films, music videos, motion design and digital art exhibitions, exploring a variety of different themes – the subconscious, our relationship with technology – in unconventional ways.
GMUNK’s work has been exhibited at prestigious auction houses and in some of the most reputable fine-art galleries in the world. He is recognised by prestigious awards including the Cannes Grand Prix.
His output has inspired artists across the world. At the 21st edition of OFFF Festival, which was held in Barcelona from 5 – 7 May, they were able to hear him share his insights first-hand.
The festival brought together the most inventive minds in the fields of design, digital culture, and visual art, offering conferences and workshops to both aspiring and seasoned designers.
OFFF’s main sponsor, Adobe, curated a range of talks and masterclasses – GMUNK included – as part of the Adobe Creativity Hub, allowing guests to hear from inspiring speakers and learn more about the technology that Adobe is rolling out to help shape the future of design.
An augmented reality pioneer and NFT trailblazer, GMUNK is uniquely placed to discuss creativity in the digital era, and how Adobe is creating the tools that will define its contours.
Here, he shares his creative process, what he believes makes him stand out, and his best tips for newly-minted designers.
When and how did your creative journey start?
My professional creative journey started over 20 years ago, although I was a very creative kid growing up, always writing and illustrating books, making short films…. So I guess it all started with the Little Munky opening his eyes for the first time.
What is your personal approach to art? What do you consider to be art’s purpose?
My personal approach is about diversity, curiosity, constant innovation and keeping it fresh by changing mediums – variety is the spice of life, especially in the arts.
How would you describe your creative style? What themes do you most enjoy exploring?
I call my creative style enigmatic, atmospheric and metaphysical. I enjoy exploring themes of identity, the subconscious, and our human connection to technology. I work a lot with light and materiality.
What does your creative process look like?
It’s constantly changing and evolving, mostly because I jump around mediums so much – the process is always different. Digital, practical, photographic, cinematic, editorial, sculptural, robotic, volumetric, it’s all a completely different process.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Mostly from natural phenomena – fractal systems, materiality, the subconscious, flocking systems, natural curiosities and atmospheric anomalies.
How do you make sure to stay at the top of your game?
Honestly, by working fucking hard, collaborating with the right people and treating every project like it was my last. Opportunity is no guarantee so just have to constantly push on every project like it’s the most important thing you’ve ever done.
How do you approach your work ethic?
I feel like work ethic is an energy, meaning you have to take care of yourself to keep the energy high – and the approach to projects fresh and focused. Taking care of your body and your mind translates to the amount of energy and time you can put into your creative endeavours.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Treat every opportunity you have like it’s your last, because opportunity is not guaranteed whatsoever.
What are some of your top tips for young creators?
Find your voice, don’t do what you think others want you to do, stay fresh with diversity and mixing it up, always reference and study the masters, and lock into a process that you love, because you’ll be doing it a lot.
How has Adobe been part of your creative journey?
I think Adobe has been a part of everyone’s journey because they are the ultimate enablers. But more importantly, I view Adobe as family, I’ve known all the high-ups for so long and just appreciate their energy. Adobe x GMUNK has been a thing for a really long time, they’ve sponsored and showcased a lot of my projects through the years and I’ve always been so appreciative of that.
How do you use Adobe in your day-to-day work?
I mostly use Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere and After Effects for digital art, photography, filmmaking and motion design.
How has Adobe enabled the multidisciplinary aspect of your work?
They make the tools that help me be diverse and multidisciplinary – and their tools keep improving and doing new things, so as I evolve in my practice and skill, the tools keep getting better to keep pace with that evolution.
How do you feel about the opportunity to attend the festival?
I’ve been attending OFFF since 2002, so I’m always excited to see the family of creatives that I’ve met through the years, and to see inspiring talks, share some drinks and some laughs, and have fun.
What are you most looking forward to at the festival, and who are you excited to meet?
I’m excited to debut my title sequence – it’s been such a labour of love, that honestly I’m just overjoyed that this year I can share them with the full audience at a real event again – they’re absolutely crazy. I’ll say that this work is some of my best ever, and I’ve done a lot of crazy shit over the course of my career.
How do you envision the future of creativity?
While the tools, mediums and platforms are constantly evolving and in flux, the creative process remains an individual experience that dates back centuries. The future of creativity will remain personal, and those iterations grounded in the fundamentals of the creative being, which remains the same. The more analog the better.
Follow along for more stories from The OFFF Dispatch and learn more about OFFF Barcelona at offf.barcelona.
You can watch GMUNK’s masterclass online soon. In the meantime, check out what’s new in Adobe Creative Cloud.