Artists We Love: Ferdi B Dick

INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr IMAGES courtesy of Ferdi B Dick

Ferdi B Dick‘s latest exhibition, “Lion’s Breath” draws on inspiration from the important people and animals in his life. We chat with him about his new creations and the challenging and thrilling world of sculpture.

Ferdi B Dick

How did you start your artistic journey?

I started my artistic journey as a 3D illustrator and animator, as I have always been drawn to the world of digital art and the endless possibilities it offers. In particular, I found myself really enjoying the process of sculpting in 3D.

After a while, I decided to invest in a 3D printer to take my work to the next level. I was absolutely hooked by the feeling of being able to physically hold and interact with a sculpture that I had created in the digital realm. From that moment on, I knew that I had found something I really enjoyed! I continued to experiment with different mediums, such as bronze, stainless steel, and crystal.

I believe that my background in 3D illustration and animation has given me a unique perspective when it comes to creating art. I can blend traditional techniques with modern technology to create truly unique and visually striking pieces. I think I enjoy having my sculptures so shiny and perfect because, on the computer, it is natural to have things mathematically precise and “correct”.

What is the process behind creating your sculptures?

My process is predominantly digital. I use a large tablet-like screen to do my concept drawing and sculpting. This enables me to create a wide range of options and variations for each sculpture, allowing me to achieve the perfect shape.

Once I am satisfied with the digital prototype, I move on to creating a small 3D-printed version of the sculpture. I use this as a reference to ensure that the final product will be as close to the digital version as possible.

When I have a selection of good options, I send the files to be printed to the desired size and then cast. The most time-consuming part of my process is polishing the sculptures to perfection, which is a vital step in bringing out the true beauty of each piece.

Overall, my digital approach allows me to have more control over the outcome of each piece, and the ability to experiment with different variations before finalizing the product.

What inspires your creations?

For the exhibition artwork for Lion’s Breath, I can explain that my grandfather was a big inspiration for my work. He loved going to the Kruger National Park, and lions were his favourite animals. He used to make a powerful growling sound with us kids, which was his way of connecting with us. I think this connection with my grandfather and his love for lions has influenced my artistic style.

I noticed that when a lion growls, it sticks out its tongue, which is reminiscent of the posture in yoga called Lion’s Breath. This posture involves sticking out your tongue and making a loud growling sound to release built-up emotions, tension, and pressure. I wanted to incorporate this idea into my sculptures and create a breathing space for people to let go, alleviate stress, and heal from the daily routine.

I chose not to focus on any political or social issues as many other artists have already explored this arena, and I wanted my art to be more about letting go and creating a space for healing. So, in short, my inspiration comes from my grandfather, the power of lions, and the healing properties of yoga.

How do you go about picking your colour schemes?

My process for picking colour schemes is heavily inspired by the natural environment around me. I am mostly at my country house in Koringberg, which has a massive garden filled with various succulents, each with its unique colours and shades.

I find inspiration in the different colours and combinations of colours in the garden. I take photographs of the succulents and their flowers and use them as a reference when choosing colour schemes for my artwork.

Ultimately, I aim to create a colour scheme that perfectly complements the subject matter of my artwork, while also evoking a specific mood or emotion. Whether it’s a calm and peaceful vibe or a more energetic and vibrant feel, I use the colours I observe in the natural world and in other forms of art to create a unique and visually striking palette.

Do you have a particular favourite?

As an artist, it’s hard to pick just one favourite sculpture. However, if I had to choose, I would say that my favourite sculpture is typically the one that I have just finished working on. I put so much time, effort, and emotion into each piece that I tend to feel a strong connection to it once it’s completed.

Currently, I am really proud of the “Lion’s Breath Lion” sculpture that I recently created. It was a challenging piece to work on, but I was really happy with the end result. The sculpture captures the power, grace, and majesty of the lion, and I think it would make a beautiful addition to any art collection.

Of course, as an artist, I am always looking to push myself and try new things. So, while the “Lion’s Breath Lion” is my favourite right now, I am excited to see what new ideas and projects will capture my imagination in the future.

How do you keep size from intimidating you?

There is something about seeing a sculpture come to life on a larger scale that is exciting for me. Of course, working on a big piece can be intimidating at first – there’s a lot of space to fill and a lot of details to consider. But I try to focus on the possibilities rather than the challenges.

That being said, I also love working on smaller sculptures. They allow me to experiment with different forms and styles, and they can be really fun to experience in person. The small size of these sculptures allows for a level of intimacy and detail that isn’t always possible with larger pieces.

Describe your work in three words.

I would choose “motion frozen in time” as my preferred answer.

I believe that my work captures a sense of movement and energy, but at the same time, it is also frozen in time. My sculptures are three-dimensional representations of a moment in time, and they convey a sense of stillness and permanence even as they capture the energy of the subject.

At the same time, I also like the idea of “fun frozen in motion.” My work often features playful and whimsical subjects, and I try to infuse each piece with a sense of joy and lightheartedness. So both of these descriptions capture different aspects of my artistic style and approach.

Do you have any influences?

For my current show, one of my biggest influences is my pets and life partner. Their unique personalities and behaviours often inspire me to create art that captures their essence. Additionally, I am heavily influenced by Asian cartoons and art toys, drawn to the bold, colourful, and playful nature of these art forms. I strive to incorporate elements of these influences into my work.

Where do you see sculpture going in South Africa? 

There is so much talent and creativity in this country, and I see more and more artists exploring new techniques and pushing the boundaries of what sculpture can be. I also think that there is a growing interest in contemporary sculpture among collectors and art enthusiasts in South Africa. This is encouraging, as it means there is a market for sculptors to showcase their work.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t an artist, I think I would probably be some sort of engineer. I enjoy the process of creating and building things, so engineering would be a natural fit for me. However, I can’t imagine myself not being involved in some form of creative work, as it is such a huge part of who I am.

What are your plans for the rest of 2023? 

I have a lot of exciting projects in the works for the rest of 2023. Currently, I’m working on a public sculpture for the city of Zhanjiang, China. The sculpture will feature a massive 9-meter-high stylistic whale with a water splash, and it will be located in a prime spot in the new coastal CBD of Zhanjiang International Riverside. This project has been a great challenge for me, but it has also been incredibly rewarding to see the sculpture take shape and come to life.

In addition to this project, I’m also busy designing a predominantly crystal sculpture for a solo exhibition later in the year. I’m excited about this project because it’s a departure from some of my other work and will allow me to explore new materials and techniques. I’m confident that it will be a visually stunning and emotionally impactful piece that will connect with viewers on a deep level.

“Lion’s Breath” by Ferdi B Dick is on until the 11 March 2023 at Everard Read Gallery, 6 Jellicoe Avenue Rosebank, Johannesburg.

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