Raphael Lacoste is one of the biggest names in the NFT space and in the gaming and film industries. He has worked on big franchises like Assassins Creed and films such as The Prince of Persia and the Terminator. He is also one of the ambassadors for 0x Society.
SOLSTICE by Raphael Lacoste
Could you start by introducing yourself and the mediums you use?
My name is Raphael Lacoste and I was born in Paris, France. I’ve always been fascinated by the creation of universes and worlds because of my love for environment design, lighting and composition. I started my journey with traditional art and photography because I was really interested in learning how to do framing, composition and lighting. Eventually, I discovered new tools in the early 2000s that allowed us to create CG renders. I went to a school in France where I learned how to manipulate 3D and to render. I was really fascinated by the whole process of creating a render and waiting a few hours to see the final results.
Do you still do a bit of traditional art or do you only do digital and 3D now?
There’s a connection between traditional mediums, CGI and even 3D rendering in softwares because sometimes when I take photos, I think about my illustration work. So I would even say that my photography could be inspired by some CGI artworks I made. Also, when I’m working with 3DS Max, or even Photoshop, I’m using my photos as reference. So it’s a crossroad of different mediums and it’s really connected. There’s no dichotomy with two different directions and two different interests.
Can you talk about your experience in the pandemic and how it affected your artistic career?
Even though it was a strange experience, it was great to reconnect with my family and spend more time with them. We had to adapt, as did everyone, and the transition was smooth. As for my job, I was shipping an assessment of Valhallah, so I was really focusing on playing the game, reporting the bugs and giving feedback to the team. I was in a good condition to work remotely. We had everything we needed, so it wasn’t totally frustrating.
So regarding NFTs, when exactly did you learn about them and when did you join the space?
I would hear about NFTs from a friend on Facebook and it got me curious. I would wonder how we were able to sell JPEGs for such high values and he would answer all my questions. I was all for that. Then a few months later, a friend on foundation got me an invitation on the platform. This is how it all started. I was learning a lot more about NFTs just by jumping in the space, because as much as I made my research, it’s completely different when you get involved in it and start putting your own work out there. You could say that I was very young the NFT space, but an old guy in the video game industry so it felt a bit weird to learn everything from scratch. I also applied to SuperRare and I was accepted. I was also happy to have joined this platform.
Can you tell us a bit about any upcoming projects, like your piece for 0x Society?
When 0x Society reached out to me to work with them, I was really inspired by the Solstice themed exhibition. I wanted to do something connecting the origins of monumental architectures from historical times that used the alignment of the stars and the sun at the solstice. I thought it would be an interesting topic to explore since, in our day and age, we don’t worship the sun anymore and modern architecture doesn’t have a connection to beliefs anymore. For instance, Vikings, Egyptians, Europeans, historically, they all have architectures that are inspired and related to their religious and spiritual beliefs and I wanted to recreate that in a sci-fi scene. So I imagined this scene with a temple on a distant planet where they were able to align the structure with the sun during the solstice.
Do you have any advice for upcoming digital artists in the community?
Whenever I review portfolios, I happen to see works where the artists add too many details which are often unnecessary. It’s a lot of time spent on rendering when in reality, the focus should be on the composition, the lines, the lighting and putting more details on the focal point rather than the whole piece. Very often, I will come back on the same critique about spending less time rendering and doing all the overkill details and spending more time on what is really essential to the piece. So if we talk about environment design, just go with light direction, composition and the story: is it interesting and do you have the right angle? It’s just like in photography where you have to choose the right angle to make the image look interesting because a location could either look boring or appealing just with a different frame and a different accent.