Founded on 31 January 2006 by Brad Mahaffey, Konvulse aims to stand out in the crowd. In the online world of art communities, what seemed to be lacking was a strong community to go hand in hand with great art. With a lot of work, the Konvulse team were able to merge those two aspects into one central concept and today, that’s what they’re all about. Just like a music group that thrives on its fans, an art group thrives on fans viewing and appreciating the art. Loueze Harper chats with Brad Mahaffey and Evan Bohringer about the art community and amazing artwork that make up Konvulse.
When announcing the idea for Konvulse, Brad Mahaffey called it ‘a new approach to an art group’. Featuring a forum for communication among talented artists, the means to provide quality feedback or criticism and plenty of scope for self improvement, the aim of Konvulse is a better quality of work and a larger following of fans. Since its inception—and with the help of Alex Suraci—Konvulse quickly grew out of a vision, turning what was just an idea into a remarkable, functional art community. Within a month or two of appearing online, the team were already showcasing some of the best talent in digital art.
And don’t worry, they’re not stopping there.
Aimed at anyone who has an interest in art or music, you don’t have to be a graphics guru to appreciate the work on the site. Mahaffey spent a long time creating a visually attractive, user-friendly website before hooking up with Suraci, who volunteered to organise the backend of the website. Together, they created an in-depth complete content management system with forum integration to manage releases, artist profiles and personal artist galleries.
Running with the pack
As an art group, Konvulse’s core features are their themed exhibitions, known as packs. Every four to eight weeks, they release these packs to showcase a multitude of different kinds of art to the public. Every piece of art in these exhibitions is new work—from digital art to photography, audio composition to skins for computer software.
Run entirely online, Konvulse benefits from having so many artists from all over the world.
‘We featured an artist when we launched the site, and with every pack we released we’ve had a new featured artist,’ says Mahaffey. ‘The featured artist of each pack is the artist—in the eyes of our staff—that contributed the most effort, creativity, theme-relevance, etc.’
Featured artists include: Jared K. Nickerson of J3concepts (Canada), Sander Staal of Viremaster (Netherlands), Giel Blankestijn of Godxx2 (Netherlands), HipÛcrates Rodriguez of Breaker (the Dominican Republic), Keith Kosmal of Genesis (US) and Vitaliy Zavadskyy of Neo (Canada).
Artists who believe they are capable of producing work that meets the Konvulse level of quality may apply online. Accepted members are then free to share personal work and create art for the Konvulse packs at no cost. The most recent works are displayed on the homepage along with other work that stands out from the packs and personal submissions.
For such a relatively short time in existence, the site enjoys quite a bit of traffic, and currently receives over 50,000 unique visitors a month.
‘We have an advanced backend system for our artists,’ Mahaffey explains. ‘Our staff work hard to make sure the site will be beneficial to our artists. Everything from member profiles, interviews and submissions is dynamic. We have a new version of the site in the works that’s going to top everything over tenfold.’
Recruited to Konvulse as a ‘motion artist’ just before the first art pack release early in 2006 was Sydney-based Evan Bohringer, a young up-and-comer on the design scene.
‘Being a motion artist means creating artworks with programs like Flash and After Effects,’ Evan explains, adding modestly that he basically just makes small movies. ‘However, I do like to create static art, as I find it lets me be a little more creative. I like to experience as many programs as I can and am currently developing my skills in After Effects.’
Evan started experimenting with digital design when he was 15 and has been doing it ever since.
‘Everything I learnt is from experimenting, friends and tutorials on the net,’ he says. ‘At first, I began with the typical “3D abstract” style, but now I’m experimenting with many different styles like typography and vector abstract.’
For most of his work, Evan uses Photoshop, 3ds Max and Flash.
‘I don’t use Illustrator much as I find that most of my vector work can be done in Flash,’ he says, adding that he has nothing against Illustrator and that the choice between them is ‘really a matter of what you get used to’.
‘I find animating with Flash the most rewarding,’ he continues. ‘But Actionscript has been the biggest learning curve for me as I find I’m not too savvy with coding… yet.’
For importing his 3D animations into Flash, Evan uses Swift 3D.
‘Its good for vector renders,’ he says, ‘but the modelling tools are somewhat difficult to use.’
Looking for inspiration
‘I find Konvulse a great place to meet talented artists and designers,’ Evan says, revealing that he almost never has a solid idea of what a finished piece might look like at the beginning.
‘It’s usually just a few ideas and inspirations of what I’ve seen around the place,’ he says.
‘For example, I might see a few good looking things in an advertisement and combine them with a few ideas of my own. From there I will begin to experiment and draft. The final result is often quite different to what I expected it to turn out like.’
Evan also reveals that his work often begins as a very rough draft.
‘But unlike most designers, I like to “sketch” the artwork on the computer,’ Evan says.
‘I find it’s faster and I can move to the final stages quickly because I have the resources from the draft.’
Most of Evan’s work is freelance.
‘It’s usually website design, which is good because it gives me more experience with Flash,’ he laughs. ‘And my clients love it when their websites have pretty things that move.’
Apart from that, however, a lot of his art is created ‘for the viewing pleasure of others as well as being an outlet for myself’.
‘They are made to post on the net and just basically be in the digital world. It’s very rare that I find myself doing an artwork in print resolution.’
A bright future
As Evan is still young and studying, he’s keen to get as much experience as he can—’experimenting with new styles and trying to find something that can really stand out from the crowd’. But he also wants to choose a good design college to back up his talent and give him a solid background. For now, he is working on updating his own website, with the idea of using more typography than images.
‘I’ve seen it done and it has quite a few advantages besides just loading quickly,’ he says. ‘I hope I can pull it off.’