From Advertising to Painting- An Interview with Artist Ciucinciu Tiberius

Ciucinciu Tiberius is an artist and an advertiser who has recently started painting traditional canvas. He is part of the Fusion Arts portfolio. He got in only one exhibition in 2012, then digital was the main way to get his works seen. But recently he got again a sweet taste for real life exhibitions and will try to mingle with those more and often.

Can you tell us something about your background? 

I started drawing for fun in high school. I went to art university and that put me through the most unproductive art period in my life. My personal creations number dipped to 0, just studies of anatomy and perspective for school. And it hovered at 0 for about 4 to 5 years. I went on the second round of university, film and image faculty this time. After I finished that I started a career in advertising.

I learned the cool skill of graphic design, it was like meeting a more pragmatic cousin of fine art, and that changed my perspective on art, pretty much. It gave me new tools and systems for approaching and creating art. Advertising also taught me about the client needs, the importance of a brief to understand what has to be delivered, and probably the most important, it taught me to extend an objective separation between my creations and myself, useful when the client gives me feedback and it is undecided about modification. And now I use those insights to enhance the trade of my skills.

I also exercise my art muscle with music. I am composing my own music and playing guitar in a pop-rock band called The Details. And that gives me a whole new perspective in my brain to be used for painting and drawing, and vice-versa.

How have you developed your career? What jobs have you done other than being an artist?

During the university period, I’ve established a minimum baseline of skills (anatomy, perspective, rendering) but it wasn’t enough. So I started to get heavy knowledge from the internet and friends. At first, I couldn’t believe how much resources and didactic material lies on the internet, from Youtube channels to Facebook groups. These resources are not even hard to find. It is a golden age to grow as an artist. Being mediocre and unskilled has no more excuses these days.

The advertising career went in parallel for about 4 years with my art hobby and, surprisingly, it turned from a hobby into a career. Slowly but surely I got more projects and jobs for illustrations and drawings. All of my works were done in the digital medium. But one day I stumbled into some oil painting tutorials over Youtube channels. I was hooked up immediately and got a burning need to get myself into that. Working with real materials, getting dirty while having my hands’ stuff to feel was all I need.

Digital medium (tablet, mouse, keyboard) are just pieces of barely responsive plastic, just buttons, and clicks but painting in oil was the thing that made all the difference. So a good friend gave me a great room with an awesome view where I made my paint workplace. It was and still is amazing to use all of my senses into my artwork. Not to mention that the workflow is organic and physical, I paint standing up. I often move back and forth from the easel to correct my perspective from different distances. A session of 8 to 12 hours of work can be surprisingly exhausting.

Overall is a way better and healthy experience than sitting still in a chair at a desk on some “cold” machines (Yes, I still work at desk because I still paint digitally and modeling in 3D programs). So I started to paint in oil, the first one was a portrait of a famous psychiatrist. Posted on a facebook group dedicated to him. Sold it instantly and got more dozen of commissions of it. That went surprisingly well from the start. Then I got commissions for various paintings, reproductions of the famous painting, original work. So much so, the advertising career became obsolete. And now I enjoy a full-time career in fine art and digital painting.

What does your work aim to say?

In the beginning, I was approaching weird and macabre subjects in my works, over time got more relaxed and real about it. Too much of a thing can keep one in a comfort zone, that’s highly detrimental to growth and evolution. I thought it is the right time to try various subjects and ideas: beauty and aestheticism, epicness and dimensionality, dynamism and action, eroticism and mortality, fun and offensiveness, ambiguity and deficiency, simplicity and meditation.

I should say that I will continue to add more of these subjects. A part of this stuff will most likely be left behind, and some will stay and grow more important. I’ve stopped looking for a certain style a long time ago when I realized that I want my work to be recognized not by some technical quirks, but by the idea of what is actually happening in the painting or drawing. But I’m also aiming to surprise people by creating stuff that doesn’t look like my past or future works. So open flexibility and systematic adaptiveness is a serious and probably a risky goal, Do I stretch myself too much instead of improving what I know to do the best? Probably. Is it fun? Hell yeah, son! Will I stop? I don’t think so!

Who are your biggest influences? What or who inspires in your career?

Right now, probably the best influences is the collective consciousness of weirdos called the internet. There I can find all the inspiration an artist could need. You can stay locked in a room your whole life and still find endless inspiration for your art. But that’s not to mention reality itself is not an inspiration. It is, and it is a massive one, but we already know that so no need to point that out even more.

Of course, the best ones who inspire me are artists, not just painters or illustrators like M.C. Escher, H R Giger, Ilya Repin, Arnold Bocklin, Hieronymus Bosch, John Singer Sargent, Zdzislaw Beksinski, just to name a few from a gigaton of artists i love. There are movie directors, cartoon creators, youtubers, comic-book writers/illustrators, random people posting on facebook or reddit, and so on and so forth.

So there’s a huge filled with information that’s constantly releasing vast quantities in my brain, maybe enough to get inspiration for probably another 60 lifes. I get really surprised when I see people searching desperately and not finding inspiration. “What do you mean you can’t find inspiration? The world is filled with stuff for you to digest and slap it on a canvas! Probably you have brain indigestion and you need to get some proper treatment.”

Which current art world trends are you following?

Right now is realism and abstract cubism. I enjoy and drool at paintings where light does all the work. The latest trend is 3D art. I am in the process to integrate 3D modeling in my art production. This open a whole new window of possibilities to make it easier for me to do my art, instead of finding the right references why not just do my own? Especially useful for me when I’m gonna start sculpting in clay/stone/wood. It’s gonna come handy for planning the future sculptures I will create.

What role does the artist have in society?

That role is solely to prove other animals and aliens that they suck and are not capable to create something as awesome as art and they should be ashamed for not being humans. Just kidding! Relax. I know some animals can make art (even if they probably don’t realize it) and some look very much like art. And I also know all aliens make better art than all mankind, they taught us that skill, but they got left and never came back in disappointment. Or humiliation! Jokes aside, art has roles, many roles, probably too many from tonic for the brain, inspiration for the bored ones, a stimulant for wasted people.  “To comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable” – Cesar A. Cruz. Also, to beautify the plain, to destroy the pompous, to fill the existential emptiness and to drain the cluttered unimportant remains. I can insert many other roles.

However, you can’t deny art has a higher form, is almost like a privilege or a gift for humanity. Probably an emergent gift from nature for surviving and evolving harshest conditions the universe tried to extinct us. Art is so awesome it can act like a X-ray machine for scientists to see how our brain and minds work. It is important to some psychologists. No matter what specific role you can assign to art it will always have a higher than 0 value. And more than that, it’s value increases with time. And more amazingly is what makes some art explode in value and price. Things like the name of the author, where or who kept it, the backstory, random stuff that’s almost hard to prescribe.

What’s your favorite artwork?

For now, my favorite is:

Last comfortable man (2016 – digital painting)

The Murg – (2019 – oil painting)

How would you describe your practice?

At first, my workflow was about 80% of the instinctive idea and 20% technicality. I believed that my creations don’t need to look academically correct because the idea behind my artwork was the main thing I wanted to show. But as time went on, I realized that it was an ignorant and probably a lazy thing to say. After all, if I wanted the best from my ideas, why wouldn’t I want to make them pleasing to look at? It’s like having a beautiful child and dress him in rags.

So I started to develop my skills with intense discipline and pragmatic attention. And now I consider myself an artist with “head in the clouds and my feet on the ground” or an artist with “liberal ideas applied with conservative methods”. And of course sometimes I can do “liberal ideas and liberal methods” or “head in the ground and conservative in liberalism”. Yeah, experimenting and getting loose to see where I end up. It’s good exercise, I recommend it highly.

What themes do you pursue?

I like to see action in my works and other’s art. I want to see stuff happening, and I want reasons and intention from the subjects. But I don’t mind high doses of ambiguity in that, I enjoy complete the unseen side of the story, helped by carefully placed clues. I also like inflection points, where a multitude of actions and happenings came all together in that one very instance that I describe through paintings. 

If it’s not about action and stuff happening then it’s probably about the light and a homage to the phenomenon of light that I’m always finding myself to think about it in awe. I also enjoy the hell out of that feeling of being small, when you’re in a huge cavern, or a mere human o speck of planet in a random corner of the vast Universe. That’s a feeling not suited for everybody, it brings a kind of anxiety and unease for some. 

But that’s just about figurative and descriptive art. I delve into abstract art after I got hooked in by an ex-colleague. And I enjoy trying to make shapes to rhyme with each other. I like how the instinct plays a huge role in creating interesting patterns and reactions. Also, the reason is a part of abstract creation too, for when something doesn’t work, it’s useful to find solutions and different approaches. It’s really interesting to see how a slight change of a part of a shape can throw the balance way off or can make the whole piece snap into almost perfection (or more often than not, not doing anything different whatsoever).

What is your dream project?

Probably what I think the most (besides building my own house in neoromanian style) is having a bar with an art gallery and concert hall. With a huge yard of nature for people to relax, and most likely workshop spaces for art teachers and students. But that’s pretty far away. Making album art for bands I love and exhibiting paintings in cool galleries is way closer in the future and more doable.