Artist Focus: Jan Michaels – 3D Visualiser

In our continued series focusing on artists who are based in the Fenland areas we were lucky enough to sit down for a conversation with 3D Visualiser, Jan Michaels. Like many artists living and working in the region, Jan has an intimate connection with the flatlands that she calls home, despite rarely working on designs that involve the Fenlands in any particular way. We sat down for a coffee in her studio on the edge of the Fenlands to ask her about how her scenic surroundings have effected her work and what the area means to her.

Thanks for welcoming us to your home here, it’s a very rural environment but I can see that you’re mostly working on urban projects. Do you find that disconnect to be a barrier to your work?

Only in the most logistical of ways. Many of my clients, like Uniform from Liverpool, are based in cities that are simply not practical for me travel to for a half an hour meeting. Thankfully, technology has developed quickly enough for this to no longer really be an issue. I use Skype and FaceTime to conduct most of my architectural visualisation meetings and web-based chats like Slack really help bridge the distance between myself and those that I work with.

So would you say there are benefits to working in your industry in such an isolated place such as this?

Absolutely! Every morning I’m greeted by the sound of bird song, I drink my morning coffee whilst looking out onto this stunning scenery and I find an inner peace that I simply couldn’t get in a city. During the summer I work with the doors and windows open, there’s so much fresh air flowing through the house that it feels like I’m working outside!

How would you say working in the Fenlands has affected your work as an artist?

My ‘day job’ as I suppose you’d call it is in the field of visualisations. This involves using a computer to generate images of buildings, landscapes, products – anything really! Often I’m working from spec, which means I’m given designs and measurements to work with, so in these cases I’m rarely calling on my environment to inspire me. However, during my spare time I create my own visualisations often using the Fenlands’ panoramic landscapes as a starting point.

I understand you’re not affiliated with any artist community in the area, is this a deliberate choice to distance yourself from the local scene?

Not at all! I’ll often drop into a local exhibition and have a mooch around, but I wouldn’t consider myself an ‘artist’ in the traditional sense. Whilst the work that I produce is undoubtedly influenced by the Fenlands, you could easily be forgiven for not seeing this link if you weren’t informed first. I like to re-imagine the land around me as an alien landscape, often using an ultra-violet colour palette and fantastical shapes to transform the Fens into something quite different.

Finally, what are you currently working on, anything exciting?

I’ve picked up a string of jobs that will be utilising my 3D render skills, so I’m looking forward to getting them done and then applying any new tricks I’ve learnt to some new work of my own. I’ve spent a lot of time recently watching some old science fiction movies from the 70s, so I’m hoping to use some of those visual ideas as well!