We talked to Stan Ragets, from Toronto, USA, about his life and works.
Please describe your artwork style
I do a variety of artwork, from website and graphic design, drawing and illustration and more. However, my primary style and the type I enjoy most is abstract fractal artwork. Creating artwork that is geometric, ethereal, and surreal are my favourite.
What’s your background?
My background is in computer programming and web development. I’ve been working with computers, both hardware and software, for 20+ years. I have no formal artistic training.
How long have you been an artist?
Ever since I can remember I’ve loved drawing. From the time I was little I would draw and sketch and color and build. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I began to sell my artwork. In my mid-teens I discovered fractal artwork and haven’t stopped creating it since then. It’s a combination of computers and artwork!
Who or what are your biggest influences?
At the age of 15 I was looking around the web for “cool desktop backgrounds” for my Windows 98 computer and I saw this amazing picture. It was by a fractal artist named Peter Sdobnov. I had never seen anything like it. Needing to know more, I began to ply him questions. He was very kind and patient with me and taught me the basics of fractal artwork.
How have you developed your career?
I’ve mostly been self-taught since that time, although I have learned from many tutorials and help files for different fractal programs. As a freelance designer and programmer I will at times have a few minutes of downtime to explore new directions of fractal art. Over the years, I’ve taken the advice of several different gallery owners in providing high quality physical pieces of my digital artwork. I’ve also learned much from different professional printers and framers from around the world that I’ve worked with.
Where do you create your work?
As my artwork is digital, all of my work is done on my personal computer. I have a custom-built powerhouse of a system to handle the complex computations involved in producing the artwork. Even with 32 GB of ram, at times the rendering process has taken up to 1 month non-stop processing.
What do you feel is the role of the artist in society?
It’s good for an artist to produce work that people will enjoy and want to have in their homes or go to see. I don’t believe in provocation for provocation’s sake. Art should be enjoyed. It should stimulate thought and creativity. It should make people happy and contented. That’s what an artist should aim for.
What techniques / mediums do you use?
I use a wide variety of fractal programs. Each of these have strengths and weaknesses and allow for infinite possibilities in creating art. I’ve had over 18 years experience using Adobe Photoshop but have recently switched to Affinity Photo and now use this to enhance or clean up any images that I create.
Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed?
The subject. As a programmer and artist, I’ve come to learn that there are many ways to reach the same outcome. As a digital artist, this reality really opened my ways to new opportunities in art. Just because someone uses a certain technique to create and image it doesn’t make it better than another artist who uses a different technique but achieves the desired result. Don’t be so fussy as to how something was done. The subject and end result are much more important than any technique to get you there.
How do you feel when you are letting your emotions loose on the canvas?
It’s very relaxing to just get lost in creating an image. Even though I deal with numbers and calculations at times to create the artwork, it’s not heavy or stressful. It’s a feeling of exploration, similar to when a young child is standing barefoot in a stream, lifting up rocks to see what’s underneath and they look up with a huge smile when they’ve found something exciting. It’s a joy of discovery.
What project are you working on now?
Many years back I completed a 30 piece series called ‘Thoughts, Feelings and Emotions’. I have on my list as my next project to complete a much more in-depth, 70+ piece, series called ‘Thoughts, Feelings, and Emotions Part 2’ where I utilize fractal artwork to visualize these abstract emotions and feelings we have.
Where do you find your ideas for your work?
Emotions and abstract thoughts often give me the greatest ideas. How would you depict gravity as an image? What about magnetic force? What does ambivalent look like? What color would people see motivation as? Is it possible to communicate all the states of matter of copper in one image? They’re interesting things to ponder and sometimes very difficult to create.
Is there an artwork you are most proud of? Why?
I created a periodic table completely of fractals. Each and every element known at the time was carefully researched to provide a factually accurate and useful table for teachers and students. The idea was to help students have not just facts, but a visual reference and memory aid in truly knowing the elements on the periodic table. It was a fun and lengthy project.
How do you know when a work is finished?
Sometimes I feel that a piece is never finished. I’ll work and work, change this value and that, sometimes down to 0.00001 of a value to make adjustments to the piece. At times I just have to stop myself and say, “Enough, you’re done now, move on to something else”. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t ever produce a piece!
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
This one is simple. My computer. A tablet or mobile phone would make the process insufferably long. The computer is the single, most important tool I have.
Is there an element of art you enjoy working with most? Why?
I enjoy seeing people’s reaction, especially so when they don’t know the title of a piece. If the artwork, and not just my artwork, evokes the thought or emotion that the piece was designed for, that is very exciting. It’s my favourite part, seeing the art touch someone in a positive way.