We Talk To One Of The Artists in This Years, Playing Art’s International, Contest Playing Art’s international contest attracts entries from hundreds of artists across 67 different countries who each submit their own card creation, and the winning 55 are turned into the new Playing Arts Special Edition deck. Digital Artist and illustrator, Emi Haze, is a participant in this years competition and was assigned the 4 of Spades card. For her entry to the collaborative art project, Emi’s card is ethereal, meticulously detailed and poignant. Featuring a woman, seemingly deep in thought or, emotionally, miles away; her head is literally, ‘in the clouds’ somewhere, the boundaries between her skin and the sky are blurred and seem to personify the concept of a daydream. Ironically, there is no space between her and the clouds but the Emi explains that her image is all about ‘the need for space’: “You need time and quiet to really get in touch with your soul and the universal energies around us all”. Emi uses a simulatenously warm and cold palette to create a realistic image of a human, our rosy cheeks and the pinkness in our skin from the blood beating in our veins are set against the distant blues and greys of the skies above us. If you like Emi’s design as much as we do, there is still time to vote for her here but in the meantime, while she waits to find out, we caught up with her to find out more about her entry and her style. The Plus: Why did you decide to take part in the Creative Contest 2016? Emi Haze: Some months ago I was invited by Playing Arts to take part in their international contest, creating the 4 of Spades playing card for their new special edition deck among other artists. Playing Arts is a collaborative art project that gathers the best designers and illustrators from all over the world with an idea to express their vision of an ordinary playing card using personal styles, techniques and imagination. The past editions of the project had been very successful and be part of this new, creative and funny project with a lot of international great and famous artists is a very big pleasure and honour. TP: What was the creative process for your design? EH: I think research is something fundamental and necessary in my work. In my opinion everything in every moment has an artistic side, the aesthetics of things, people around me… For me everything has its own importance, images, textures, sounds, fragrances, my creativity is constantly stimulated. I combine in a single image hundreds of Photoshop layers with many and many graphic elements and textures. All the Blend Modes, layer masks, Adjustments layers I use, make the starting image less digital and more similar to a painting or a drawing. This phase of manual elaboration is then merged with the strictly digital one. Selecting parts of different photo images, I try to blend with the double exposure technique the human body with nature and its elements. The double exposure technique is one of my favourite technique in my latest works. Bringing together two or more photos creates a coherent image that can be beautiful, nostalgic or unsettling, depending on what photos you use and how you combine them. With double exposure, you can create a surreal and fantastic world beyond our imagination. TP: Sum up your playing card design in 3 words. EH: Ethereal, dreamy, peaceful. TP: How does the symbolism of the 4 of Spades card connect with your design? EH: In the context of spirituality, the 4 of Spades for the tarot indicates a need for space. You need time and quiet to really get in touch with your soul and the universal energies around us all. I wanted to symbolize this moment of relaxing of the body and soul representing a girl immersed in a dreamy and ethereal space made of clouds and pastel colours – elements that also distinguish my personal style. TP: What did you find challenging, if anything, about this contest? EH: I believe that the greatest challenge of this project is to unify into a single playing card your own style, giving an original and personal interpretation of the card. TP: Outside of this competition, what do you do? EH: I‘ve worked for several clients and big agencies like Adobe, Wacom, Microsoft, Penguin Random House, Getty Images, etc. I collaborated with the agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners of San Francisco to be part of the Photoshop 25th Anniversary special advertising campaign commissioned by Adobe. They licensed two of my artworks and one of them “Cosmogony Reloaded” is on the Adobe Photoshop 25th anniversary “Dream On” Oscars Spot was featured during the Academy Award Oscars 2015 ceremony and was also used in other media as part of an international bigger campaign. Today it has been watched over 2 million times on YouTube and has achieved three prizes in Cannes and was nominated for best Commercial Film at Emmy Awards 2015. Taking part to this big event is a huge honour and representing my main working tool is a great personal satisfaction. I’m very proud I realized the Italian cover of “Panic” and “Vanishing Girl”, the latest books of the bestselling author Lauren Oliver. The big appreciation for these covers allowed me to be contacted by Penguin Random House of New York to create the cover jacket of “Glitter” the new young adult novel by the New York Times bestselling author Aprilynne Pike. Planning and designing the cover of a book is always a big challenge and responsibility as you tend to represent with one image the content and the soul of the book. At the same time, it must be intriguing and attractive in order to catch the attention of readers who usually read other genres. TP: Tell us about yourself. EH: I began with painting and drawing when I was attending the art high school. Then I discovered the digital art and I connected this great passion of mine with technology, taking a degree in graphic design and commercial art at the Design Institute Palladio in Verona. Now I’m a freelance digital artist and illustrator. I love Impressionism for the use of color and Surrealism for the subjects. I could name many artists, painters and digital artists that have influenced me, at first in my painting and later in my digital art. Music is one of the key of my creative process. Listening to my favourite artists like Sigur Rós, Radiohead, Bjork, helps me to immerse myself in my creative world and to have a right inspiration mood to develop a new work. TP: What’s next for you? EH: I have many ideas to be tested in the future. My style is in constant evolution. I hope to work and collaborate with new and important clients and agencies. Digital art is nowadays becoming increasingly important and it will exponentially grow in the future. The potentials offered by technology are endless and they can perfectly fuse with our manual skills. The only limit is our imagination.