These Images Relish in the Vast Range of Possibilities Provided by Generative Art

From colourful to monochrome, from accurate to playful – generative designer and creative coder Manolo Gamboa Naon covers it all in his work. The Argentinian native based in La Plata is full of creative ideas and lets his audience dive into his creations on a regular basis. Having published more than ten projects in November, Manolo’s output volume is as astounding as his creations’ characteristics.

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Going in many different directions, Manolo never misses an opportunity to surprise. Be it formations of circles put together with a carefully laid out plan or lines and patterns simply following a spontaneous flow – Manolo tries out everything and anything that comes to mind. If an idea pops into his head but he’s working on something else, he simply saves a draft: “These are small gifts I save for the Manolo of the future”.

We spoke to Manolo about his work, creative process and thoughts of the present.

THE PLUS: Could you explain in your own words what generative art is, and what it means to you?
Manolo Gamboa Naon:
I’m not quite sure. I never take enough time to put it into words. For me, it’s the creation of rules, determining a set of steps to accomplish something. But from this, many doubts begin to appear. I think that automation also plays an important role, it allows me to try a lot. The whole process involves a lot of trial and error.

TP: How did you get into creative coding and generative design?
MG:
It was a really slow process. I started programming more than eleven years ago, when I was a child. Frankly, I think I never understood what I was doing, I was always interested in so many things. I think the first time I started working with the idea to create programs that perform creative tasks was learning “puredata” while trying to make random music.

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TP: Where do you draw your inspiration for your creations?
MG:
I like browsing through many creative platforms. I really spend a lot of time looking at Behance, Instagram or Twitter. I enjoy finding someone I like and I become a fan, but it only lasts for a few days. I spend a lot of time looking for things that I like – this becomes more difficult every time. Being in contact with images for so long, I think it is normal that the surprise factor becomes less intense every time you start over.

TP: Where did your love for patterns come from?
MG:
When I was little, my father bought a book called The Magic Mirror of M.C. Escher. I remember opening it and enjoying looking at the images very much. My father then gave it to me when I was an adult. In the book, Escher talks a lot about his life and his way of working. I love Escher and I think he gave me that love for patterns.

TP: Tell us about your thoughts and inspirations for your newest project, PPRLL.
MG:
I know it was only a short while ago, but I really do not remember how that project came about. Sometimes I remember how I made some of the images, especially if something happened in my head. The file of that project is called pearl, you see that in a moment I saw a pearl and started working on that. Nonetheless, I try to think about it less every time.

TP: Before you start creating: Do you have a plan about what you want an image to look like, or do you just spontaneously create and see where it goes?
MG:
It is a totally iterative process. Sometimes I start with an idea, but I try not to tie myself to it because that mental idea one has of what one wants to do is really unattainable. I am always willing to keep changing things up – actually, I have the need to see this happen. I find it boring otherwise.

TP: What exactly do you change?
MG:
I always start with something very simple and I take out what I do not like while trying to reinforce what I like. Suddenly, something interesting appears and I continue to work with that. If another interesting idea pops into my head, I save a version and keep it. They are small gifts I leave for the Manolo of the future. When I have no ideas, I start looking for these gifts.

TP: Can you give us some insight into your creative process? What does your creative day look like?
MG:
I am quite unorganised, I do not have schedules and I like to work at night. I feel that it is an exercise. When a few days pass without being creative it is much more difficult to start, so I try not to lose the rhythm.

TP: What’s your favourite personal piece of work?
MG:
I’m not sure, but I really like capas. I remember that I really enjoyed making it, when everything flows it’s really fun. At that time I was very interested in patterns, and that week I had seen many Disney movies. I started to work on a pattern, but with the idea of having layers. Then I had the fish, which I drew from a previous project recalling a work by Escher called Three Worlds. I tried to copy that idea in a much simpler and empty way.

TP: Do you have any tips for other artists who want to become better at what you do?
MG:
Copy everything you like and try to enjoy it.

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