November 7th, 2017
Meet Greg Gangemi, artist, New Yorker and CG Lead at The Mill.

Greg has been making waves in The Mill’s CG team for over 10 years across both LA and New York, and is credited with some impressive project titles such as Chevrolet ‘The Human Race’, Hennessy ‘The Piccards’, the titles for OFFF by Night, and the Justice League Masks for Facebook’s new camera effects. Aside from his daily duties, crafting work for big brands and ad agencies, he’s an artist within his own right with a passion for combining his knowledge of CG with beautifully shot live action imagery.

Greg tells us more about his artistic flow, what inspires him and his most recent passion project ‘Örn’.

Greg Gangemi Moon

Who or what inspires you?

I am very inspired by nature, mythology, and spiritual practices. I do a lot of reading - much of it focusing on esoteric philosophy and ancient cultures. I draw a lot of my inspiration from the imagery and symbolism that I find in books. I also admire film makers such as Werner Herzog, Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage and Jordan Belson. I am lucky to live in the middle of a forest, so my weekends are often spent exploring the trails around my house.

Tell us a bit about your artistic style.

I would say it leans towards the symbolic. A lot of the subject matter that I deal with is not meant to be conveyed literally, so I try to distill imagery from these esoteric writings in order to evoke an emotional response. It might be described as psychedelic since it has a hallucinatory or dreamlike quality.

Greg Gangemi Coyote

How does working here at The Mill influence your artistic style?

It has a huge influence. I would not have developed the same way as an artist without the rigor and influence of my contemporaries here at The Mill.  I'm lucky to work with so many inspired and creative people, many of whom bring the same passion to work that they bring to their own independent projects.

Tell us more about your latest project?

Örn, which is the Icelandic word for eagle, is an ongoing project made up of multiple videos. This project was initially conceived as a single, fully CG video, that told a story about the origin of life on earth. Örn symbolizes the idea of flight, and the idea that life first came to earth by flying here through space. I wanted to explore that idea visually.

Since I am also drawn to abstract artwork, I followed the first video with an abstract video. Since then, the name "Örn" has become the name of the video series and it is made up of both representational and abstract pieces, all of which are made completely with CG. The representational videos are symbolic scenes that combine elements in a way that leads the viewer along, but does not make any clear, single meaning. The components of the scenes may deal with ancient forms like pyramids or with natural elements like water and fire. The abstract movies are meant to give the viewer a kind of retinal massage, like watching fire. And to allow the mind to wander.

Greg Gangemi Orn Crater

What is the importance of keeping passion projects whilst working at The Mill? Does it impact your creative process, if so how?

In order for me to feel alive, it is essential to maintain a certain level of creative freedom and to create things just purely for personal joy. For me this is why I make "passion projects". My creative process is informed by the interplay between the things I do at The Mill and what I make in my own personal work. I find that working in this way is very satisfying.

What’s your approach and process when creating a new piece?

Most of my work is inspired either by what I am reading or my surroundings.  I take that spark of inspiration and meditate on it. I usually begin with an idea for an image that I would like to see. I allow that idea to spark other ideas that relate in some way. I try to have a very clear idea of what I am going to make before I dive into the process.  Sometimes the work comes fast and quick and other times it's slow and methodical.  It really depends on the complexity of the visuals.

How does creating this project differ from your experience in other mediums?

I have explored many different media, from oil painting to designing textiles on an industrial loom. I really love using CG because it gives me freedom to create almost any kind of image that I can imagine. If I had more resources to devote to my artwork I would do more things practically. But usually I can't organize a big shoot or spend a lot of time and money on production. Using CG I can always make something out of nothing.

Greg Gangemi Orn Spores

What are your essential tools?

For live action, I shoot with a Blackmagic pocket camera. For CG I use Maya, Houdini, Mari and Mudbox. I comp my shots in Nuke and then I assemble everything and apply the final polish in After Effects. As far as techniques that aren't computer-based, I have a setup for making images using colored inks and oils, and I use an audio recorder to record sounds from nature and bring them into the work.

Check out the last installment 'Antichthon' below: 

You can view all of the films and more of Greg's work on his website here