Blissing Out With Emily Switzer
A Rumfoords original content piece created by the boundary-pushing Toronto-based 3D artist and her inspiration in her own words.
Rumfoords has our eye on thousands of digital, virtual and 3D fashion creators. But for our very first piece of original content, we asked Toronto-based artist Emily Switzer to make us a piece. Why? She doesn’t dress humans. She dresses fauna. We needed one of these, badly, and needed an explanation from the artist herself.
Switzer was a producer and coordinator for renowned Toronto post-production and VFX houses where she spent hours learning how to perfect the marriage of digital and physical worlds. She knew she wanted to become an artist herself, and the mystical, heavenly piece she made for Rumfoords proves why.
You can immerse yourself in Switzer’s piece, called “Bliss Out,” on Sketchfab here or see it below.
For the full interview, read on!
Rumfoords: First of all, why are you drawn to dressing up things that aren’t people?
Emily Switzer: Exploring the idea of non-humanoids wearing fashion is something I find really interesting and something I’d like to explore even further because of the freedom digital fashion allows you.
My first instinct was, “OK, what else can I dress up? What else can we do? Why humanoid anymore?”
What else can I dress up in clothes? Let’s put some pants on animals! Let’s do it.
R: So why fauna?
ES: I went to school for film, and they teach is painting with light. Something about when you watch plants, not only is it soothing, I think it’s good for the soul. I’m naturally drawn to plants, but the quality of light sometimes on plants is so beautiful.
Sometimes I look at a leaf and I’m like, “This is the essence of green. This is like when my ancestors looked at this plant, this is the purest form of green.” It’s so beautiful and calming and natural. I’m bringing in fauna and dressing up giant plants in clothing because to me it’s like let’s bring these two interests together and unite them as one.
R: What is it about that freedom that is so exciting to you?
ES: The constraints of the physical world aren’t in play. So the joy for me is doing something that you know intellectually can’t be true, like couldn’t be real, but the eye is telling you, “Look at it, it looks real! It looks like a photograph, the shadows and the texture and the lighting.” That’s the joy for me, fooling the eye.
I love to make things look as if it’s real and fantastical. There’s so much joy in that and it’s very liberating.
R: Are you liberating yourself or are you liberating the audience?
ES: I hope it’s liberating for me and I hope the audience is coming along for the ride. I hope they come along for the ride with me and I hope it liberates them from the ideas of 3D can do.
A lot of times my clients in fashion approach me and they want to recreate maybe a catwalk that they would have done in real life in the digital world, but maybe there’s no model and it’s ghost clothes walking. And I’m like, “OK, that’s cool, but we’ve seen that before and you we’re going to do that anyway in real life. You know, we could put this on the moon!”
Release your mind, open up your third eye, go wild! Do you want to put it underwater? Maybe the fish can be wearing clothes! It can be anything you want. So I hope my designs help people realize this doesn’t have to be real life, digital shouldn’t be an exact mirror of real life. Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the fantasy? Let’s push the boundaries a bit.
R: What does this piece say about you?
ES: When I was making it I wanted to keep in mind that joyful emotion we were talking about. How can I transfer what I’m feeling and what I’m thinking about into someone else.
When I was making this piece it was like, “What are all the things that Emily likes the most?” Shiny pink silk, that’s going to show up. Greenery, grass, I love nature, that’s going to show up. Crystals. Beautiful slow motion clouds in a crystal blue sky.
These are all beautiful things that I love individually and it made sense when I was putting it together they’d come together. Gentle white flowers fluttering in the breeze.
Then I thought, “That sweater needs some skulls on it, so it’s not too soft, not too genteel.” It’s about combining all the elements that bring me joy into a single composition and then putting it out into the world.
The emotion it’s trying to communicate is, of course, euphoric peace. I feel euphoric when I feel at peace and I feel at peace when I’m surrounded by nature, surrounded by beautiful things.
R: So what’s with the dichotomy between the pretty elements you mentioned and the skulls?
ES: Oh, that’s a classic Emily move, juxtaposing very feminine and soft elements with hard, jarring imagery. As you can see from my extreme little haircut, I like extremes. I love a hard little haircut because when you wear like a cute little feminine outfit with it it jars the mind, rattles the cages of the squares, and creates beauty. If you have all sweetness and no dark, it’s bland.
R: And what about the name of the piece, “Bliss Out?”
ES: I was listening to this song “I Can Only Bliss Out (F’Days)” by Laraaji. The lyrics go, “As I look across this great creation / And I reflect on the nature of its creator / I can only bliss out / For days and days.”
I love that sentiment so much. This guy is getting high on nature. I was just imagine looking to this field and there were crystals and flowers blooming everywhere, I would definitely bliss out for days. I guess I’m just turning into one of those old folky people who get high on nature.
When I sit in my backyard, and the light is right, and you’re seeing the water drip off the grapevines and the flowers blooming and the bees are buzzing and youre just like, “Wow I’m really happy, I’m really lucky to be sitting here calmly in nature. No one is telling me how to live.”
And it dawns on you like. “Wow I’m lucky, this is not the truth for everyone else.” And that sensation of luck adds to your sensation of bliss. Nature plays a huge role in my mental wellness so it would make sense that it would trickle into my work, as well.
R: How is dressing digital fauna different than dressing fauna in real life?
ES: In real life you’d have to make the shirt work with your tree, you’re stuck with it, and if you change your mind it’s like, “I already cut the shirt up to make it fit the tree!” But in digital all those things are in play right up until the last second.
It’s about play, it’s about experimenting. I rarely get it right the first time.
R: What do you hope the fashion industry learns from these experiments?
That digital fashion is a playground, that it shouldn’t be a perfect mirror of what you can do in real life. That it can actually be an experimental stomping ground and playground where ask yourself not what can I do but what is even possible?
Go right to the ends of the limit, like what is even logically impossible, and then go even further. Think wild, and then scale it back.
R: Is it even fashion anymore?
I want it to speak to whoever it needs to speak to. And then maybe someone looks at that and says, That’s cool, maybe we could do it with this product or in this sphere.” I hope to inspire other people into trying different things. That’s what every artist wants, that they're not just shouting into the void.