Exploding Faces & Glitchy Portraits: The Futuristic Work of Pandagunda

exploding face, portrait, digital art

Sweden-based artist Pandagunda finds inspiration in everything from hospital sounds, to glitch art, to imperfections in the world around us. His work is largely digital, with an almost tactile quality.

People with surreal spikes and growths shooting out of their heads, glossy 3D shapes, and often an almost floral treatment creates works that require a second and third look. With a focus on 3D and cinema 4D, Pandagunda’s work celebrates the beauty in technology, mistakes, and nature simultaneously.

Above: With a background in interior design; space, shapes and colors play a major role in Pandagunda’s art.
glitchy portrait, digital art body contorted into a ball, abstract art
Most pieces start out as a sketch and are finished in Cinema 4D.

Tell us a little about your background; how did you become a visual artist?

I’m a visual artist based in Sweden. I initially became interested in art during my high school years, and then in college, I graduated as an interior designer. While studying interior design, it taught me a lot about space, shapes, colors and principles of design; I have always felt the need to express myself in other ways. I enjoy the process of exploration and getting outside principles to see what will happen.

I’m always searching for a platform that can give me the satisfaction of expressing myself and my thoughts. For me, satisfying this need is more important than the art itself. I use whatever medium I find suitable for the thoughts I wish to express, so sometimes I like to paint, and other times, I like to create sounds and visuals on the computer.

Are there any artists or movements that you consistently look to for inspiration?

Cinema and film are great sources of inspiration for me. I also like technology, glitch and internet art. This is how I got interested in digital art in the first place. I like anything that is challenging and thought-provoking and not 100% clear or easy to understand but you can still feel something emanating out of it. I like imperfection and I like both the unfinished and the early stages of making an art piece. Many times I find myself inspired when I’m not thinking about or looking at art. Also, for some reason different sounds including hospitals sounds, static radio sounds, outer space, spaceships, walking on grass sounds, trees and nature sounds, give me inspiration more than visual images.

glitchy, exploding face black and white abstract portrait
The use of glitches and imperfections gives Pandagunda’s work an eerie, otherworldly quality.

Is there are large artistic community you connect with in Sweden, or do you find yourself with more of an online network?

I exist 90% in the cyberworld. I think with today’s internet you can find a whole new world. You can reach an audience and get instant feedback from people and that shortens the distance between my work and others without the need of communities or galleries. I know communities also are great for artists, but I get easily distracted. I’m also a little bit of a private person and like to work alone. That’s another reason why internet is the perfect platform for me—I can show my work to the public and get feedback without the need to be personally exposed to the public. And of course I know individual artists and like-minded creative people and friends.

Tell us a little about what goes into making each piece—sketching, what software you use, your design process—since each one seems wonderfully complex.

If there is any sketching, mostly it’s happening in my head before I start doing anything. The idea itself is the sketch, and sometimes I start out from nothing, with no ideas, just experimenting. Sometimes things take shape and become a finished piece. I like computers and technology and I am drawn to a black screen with numbers, letters and coding, so I use anything I find interesting, which I can generate an interesting look or shapes or texture and, sometimes I do the opposite, deconstruct and destroy the existing pictures and pixels.

[In terms of] applications, I started with learning processing and using code to create images with some apps on the iPad. But then I got interested in 3D, and I use Cinema 4D as my 3D application, and Adobe applications.

You did an amazing series of promos for the 2016 VMAs. Is music a large part of your creative process?

Yes. It was a great honor. I really enjoyed creating the animation for Rihanna’s 2016 VMA because I basically got to do what I wanted. Sure, music is an important element and source of inspiration for my work, especially experimental and electronic music.

futuristic robot girl, hybrid, digital art fashion portrait, abstract digital art
According to the artist, the need to express himself is more important than the art itself.

What is your workflow like?

Most of the time, I start with a fraction of an idea and too much coffee, then I start constructing the idea on the computer. After the work is done, I let it go for some time to do something else and, then I get back to it another time to see how I feel about it. If I still like it, then I finish it with some minor editing, and if not, then I try to change stuff, or start something else completely different. My workflow sometimes can be slow, because I really can’t consider something “as done,” if I’m not feeling it. I always ask clients to give my work some time to have it sink in before they decide how they think about it. For me, it’s a process and not just some computer pixels been generated.

Are there any specific emotions or messages you try to evoke with your art?

Sure. Art for me is a result of colliding emotions and thoughts. Sometimes, it’s fun and sometimes it’s not, either way I need to do something about these thoughts and emotions, so I express them through my work. Computer shortens the distance between art and self-expression and I can instantly make a portrait and go beyond just a human face. I can twist that face and melt it down and I can see the result instantly. I can swim inside the idea and expand it with almost no limits, which is why I love working with computers and 3D. Also if possible, I like to use some real life elements in my work—like images from a photograph, video or texture—that I created while painting or making installations, and then transition them into digital art.

black and white portrait, futuristic shadowy effect, girl smudged
Textures created while digitally painting are often incorporated into his work.

What’s next?

Hmm… Maybe directing, film or sound making. I’m not really sure, I guess it will come by itself; I’m always exploring myself and trying new mediums.

What is something about you that would surprise our readers?

I’m not human.

Follow the artist on Ello and Instagram.

Photos © Pandagunda
Alexi Ueltzen

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Alexi Ueltzen is Ello’s Community Evangelist. If she’s not at the office, she’s probably swimming, getting muddy with her dogs, or baking cookies. The best cookies. Seriously. Follow the author @ Twitter , Instagram, and view more articles.