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Artist Spotlight: ENCHANTING REALMS / Q&A with James Tralie



James Tralie is a director, 3D artist and animator based in Washington, D.C. He works at the intersection of science and art to create dreamy, otherworldly scenes and immersive content. He excels at explaining complex scientific discoveries and concepts in the form of short, animated content. With his 3D design work, he constantly seeks to capture the confluence of the built and natural worlds through inviting, relaxing places and spaces.


In our conversation, James shares his missions with NASA, exploring space, and being a pioneer in the film industry.



H+: 3 words that define your creative output?


J: Dreamy, Otherworldly, Satisfying


H+: Where do you find motivation for your creative endeavors?


James Tralie: I find motivation from a variety of places - I often go for runs around town here in Washington, D.C. and gather inspiration from the places and spaces I see. I also am inspired by the missions I cover for NASA. I often think about what these planets, moons, and exoplanets would look and feel like if we were to experience them up close. I channel that inspiration through the 3D designs I create. I'm also constantly pushing myself to learn new software and techniques to add to my workflow. I've been experimenting with AR/VR to further push the boundaries of my work and create even more immersive experiences for my viewers.



H+: What is the highlight of your days?


James Tralie: Getting to work at the cutting edge of space exploration consistently blows my mind. It is incredibly humbling to work with scientists and engineers who are sending spacecraft to the outer reaches of our solar system and beyond in the search for life in the universe.


H+: What challenges do you face as an artist?


James Tralie: It is a constant challenge to keep up with the pace of technological development. The software I use to create my work is always moving through new updates, so I find myself working to learn new skills on a daily basis. At the same time, this fast pace of development pushes me as an artist and keeps me inspired to create new work.



H+: How do you express your emotions through your art?


James Tralie: I always seek to create relaxing, dreamy oases in 3D space both for myself and for my viewers. I hope that as my viewers are scrolling through their feed, that they take a moment to pause and reflect when they see my work. For me, the 3D creative process is a very meditative one. I love the freedom I have when building out these massive environments fully in 3D. It is so simple to play around with lighting, composition, and texture with each piece I create. It is incredibly satisfying to see all the technical parts come together to build out this "dreamscape."


H+: If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?


James Tralie: I have always been inspired by the work of Georges Méliès. He constructed incredible worlds and brought them to life through film and animation. He was a pioneer in the early film industry, and I'm sure I would learn so much by collaborating with him.



H+: If you didn't pursue a creative career, what other path would you have chosen?


James Tralie: I majored in Geophysics at Princeton University and was considering a career as an atmospheric scientist post-grad. I have always kept a pretty even balance between science and the arts throughout my life and am lucky to combine both of them with the work I do for NASA and for my freelance projects.




H+: What are your thoughts on parallel universes?


James Tralie: We have explored such a small percentage of our universe and have so much left to discover across the cosmos and beyond. Our fundamental understanding of physics breaks down at a certain point, and I truly don't think we fully understand just how the dynamics of our universe work on a larger scale. I believe parallel universes could certainly exist, and I hope that we continue to learn more about our universe through our various space missions.


H+: Do you BELIEVE (in aliens)?


James Tralie: As I previously mentioned, there is still so much to explore - and I don't believe we have a complete understanding of what we are even looking for when we search for "life" in the universe. I believe if we were to discover life in the universe, it wouldn't be as we know it here on Earth. There are organisms called "extremophiles" that live in hostile conditions, like in thermal vents at the sea floor, that would likely be closer to what we'd discover. There are several missions in the works now that are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with our observational capabilities. I'm excited to see how we continue to build off these observations to further our understanding of our universe.


For more information on James Tralie, visit her profile page!

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