September 6, 2006
Introduction: Chad Michael Ward (http://digitalapocalypse.com/) is well known to some for his beautiful and eerie cyberpunk art, although leans on the macabre in 2D digital form. I met Chad Michael Ward around 2001 through some mutual friends, as well as my own perusing of local small underground art galleries. I had his work all over my walls, to inspire what echoed my life at that time. He is now putting his artful cyberpunk and gothic talents toward movie making while he still creates his 2D work on the computer. I still love his work and was honored to catch a bit of his time, and the people around him, such as Pearry Reginald Teo from Gene Generation, as well as others for this interview.
From his site:
“His work has been featured in dozens of publications around the world including NME, SKIN TWO, APHRODESIA, SPECTRUM, GOTHIC BEAUTY, TATTOO SAVAGE, CARPE NOCTEM, CLUB INTERNATIONAL, GALLERY, PIT, DARK REALMS and THE THIRD ALTERNATIVE and is frequently commissioned by musicians such as Marilyn Manson, The Cruxshadows, Fear Factory, Collide, The Blank Theory, Soilwork, Pissing Razors, Naglfar, and Darkane.”
Netsui for Cyberpunk Review (CPR): Hey there how’s Hollywood treating you?
Chad Michael Ward: Hollywood is great. My career has exploded since my move to L.A.
CPR: Where did all this art making begin? And what were your first mediums?
Chad Michael Ward: I started this crazy art thing back in 1996 whenI got my first bootlegged copy of Photoshop.
CPR: When did you go to digital?
Chad Michael Ward: I’ve been digital since Day One. I’ve only now recently started exploring other mediums like oils.
CPR: Where and when did you start showing your work?
Chad Michael Ward: My first website went online in 1997. That was the first time my work was exposed to the general public.
CPR: How about the Cyber influence? When did this start, and from what?
Chad Michael Ward: I’ve been a Giger fan all my life. I think the cyber/biomechanical thing came into play pretty early on in my work. It was all Giger’s fault!
CPR: What are your favorite cyber movies? Comics?
Chad Michael Ward: I’m more of a horror movie fan than anything.
CPR: Did you learn from tutorials on how to make robotic parts or was this just your own discovery?
Chad Michael Ward: I’m completely self taught.
CPR: How did you find your models?
Chad Michael Ward: Originally I used my girlfriend, Danielle, and local friends. Once my work started getting noticed, I’ve had models contacting me by the hundreds to work with me.
CPR: What are the tools you most currently use with your 2D still art?
Chad Michael Ward: I use a Nikon D100, a PC with 1GB RAM, and a 6×9 Intuos Wacom tablet.
CPR: Can you talk about Black Rust? This book of yours seems to be most laden with cyber art.
Chad Michael Ward: BLACK RUST was an exploration into a near-future society. It was really a culmination of all my interests: sex, horror, biomechanics, etc.
NETSUI NOTE: A Quote from Warren Ellis introduction to Black Rust, with permission from Warren:
“Totally relevant to its place and time, it exudes a decadent SF that mainstream culture is three steps behind. Think about it for a second. Chad Michael Ward with his computer, his digital Gutenberg press, a hugely disruptive technology, using it to reflect back at the world what’s in his eyes and ears, using secret photographs to create a darkly infinite library of images that don’t exist. Something that isn’t real, but which he somehow lets you touch. Like black rust.”
CPR: Are you going for more of a look? Or are there messages you wish to convey through your art?
Chad Michael Ward: I think all my images have a message to them, though I’ll always leave it up to the viewer to decide what the message is or if one even exists.
CPR: Can you convey some of the meaning behind the common symbols used in your cyber work such as the dragons, angel wings, and suggested crucifixions, for the audience who may not know?
Chad Michael Ward: I’ve always been a fan of iconic imagery, so it tends to show up a lot in my work.
CPR: Are you interested in exploring the spiritual in regards to androids in your art?
Chad Michael Ward: I’m not a particularly spiritual person. I’m more about the flesh, which I think translates to my work.
CPR: Arms seem to be part of your cyborg looks, any comment? Or (if you send art that has more other cyborg parts just adapt this to talk about How you choose which cyber parts you make)?
Chad Michael Ward: I’ve had a long fascination with arms and necks. I don’t know why.
CPR: I remember when you got your arms tattooed of cyborg machinery, what inspired this?
Chad Michael Ward: Again, I’m a big fan of the biomechanical, so when the time came to get ink, it made sense to go with a biomechanical theme. My left arm represents life and death and my right represents Heaven and Hell. All 4 thigns are things that appear frequently in my work.
CPR: Although common in cyberpunk art, the subject matter is women, do you have any thoughts about this?
Chad Michael Ward: Everyone finds a woman attractive, regardless of our gender. It only makes sense then that the art I create oft times appears in the guise of a beautiful woman.
CPR: Your color choices are interesting we like the reds and the grays and darker colors. What drives you to experiment with those various color pallets?
Chad Michael Ward: I’m all about desaturated and earthy tones.
CPR: Have you explored 3D-sculpture related cyber art?
Chad Michael Ward: I’m not much into that kind of thing.
CPR: This brings me to ask about motion graphics and cyber art, have you explored this yet? And Do you work with After Effects? Any thing else?
Chad Michael Ward: While I’ve moved into directing, I’ve never had much interest in the design of motion graphics. For me, as an artist, I’ll always be 2D.
CPR: You did the poster art for Gene Generation promo poster?
Chad Michael Ward: Yeah, I did about 5 different GG posters, including the one that’s being used on all the marketing materials at the moment.
Netsui brief interlude with Pearry Reginald Teo:
CPR: Want to say anything about Chad’s 2D artwork?
Pearry Reginald Teo: “His 2D cyber art has actually been a strong influence to my upcoming work, ‘Exsilium’. Politically it has a nice drunken clarity to it, don’t you think?”
CPR: Tell me about your involvement with the Movie Gene Generation?
Chad Michael Ward: “I was the concept artist and production designer on THE GENE GENERATION’s reshoot. Basically, I came on after most of the movie had been shot and created a bunch of stuff for some additional scenes. It also led to me partnering with the film’s director, Pearry Teo, to form our own production company Teo/Ward Productions (www.teoward.com). Right now we’re working on our next film, MORTEM, which I’m directing and he’s producing.”
CPR: I see you have begun video direction! Are you going full force into this arena? And will this effect your 2D computer art?
Chad Michael Ward: Directing has long been an interest of mine and I finally got the chance to do some directing on a few recent music videos, including one for Billy Idol and Slash. I love directing, and hope to do more. I don’t think it really affects my 2D work other than taking up more of my time.
CPR: And your plans for the future?
Chad Michael Ward: More directing! I’ve got plans to direct a feature length horror film from a script I wrote earlier this year.
We LOVE Transmetropolitan here at Cyberpunk Review. Do you have any comments on your recent work with Warren Ellis?
Chad Michael Ward: Warren’s work never ceases to amaze me!
CPR: What color pony would you want if they were only in RGB?
Chad Michael Ward: Black, of course!