On The Spot: Michelle Von Kalben

November 11, 2022 by Displate Artists Team in Artist Interviews

The magic of the moment – this is what Michelle Von Kalben is all about. Heavily influenced by her travels, this German 3D artist and photographer is on a mission to capture the beauty of nature. She also doesn’t shy away from sparkling her pictures with a dash of digital magic if it helps to convey a specific feeling. 

We talked to Michelle about her artistic path, key influences, and her biggest achievements so far. Pack up, and let’s travel together!

What were your first steps as a visual artist? 

I’ve only started focusing on visual and digital art a few years ago – before that I was, and still am, a landscape photographer. Photography and the passion for discovering new places has definitely given me a huge understanding of how light and perspective works. Nowadays, I’m mostly combining the two skills of digital art and photography.

You’re a freelancer, which means that you stay independent. What’s the best thing about running your own business?

Over the years, I’ve noticed more and more how valuable it is for me to work on my own terms. I’m the only one responsible for my success, which of course can get stressful if you are lacking motivation and discipline every now and then. But still, I wouldn’t give away the freedom of decision making ever again.

Black Panther in Moonlight

You travel a lot, and it very much inspires your art. How do you work during your journeys?

While I’m pretty much 24/7 in front of my computer when I’m not traveling, I completely focus on content creation and the execution of different creative concepts while I’m on the go. Just like in any other job these are two opposite tasks that all contribute to me being able to do what I’m doing.

How did your passion for traveling begin?

I found it when I made the decision to move to New Zealand for a year right after school. You have to imagine that before that, I’ve never traveled anywhere and only went on vacation in Europe together with my parents. Moving to the other side of the world all by myself was the most life-changing decision I’ve ever made. Not only did it help me find my passions, but it also completely changed the way I see life. 

Which of the works you created during your travels is the most important to you and why?

I have so many artworks that are connected to amazing memories, it’s really hard to pick a single one. That said, thinking back I would definitely say it’s Lone Rider in Cappadocia

Cappadocia truly became my second home – I would even go as far as to call the people out there my family, not just friends. Over the past year, I flew there 3 times, spending a total of 2 months in this wonderful place. The third time, I was there alone for the most part of my stay, which gave me total creative freedom in choosing my artistic direction and deciding what I wanted to shoot. Cappadocia is one of those hyped Instagram places and social media is flooded with tons of similar pictures. I personally wanted to challenge myself and think outside of the box, instead of just shooting a person with hot air balloons in the background. The works I created there I’m most proud of.

Mirrored in Abu Dhabi
Lone Rider in Cappadocia

Besides dream destinations, is there any source of inspiration that influences your art?

My biggest inspiration is and will always be traveling. But of course thanks to social media we get to see any content we like at any time. Following my favorite artists on Instagram has definitely helped me find my own creative direction, as well as being in a relationship with an absolutely talented creative.

You’re a photographer, but you mainly work on manipulating pictures and creating 3D animations. What does your creative process look like?

When it comes to my animated 3D work, I usually start with a story I want to tell the viewer. Storytelling is a very important part of my art, and being able to visualize my own experiences and emotions means the world to me. Once I have a message I want to spread, the creation part is relatively easy, but I do sometimes run into technical obstacles that probably take the most time in the whole process. 

With composite photography, my main goal is to think outside the box and make people dream. My skills allow me to create something completely different from what people are used to seeing with their own eyes. It’s more about showcasing the specific feelings I had when I captured the images than what I actually saw.

Are there any other artists you look up to?

At this point, the list would be way too long to name all of them. My biggest artist inspiration though will always be my boyfriend Visualsofjulius, whom I’ve also learned a lot from. Apart from that, Ryan Talbot is an incredible 3D artist and Emmett Sparling is one of the best photographers and storytellers I’ve ever seen.

Wonders of the World
Power of Earth

What are your dreams as an artist?

To find a perfect balance – in being able to teach people my way of creating art and using my passion to make an income that sustains my lifestyle and excitement for traveling. I need to find this total balance, because usually when one part of my life goes bad, it affects all of them, including my motivation and creativity. 

Do you have any tips for beginning artists who are struggling to succeed?

Make use of the power of social media. It’s incredible seeing my friends go from 0 to 200K followers just by sharing what they love. Social media is the perfect way to generate income with your passion, as you only attract the people who genuinely care about what you do. It’s never been as easy as it is now, and I think more and more people should start utilizing it. 

On top of that – and I’m guilty here, too – don’t compare your success story with others. You don’t know the whole story, all you can see is what people want you to see. Focus on yourself and yourself only. The only person you should compare to is the one you were yesterday.

Instagram: @michellevonkalben

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