A little while ago, programmer Foone Turing shared a concept image of a portable WinAmp player that sparked intense reactions on Twitter, like, “I’ve never needed anything more in my life,” and fittingly, “it really whips the llama’s ass.” Seeing WinAmp’s skeuomorphic design translated into a physical object — one that could be folded up into a business card-sized MP3 player, no less — was nothing short of mind-blowing.
The concept was designed by Julien Rivoire, a France-based art director and 3D artist who makes everything from imagined retro tech gadgets to soothing, looping animations that provide a visual oasis from your Instagram feed. A self-taught artist, his clients include Louis Vuitton, Nike, and Fool’s Gold Records. We caught up with Rivoire to talk more about the dream WinAmp gadget, his influences, and how 3D art goes hand in hand with electronic music.
What was the process of making the player like, and what programs did you use?
I modeled the player with Autodesk Fusion 360, based on screenshots of the original player. From here, I was able to create 2D sketches and extrude them to create every part of the player. The body, the buttons, the faders, etc.
Textures such as texts and logotypes were done using Photoshop.
Once the model was done, I rendered the images using Cinema 4D and Redshift.
I love the inclusion of the headphone jack, is this a reflection of your personal thoughts on wireless / wired headphones?
Not necessarily, I just felt it natural to have a headphone jack on this. But now that you’re saying it, yeah, I guess that I’m not 100 percent convinced by wireless headphones. Maybe because I feel that we already have too much hi-fi gadgets that need to be constantly recharged.
Based on your other work, it looks like you’re inspired by a lot of retro tech. Is there anything else you’re working on creating, in terms of dream tech gadgets?
Yes, I always loved retro tech, especially from the ‘80s and ‘90s. I love their shapes, the small (and sometimes complex) details, and the variety of materials used.
I still have some that I’d love to create or model, like colorful CD or MiniDisc players. They can be fantasy ones or existing ones. It’s basically a good exercise for me to improve my modeling skills!
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What’s your background, and what did you study in school?
I’m mainly self-taught. When I was a teenager, I started doing illustration and graphic design as a hobby, and discovered that I wanted to do it for a living.
After high school, I followed a quick training about graphic design and web design and started working as a freelance graphic designer right after that.
It’s been four or five years since I started fully working in 3D. I pretty much learned everything I know by watching tutorials on YouTube and by trying, again and again. I considered the softwares almost like they were video games that I wanted to be good at.
What’s a project you worked on that you’re most proud of?
It’s a really basic answer, but the work that I’m usually the most proud of are the ones that I just finished.
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You’ve done a lot of album cover art, and you work closely with a lot of electronic music labels. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
I’ve always loved record covers, and it’s mainly why I wanted to do this job. I’m a bad photographer and an even worse drawer, so I thought computer-generated imagery (both in 2D and 3D) would be a good way to produce artwork for the music industry. I’m the art director of a music label called Quality Goods Records, doing visuals like covers and animations for all their releases. I also work with some other clients, mainly in the electronic genre.
You do a lot of hypnotic, looping animations that are perfect for Instagram. How do you feel about it as a platform for sharing art?
I think it’s the best so far to share this kind of quick and fun looping animations. I’m a bit puzzled by the huge amount of ads there nowadays, but it’s still a great social media platform to showcase your work.
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I especially love the sound design here. How did you achieve this?
I’m still trying to learn more about sound design. For this one, I bought some sound effects online and added them in post-production, using After Effects.
What are your influences?
My main inspiration comes from architecture, product design, photography, sometimes movies. I love the works of Katsuhiro Otomo, Victor Vasarely, M.C. Escher, René Magritte, Storm Thorgerson, and so many others.
Are there any art peers you want to shout out?
There are so many to mention. But a special thanks to Greyscalegorilla for their tools, tutorials, and podcasts. They help a lot of 3D artists, from beginners to professionals.