Want to learn how to create a retro-futuristic collage? Talented digital artist Nibera shows us how she created this aesthetic design using Envato Elements.
Nibera is an interdisciplinary visual artist based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Her work transcends the borders of fine art photography, graphic art, and design, aiming to combine the known beauty of our world with the exploration of surreal alternate realities.
As an artist, she’s inspired by the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and her work embraces a mixture of natural landscapes and analog technologies, conveying a captivating retro aesthetic. She has extensive experience in exhibitions, media installations, and public art displays, and also holds a Master’s degree in Visual Communication Design from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana.
How did you get into digital art?
After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, I knew that art and design would be my full-time job. I’m now a self-employed artist living entirely from my art and design work. I often shift between minimalism, surrealism, science fiction, and retro-futurism. While my work usually has a nostalgic and retro feel, it’s still very diverse. As an artist, I’ll always be a work in progress.
What’s the underlying mission or meaning behind your work? Why do you do it, and how do you believe your content is making an impact?
As a self-employed full-time artist, art is my only primary income source. I want to show other artists that art can be a career and not just a hobby. Many talented artists have full-time jobs unrelated to art and dream about a creative career like mine – I’m very fortunate and can’t imagine my life without creativity and art.
How did you come up with the idea for this piece? What inspired it?
I’ve had many different obsessions at different times in my life. I am currently loving exploring the surfaces of unknown planets and other-wordly landscapes. My other obsession is the vintage-retro aesthetic, which I’ve loved my whole life. I really enjoy creating retro and vintage art using different themes and motifs.
What specific Elements items did you use?
I used plenty of Envato Elements photos and some 3D objects in this artwork. First, I created the base landscape from stock photography from Elements and cut them out as I would for a collage artwork. In this phase, I used three photos of the desert.
After creating the base landscape, I chose this photo of the sun for the background. I wanted to add more eye-catching objects, so I chose some 3D plants from Envato Elements. What I love about 3D objects is that I can select the angle and download it as a transparent png. This feature saves me time on selecting and cutting the object.
The piece was almost complete, but I wanted to emphasize the unknown planet theme. I searched for an astronaut and a spaceship and found some excellent 3D assets on Envato.
After completing the composition, I applied gradient maps to the layers and finished the piece with my specific textural work. I feel great about the outcome; it was exactly what I visualized before creating. I love the retro, sci-fi vibe.
What were the primary skills and techniques involved in creating this piece?
I used good old Photoshop to create this piece. Pen tool, gradient map, selective color, brushes, layer blending, and other essential tools.
The main skill I used was visualizing my idea before creating the artwork. If you can imagine the piece, then all you have to do is execute the vision. There are always multiple ways to implement an idea. You can do it entirely from scratch or save time using Envato assets. You can also learn everything about Photoshop for free online – I learned to use graphic software at university but later realized that platforms like YouTube are just as valuable.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in nature, books, magazines, and posters from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I spend my weekends hiking in nature and use this time to clear my mind and create space for new ideas. I’m also a photographer, and I mostly shoot landscapes at the moment. My photographs serve as inspirational material.
I work in collage, illustration, and mixed media, and I often create art based on my landscape photographs. I also make a lot of art from scratch, and I find that aesthetically pleasing composition comes naturally to me. However, colors and textures are my main focus and the elements to which I give the most attention.
I’m also super inspired by the past. As someone born in 1992, I got a small taste of the analog period. My first computer had a cathode-ray tube screen, and my first camera was on film. Soon, all this changed to digital. However, I remember my childhood with CRT computer and TV screens, film photographs, physical photo albums, VHS video cassettes, and cassette boombox radio. I feel highly nostalgic about these items and am an enthusiastic collector of vintage and retro items. I’ve collected around 12 CRT monitors and retro-tech objects, and all my clothes are from the 80s or 90s!
How does Envato Elements help you create your work?
Envato Elements is a lifesaver when you need to be fast and effective. It’s also an endless source of inspiration – I get so many ideas scrolling through Elements for fun. At the moment, I use photos, graphics, fonts, and 3D objects, but I can’t wait to dive into the stock videos and music for my animation work.
What are the must-have tools all successful artists need in their toolkit?
In my opinion, all artists should use Adobe Creative Cloud. It’s also great to have a DSLR camera so you can take your own photographs and incorporate them into your designs. Another helpful tool is a scanner for old magazines, books, plants, and flowers. A graphic tablet is excellent too, and a sketchbook is a must.
What are your top tips for creating high-quality art?
- Get inspired and do your research. Train your eye and learn to recognize suitable compositions.
- Choose your preferred software and know everything about it; try every tool and get comfortable with it.
- Develop your unique style and express your imagination!
What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
The thing I love the most about my work is connecting my passions – visual art and music. I’ve created over 200 album covers for international musicians in the last two years and feel accomplished that I can do this for a living. I’ve also had a few successful NFT drops, which sold out in seconds, and my art has been exhibited in galleries worldwide – an excellent opportunity for any artist.
How did you grow your online following, and how has Instagram benefited your art?
I started my Instagram journey in the last year of college. Initially, it was just for fun, and I didn’t tell anyone about my art account. I was pleasantly surprised by the feedback I was getting, which motivated me to continue. I challenged myself to post a piece of art or design daily, and after I started posting consistently, it took off, and my following grew daily. Soon, I started making a living from my art.
What’s the most significant learning from becoming a digital artist?
I learned that there are busy times and that there are quiet times. When you are busy, you can get overwhelmed quickly; when times are quiet, the uncertainty can be scary. The sooner you realize this pattern will repeat itself, the better – use the quiet time for learning new skills or setting up a passive income source.
Most importantly, create art every day. Practice makes perfect, and creativity is fed by creativity. Creativity is a skill, and consistency is a recipe. The same goes for being successful on Instagram; post daily and stay consistent!