Alex Rommel on the Power of Curiosity and Nature in Creativity
To be inspired by nature is one thing; to consider it as a major foundation of your life is another. Digital artist Alex Rommel once said, “My religion is nature.” This is how he lets his creative mind roam: he forms deep and moving insights about nature, and translates them into powerful visual art.
But insight doesn’t just come from a vacuum. Rommel’s inquisitiveness — which he considers an essential tool for humanity — makes him ponder in unique ways. “[I’m] not a scientist,” he says on his site, “[but] the same inherent curiosity enables me to use these natural elements for art… It feels great to be able to visualize imagination, like nature would do.”
You may purchase his piece, ‘Split Second’, as framed wall art here.
[Note: The interview below contains minor edits for clarity and brevity.]
Tell us about who you are. How did art come into your life?
I am Alexander Rommel, born in Russia and now living in Germany. I studied landscape architecture and urban planning. My interest in art has been a part of my life since childhood. In 2013, I bought my first graphic tablet and discovered digital painting for myself. It became my favorite technique.
What does the creation process look like for you? How do you feel while you’re creating a piece, and after a piece is complete?
First, I do some sketches, usually on paper. The main painting process is usually not continuous and consists of larger breaks of several hours or days, unless it’s a commission with a tight schedule.
Who are your influences?
I love the works of Artem Cheboha, Alexey Andreev, Alexandra Khitrova, Niken Anindita, Alena Aenami, Gary Tonge, Alex Ries, Cyril Rolando, to name a few. Though their styles and content often differ from mine and each other, they all have their own ways of inspiring me.
You feature nature as the thematic element and inspiration behind most of your work. What about it do you find so fascinating?
It’s not easy to describe why someone likes nature. I think because it is so deep inside us that you really can’t say why you love it — it’s just there. For me, maybe it’s because of its sheer diversity and the complexity of its mechanisms. Nature itself is also the greatest artist — it has created thousands of things that no human being could ever imagine.
In our first conversations, you said: “Nature is my religion.” Can you expound more on that?
I think living religiously parallels being “aware of nature.” Religious manuscripts were created to grant a codex of rules for humans to leave peacefully. I believe we can also achieve this by following the rules of nature, thinking wisely, and acting responsibly. We should respect each other and the creatures which nature — or some higher entity — has once created. [This could result in] our actions visibly directing and leading us into a better world.
Thinking based on science and nature is in no way a contradiction of religious ways of life. It’s all about harmony. In fact, so many natural religions exist in the world. It would be great if major world religions could learn something from them, and this way, we all could learn from each other.
In some of your pieces, you fuse modern and technological themes in your nature-inspired artworks. How do you think these two differing concepts come together?
Nature is a universal thing. It’s a conglomeration of everything that exists in this world. We and our technology are also a part of it. I try to show the interaction between different natural things and elements, us [humans] being one of them.
We found your thoughts on space art here very interesting. What do you think makes humanity so curious about our universe? Do you think this curiosity will ever end?
The theory about curiosity is that it’s familiar to all intelligent animals on this planet. [It is] curiosity that leads animals to new grounds, where there may be more food, better resources, or mating partners. For humans, curiosity is meant also to understand their surroundings in general, such as its processes and how it works.
To know all these represents an evolutionary advantage. As humans developed, they realized that the sky also consists of other places, that something else is there — more than just shiny dots. So [our] curiosity extended from things on earth towards things in the sky. Since we’ve realized ourselves as intelligent species, more questions arise. Other [intelligent] species [outside earth] can exist — a trigger for more curiosity!
There’s a well-known saying that an answer leads to even more new questions. I definitely would say that curiosity will not end until humanity itself ends.
Your spirituality is different from others who follow more traditional beliefs. How do your beliefs answer our biggest questions?
I mostly stick to answers that science can currently give us. The question “where we come from” is far from being answered, so I do believe it’s possible that some entity outside the earth helped out a bit. It can be just a biological life form, like an alien — but it can also be a spiritual life form, like a god. But this could also mean that there’s a next stage of life forms that could use natural laws until they’re perfected.
Our role in the universe is, soberly said, rather trivial. But when we say that, we realize that everything is connected and we are also a part of the universe. It becomes completely different then. Like Carl Sagan once said: “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” If so, then maybe an artist’s role is to be a way for the cosmos to imagine itself.
The same [goes] with our purpose of living: prosaic science would say that, for the universe, our purpose is quite inferior. But when you consider us as a living part of the universe, then maybe our purpose is to represent a good part of it.
In fact, I have no clear opinion about all this. I consider myself as a spectator and a traveler on this journey of knowledge.
Follow Alex Rommel on Instagram here.