Grace Casas is one of our favorite collaborators here at ROVE. When the vision for a project calls for surrealistic, imaginative 3D design and animation, she’s always one of our first calls.
Words that come to mind when describing Grace’s style would be: dreamy, space-aged, retro-futurist, and extraterrestrial to name a few. Did we also mention she’s cool as hell? Grace always responds with a level-headed attitude no matter the curveball we throw her way. If we could clone her, we totally would.
Hopefully our chat sheds more light on Grace’s process (and how chill of a person she is).
ROVE: Hiya Grace! Thanks for being down to do this with us.
GRACE CASAS: Of course! I’m always happy to talk with y’all.
ROVE: Well if you’re ready…let’s dive right in!
GRACE CASAS: Let’s goooo.
ROVE:Ayyyy! Ok so, let’s start at the beginning—how did you first get started creating artwork?
GRACE CASAS: Well I’ve always been drawing since I was little, but I think I really got into art and design in middle school. Anime, cartoons, and other pop culture things really inspired me. I got more into 3D when I went to college!
ROVE: Nice! Any specific shows/music/pop culture you remember drawing inspiration from at the time?
GRACE CASAS: Ok so super embarrassing but I had a holy grail of like three shows that kicked me into high gear: Total Drama Island, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Lucky Star. Lady Gaga and Abba were also a huge influence at the time, so the only skeleton in my sketch book closet is a cursed drawing of anime Lady Gaga. We all start somewhere, right?
ROVE: Hahaha yesss. So you’re a ‘little monster’?
GRACE CASAS: Yes…I have no shame admitting I’m a little monster.
ROVE:Amazing. What about your transition to 3D? How did that come about / did anything in particular lead you down that path?
GRACE CASAS: Hmm well, I wanted to be a tattoo artist in high school, or an illustrator. I couldn’t find the thing that combined my technical and artistic interests, and I felt pretty lost but I knew I was an artist. So I asked my brother who majored in Digital Design what I should do and he recommended majoring in 3D animation, once I got a taste of the possibilities I never looked back.
ROVE:Let’s fast forward to today. You’ve got such a distinct style in your work, specifically the dreamy-futurist vibe with a hint of spaciness (which you know we dig!). How have you come to create this kind of work?
GRACE CASAS: Well, honestly it took a lot of experimenting, getting to know my tools really well, and most importantly getting in touch with myself and my interests. I started creating Vaporwave art because it inspired me so much and reminded me of my youth growing up in a world where we were moving from analog to digital stuff. Then I was like “well, I love Miami and went there a lot back in the day, so let me bring that good 90’s Floridian aesthetic in” once I started meshing that in, I started getting inspired by space age art from the 60’s and then I threw THAT in, and now my art is like a layered cake of myself.
ROVE:Love that. Florida vybes—you’ve really got such a distinct thing going on. Like, would be cool to spend a day in one of your worlds, haha.
GRACE CASAS: Trust me I would love to as well lol but thank you!!
ROVE: You mentioned getting to know your tools. What’s your digital workspace looking like these days, any go-to programs?
GRACE CASAS: I’ve been using Cinema 4D since I graduated college, and I tend to use a toss up of Redshift/Octane render, Marvelous Designer, Forester, and sometimes DAZ 3D! I do a ton of modeling, lighting, and texturing since a lot of my work is architectural.
ROVE: Yeah, your architectural work is pretty stunning…Maybe one day we’ll hire you to design ROVE HQ.
GRACE CASAS: Heyyyy I would love to! just be ready for a super cute space station.
ROVE: We were born for that.
ROVE: So you said you knew you were an artist dating back to high school—was there a moment early on in your career when you decided to take the leap into pursuing art full-time? How was that transition for you?
GRACE CASAS: This question is kinda tricky, because there was never a moment I thought I wouldn’t be doing this. Even when things got slow and I took on a job in the service industry I always knew I was going to be full time–I HAD to be a full time artist, otherwise any other job wouldn’t work for me. So I just worked stupid hard to get where I am now, and I still work just as much but it’s gotten easier I will say.
ROVE: Wow, total respect for that badassery. What about creative blocks, do you ever face them and how do you fight through them?
GRACE CASAS:Yes, all the time. I’ve actually slowed down quite a lot these past pandemic years because it’s hard to find inspiration indoors. I usually fight them head on—I force myself to open C4D and just start fucking around. I put on a playlist of 60’s composers that have a dream-like sound and think of a world that might exist in that soundtrack. Ironically my best stuff comes from fighting creative blocks.
ROVE: Any musicians or other genres in particular get you in the zone??
GRACE CASAS: Stelvio Cipriani, Piero Umiliani, Henry Mancini are the driving forces behind my worlds I’d say. The ideal experience for viewing my stuff is having them play in the background.
ROVE: What about your own body of work and style—any thoughts on how you might push yourself in the future?
GRACE CASAS:I’ve been taking design classes online just to get my basics sharp as a knife, I’m also thinking of trying out different styles 3D wise to keep things fresh and interesting — I’m always a student for this kind of stuff and want to constantly learn. I think it’s necessary to have that mindset since this industry is so fast paced you never know what they’ll come up with next!
ROVE: Speaking of which, we’ve seen you breaking into the NFT space. How’s that been going? Any insights you might share for other artists who are considering diving into the pool?
GRACE CASAS: Honestly it’s a slow process! It’s another way for digital artists to come to the forefront which is always a good thing. I’ve yet to see any success in it I think I need to be more active is all. For anyone considering it—don’t just do it for the money or the clout. If you’re an artist keep treating your art as valuable and market it as you would, be genuine and consistent and it will all come together.
ROVE: Nice, that’s some great wisdom right there. Any other tidbits you might want to relay to up-and-coming artists out there?
GRACE CASAS:Any advice to newer artists: Stay true to your likes and interests. You’re going to fall down at one point, just get back up and take those lessons with you, you’ll be better from it I promise it’s not the end. Always a student, never a master. That’s all I gotta say!