Seeing my artwork blazed across a billboard on Sunset Boulevard and in Times Square was surreal as fuck.
Pierre Schmidt, more commonly known as drømsjel is a digital collage artist and illustrator, living and working Berlin. Viewing his work feels like watching vintage porn on acid. Mind- bending psychedelia and erotic imagery combine with graphic illustration and traditional collage techniques. Like classic surrealistic artist works, Schmidt’s work is up for the viewer to interpret.
Where did the name “drømsjel” come from?
Two Norwegian words merged together, meaning “dream soul”.
What draws you to creating erotic artworks?
Eroticism is not my main objective when creating the works. It’s more about capturing the feeling. Awe one feels in seeing something beautiful or grotesque for the first time - in the world, a person, dreams - it’s a feeling I try to capture.
Where do your inspirations come from?
I’m inspired all the time by the past. Vintage publications, like Penthouse have always been a great source for inspiration. The colour palettes, paper grain when the image went to print, fashion, lighting. These elements play a huge part in inspiring me to create a new artwork. My main inspiration is the past and evolution of society. Those dreams of a 1950’s man or woman, mate-rialising through the next wave of liberation, and so it goes into the next decade. As for being inspired by specific people, there are too many to mention. I once created a series of works based off Nietzsche’s theories of morality. I’m equally inspired by musicians, films, documentaries, and artists such as Dali or David Hockney. David Lynch is a great inspiration, so is Beethoven, Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, metal bands like The Black Dahlia Murder and documentaries by Adam Curtis...
Where do you source the images that appear in your collages?
On the internet, or I scan physical copies of vintage publications, catalogues or scour antique bookstores and flea markets for originals.
What’s been your favourite image or bank of images find?
I have a huge library of digital images. I see and store clippings from modern backgrounds used on takeaway menus posted through my letterbox every week, right down to the shape of a petal on a flower from a children’s storybook that could’ve been published in 1935.
What’s involved in creating your pieces?
Time, music and inspiration. I’ve always said I compose each element in my artworks like a DJ would when hearing a sound he likes. Taking it as a sample and amalgamating them together to make a new track. It’s a very similar process. The digital tools I use are available to anyone who has access to a computer and Photoshop. Though I now have got into the habit of programming code myself to create my own digital brushes.
What tools do you use to create your pieces?
A computer, the internet, Photoshop, a scanner and a top-dollar printer. My wife calls my studio set up “Mission Control”. Sadly for her though, I have not perfected my set up. I could always add on more! I’m always looking for new technical ways to create and make my workflow more comfortable.
How long does a piece generally take you to complete?
Sometimes it can take me eight hours, sometimes eight months. There are many unfinished works I go back to but unless there is a deadline, I don’t really work to a timeframe. Once I have the feeling it’s ready to print, upload and share, then it’s finished.
What’s your relationship with Instagram like?
Great – it’s an invaluable platform to see an artist’s works. Nobody can just jump on a plane to Japan at the drop of a hat and walk into a gallery to see works by an artist they’ve heard is putting on a great show. Instagram is an accessible 24/7 gallery. I love that.
You have over 150k followers on Instagram. Has it been steady or was there a moment it spiked?
It’s always been gradual but there were a few points where it did explode. I manage my account myself, reply myself and say hi myself. There’s no magic behind it for me in gaining followers but having people like Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, Miley Cyrus, members of The Gorillaz and Lady Gaga having shared or liked my works has helped hugely. Once they did that then yeah, my phone was buzzing for days!
What was it like being asked to create the promotional artwork for Lady Gaga’s Netflix documentary 'Five Foot Two'?
Crazy. I’m proud they chose me to produce the artwork. The filmmaker and director, Chris Moukarbel, contacted me directly on Instagram and had chosen me specifically to create the cover and promo work. This was unusual for Netflix to say yes to, as they have great talent there, so I was really thrilled to be working with them, too. It was a dream gig. The director is such a great guy, hugely talented, he had a vision but gave me space and trusted me to do what I do. Netflix was amazing and hugely supportive throughout the process too. Lady Gaga, manager and team who shot the image I worked with, were all really positive, easy to discuss creative processes with and all thrilled with the outcome. Seeing my artwork blazed across a billboard on Sunset Boulevard and in Times Square was surreal as fuck. Clicking on Netflix and watching the documentary for the first time was really emotional too.
Is art a full-time gig for you now?
Yeah, it is now but three years ago. Just before the Lady Gaga job, I was also washing pots in a restaurant to get by. When my co-workers saw my artworks for the first time they were like, “Why are you here?” I’ve also been a bicycle repairman, post office sorter and a graphic designer in an ad agency. I liked washing pots the most. But I don’t make art for money. I make art because well, I couldn’t stop if I tried.
Who would your dream client be?
The Berlin Symphony Orchestra and creating artworks for the Beethoven Anniversary concert celebrations. They’ve been postponed until next year, so I’m throwing it out there in case someone over there is reading Penthouse…
What are you working on right now?
I’m reworking/upgrading artworks to higher resolutions for my store and in the process of creating some huge custom pieces for a well-known actor. Can’t share who, can’t share what, but you never know... they might.
Follow Pierre Schmidt on Instagram and see more of his work on his website.