Artist Spotlight: Dave O

I’m thrilled to showcase the works of a pioneering digital artist who has embraced AI to redefine the boundaries of visual expression. This artist’s portfolio is a testament to the limitless possibilities of AI in art, featuring dark pieces that expose the mortality of mankind. Through his work, this artist challenges our perceptions of the world, reality as we know it, and the intriguing interplay between human imagination and machine intelligence. Join me as I delve into his mesmerizing world, where each artwork is a feast for the senses.

Dave O



The first image I saw of Dave O’s brought me back to a recurring dream/nightmare I have where I’m back in my door gunner days, on a helicopter in Afghanistan, with skeletons trying to board the helicopter but I can’t shoot them fast enough.

When I saw this image, I just stopped and stared at it. It transported me to a different place and time in my life. It wasn’t that it exactly resembled a helicopter, rather it was the essence of the image that struck me. Old memories rushed back and I remembered what I used to do and the things I had seen and done. I felt alive again. It was wonderful.

I commented on the image and asked if I could do an article about his work. He obliged. Below are some of his favorite pieces and the interview. I hope you read the whole thing; he is truly insightful. Enjoy.


Dave O’s Favorite Pieces


Could you share with us your journey into digital art? What initially drew you to this medium, and who or what have been your biggest influences?

“My journey into digital art is a tale of evolving passions and inspirations. In my childhood, I found myself fascinated by the eerie and otherworldly landscapes of Zdzisław Beksiński. His surreal, dreamlike scenes captivated my young mind, fueling my early attempts at drawing. There was something in the way he blended the dark with the fantastical that resonated with me, even at that tender age. However, I often felt a disconnect between the visions in my head and the skills in my hands, leading to a period of frustration and unfinished projects.

As a teenager, my artistic inspirations shifted. I was profoundly influenced by Alex Grey’s intricate, spiritual artworks, which opened my eyes to the possibilities of blending the metaphysical with the visual. Around the same time, the band Tool, with their visually striking and thought-provoking video clips, further expanded my understanding of what art could convey. Their unique blend of music and imagery was a powerful combination that left a lasting impression on me.

This mixture of influences and personal creative challenges led to an ebb and flow in my relationship with digital art. My journey with computer graphics was a series of ins and outs, where periods of intense creativity were followed by times of retreat. I even ventured into the commercial side for a while, designing posters and web pages. This phase was an important learning curve, as it taught me about the practical applications of digital art but also highlighted the creative restrictions of commercial work.

During the NFT craze, I experimented with creating animated cards. While this was an exciting foray, it proved to be a challenging endeavor. The process of creating these pieces was incredibly time-consuming, and I realized that successful NFT art wasn’t just about the art itself but also about mastering the art of promotion – a component I admittedly neglected. This experience was a turning point, leading me to step away from digital art for a while. I called this my ‘creative dormancy,’ a period of reflection and reevaluation of my artistic path.

It was in this phase of introspection that I truly understood what I sought from my art. I yearned to create elaborate, often dark and surreal images that had long lived in my imagination, but in a way that was unbound by the constraints I had previously encountered. Though my journey had its ups and downs, each phase contributed to my growth as an artist, and it’s a journey that continues to evolve as I explore the endless possibilities of artistic expression.”

Creative Process: Can you walk us through your creative process? How do you typically start a piece, and, without giving too much away, what tools and software are essential to your workflow?

“My creative process is quite fluid and often sparked by the world around me. I find inspiration in the every day – it could be a line from a book I’ve read, a song, a scene from a movie, or even a casual conversation. These moments tend to trigger a memory or an idea, which then begins to take shape in my mind.

Once I have that initial spark, I turn to my primary tool: DALL-E over ChatGPT. It’s a fantastic platform that really opens up the realms of possibility. I engage in brainstorming sessions with the AI, bouncing ideas back and forth. This interaction is crucial as it helps me refine my thoughts and give them direction.

The beauty of using DALL-E is its versatility and the way it complements my thought process. It’s not just about the software’s capability to generate images; it’s about how it challenges me to think differently, and to approach my creative process from new angles.

I don’t rely on a vast array of tools – simplicity is key in my workflow. This approach keeps me focused on the creative aspect rather than getting bogged down by technicalities. It’s a blend of intuition, inspiration, and the innovative use of AI that drives my projects from a mere concept to a piece of art that resonates.”

Digital art is a rapidly evolving field. How have you seen your style or approach change over time, and what have been some of the most challenging aspects of adapting to new technologies and trends in digital art?

“The evolution of digital art has been nothing short of revolutionary for me. In fact, I often say that the AI boom has given me a new birth as an artist. What excites me most about this evolution is the freedom it offers. I no longer need to constantly learn and update my skills with ever-evolving graphic suites, nor do I have to spend countless hours watching tutorials on various effects. Instead, I can now focus purely on creation, at the pace of my idea-rich mind, without getting bogged down in the technicalities of buttons, filters, and effects.

Working with AI in digital art feels like collaborating with a highly skilled graphic designer who’s always ready to bring my visions to life instantly. From this perspective, it’s hard for me to see these advancements as challenges; they’re more like endless possibilities. My background as a computer engineer has made handling these AI tools quite natural and easy for me. This synergy between my technical background and my artistic aspirations has opened up a world where my creativity is no longer constrained by technical limitations. It’s a thrilling time to be an artist, and I’m exhilarated by the potential that lies ahead.”

Many artists have a signature style or recurring themes in their work. How would you describe your unique style and the themes you often explore in your artwork?

“My artistic journey predominantly navigates through the shadowy realms of horror, with a particular affinity for space horror. But it’s not just the cosmic unknown that captivates me—I also delve into themes of dystopian futures, the gritty underbelly of cyberpunk, and the ever-popular world of zombies. What defines my work, I believe, is its raw, grimy aesthetic. It’s a style I’ve consciously developed, moving away from the cleaner, more polished renders that are often characteristic of DALL-E’s default output. This transition wasn’t overnight; it took time and experimentation to find that sweet spot where my art started reflecting the ‘dirtier’ vision I had in mind.

In my creations, you’ll often find elements that echo the concept of ‘memento mori.’ I am drawn to exploring the inevitability of death and the reflections it casts on our lives. This exploration is a recurring theme in my work, serving as a reminder of the transient nature of existence.

I steer clear of anything overly sweet or cute. That’s simply not the lens through which I view the world. So, whether it’s an AI art challenge or any creative event, you can expect me to bring a unique, often darker twist to any given theme. I consider myself a storyteller more than anything, less focused on fancy artistic techniques or styles, and more on the narrative and emotion my art can convey. My pieces are either action-packed, depict bizarre situations, or are designed to evoke specific feelings in the viewer. I aim to shock, to provoke thought, or at least to raise some eyebrows with each artwork I create. That’s the essence of my style – bold, unapologetic, and always aiming to leave a lasting impression.”

How do you perceive the current landscape of digital art, especially with the rise of new text-to-image, GPT, and other generative platforms and technologies? How do you see yourself within this evolving scene?

“The emergence of text-to-image, GPT, and other generative platforms has been nothing short of revolutionary for me. In many ways, I feel like I’ve been ‘born’ into the digital art scene through these technologies. They’ve granted me the freedom of creation I’ve longed for, allowing me to bring my imagination to life in ways I never thought possible.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this journey has been the community. The camaraderie and support within the digital art world, especially among fellow users of these new technologies, have been incredible. I’ve met many fantastic people, and the sense of welcome and collaboration is truly heartwarming.

With these advancements, the barriers to creating art are lower than ever. Now, virtually anyone can materialize their wildest dreams into visual forms. This democratization of art creation is exciting, but it also raises an intriguing question: as more and more people become creators, what happens to the audience? Who will be the viewers when everyone is busy creating? It’s a fascinating shift, and only time will reveal its full impact.

As for my place in this rapidly evolving digital art scene, my focus is on cultivating a community of artists who share similar tastes. I believe there’s a unique power in collaboration – creating alongside others who resonate with your vision adds a rich layer to the creative process. This endeavor of building a community has been quite fulfilling, and I’m excited about its future potential.

Alongside this community-building, I’m keeping a keen eye on the NFT space. Although the market is currently in a lull, I firmly believe in its potential for a resurgence. When that time comes, I want to be right there, ready to dive in. My previous experiences with NFTs, though challenging, were immensely enlightening, and I’m eager to apply those lessons learned. I see NFTs not just as a platform for selling art but as a new frontier for artistic expression and community engagement. So, while I continue to create and explore, I’m also preparing for the next wave in the NFT world, ready to embrace the opportunities it might bring.

I’m grateful for the chance to share my journey and perspectives in this interview. It’s been a wonderful experience to articulate my thoughts and experiences in the digital art world, and I’m thankful to and B.K.L. GUNNER for providing this platform. Your engagement with the artistic community is invaluable, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”


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