For Venice, Calif.-based digital painting firm bioLINIA, architectural illustration is more closely akin to the movie industry's concept imagery than to technical rendering. Although trained as architects , founders Olek Novak-Zemplinski and his partner and wife Becky Nix use design and rendering processes and techniques more common in the entertainment business and automotive industry to create their digital illustrations of architectural clients' projects.
According to Novak-Zemplinski, "3-D renderings are no longer enough in the architectural world. What has been a standard in automotive design and the entertainment industry is just now slowly leaking into architectural imagery," he says.
For most architectural illustrations, Novak-Zemplinski uses a combination of 3-D modeling and 2-D digital hand-drawing, sometimes fused with physical models and photography. Layering elements and effects allows easy alterations and maintains flexibility throughout the illustration process.
Since founding bioLINIA in 2006, the firm's approach to architectural illustration has earned it return business from several well-known Los Angeles-area architects and developers, including SPF:a, Steven Ehrlich Architects, Paul Murdoch Architects, and Maguire Properties. The firm also has worked with Randall Stout Architects, Steinberg Architects, Killefer Flammang Architects, The Jerde Partnership, nonzero \ architecture, and several others, including a few clients in Europe.
In its two and a half years, bioLINIA has won a handful of awards. Novak-Zemplinski took first place in the 2008 Dwell Wacom Live EcoDesign Challenge, as well as first place in the Professional Digital/Mixed category of the 2008 Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition, and he received an honorable mention in the 2008 artspace: architecture and landscape digital art competition. Novak-Zemplinski also contributed his talents to the winning designs of two high-profile competitions: the Flight 93 National Memorial Competition (with Paul Murdoch Architects) and the Art Gallery of Alberta Expansion Competition (with Randall Stout Architects).
bioLINIA's work for clients in advertising influences its work for architects, but the goals for each are very different, Novak-Zemplinski notes. "Working with advertising agencies is more like working in the entertainment industry. They're focused more on the goal and the atmosphere, not much about the design and details and specificities, while architectural designers tend to be extremely focused on certain details—sometimes too much," he says.
Architectural illustrators—indeed, architects themselves—can learn a great deal from the techniques used by other creative professions, Novak-Zemplinski believes, especially the priority they place on communicating ideas as precisely and efficiently as possible, and using images to create connections between a product and its target audience.While conveying the architect's aesthetic sensibilities and understanding of a project is an important part of an architectural illustration, each image bioLINIA produces also is designed to elicit an emotional response and to establish a connection between the architect and the client.
"I would say that in a way, the role of the illustrator becomes not much different from that of the designer himself. Each image becomes a design in itself, so each project, each image, each client, and each goal of each image is different—sometimes for its publication, sometimes to present to a client, sometimes just to sell the concept to a potential client," says Novak-Zemplinski.
Although their focus is and will remain architectural illustration, Novak-Zemplinski and Nix are taking bioLINIA's expertise in graphics into a different design realm altogether. As an experiment, the pair created designs for childrens' T-shirts, spawning bioME5, a line of sustainable apparel for kids that is evolving to include sustainable furniture and accessories.