Art, Virtual Reality

Tilt Brush Butterfly Metamorphosis

When I had the very honoring opportunity to join Tilt Brush for their Artist in Residence program, I knew I had to make something different, and that this would be one of my biggest VR pieces yet.

Designing My Problem:

  • I had to design something within Tilt Brush.
  • I wanted to create something that other people weren't doing.
  • I wanted to create a piece that utilizes the Tilt Brush playback feature.
  • I wanted to create a meaningful piece that was more than just a pretty picture; I wanted people to experience both the technology and something magical. It should be something anyone can view and understand. It needed to touch the hearts of the viewer.

Searching and Working Towards My Solution:

  • Everyone making pieces in Tilt Brush were making really jawdropping finished pieces. The finished pieces were the main focus of the art. I needed to do something different. I needed to create a piece that focused on the PROCESS rather than the finish. That is, the process and growth of the piece needed to be much more interesting than just viewing it as one static image.
  • It needed to be a narrative in some way. It didn't need to be a crazy complex thing. It just needed to show something GROW. Like a normal storytelling narrative, it needed a beginning, a middle, an end. Super basic, super fundamental for anyone to understand. No learning or backstory necessary.
  • It needed to feel like the piece was appearing out of thin air, it needed to be MAGIC. So I planned it out, the painting process / choreography. It needed to be seamless. It needed to LOOK effortless. It's like hiding the strings to a magic trick — I had to conceal my secret for how I did it. People WANT to believe in magic. People WANT to be dazzled and amazed. So I played on this.
  • Lastly, it needed a personal message. As an illustrator/image maker, I know the best ones are when I draw from my own experience. I went thru a lot of reformative changes in the last few years, a LOT of letting go, a LOT of reshaping. Yes seeing a butterfly emerge is cool to see, but it needed the personal touch to really wrap it all together to show the PURPOSE of the piece. This is the part that touches people's heart. It's not just another pretty painting — there is MEANING behind the content, the process, the message that makes it ALL beautiful in one cohesive piece.
  • The butterfly metamorphosis was the best process that fit ALL of these. It's simple. Everyone knows it. Everyone has gone thru changes, or they will at some point.

How Did I Paint It?

  • I spent several days planning out the composition, the look and feel, and how I would paint it all in order. I can't understate the amount of planning necessary.
  • A few trial runs followed.
  • Then one go at the final piece!
  • The Tilt Brush playback feature shows every stroke in the order of how you paint the piece. I had to paint each phase step by step — this was indeed a narrative and performative piece!


My piece is also featured in the Tilt Brush showcase (in the app) and on the Tilt Brush Artist in Residence page.

You can read more about the Tilt Brush AiR program's inception here in this NYT article.