Meet Visual Citizens

The duo of digital florists and designers

Meet Visual Citizens - illustration 1

Portrait of Shali and Adam Kelly © Visual Citizens

Shali and Adam Kelly are the co-founders of the digital design studio Visual Citizens. Together, they use nature, motion and texture to create unique virtual environments. Artsper met with them to talk about their creative process and the future of digital art.

1. Hi Shali and Adam! Can you introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about Visual Citizens?

Shali Kelly: We are a duo of former architects turned digital artists. I am originally from South Africa and Adam is from Scotland. We create surrealist interiors and landscapes with a particular focus on nature and flora. We are devoted to concept and meaning in art, much of our work involves an imagined story or world within which the piece exists. Usually, this meaning comes from our own minds – an idea we hope to explore or an emotion we need to release.

2. Why did you switch from architecture to digital design and visual experiences?

SK: We felt, as architects, that we were limited by reality. As digital designers, the possibilities for expression are endless. Digital art and design, for us, is an interesting medium. It is a kind of escape from the reality of practical design constraints, allowing us to render surreal environments and fill them with fantastical objects. We feel that the design world is in an incredible position. Digital media is more important (and immersive) than ever before, and this digital world that is developing around us needs designers. We love to imagine what the future will hold for design – perhaps designers will find themselves increasingly involved in creating, curating, and populating digital environments, rather than physical ones. Perhaps this could even be a solution to the vast amounts of waste produced in our throwaway society.

Meet Visual Citizens - illustration 1
Meet Visual Citizens - illustration 1

Visual Citizens projects, on the left: "Plant-Based Safari," on the right: "Digital Bouquet" © Visual Citizens

3. You also describe yourselves as “digital florists," a lot of your work involving plants and flowers. Why do you use this imagery?

SK: For us, flowers are the most emotive objects found in the natural world. So we use them as a way to express ideas.

4. Do you invent the flowers or do you replicate real flower species?

SK: It's a bit of both. In a recent project, we have been exploring the notion of digital painting. As a starting point we used real flowers and then painted and sketched over them, so in the end, the flower became abstracted through the process itself.

5. When creating your designs, where do you find your inspiration for new textures, colors and forms?

SK: Our process starts with searching for the true concept or aesthetic of the project. Sometimes we find inspiration in images, paintings, books or films. Other times it is an experience in nature. From there we do some initial sketches and then move into 3D software. We develop the idea through lots of test renders exploring materials and forms.

6. You use movement in a lot of your artworks. Does the possibility of infusing motion in your art affect the way that you conceive it?

Adam Kelly: Movement can serve to bring a piece to life more than a static image. So we tend to think about how motion can support the concept of the image and create an impression on the viewer.

Meet Visual Citizens - illustration 1
Meet Visual Citizens - illustration 1

On the left: portrait of Shali and Adam Kelly, on the right: Visual Citizens project "Bath Time Blossoms" © Visual Citizens

7. You also sell some of your work as NFTs. What do you think is the future of NFTs in the art market?

AK: NFTs had a period of huge growth, but we think the future in the art market will be NFTs becoming increasingly mainstream as a way to give digital art a legitimacy on the same level as traditional art.

8. Do you have favorite contemporary artists that you look up to?

SK: We love the work of Refik Anadol!

9. And finally, do you have any future projects that you would like to tell us about?

AK: Yes! We have diversified our studio into working further in the tech industry. As well as some VR projects, we now work on web design and development. For us as designers, we simply love to create and impact the world through visuals across different mediums.

Their favorite artworks

Field Reflection, Anne Dias

Field Reflection

Anne Dias

Painting - 31.5 x 23.6 x 0.2 inch


Le temps coule comme l'eau de la rivière, Martine Chassé

Le temps coule comme l'eau de la rivière

Martine Chassé

Painting - 40.2 x 40.2 x 1.6 inch


Liz with her friends II, Ruofan Chen

Liz with her friends II

Ruofan Chen

Painting - 47.2 x 31.5 x 1.2 inch