Deep and meaningful plots, unique and vertiginous situations: OpenHighhat’s imagery tells some of the best and unique stories in the size scene.
Catch up with his creation here: https://www.deviantart.com/openhighhat
And here : https://gumroad.com/ohh
Now. What did this artist has to say about his art and life?
Let’s find out.
Recorded on Discord : 08/21/2018
Tina – So… greetings dear Ohh!
I’ve always loved this acronym.
Openhighhat – Morning
T – You’re in ireland I think? Land of the giants?
O – I am indeed. Surrounded by landmarks of giants. I can see the cliff face that inspired Jonathan Swift to write Gulliver’s travels as we speak
T – Well. it may be a tad of a stretch but… do you think this inspired your fantasy in any way? The birth of it, even?
O – Lol no. Definitely not. It was there from as long as I can remember. Initially it took hold from kids cartoons when I was growing up. And then when I got older and more aware of my surroundings it helped inspire me a little
T – From kids cartoon to landmark of the giants it is then! Can you tell me about your size career? The curriculum vitae of OHH?
I think it was 2012 I decided I wanted to have a go at writing my own work. It was called Surviving at 1mm Tall. While it got a good reception I didn’t know what I was doing so it petered out due to poor planning on my part. I then started writing in the Titan universe with Johnnyscribe, TinyDann and DX Machina. That took the better part of 3 years to complete and introduced me to rendering as a way of bringing our characters to life.
From there I’ve just steadily plowed on with it trying to bring other ideas to life. I can’t match the visual skills of the greats out there like Flagg. It’s the storytelling part I really get into.
T – Oh yes yes! Your stories… I think you’re the artist going for the longest sets out there, don’t you think?
O – Not deliberately. Small Gestures has become an epic. I set out to explore the changing dynamics you get in a loving relationship with slow shrink. I definitely rushed a bit at the start. I regret skipping a lot early on to get him to the small bits. The story really should be as long as it needs to be to do properly
T – With this set, you got yourself caught up in the action… do you try to write the whole story before rendering now? Do you storyboard things?
O – Yeah definitely. I tend to write arcs covering certain themes or topics. The break them into chapters where I want to cover something in particular or move the plot a certain way. Of course that can change as I go. Lisa wasn’t originally a character and was added to flesh the office out a little and to explore the dynamics of shifting power relationships a little.
T – How long did small gestures took in the making?
O – I started planning January 2016. First posted around the end of march 2016. So over two years now. Though we’re definitely getting towards the end.
T – Two years! And how do you know when the end is here? When everything you had to say has been said?
O – One of my goals was to explore the ultra micro world. It’s been difficult but I’m doing that currently. This arc is the last arc. Once I’m finished it I’ll be happy the story has run its course and I’ll be on to other projects.
T – You said exploration… is this what your visual stories are all about? Exploration?
O – That’s one of the big boosts you can get from visual stories. Perspectives are totally altered. I love micro. It’s my first love. My first real dream involving giantess was being near microscopic and exploring the body of a sleeping woman. That’s stuck with me. This final arc is about trying to share that dream I had and trying to bring it to life. But on that scale things look so very different. Sarah is now over 22 miles tall. It changes her from a person with fine features to a landscape of unforgiving terrain. But that’s just the extremes. In between allows you to explore new perspectives and shifting relationships. Like when Sam is two inches tall we’re introduced to Lisa. Previously he was a tall, handsome, rich man in his 30s. She was just a 19 year old intern. Now he’s finger sized and she’s practically a god to him. It’s fun to explore those changes in relationships and how they can manifest. And to try and do it in a way that’s realistic as opposed to just fantasy.
T – This is fascinating indeed. I’ve always felt like the defining factor here was the ability to communicate or not between the small and the big. Remove that communication and the giant becomes… yes. A goddess. A god. Something unfathomable. And therefore realism. Can you easily define the line between fantasy and realism, kink and serious writing?
All in all, and as I’m reading you… what is the current space allowed to arousal/kink, self or projected, in your work, compared to your first pieces?
O – It’s important to note fantasy will always play a part. It’s the extent to which it does play a part. There’s a habit of just portraying our characters (mostly women) as vessels for our fantasies and projecting tropes on to them. I tried to avoid that with Sarah and Nicola. While they might make use of the situation they don’t actively seek it out. Denise is a definitely a fetishised villain. She’s a trope. Because the story needed a villain. And Lisa isn’t a villain but she does have some trope aspects. She enjoys having power over Sam but she’s not evil about it. She’d never hurt him.
As to your next question…
The difference now to then I think is ice definitely changed. From my first writing to my writing now I’ve gone from mid twenties to mid thirties. I’m much more sure of who I am now. My status in the world has changed. At that point in my life I was single and every woman was a possibility. Now I’m not. But it’s not just that has changed. With a change in age comes a change in societal role.
I’m trying to find the best way to phrase this without sounding patronising or chauvinistic in anyway as it’s not how I intend. Like Sam I’ve been reasonably successful in my job. And that can lead to some attention from younger women who admire the success. I’m sure it’s the same with young men I just notice it more with the women.
So I’ve recently been trying to explore this more. It’s self exploratory I guess. Trying to explore this change in relationship I’ve been seeing from when young women were something I actively pursued to now something I see as potentially vulnerable and need of protection. But in my work I like to transfer that power. So they’re the ones with the power and are uncertain how to use it
T – That’s a really interesting aspect you’re raising here! I can tell the assumptions of your experience but… do you think power and the reactions to it are genderless? What do you base your writing on for women characters?
O – Power and reactions definitely have no gender. I’m just seeing it from my perspective. And it’s a new one. My female characters are usually based on need. Sarah is a loving dedicated girlfriend, who’s also fiercely independent and determined to be her own woman, separate from her successful partner. I don’t think she needed a basis. Most of the intelligent women I’ve met have been the same way. Lizzy from Dependence is a little different as she’s quite introverted and just wants to me left alone. Either way I don’t think there’s much difference in the way I write male or female characters. They all have a motivation and you write around that. What I find difficult is writing sexual components from a female perspective. How do I as a man, understand the way in which a woman perceives her arousal or sexual interactions? I don’t think I can. I can only project what I think and alter it based on feedback that women give me.
T – You explored the microsocopic sizes, power, sexuality… what is left for you to explore? What tickles your curiosity for your next oeuvre?
O – I posted a list of ten story concepts recently covering a broad range of topics. One was growth. I’ve stuck to shrinking in rendering as it’s much easier to do. A lot less work and customisation needed. But I’m looking into it now. Lfcfan has done great work with Ascension and Bullies and shown good growth stories are possible. I’d love to do the same. I’m also looking at doing some more societal based scenarios. A girl abducting a train full of people and making them ant sized. She’ll have them live in a terrarium and study the society they develop and try to see how her interactions with them affect how that society develops
T – Are their lifespan the same as their captor?
I couldn’t help the question grins
O – I’ve been contemplating that. Do they perceive time differently or not? I’d like to do it. I think if I was writing this as a sci-fi epic in a different context I’d change the perception of time. But then you add children into the society. And that’s a non starter in this kind of comic. I did the lifespan ratio as 1000;1 in Abducted to make us seem like insects to them. But I can conveniently avoid reproduction in that.
T – No legends for the train’s passengers!
O – Only newspaper columns puzzling over their whereabouts and conspiracy theories online
T – I’d say it’s equally interesting. But wow. Thinking of it, there’s a real ambition in each and every story you tell. You could have chosen another format so… What are your inspirations, size and non size related in terms of storytelling?
O – I’m a big fan of Minuss and his work. He is the epitome of slow shrink and micro. DX Machina was also always a great read. He made stories that felt like real people were involved which is something I’ve always aspired to. I wouldn’t call myself an avid reader of fiction. I mostly read comedies. Terry Pratchett and Robert Rankin. Some of the higher brow fictions can feel like too much hard work when you just want to relax.
T – And in terms of illustration?
O – Ha, honestly. I’m not a big lover of art. I like ships, old and wooden or futuristic. I’m a big fan of Foss. Though in our community there’s so much to enjoy. We’re lucky to have a crop of very talented artists who freely share their works and their skills when asked
T – Could you copy paste some art that inspire or has inspired you there?
T – Hmmm
SpawnGts, Ktantan and…
O – Sorenzer0
T – Oh this last one… Soren?
O – Foss
T – What depth!
O – Arguably the greatest scifi artist
T – And how did these artists inspired your work?
O – Foss’ work just has this sense of scale and granduer. There’s not a lot in the way of hard lines. It’s all quite natural and evokes and very feminine structure. Definitely something I’d like to emmulate.
Sorenzero’s is just a fantastic play on light and scale. It leaves so much open to the imagination. Spawn’s, I love the juxtaposition. The way how everything is cut at his level and let’s you decide what’s happening out of shot. And I think ktantan’s speaks for itself. A great starting image, put together with great skill that gets to an outcome I would love to enjoy. But sadly never will.
T – Foss is a great discovery and I thank you for it! As for the others… I love them all in their own ways, naturally. They’ll be interviewed, just like you. Do you personally know them?
O – only to comment on DA
T – Did the thought of a collaboration crossed your mind?
O – I’ve done a few as you know, but no. My to-do list is long enough 🙂
T – *laugh*
This terrible to do list!
O – Lol. you have one of your own
T – Quite! Why do we impose this on ourselves? Why do you?
O – Because if I don’t get the ideas out of my head and onto to some sort of medium I’ll go mad replaying them in my mind
T – Well this is an excellent and sanitary reason to create!
O – there’s definitely worse reasons
T – I won’t ask on how long this list is, really. Let’s jump on the topic of pride!
What is something that makes you proud in everything you created?
O – I take pride in that I’ve been told by women they enjoy my work and the portrayal of female characters. And female characters are often just vessels for fantasies and not actually characters. Yes, a lot of this is fetish art. But at the same time I want to try to make it as real as it can be. The best pictures are always painted in the mind and if I can help someone do that then I’m happy.
T – This is one of of the reason why I love your art myself, dear.
There’s life, a benevolent life in your creation. It’s probably you.
O – Lol. Or the influence of my better half
T – Awwww !
Did she intervene a lot in your work?
O – Not directly. Though occasionally I’ll ask for guidance or direction. A female perspective. Though she’d be an awful giantess. She has a ‘stomp first ask questions later’ policy when it comes to bugs
T – On her own words? *laugh*
O – yup lol
T – That’s fantastic! Is this a fantasy you share?
O – Haha no. This is neither of our fantasies. She’s just poor sighted and hates bugs.
T – *giggles* another interpretation from a very empathetic and observative storyteller!
She has a wonderful husband. But back to the interview.
O – fire away
T – You once told me that people said you were the master of pov. What does this means in terms of composition, framing and so on?
O – POV is about sacrifice and trade off. What’s close to the camera is going to be much more prominent than what’s further from it. So it’s about lining things up that gets in everything you want to give you that sense of scale and distance, but also gives you the detail of the foreground and the up close action
T – It makes sense. I felt that. Are there advices you’d like to give to young creators regarding rendering?
O – It takes time and money. So if you’re not prepared to invest both, and you don’t have an understanding spouse then maybe think about something else!
T – … On the topic of the hardest pitfall they will find?
O – I think a common mistake early on is trying to show EVERY shot and using every angle
it’s time consuming and can be repetivie. Focus on story, focus on moving and drop what you don’t need
T – Oooh yes it is! It’s all about choices and decisions. On the topic of why they should keep some of their creation for free?
O – Unless you’re in a country where the dollar goes a long way, you’re not going to make a living from this. My paid comics cover cost of content and hardware upgrades. I couldn’t make a living from this unless I worked at least 50 hours a week on it and sold everything I made. So keep it free. Work at your own pace and enjoy it rather than have it be a job.
T – On chatting with creative strangers?
O – haha
Be safe. But I’ve made good friends in this community. I have regular chats with many people, know their names, have them on facebook, spoke to their partners. Be safe, sensible and don’t divulge too much until trust is there.
T – On the virtues of being obsessed?
O – You get a lot done. You won’t sleep a lot though.
T – *laugh* On improving their work?
O – Always listen to Tina. Be curious!
T – On being grateful?
O – I am. This is a community. No one here is an island. We all support each other, encourage each other and teach each other.
T – On being interviewed way too late?
O – Haha. I’m up anyway. Still working on Small Gestures. Though bed soon.
T – Don’t you ever stop you silly Irish?
O – Hey, I was working most of the day. Enjoying family time and making dinner for much of the rest
I’ve only really been at it the last 90 mins
T – Me too! *giggles*
O – You know how it is. work, life, play. all must be balanced
T – Balance is key, and I need to find a conclusion to this interview. But I don’t want it to end.
O – haha
like me a story
T – Is this an idiom? It looks like an idiom that says : tell me about it.
O – it’s a typo
like me and a story
T – It still looks like an idiom! How are you doing that, ohh?!
O – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
T – Are there any other talents that you’d like to share with the size internet?
O – I make a good steak
T – My dear ohh, thank you. For everything. It’s a perfect conclusion. Have a wonderful night and don’t be a bug or she’ll crush you!
O – Ha! I shall do my best. Thank you for your interest and for your tutelage. Sleep well.