A crying, pearl-adorned humanoid inside a shell. Green, tattooed avatars reclining side-by-side. A high-heeled figure flying out of an explosion above a motorcycle. Julia Salnikova’s 3D compositions coat fantasy with a high-fashion gloss. As such, her work has been commissioned by clothing brands like Desigual and Sorelle, as well as the concept store LN-CC. She was also called upon by Dazed last year to create a series of images celebrating Spanish label BIMBA Y LOLA’s 16th anniversary.
It makes sense that Salnikova’s images sit so comfortably within fashion, as it’s the industry she cut her teeth in. The Moscow-born digital artist studied spatial and interior design at Chelsea College of Arts, but after deciding that everyday spaces weren’t for her, Salnikova moved into the more cross-disciplinary world of fashion set design. Around this time, Salnikova also grew interested in digital art and taught herself 3D rendering techniques, occasionally incorporating them into her set design work and pitching the ideas to photographers.
The pandemic, however, caused Salnikova to transition completely from physical set designer to digital worldbuilder. To compensate for the lack of open studios and models available during lockdown, the artist started 3D rendering her own shoots, complete with otherworldly locations, elvish avatars and bespoke designer garments. Now, unconstrained by things like budget, distance or availability, Salnikova is continuing to dismantle the limitations of the physical realm by creating environments that yield endless possibilities.
Text Morna Fraser