Meet the artist behind these 3D sand sculpture optical illusions

A photo posted by Jamie Harkins (@jimjams1313) on

New Zealand artist Jamie Harkins’ incredible 3D sand sculptures create magical optical illusions. GrindTV talked to Jamie to find out how he creates such mesmerizing works of art.

“Well, I taught myself really,” he tells GrindtV. “I started about three years ago and after initially researching books about the 3D effect, I discovered it mainly involved a lot of mathematics and trigonometry. That required expensive technical survey gear, which I didn’t have, so instead I forgot about the books and went to the beach and had a go myself.”

Harkins is based at Mount Maunganui, a beach town on the North Island’s Bay of Plenty. In that first year he’d ride his motorbike down to the beautiful beaches near his home, start mapping out his creations and learn the rules as he went along.

A photo posted by Jamie Harkins (@jimjams1313) on

“For that first year everyone thought I was a crazy guy just drawing on the beach,” he laughs. “They couldn’t understand why I wasn’t at work.”

However as his art progressed and his illustrations seemingly sprang from the sand, the reaction changed.

“All the locals started coming down and having a look, and no one could figure it out,” he says. “They were curious for sure, as it looks likes magic.”

Of course the locals had to be quick, as the very nature of Harkins’ work is temporary.

“I have about three hours usually before it is gone,” he says. “Much of the work is racing the tide and the wind and conditions. It can be frustrating to work if you know it can be erased earlier than you’d like, but I have no problem with the art being cleared by the ocean. That’s the very nature of it. As long as I get the photo, I’m happy.”

A photo posted by Jamie Harkins (@jimjams1313) on

The imagery has been important, not only for sharing his work on social media platforms like Instagram, but also for adding depth to his work.

“A lot of the magic comes from the actual photography,” he says. “Sometimes people can’t quite see the 3D effect at the beach, but as an image they come to life.”

The magical effect has created a buzz and Harkins’ work is increasingly in demand.

“I’ve sold the images for publishing and promotional use on websites and was recently commissioned for a surfing magazine cover,” he says. “I’ve even done wedding proposals and birthday messages. So there is different aspects to it, although I prefer to keep it art focused.”

A photo posted by Jamie Harkins (@jimjams1313) on

He now is seeking to broaden his craft and is looking at bigger projects.

“My biggest ambition is to travel all round the coastline of New Zealand and do a coffee style book to illustrate the cultural stories of each area with my designs,” he says. “I’m still working out the designs and drawings though. I’m still learning on the job!”

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