His art evokes the spirit of Japanese toy design, implanting its imaginary creatures into a surreal context, using photoshopped photographs that retain enough reality to be off-putting and familiar at once.
The other reason this evoked a Japanese aesthetic for me is Maksimov’s usage of tilt-shift effects, which mimic miniature photography on a grand scale. He’s just taken it one step further, and actually inserted his own “miniatures” into the landscapes. The double-take we all did when we first saw those amazing Japanese tilt-shift photos is carried to its logical end here.
It immediately made me think of what a live-action Hayao Miyazaki film would be like, marrying his blob-like designs with realistic backgrounds. Although a large part of Miyazaki’s charm comes from the fully animated realization of his world, it made me wonder how well his aesthetic could translate into a live action feature.
Imagine Studio Ghibli and Pixar teaming up to create an animated feature with near photo-realistic backgrounds and a perfect CG integration of Miyazaki’s patented style. Disastrous or wonderful? Would their two approaches be compatible? Pixar’s debt to Miyazaki’s storytelling chops is well-documented, but I wonder if each studio’s visuals could ever be brought together. Maybe one day.