Space Whale

Space Whale: Reno 2030 Digital Art Rendering

Space Whale: Reno 2030

If you live in Reno, Nevada, you’re probably familiar with the Space Whale. Originally created for Burning Man, it’s become a regular fixture in downtown Reno (click here to learn more about the creators).

Without further ado, here is my digital rendering of Reno in 2030:


Space Whale

Reno 2030

Reno, Nevada is growing rapidly, and with it the artistic culture of the city. That said, much of what I’ve drawn already exists. The new, unfamiliar, buildings represent the changes currently underway in Reno. On the left, a vertical farm, the very symbol of urban sustainable architecture. To the right, a technological monolith, complete with eerie glow and braces to support and reinforce an enormous structure. Reno is an excellent symbol of renewal and growth at the crossroads of over-industrialization and hippy-dippy farm-to-table eateries. On the one hand concerned about the name of the chicken that’s for dinner and on the other concerned for boosting profits and eliminating waste. This crossroads is perhaps the most reasonable version of the future we can expect.

Reno and Tech

Reno is not the gaming Mecca it once was. Sure, the industry exists and still employs a large number of residents. However, things are changing quickly and it isn’t just Tesla’s massive Gigafactory east of town. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Switch, and Intuit join IGT and a host of startups competing for tech-savvy residents. Reno’s economy is diversifying and it’s happening quickly. This trend can also be seen in local art.

Local Art

From the Space Whale to the grated-metal BELIEVE sculpture, art in Reno is embracing technological trends. One part Steampunk pillar of metal, one part stained glass, these art pieces have one foot in the past and one in a retrofuturistic dreamscape.

The city itself is a keen depiction of this dichotomy. All around, one can see the scars of the past. Closed casinos, shuttered weekly motels, empty lots. Turn your head and you’ll see a former casino renovated into a modern condo complex with luxury ammenities. Turn again and see a university growing rapidly to accommodate a projected 25% increase in enrollment. These multi-million dollar engineering marvels showcase some of the best Reno has to offer. Then, drive out to the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center and you’ll see some of the biggest companies in the world with operations being built or already in action.

Learning to Draw

I am not an artist. Well, I wasn’t. I never considered myself to be very much of an artist, focusing instead on the written word and music. That all changed when I recently stumbled into an Apple store. I began playing with one of the iPads and was impressed with how far they had come (the last time I had played with one was the first generation). I opened Adobe Sketch and started messing with one of the default pictures, a fascinating and detailed piece of digital art. To be honest, I don’t really know what came over me. The next thing I knew, I was purchasing an iPad and an Apple Pencil. Was I the victim of an incredible sales process? Maybe. Did I get sucked into the possibilities the technology offered? Definitely.

Next step: learn to draw.

Adobe Sketch Default
Courtesy of Adobe Sketch

A Learner’s Mania

Not knowing where to start, I purchased a cheap Udemy course called Digital Art for Beginners (A review will be posted here soon). I’ll leave the technical details for my review, but ultimately I ended up letting myself get sucked into ten hour drawing sessions. When I begin a new endeavor this is often the way it goes: dozens of hours in a deep dive attempt to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. Then, a few weeks to step back, change focus, and begin a slow burn process toward mastery or relative mastery.

While I never set out to be an incredible digital artist, I did intend to find enjoyment in a new hobby and to learn a skill which might be useful to me someday. An old axiom of mine is “never see an earned skill as a wasted effort.” The initial period of infatuation with a project is what I like to call A Learner’s Mania. I have it bad.

What skill are you learning right now? How might those skills affect your future?

Reno’s Beckoning Future

No one can really say exactly what Reno will look like in 2030. The acceleration of change is increasingly hard to digest. Also, the influx of people to the local area has put a huge strain on the housing situation. There are a lot more problems to solve, but if Reno has proven anything in the last several years, it’s that it’s scrappy. Renoites aren’t above reinventing themselves. That in itself is something in which to be proud.

Renoites, broadly, are learners. You can be too.

Reading Recommendations

If you’re interested in predicting or influencing the future, I have a few books you might like to read. Check out The Future of Humanity by Dr. Michio Kaku. Also, Abundance by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler.

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