This artist makes surreal portraits that look like they’re glitches

Ashraf Khoffash, better known as Pandagunda, is a visual artist whose ‘glitch art’ has everyone mesmerised.

Born in Palestine, Pandagunda worked as an interior designer before moving to Paris, and now Sweden, to escape the political conflicts plaguing his country. Since then, he’s become a freelance digital artist, and has considerably grown both his portfolio and his following.

His style is hard to define, but if we were to try, it’d be a curious amalgam of metallic spikes and swirls, 3D shapes, and alien-like flowers – all shooting outwards from different models’ body parts.

As Illusion360 writes, “Pandagunda’s work celebrates the beauty in technology, mistakes, and nature simultaneously.”

We recently caught up with Pandagunda and got to know more about his craft.

Please tell us more about yourself. How did you become an artist?

“For some reason, this has always been the hardest question because I’m trying to find an answer for it myself. But the short answer: My name is Ash, 32 years old, I live in Sweden. I started doing art since high school and I’ve always felt the need to express myself in one way or another. I’m still not sure what kind of artist I am, but right now I’m stuck in digital art, coding, sounds, and 3D.”

How would you describe your style? And how did you come up/discover this unique aesthetic of yours?

“I’ve always loved the abstraction in the different forms of art. I like it when something is there but not really clear what it is, like it’s hidden. It’s important that when I do something, it carries some kind of feeling to it. That it can cause some type of reaction to people who see it. I don’t know if my work is unique but I just like to always hide something in it, maybe that’s why some people find it curious.

“I still haven’t fully discovered the aesthetic that I’m chasing, it’s somehow close but I still don’t have this feeling of creating something that makes me say OK THIS IS IT. It’s always nice when I do something but it always fades away after I finish – and I find myself searching for it again.”

Take us through your creative process. Where do you turn to for inspiration? What’s your work flow like?

“I start the day with a 30-minute meditation, then after that, some coffee. If its feels right, I start the work in front of my computer and it lasts for at least six hours a day. I always aim to do something then turn to something completely different. I like this flexibility in making art, that’s why I don’t sketch or think of what exactly I’m going to create, but rather, have an idea in my head, or how the final work should feel like.

“I also like to collaborate with other like-minded artist in different fields of digital art, especially photographers and sound designers or musicians.

“Psychology and humanity are big inspirations to my work, specifically mental illness and the inner chatter. I don’t mean it’s always dark and sad, but I like the hidden underneath layer in us humans. I’m not interested in the exposed face that everyone knows, the face when you meet people and socialise with. That’s why I’m always searching for my true self, who I am for real behind the thoughts and insecurities and vulnerabilities.”

In 2016, you made a promo for Rihanna at the VMAs. How was the experience?

“It was really exciting and I was really stressed because I wanted to give the best I can. I was also little worried about how people will react to it because it’s not the usual stuff you see every day in the music industry – especially for a huge superstar like Rihanna. Although it was an amazing experience that I would love to do again on a bigger scale.”

Speaking of music, does it play a big role in your art? If so, which artists or genres do you like listening to?

“Of course. I can’t do any of the things that I’m doing without the inspiration of sounds and music. I love experimental music and electronic. Sometimes just sounds not only music. Static sounds are somehow very inspiring, like a broken radio or television, or hospital sounds, or trains and subways.

“My favourite artists that I can think about now: Radiohead, Aphex Twin, Thom Yorke, Arca, Nicolas Jaar, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and David Lynch.”

If you’d like to discover more about Pandagunda and his work, head on over here.