Who are you?
I’m Kerim Safa, an enthusiast of pixels and sounds.
When did you start making art?
Unconsciously, at a very early age, like most people. Visual arts and music have always been the two primary drives for me, so I ended up studying both. I believe I started to put my creative output into context during my university years. I had to spend the same number of years forgetting much of what I had absorbed during my education, in the search for my own artistic voice. While my focus has been constantly shifting between visuals and music for a long time, a few years ago I decided to reset my portfolio and devote myself predominantly to creating work with pixels.
What inspires your art?
“Everything” would be an honest answer but not a fair one for an interview.
The most visible point of inspiration is the visual aspect of the work. ‘Mechanisms’, in relation to both nature and machinery, can be a catch-all keyword for me. The nature of working exclusively with pixels usually brings me to another keyword: ‘Limitations’. An artwork or any kind of creation that cleverly combines the right(as little as possible) amount of elements might have the potential to resonate with me. Another inspiration that is not unexpected considering my visual style is early computer graphics and video games.
Conceptually, I am inspired by a vast collection of themes, from social topics to personal experiences. Even though I choose not to declare clearly with everything I release, my pieces might have elements that represent something personal or my personal interpretation of something universal. This might reveal one of the reasons why I create my work manually. I feel close to the more traditional idea of “artist being present in the artwork”.
Above all, music has always been my ultimate inspiration.
What do you think is your biggest artistic strength?
Nothing gives me more pleasure than creating. I think this beats all the other strengths(and weaknesses). I’m having so much fun while working.
Why did you start making NFTs?
In mid-2020, my friends invited me to their virtual music event in Cryptovoxels. After the event has ended, I stayed there to explore the area. That was the first time I discovered about NFTs. I was already slightly interested in blockchain technology but NFTs and other creative applications introduced a totally new layer to me. At that time, I was working on a series of pixel/musical loops called ‘sqrlps’, just to keep my creative muscles active while being isolated at home during the pandemic. By pure luck, sqrlps pieces were technically a great fit to release as NFTs and I wanted to give it a try without any expectations. Then I couldn’t stop. Being a part of a new community and a technology at its early stage was also another exciting reason to keep on going.
What is the process for creating a piece?
I usually take two different paths for creating a piece.
The first one is when I already have an idea in mind, I start sketching on paper. Depending on the visual complexity of the piece, I switch to my beloved pixel art software Aseprite at some point. If I trust the initial idea, I try to make my way towards it as much as possible. But sometimes things can go in a totally different direction, that’s where the crucial decisions about whether to go off the path are made. Oftentimes, I tend to take the call to adventure.
The other one is my favorite: opening a blank project page, playing around with pixels. This gives me a similar feeling as improvising with a musical instrument. It is intuitive and can lead to surprising places.
I also spend a lot of time counting pixels as I create animations manually.
What adds value to your art?
Discovery and self-reflection.
Do you have any creations that stand out the most to you?
Conceptually: ‘RECYCLED’ or ‘a_square_poem’
Technically: ‘The Unnecessary Machine’ or ‘Sonus Apparatus’
Emotionally: ‘I am two and two is four’ or ‘relocate, recombine, regenerate’
Anyone you want to shout out?
I’m a huge fan of a lot of artists in the space. I will regret forgetting many names after this but let’s give it a try:
@andreasgysin, @Nicolas_Sassoon, @loackme_, @uncertaingaze, @HOXID_, @Guandanarian, @spogelsemaskine, @Yazid, @p1xelfool, @matheusleston, @Poppel20, @_1mposter, @lowkolos, @burkabayramart, @Moeen
Thank you for this interview.