Who are you?
Hi, my name is Stefania Filippi – Stefj as an artist. I am a 22 year old illustrator girl based in Italy, who loves drawing cozy illustrations and cute characters. I have a degree in Figurative Arts from art school and I graduated in Illustration & Comics. Currently I’m working both on NFT art on Tezos and as a freelance illustrator (registered business).
When did you start making art?
I started making art when I was little, I think I started drawing from the first moment I picked up a pen. My parents are good artists too and they taught me all the beauty in the art world since I was young. Growing up, I started to love the field more than anything else , so I went to art school and later specialized in illustration and comics too. My life has always been (and still is) devoted to art and its wonders. I started working in the NFT world in March 2021, I created one of the first generative projects ever on Tezos with the help of Pure Spider and Flygor on Hic Et Nunc, YOURCAtz, and now I always try to create new stuff.
What do you love about making art?
I love to create new worlds with my imagination, I love to make people who look at my art feel positive and I love the unknown emotions I feel when I see a piece of art that I love. I love to feel part of someone’s life, I love being able to vent with my imagination. I love the fact that I never had the “artist block” because I always have new ideas. I love being able to grow as a person through my work. I love the fact that it makes me independent and I am not obliged to do a joint job for 8 or more hours a day. I love being able to give life to my ideas and the ideas of others. Being creative has saved my – pardon my french – ass countless times in my life, I love knowing what I’m meant to be and having a certain future. I love not feeling disoriented, I love the scent of paper and I love being able to say that I love my job.
Your first mints were the “ZODIACATS” tell us a little more about this collection.
Oh my god that’s a big leap into the past! I want to start telling you how it was created from the beginning: I didn’t believe in NFTs. They seemed to me a volatile and unrealistic thing, there was a friend of mine who kept talking about it, I still remember all the times he said to me “You are good at drawing, do NFTs for god’s sake!” but I have never been interested neither in researching nor in trying to open myself to this new world. If I had listened to him, I would have been on Tezos as early as 2019 (too bad there weren’t NFT marketplaces back then). For two years I ignored his advice.
But then Flygohrs came into my life, in 2020, and I told him about this friend of mine and what he was telling me about Ethereum. He immediately became interested, started talking to my friend about it and started researching. He started doing what I didn’t want to do for two years! After trying to log into the platforms that used ETH, we saw that they were not for us. It was too complicated to register, to make your way and above all you had to pay a lot to mint works. Then came Tezos. Tezos overwhelmed us like a raging river and so Flygohr convinced me to try. I still didn’t believe in NFTs so I said to myself “mint some work you have already done so if it goes wrong or nothing happens, you won’t have wasted time or money”. A few weeks later, I had to change my mind.
Zodiacats started working: they were part of another project of mine that I had created for Instagram, but inexplicably people were absorbed by them! Then, not alone, I started trying to advertise my project on Twitter, and so the first followers arrived. Later we decided to create some very simple glitter animations on the Zodiacats, and people liked it a lot.
Zodiacats is an experiment rather than a real project. It’s what convinced me to create new projects for Tezos, it was an encouragement beyond belief. I love that project, even if it is very simple and now far away from my current artstyle, the kittens of the zodiac will never go out of my heart!
What do you love about cats?
Best question ever. I have had cat friends since my childhood, in total I have owned 5 cats in 22 years of my life. I’m a cat person. My most important cat was Sissi, I even created a piece for her on Tezos. She was 15yo when she passed away and I was broken because it was like losing a sister. I really love cats because they are cute, first. SUPER CUTE. And secondly because they are majestic creatures who hate humanity but love attention from their human pets. Cats were considered sacred in Egyptian society, they even found a hieroglyphic inscription in the Valley of the Kings that mentions: “You are the Great Cat, the avenger of the gods and the judge of words, the ones who preside over sovereign leaders and rule the great Circle; you really are the Big Cat. ” And I’m crazy about it.
There is no animal more perfect than a feline that always lands on its paws, that can climb anywhere and that could survive on its own despite its breed having been domesticated. Obviously, I’m not talking about Leone, my current cat, who has no feline abilities, only has a fat-ass and it’s always hungry.
Tell us more about your adorable “YOURCAtz” collection.
YOURCAtz is one of the first generative projects ever created on Tezos. I used Pure Spider code’s skills and some help from Flygohr to build the correct layers and we created my first sold-out project ever. Basically, it works like this: you buy a ticket, called Tickewt (800 in supply), and then you have to burn it using the function inside Hic Et Nunc or send the Tickewts directly to a burn address, and a few seconds later you’ll receive a randomized image of a cute and beautiful kitten with different details and expressions. You can find more here: https://yourcatz.xyz and you can see YOURCAtz in the gallery! Each YOURCAtz is randomly generated using a fixed set of features, each one having different rarities. Each image comes with my signature and the edition number directly impressed on it and with a randomly generated name for the cat too. I decided to use cats as the main character because everyone loves them and I wanted to do something similar to my past projects Zodiacats and Pawtraits. It was challenging, for sure, because I was doing my school work and the projects on Tezos at the same time but mostly it was challenging for Pure Spider who did the coding work. I have to thank both my “partners in crime” but especially Flygohr, because while I was busy with school and making all the drawings for the project, he put the website together while organizing the drop etc.
You also created the “BOO” collection which are “your friends for life”. What was the goal with this collection?
I created BOO because I felt that I needed something to keep my profile on FxHash active while I was working on my bigger project Magic Estatez (some tokens are still available). I wanted to stay coherent with the art style I used for Toasty and Cakey but at the same time stop making food-themed projects. The ultimate goal is the sold-out, obviously. But I’m pretty happy about how it went.
You recently released the FxHash project “Magic Estatez”. How did this project come to be?
Magic Estatez is my all-time favorite project. I’ve worked a lot on it and I’m very proud of the final result. It was born with the intention of changing the way, style and genre of my personal projects. It has been very successful and I didn’t expect it, you understand that people on Tezos have a taste! Every house is unique and randomized, but I didn’t want rarities.
Every house has a personalized address that reminds of fairy worlds and magic landscapes, and my intention was precisely to create something graphically beautiful that could also be used as a normal illustration: for printing, as a gift or simply as a safe place to take refuge. Each Magic Estatez is a real illustration, made by me in two-three months of work, no coding here! For those who do not yet own a Magic Estatez, I would like to say: it’s never too late for a second home!
What are your artistic goals moving forward?
My artistic goals are simple and stress-free: I would like to be able to continue supporting myself with my art. I don’t ask for a comfortable life or a lot of money, but I would like to know that what I do in life is what I love and not what I feel compelled to do, like a job that I don’t like or something else. Another important goal for me is to be able, maybe in the future, to teach art to those who would like to follow a similar path to mine. I would also like to publish a book of my drawings and travel the world meeting artists all around! I really hope to never feel ended or stopped, but to continue growing as a person and as an artist.
What are 1 or 2 artworks you’ve collected on Tezos that mean the most to you?
– The smollest Pikachu in the metaverse from @EmpressTrash, because is one of the first tokens I ever collected and because it’s so cute
– A09#565 from the project Atelier 09. I’m particularly attached to this project because I love that it is a female lead project (I’m a girl and I don’t know many girlz on Tezos!) and those A09 are all hand-drawn digitally and assembled one by one. I think it’s beautiful and really unique, not to mention the endless work behind it.
Obviously the most meaningful to me is my first ever collected token from @shig_nft, a Mistery Fish. Shig was the only artist I met even in reality, as well as on Tezos (except for Flygohr that is my bf), and he turned out to be a delightful, kind, and very nice person.
Is there anyone you want to shoutout?
Yes, of course. I want to shout out all the beautiful people that supported me on my Tezos journey, starting with Flygohr. Thanks for everything. Other artists that were and are very special to me are (Twitter account): @shig_nft @PureSpider @Ziggo511 @Snotface19 @_TransparentArt @SpuTweets @Pierreo01 @wHIUw18, but I’m surely forgetting many others.. please don’t be mad at me!!
I wanted to thank you for choosing me for the interview, you made me feel special. Thanks for this opportunity. I would also like to thank the Tezos fam from my heart, for making me think again that real art is not dead and that no one is left behind if we are united. Thank you all for helping me dream.