Who are you?
I’m CMYK (or at least that’s the psuedononymous name I go by) and what seems like a long time ago, I studied fine art, art history with the various foundation skills (still life, figurative, various usage of mediums, watercolor, oils, acrylics, etc.) before happily dropping out and then studying B/W photography and 16mm film making.
When did you start creating art?
My first memory of doing anything art related was when I was five, although I must have scrawled something before that time. The memory was a bad one though, and put me right off painting for the next 5/6 years of my life. The memory is of being given a big horsehair paintbrush with a palette of large, circular and murky coloured watercolours (the other kids sitting at the same table had ruined the colors by accidentality mixing black and other colors in with them after not washing their brushes). I still remember the frustration I had with not being able to paint anything the way I wanted it to look because of that huge brush with unmanageable bristles and the darkened colors. Even during my young teenage years, I found art teachers deliberately didn’t allow the students to use the decent brushes, and they kept them locked away in the stationary cupboard (the brushes, not the students… although there was one incident. ). Quite when they actually did give the students the good brushes to use, I never found out. Apparently being at that school for 5 years wasn’t enough time, though. I blame that for a lot of people thinking they have no ability in painting, there’s not much fine art you can do with a brush that’s taken a hammering from years of student abuse, and then looks like a tool a chimney sweep would use.
When did you first get into NFTs?
I first got into NFTs in 2015, although they weren’t exactly called NFTs then. But, it was around that time that it was suggested they be called ‘non-fungible tokens’, which might one day be shortened to NFT, which as it turned out is what happened. I had Bitcoin first in 2014, although I had tried mining it without success around 2013, even by then hashing needed a lot more power than was on a normal PC. So, the first NFT I collected was the FDCARD by the Spells of Genesis project. It seemed to me at the time that the whole technology was a game changer for artists, particularly digital artists. After that, I minted what on the Counterparty protocol would be called Name-Asset NFTs, one of the first being the name NAKAMOTOCARD which was to be used as a parody card of the Spells of Genesis SATOSHICARD, in fact at that time no one had done a parody card. They weren’t a thing in 2015. I think I just had the freeware software Gimp, and certainly no tablet for drawing, and so left it for quite some time until what is now very well known card art (RAREPEPE) came out with the name Nakamoto Card across the top of it. As anyone who’s ever seen that card knows, it’s kind of iconic.
Even back then in 2016 when I first saw it I almost fell off my chair laughing, especially as it was so different from what I envisaged NAKAMOTOCARD would actually look like. I know it’s a perhaps uncomfortable truth for many artists, but pretty much for the first time in history, an art movement was begun with humor and was completely egalitarian as anyone could join in, training or not (preferably none, as it turned out with many of the popular early pieces outside of Spells of Genesis). For that reason, I’m actually glad I hadn’t attached artwork to NAKAMOTOCARD at the time, because things might have been different. People often cite Dada as being the same thing/movement, but Dada isn’t the same in my view. Dada was more Duchamp’s smirking irony when he made the toilet bowl instillation, whereas the Pepe movement was essentially (mostly) non-artists tearing things up for the pure hilarity of it. It’s literally never happened before as an art movement in history, and certainly not as egalitarian as it turned out to be at that time.
What were some of your earliest nft creations?
So, the above was technically what might be referred to as earliest NFT mint/s, but in view of with artwork, that would have been in 2020. At the time I was using a pixel editor to make some pieces, and made a very basic, still rendition of the game Pong, with minimalist CMY pixels within it. I’ve long since burned it though, it doesn’t exist any more. Some of the pieces in the same series are still on Ethereum-Rarible and riff off of early video gaming history with my own animated take on the games. Over time, I found that using a pixel editor to create abstract work – which I’ve done a fair amount of on canvas with acrylics – was really a good fit. The base works of what became the Descendants series – The Timepiece of Thades – was also made using that method. During my younger years I always admired minimalism and Mondrian… although he technically speaking wasn’t a minimalist. So, I always tried to find my own version of a Mondrian. But, as every artist knows who’s ever tried it, if you attempt to make your own Mondrian or another artist’s style, you basically end up with a Mondrian or another artist’s copy, or else something completely different that in no way comes even close to resembling it.
After having given that goal up years ago, I finally found my own way unexpectedly via using the pixel editor and creating The Timepiece of Thades which is on the Async platform. The moral of that story I guess is, just go on your journey and when the time is right it’ll all come together. Never seen that kind of artistic development process working when it’s rushed, though. Some things you really can’t control.
How did you hear about Tezos?
I first heard about what was Hen (Hic et Nunc) on Twitter, I’d clicked through to see the platform and liked the minimalist look, and the fact its front page was just a scrollable wall of artwork without the artist’s name. That way, people started collecting the art just because of the art and not because you were ‘a name’. The really strange thing though, was that Tezos was actually always known as a corporate coin since years back in the crypto space, the creator of Tezos being a former JPMorgan exec. That put me off of it for a while, for a month or so. I’m still not keen on the coin, but I like the way the art movement on the chain has grown. The creator of Hen was probably only focused on looking for a Crypto that would be cheap for artist’s to mint with as well as all the other possible use cases. I bit the bullet I think in March of 2021 when https://twitter.com/Cruel_Coppinger made sense and there was nothing to lose.
Your first series minted on HEN was “Curio” could you tell us more about it?
The early 2021 Curios series was more-or-less a progression of another two series on Ethereum, Kaleidescope Artifacts and Formation Vision, two abstract animated series where I was creating visual anomalies and changing perceptions via the visuals and aesthetics. So, with the Curios series the overreaching theme & form was connected to Opart, art that had an optical illusion at it’s core, as well as using my specific CMYK hexadecimal colors. Opart from the 1960’s has always interested me, but the truth is, there were very few artists at that time who really created anything aesthetically pleasing. Many Opart pieces from those years were little more than visual curiosities (that’s partially the reason for the series name) which is probably why the Opart movement didn’t really last very long, not much more than a decade as a movement.
It was mostly panned by art critics as being vapid and without depth of meaning. I still like many of the pieces from that era, so one of my aims was to create Opart that was also visually appealing or at least engaging somehow, due to the animation – animation being a luxury the majority of 1960’s artists didn’t have at hand, or didn’t use. There was one one piece though, Curio 6 where I went full-on 1960’s style Opart. https://twitter.com/desultor_ gave enough to own that piece at the time, it’s eye-burning. The series covered 35 pieces, and from the beginning I wanted to use a selection of different forms for each piece, but not so many that the series would become disparate. There are pieces which I’d call Glitchstract, a combination of abstract form with glitch-esq elements that would create a view of a structure that changes and is never quite stable. In the other pieces, I used geometric forms and animation to create visual anomalies, as with Curio 11. The series is intended to be eclectic in style, but I knew I should limit it to around 5 or 6 different forms aesthetically for the sake of cohesiveness, and created various pieces based on those. It was a very well received series, which was a great feeling.
Do you have a plan of what the work will look like or do you mainly focus on experimentation and improv?
I do generally plan pieces, but I initially spend a long time after I’ve had the concept just creating variations of my idea until after several or more iterations, I then get to a stage where I’m happy with the structure/style. Having said that, with the Kaleidescope Artefacts series I created all 100 pieces via a more free-flowing and intuitive process, but that is something I don’t often do. I’d say my perfect space is somewhere in the middle between the two, though.
“Visual Flavors” are delicious colorful pixel treats. What inspired this series?
Thanks! At the time, I’d been working more with abstract form, and abstract is really what could be called my home-style – if there really is such a thing for artists. It’s been a form I’ve worked on since around 2006/7 in acrylics. Abstract is often used to express concepts, but what happened in relation to that short series, was simply one day when eating some chocolate I looked at it for a moment and had a random thought, ‘What would abstract chocolate look like?’ I struggled to think, and realized I’d never actually seen abstract-chocolate, or any form of abstract flavor as far as I was aware. So, via the use of animation, I decided to also give its flavor a form of expression via movement.
Using the Ice-Cream flavors themselves was a nice link-up for the works as a whole, although I admit I did consider all kinds of other flavors at first, but many of the other flavors wouldn’t have fit with the overall theme of the pieces, nor the animation. I still wonder what Steak would have looked like. Creating them was harder than I’d first anticipated, as I had to question what would their animation of form and speed be in comparison to each of the other ones, but I was happy with the results.
Tell us more about your “Slates” series on Versum. The color choice is particularly interesting.
I had been doing a lot of experimentation using code to generate geometric forms and I got to a point after creating MechanikaV6 where I was looking to create something more minimalist. At heart, I would describe myself as an abstract geometric minimalist, although I do wander off on tangents from time to time, and my form of minimalism is perhaps more busy than most artists minimalism might be. But in any case, the Slates series is connected to the 1980’s and some of the styling from that era. Venetian blinds often appeared in the photography and popular art of that time, and what I’d call a blind-type effect was often used in Synthwave illustrations on what we’d now probably refer to as a Synthwave Sun, a Sun that looks almost as if it has had a Venetian blind form overlaid and is then obscuring parts of the Sun’s structure.
So, that’s what the structure of Slates is based upon. I’ve always liked Synthwave as a style, and in answer to your question about the colors (well spotted, by the way) the palette is essentially from Synthwave. The surrounding and unchanging frame, represents a window frame, and the generative variety of the color form sizes is made via several layers that all affect each other in view of the final randomly generated combinations.
What project(s) have been the current center of your focus?
Currently I’ve been working on a new abstract series of works, but I’m waiting on a few things to happen before I release it, but I’d tentatively say it’s some of my best work digitally, but having said that, of course different people have different tastes, so let’s see.
What do you have planned going forward?
I only ever have an overreaching plan until a particular series pulls my focus, so I can just say that moving forward I just intend to keep doing art and developing the growth internally that the process engenders. I’m not sure an artist really needs more than that, at least not from my perspective.
Is there anyone you want to shout out?
This is the most difficult question of all. There are many people I’d like to thank in the space, but I’d likely miss out many others I should thank, so I think it’s probably enough to say I’ve always appreciated anyone who’s ever collected my work, and also those who have liked and RT’d me or offered a kind word. Everything helps and makes creating art that much more pleasurable. So, a big thank you to those people and all who make this movement possible.
Firstly, thanks for asking such insightful questions! And secondly, it’s still only the beginning of this art movement for all of us, and what I really want to see is the major explosion when the rest of the world wakes up to it. As many have said before and will no doubt say again, we’re all still early…