Slowing down with... Shvembldr
A short interview with generative artist Shvembldr.
Here's another installment of the artists' interviews series. We have the honour to read about Shvembldr's (Twitter, Artblocks.io curated & playground, Hic Et Nunc, Instagram) story today. Many of you have seen his Artblocks project, others (like me) discovered him through Hic Et Nunc. Always with a recognizable style, interesting features and exploiting what the medium has to offer, his work is a joy and has many pages to take inspiration from. Without further ado, let's read it from Shvembldr.
Q: What is your background?
A: I can't say much about my past, because I don't really like to do it. I will only say that before Shvembldr I had another pseudonym and I did mostly music and released 6 albums. I will not reveal this alias because it is part of another big story and I want to separate it from myself. I've been Shvembldr for a while and hopefully will stay that way for the rest of my days. I am often asked how this pseudonym came about and what it means. As a child together with my friend we used to draw nonexistent monsters, which had a huge number of eyes and teeth (there could also be many ears, but usually there was only one nose). Each of them had a name. And we had a rule: when you came up with a name, it had to have as few vowels and as many consonants as possible. That's how Shvembldr came about. Many of these names stuck in my memory forever and I used to use them as passwords (not anymore).
Q: How did you get into art? Is it your main activity?
A: My main profession is a frontend-developer. Some time ago I worked for a media company, and my job was to develop small games. While developing one of the games, I got the idea to put lines on the screen in random order. I simply used Math.random(). I looked at the results for a while. What fascinated me was that they couldn't be predicted and were always unique. The phrase Generative Art just came to my mind. I googled it and an endless insanely beautiful world opened up to me. I was instantly infected. It was a turning point in my life.
I am a very thorough person, so I needed the basics in order to start creating. These were the skillshare courses by Joshua Davis and the Coding Train lessons by Daniel Shiffman. After that I started experimenting and the first pieces came out. I started making art and visualizing audio at the same time. All of this I posted on Instagram. It was a hobby of mine, but I devoted a lot of time to it. This is my main activity at the moment. I do art and art-related projects and dedicate absolutely all my time to it. And I'm glad about that.
Q: Which are your artistic influences?
A: I think at first I was most influenced by Manolo Gamboa. He is a famous generative artist and his work is fascinating. I have a bit of a strange character - I want very much not to be like anyone else (this does not always work), so I try not to be guided by other artists when I create something, and if I use an idea or a technique, I try to remake it beyond recognition. I often use as references the work of artists who wrote with their hands rather than digital. But I want to have my own way. I know it's presumptuous, but that's how I like to proceed.
Q: What has the art NFT movement meant to you? Has it changed your art practice? Does it enable you to do something that you couldn't do before?
A: It changed absolutely everything. I think I, like other artists, miraculously suddenly found myself in a situation where art became profitable and there was an opportunity to make it my main activity. It's worth noting that generative art and NFT seem to be made for each other. It's a perfect symbiosis, and not many people realize it yet. The world of NFT is divided into two halves - traditional and digital art and collectibles. And generative art is right in the middle. Each piece is a large number of unique pieces of art that are combined by the same algorithm. I think we're at the beginning of a new era, but not everyone has noticed it yet.
Q: Would you like to highlight any of your works?
A: At the moment I have a large number of works on Hic Et Nunc. I won't talk about any in particular, but I will say that one of my goals was to introduce generative art to collectors. So the vast majority of my releases are interactive. They generate art at the click of a mouse. Every click = new art - that's my thing that many people recognize me by.
I'm going to talk about the most serious project for me: The Blocks of Art. This project was released on Artblocks.io. And it grew into something more than just art. I originally conceived it as a dedication to this platform, which represents generative art in the NFT world at the moment. To me, it's a symbol of generative art - it's many "panels" arranged on "cubes," each of which is a little art. It symbolizes many artists united by a common idea.
Each art has one letter of the words ART BLOCKS on it.
After the release, I created the TBOA Club, which is located at theblocksofart.com and which I am now actively developing. You have to have 9 TBOAs with all the letters in your collection to get into it. I conceived it as a place for people who are very interested in my art and generative art. I wanted to do something special for them. Every member for a year gets a TBOA token before each of my releases and the opportunity to buy it 24 hours before official sales. Apart from that I have several other club related projects in mind and I'm actively working on implementing them.
The second project I want to talk about is my last major release of Alien Clock on Artblocks playground. The NFT world is very young, and many of the people coming into it are unwitting conservatives who are used to art being something static that can hang on a stick. Alien Clock is infinite moving deterministic art and you can watch it on any aspect ratio screen. It will go on indefinitely and never repeat itself, but if you run it again, the script will be the same because it is deterministic and connected exactly to your copy. I like to push the boundaries of art and introduce collectors to new types of art.
Q: Which NFT platforms are you using? Both as an artist and as a collector or passerby.
A: I started by releasing my art on hicetnunc.xyz. It was chosen because there was an opportunity to do interactive art. I did 100 releases, all of which were completely sold out. The other day, after a break, I released my 101st. I have two releases on artblocks.io in curated and playground (and I plan to do one release each month on playground during the year). I also recently posted one of the works on Foundation and may continue to do so.
Q: What would you like to see in the platforms you use in the future?
A: Honestly, I don't know what to suggest. I am satisfied with the situation at the moment. If there are any negatives, it can easily be explained by the fact that we are at the beginning of a big journey and many features of the emerging digital art market need to be tested over time. I like the way things are unfolding and I'm ready to evolve too.
Q: Any other artist whose work you'd like to recommend?
A: I will recommend a large number of my colleagues. These are artists that I respect very much and follow their work:
@thomasp85, @piterpasma, @mattdesl, @gengeomergence, @robdixon, @dmitricherniak, @tylerxhobbs, @aaronpenne, @MAKIO135, @alidasun, @v3ga, @MacTuitui, @Lalabadie
And many others, the list is very long.
Q: Any artist who you'd like to see in this series of interviews?
A: I would like to see Manolo Gamboa here. I haven't seen a single interview with him. But I think he doesn't want to do them.
(Marcelo's edit: Artnome / Jason Bailey interviewed Manolo some years ago, the interview is here. I'll try to get an interview myself in any case, since you suggest it)
Q: Any closing thoughts?
A: We live in an amazing time and I'm very glad I caught it. It's incredible to look to the future with hope and optimism and to do what you love, to be in demand and to receive so much energy, love and attention in return for your art. There are so many interesting and beautiful things ahead of us.
(Thank you very much / большое спасибо, Shvembldr!)