SkullTakes - memento mori
Artist spotlight: SkullTakes
We're excited to bring you the second interview in our Artist Spotlight series featuring a Cardano artist. Previously, we had the opportunity to interview Netanel Cohen. Please let us know your thoughts on the series and who you'd like to see next! If you're a Cardano artist interested in being featured, don't hesitate to contact us on X (Twitter).
Where you can find SkullTakes?
1. Can you introduce yourself and share a bit about your background as an artist?
Sure. I am SkullTakes. I’ve been in the NFT space for about 2 years but have made art all my life. My parents were both artists and I had the privilege of focusing on art from middle school to graduate school. I have, for the most part, worked in the traditional art practices of painting and printmaking. I have recently begun experimenting with using AI in my work.
2. How would you describe your artistic style and the themes you explore in your work?
I focus on concepts of mortality, memento mori, and the patina and detritus of existence. I use multiple mediums and “styles” all with the same thematic focus to build out a body of work that contains varied meditations on death.
3. What drew you to the world of NFTs, and why did you choose to create and sell your art on the Cardano blockchain?
Initially it was much like most people. A friend of mine in the crypto-world said “hey you should try to sell some of your work this way.” When I entered the space there wasn’t an entirely clear way of doing that but I persevered and found incredibly helpful people that assisted me in putting the pieces together. (Shout-out to @CardanoNoodz and @_ThisCr8zyLife_). Then I just saw it as a great way to communicate and trade value. It’s a lot of fun experimenting with the concept of a collection or with airdrops to your holders. It’s a new way of thinking about content and the wallet as your hub for cultural consumption. I think that's pretty exciting.
4. Can you walk us through your creative process, from conceptualizing an artwork to minting it as an NFT?
It feels different for every body of work but generally I start with setting up a problem for myself or a broad idea of what I want to convey based on something that has inspired me. From there I do research and lots of experimentation and through that process I end up with a body of work that I can edit down to make my ideas more clear.
For The Death of Art series I wanted to make a collection that could comment on the current dialogue around AI art and also use an AI model as a tool to make the images. As I generated the images, I really tried to convey this dark mood of impending obsolescence that artists were feeling while also acknowledging the seduction and beauty of the technology.
For deathbytes I wanted to make a mark in the onchain space. I was enamored with onchain works like TheRefresh and Unsigned algorithms. Both collections were beyond my technical capabilities but I really wanted to try to store something of mine fully on-chain. That led me to pixel art which was well suited to the 16kb NFT size limit. I was also determined to make them all 1/1s because my previous collection Death Shapes were all variations on the same design and I wanted to do something different.
5. What unique opportunities or advantages do you find in creating and selling NFTs on Cardano as an artist?
Cardano has a very low barrier to entry as far as learning the technology to mint and in terms of costs, which is a huge advantage when you need to budget your money and time, which we all do these days.
6. Are there any specific challenges you've faced as an artist in the Cardano ecosystem, and how have you overcome them?
My biggest challenge is not getting distracted by the crypto-nft hype cycles. I’m human though and when you are in this space everyday, it’s hard to ignore. But it’s helpful to remember that you don’t have to be in every project, you can’t buy every piece of art, and you don’t have to devote your attention to just anyone trying to grab it. Your time and attention are valuable.
7. Could you share some of your most significant achievements or milestones?
I really love the work on the HAPPPY collab drop with @uber_boring_man. I love his work so much so it was an honor to be asked to work on that project.
I’ve been lucky enough to sell out of 4 of my collections in the past two years. They were small collections but it was a big deal for me to find such support.
My most significant achievement over the past couple years has been to teach my partner printmaking and watch her grow as an artist. I was able to onboard her to NFTs recently and she has been selling her work under the Rise & Grind Press account and I couldn’t be more happy and proud.
8. How do you see the relationship between your art and blockchain technology? Does it influence your creative decisions?
While I don’t think blockchain technology influences the content of my art in any way, utilizing it does make me focus on creative forms of distribution of my work. How the metadata looks, what’s contained in the asset, how the collection is structured, and rarities within it all come to mind.
9. Are there any upcoming projects, collaborations, or exhibitions that you're particularly excited about?
I’m excited to be working on some prints for Rise & Grind Press. @RiseNGrindPress is the printmaking project I started with my partner out of our tiny studio. We are hoping to be able to get an etching press and eventually a full-sized print studio and coffee shop.
10. What advice would you give to fellow artists who are interested in exploring NFTs and integrating blockchain technology into their artistic practice?
Find the artwork and community you like and vibe with, then grab a tutorial and get started! NFTs are like Patreon but with more direct exchanges of art and value. Even if you aren’t selling your work, minting is a great way to start learning about the technology and archiving your pieces.