This article is part of the Alpacawhal guest author series Ghost Palette, where we invite established crypto artists to write from their own perspective on technical topics related to the scene.
In this edition, artist obxium writes a bit about art production, tools, and the drama that they can stir.
Hello crypto art world,
The buzz taking our space by storm of late is a discussion around the use of specific processes and tools and the resulting art being made by members of our community.
As with every one of these silly false dichotomies we are all expected to signal our virtues regarding which side of the fence we enjoy, what color the grass is there, and whether or not it is fake, real, virtual, or not virtual enough for a given person’s tastes.
I write some crap here in English for you to read that could help or make understanding things even harder. Hopefully it helps somehow!
Our newfangled false dichotomy dujour is all about the concept of one being lesser of an artist or producing lesser quality art based on the usage of very specifically called out software. The resulting squawking by artists of all stripe was as usual- full of insight, articulation, and absolute bullshit.
That fellow by the name of Coldie kicked the schtick in gear this time around with a spciy twutt…
Effectively setting some goalposts for the pending discussion.
- Photomosh is a specific tool used to make art that fooled Coldie
- Coldie lost a lot of respect for this tricky art, which previously he presumably respected
- Coldie considers artists using Photomosh and “clicking one button” to be engaged in a “deceprive cash grab” [sic].
De gustibus non est disputandum.
There really is no accounting for taste and probably no amount of fancy art education or training is going to prevent the average crypto art collector from being “fooled into” inaccurately assessing the amount and quality of work which went into creating the image before them.
Our tastes in what is good differ and this is a fundamental joy of art!
One person’s seizure inducing nightmare .GIF is another person’s fantasy to secretly be a really jittery robot with shit flying out of its face holes. Still a third person might deeply admire the hours of manual work and focus necessary to bring a piece to creation, while another looks at this as wasted time from a bygone era that predates even Boomers.
We all have our tastes, so it is often with some trepidation that we approach this subjective realm with gatekeeping and level setting based on one’s perception of a finished product.
It’s almost like discovering how the sausage is made…
There was much follow up discussion to Coldie’s original powderkeggentweet and as one would expect from premium Twitter content, it took the form of hot, cold, and downright wackassed virtual reality based takes.
ROBNESS uses all the tools and apparently long before you ever have even heard of it. I am pretty sure he doesn’t given a damn about your opinion on the matter either. What’s the German word for digital art hipster again?
Mattia Cuttini is a great physical artist producing amazing digital work as well.
He is undervalued and ignorant “collectors” with zero art appreciation or education who blow their wads of ETH on the new shiny in an attempt to be the next Andy Hall are sleeping on him. He created a Photomosh based artwork in response to the ignorance of his craft.
It actually received bids and sold.
Of course in his usual style, Alotta Money stole the show and landed the funniest take on the Photomosh specific point.
Here, Alotta humorously shows off some of the built-in artist styles from the crypto art community that one can use in this hilariously special version of Photomosh.
Another mentioned similar tools which provoked further “discussion” that essentially amounted to making sure many of the artists using these tools were sufficiently outed and ridiculed.
It was just a great time to be had by all (not really) and a big showing that there is certainly a line being drawn between fine crypto art and “junk content”.
Barring bullshit spewed by feisty haters, here are some other takes worth contemplating from the discussion.
Fuck ‘em up fam!?
A crypto art gallerist comments. Probably scrambling over his artists and their pieces right now…
DADA keeps it real! You should begin your serious artist’s journey there. Do it, pay your dues. They are wonderful humans and artists all.
It’s about measuring!
So what are we measuring here?
I think what is fundamentally at issue here was pretty much summed up by the last tweet from WGMeets above and it is valuation through the measuring of creative input.
It can be summarized something like this:
As an artist, I invest in my craft and it absolutely pisses me off to see someone pull up and make as much or more money than I can from their art with way less effort, and in a way that potentially cheapens the ecosystem for all.
This is a fair viewpoint of concern and specifically calls into question value via measuring the input of time spent into making the art. Time spent on the work, combined with time seeking education, practicing, and performing all of the support tasks needed to be an artist needs to be recovered from the artwork’s sale.
We’re visual folks here right, so how about a little charts ‘n graphs to demonstrate this?
Art Process & Production Scale
If you look at the above diagram, it visually portrays increasing effort, time, skill, education, and talent in the process and production of art.
The numbered regions are examples of art process and production which can be evident from the output and some concrete examples are provided to help establish the point of this controversy.
1. Found Art
You just pick some shit (or a urinal) up and call it art. From the infamous "Fountain" by Marcel Duchamp, to Robert Rauschenberg’s “Erased De Kooning”, to the most recent example in Maurizio Cattelan's “Comedian”- artists are always picking up something showing it to everyone else and declaring it art.
Because it requires the absolute least from the collection of education, skill and talent along with time and effort, it is at the top of the art process and production scale pyramid.
2. Push Button Art
Step two: arrive at the topic of the whole mess.
We are only one level further down in the pyramid (scheme).
This is the easy to make art where an artist can use either original or found images and operate on them with different tools which make quick work of applying specific visual effects and generate a finished product in seconds or minutes.
This is often repeated in a series of workflows or layers to arrive at an end result that is possibly a bit more distinct than the same styles of art as others who are using the same tools and often the same image sources for what ends up being exhaustively repetitious and tedious art.
The results can unfortunately end up being both literally painful to look at in its animated form and sometimes just not really something embodying the basic principles of art at all.
Instead of drawing attention to specific examples (I am not writing this to hurt anyone’s feelings or demean the creative output of another) I’ll mention some of the specific tools that have folks all riled up.
Perhaps in this way, you might spot some of the art in the wild based on the examples shown on each tool’s website.
I think that these tools have also been used by successful artists to some degree too. If you have used them regularly as part of your creative workflow and want to be listed here, hit me up and I’ll do an update!
3. Copying, Reproduction, Modifications & Mashups
These happen a lot and when done well are great unique art pieces.
Alotta Money is one artist who excels at finding old popular art and transforming it into something new and amazing.
He does this deeper in the pyramid at level 3 and the reason his pieces are mind-bending is because he has years of education in his craft, he has mastered his craft, and he applies his craft consistently and seriously which in turn takes a greater deal of time and effort than just pushing a button on something.
Alotta has some amazing unique originals too and can operate in any level of the pyramid above he chooses, but I think he is best known for his amazing mashups with historical artworks.
4. Unique Originals
Here be masters and masterpieces.
In our space, we are blessed with the presence of many such artists, and you would be wise to learn about them, meet them, show them some respect and take in all the knowledge you possibly can from them.
It does not matter if your styles vibe, if they have a palette you despise, or they don’t even communicate well in your native tongue. Learn from these people when you can.
They are at the bottom of he pyramid because they have put in every damned thing it takes up to and almost including their own souls to get to where they are. They didn’t just wake up flicking brushes like some do. They didn’t see another cool piece of art made of cut up credit cards and go “shit that must be easy!” without thinking it through (how the fuck does he get all of those credit cards?).
The artists producing unique originals all share common traits. You’ll find them in Mr. Jones’ article on success. They have spent time and more time learning and doing and doing and doing to get to where they are today. Here are a couple of those masters just for illustration.
We all know about lists of artists and how incomplete they can be.
Here are a few examples of these tier 4, original artists who represent in the crypto art space.
Gisel X Florez is an amazing and accomplished artist who has really mastered the element of light. She has in fact chosen to paint original works as directly with light as possible, capturing it straight from high end charged coupled devices (CCDs) or what you and I think of as “digital camera imagers”. The results are extremely vibrant and fleeting moments which must have been almost infinitesimally small at the time of their creation, but appear to shine on brightly forever in the final result.
cryptograffiti is a pioneering master in this space. Known for a distinct style stemming from constructing art from previously destroyed traditional finance elements, such as credit cards. The pieces are striking in person and meticulous in execution. In addition to creating fantastic work in his studio, the artist is frequently executing brilliant street art pieces on a regular basis. We should strive to emulate folks like cryptograffiti as role models and masters of their craft.
One thing that a lot of artists from the 4th tier have in common is not only a decade or more of artmaking, but also making art in many mediums including physical paintings, sculpture, and more.
Oficinas TK exemplifies this with original physical and digital art and amazing use of animation, color, and form to tell amazing stories with his craft. Art involved in stories is often some of the most powerful art and this is evident throughout his work.
What Now, Bitches?
For the record and as if anyone would care, I make art with Adobe Creative Suite applications in a very traditional manner consisting of fusing raster and vector original designs and appropriately licensed source materials, with the occasional terrible “I can’t do animated work” animated work thrown in to fuck up my catalog.
I have made friends with many artists in this community and don’t give a damn if I ever make friends with some of the others in the space, but such is sociology eh? What I do know in my over two years in this fledgling movement observing from my cloud of mediocrity:
WE NEED MORE EDUCATION HERE.
We can’t get all up in arms over shit like this if we are running around breaking records with huge sales and focusing on the financial side like a bunch of spastic trading monkeys while collectors and artists are mostly all ignorant as hell about art.
It’s a bad look and literally no one outside this space is going to take us seriously.
Being ARTISTS, we are special and very specific kinds of humans well known for their compassion and educative tendencies, right?
With the exception of a very few out there (shout out to Trevor Jones for his blog posts like his Artists Checklist for Success which you should read if you are an artist and have not already it), this scene feels like a huge Photomoshpit of olds and youngs, millennials, gen-xers, and probably even the fucking dreaded boomer up in here all trading licks without any level playing field or common ground to work from.
There are folks from many cultures, and several here straight up earning money to eat.
It’s a pretty rad culture shocker that seems to be something new that the traditional art world has not had as much exposure to: all these varied kinds of people trying to make art as one community.
One day it can seem crazy and exciting and the next utterly awful and chaotic though. What I have learned is that the more you can try and understand all people in the space, the less chaotic it seems.
We also have artists here who are at the peak of their craft, with decades of skin in the game and mind blowing works as the result. Clearly they have invested much in their craft and I only showed a few examples to keep this “short”. Hit me up directly if you want my short list of amazing artists in this space.
On the flip side, we also have folks who are just chasing big piles of ETH and mashing shit together until they get a hit, and we have many more that are somewhere in between and genuinely trying to grow.
It seems essential that the more established, well off, educated, and powerful need to find ways to help newer artists and collectors in a meaningful way so as to elevate the game for all involved here. If we cannot educate and improve within, then the whole thing is basically a skeleton of anything resembling a real art movement of any sort.
If collectors cannot tell “good art” that took time to craft from the quick and easy cash grabby push button art, whose fault is that? It sure as hell isn’t the push button artist’s fault. It’s lack of education.
If gallerists cannot better screen and admit higher quality artists and their “good art”, then whose fault is that? An artist who tricked someone with more ETH than sense into buying junk content? Again it comes down to education.
What if that artist is making these push button works to help feed her family?
Please sir, my family. Is that what?
Let’s hope not.
Put Your Stacks of ETH Where Your Mouth Is
While I certainly was not alive back then, in simpler times there were artists’ guilds, associations, and whole Bauhaus movements where the senior and established would educate, mentor and train the junior or newer artists (called apprentices or some shit like that).
This kind of cooperation resulted in historical art revolutions. We seem to think we are in the midst of such a revolution, but are we really doing it right?
Where is our Bauhaus?
Also, I’m not sure how many big shot artists in those same simpler days took to screaming in the public square about how shitty other artists and their art were, either.
Probably instead they were teaching the newer artists so that they too could become big shots one day.
Why not fire up some spaces in the multi metaverses, Google Hangouts or whatever 100% pure decentralized communication platform you choose, get in there, and teach people to be great like you instead of just complaining about it?
That’s my challenge.
Don’t like how things are going in the artistic community you helped build and are held up as an idol in?
Then dear neighbor, perhaps you should consider putting down your Twitter microphone, putting on your thinking cap, picking up your vast resources and doing something about it.
P.S. Let us know what it is you choose to do to help make the community a better place for all or we can just all go back to screaming about how Coldie just beat Coldie’s last record again or whatever.
Yours in art,
– obxium ⓞ
We hope you enjoyed Ghost Palette with obxium; if so, make sure to share this with a friend and donate to Alpacawhal.
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