22 Apr 2020
“Yeah still here! These are weird times, but as a freelancer, I think I’m kind of used to it. Many projects (especially physical exhibitions) have been canceled or postponed. But it’s interesting to see that many brands are now calling upon digital artists more than ever."
“I like to call myself a digital dreamer. You could see it as a combination of an artist, designer, and digital world explorer. I like to think outside of the (digital) box and about things that are not possible in physical reality. It’s very multidisciplinary. That’s nice about the era we’re living in. Many people work at the intersection of different fields."
“I think everyone in the world wants to find themselves. I grew up in Ukraine and it was hard to find a fitting creative outlet for me there. I started studying Architecture in Lviv when I was 17, and after that, I traveled around a bit. I’ve lived in Florida for a moment, and I ended up at the KABK in The Hague to study Graphic Design. That’s where I found my thing."
“A little bit. Architecture gave me knowledge of space which I still use in my digital work. I learned to approach my work critically and think creatively."
“I can understand that. Art institutions tend to be bubbles."
“I’m not sure if I succeeded to break out of that, but I tried my best to get influences outside of the art institutions. My background and previous education surely helped with that. There are so many international students in the Netherlands who all bring a fresh perspective."
“Yes, but it’s also hard to stand out. Even online; everyone on Instagram is influencing each other in a way, and the algorithms push it even further."
“I like to think about how physical and digital spaces merge. With my graduation project AImnesia, I tried to imagine how AI would fill in memory gaps by creating fake memories that are plausible enough to be perceived as real. Social media is already some kind of external memory, and that raises concern regarding the ethics of AI. I wanted to critically assess the centralized power of those who are sponsoring the research and creation of these algorithms, as well as the selection of the databases on which AI’s learn. I believe there is a general unawareness and bias regarding the rapid development of deep learning."
“It comes from my childhood. I’ve always been more interested in futurism and science fiction than in contemporary reality. It allows you to dream about things that aren’t possible. Things like space travel, teleportation, double realities. I think movies portray this combo the best."
“The Matrix, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, Blade Runner. I actually was partly inspired by the idea of memory from Blade Runner in my graduation project called AImnesia. It’s about human memory that can be augmented by digital technology. AI algorithms can be trained on these big data sets and, in theory, be able to recreate lost memories."
“I think technology changes everything today. We had an industrial revolution and now we live in the technological revolution. It's interesting and frightening at the same time how this intervenes people and nature and our lives overall. With the recent news and changes in the world, we cannot deny how powerful the influence of evolving technologies is. It's crucial to find out how we can navigate through the new reality, which is filled with fake news, surveillance, data collection, and targeted content."
SS-20 GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT, Helianthus Agapanthus.
SS-20 GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT, Hidrangevia Nobilis.
“I like to reconceptualize things in a more positive and thoughtful way. Our reality already feels like we’re living in a dystopian movie. I might be interested in science fiction, but I don’t want to live in this future; I just want to see it on a screen! I try to imagine the world I’d like to be living in in the future. My works are usually quite bright and colorful."
“The timing was perfect. With the pandemic and everyone freaking out, choosing these colorful hybrids was a way to show that we can imagine this dream world where you can still enjoy beautiful objects indoors. It’s posing the idea that nature will adapt to technology development and change in the environment. These flowers don't exist in reality, but we already have gen-modified foods and animals, so hypothetically, it wouldn't be impossible to combine a part of a sunflower, with leaves from a lily and other flowers or plants. It’s based on MIT research on plant nanobionics. Plants can naturally evolve into hybrid species and adapt to the environment. Russian scientists have recently developed a glow in the dark tobacco plant, and it kind of looked like our project! That was so cool!"
16 Jul 2020
“Feels great, haha. I work full time at Spotify and for a year or two, I’ve been doing more projects independently. At Spotify, I work on all the different brands that fall under the umbrella. From artist initiatives to brand work and everything in between."
“I enjoy the combination. Spotify is a huge brand with big budgets and a big influence, so the work I do there is very global and can be seen by millions. But because it’s such a huge company, it can also be more of a challenge. It’s a Swedish company, and there is a lot of corporate stuff you have to go through before you can get things done sometimes. In that sense, I prefer to work on my own, or with a small team. Nothing against Spotify, but at the end of the day it’s just more rewarding when you do it on your own. But I like the balance in my work life right now.”
“To be honest, most of the time I don’t even hear the music that I’m making the artwork for. Sometimes it’s a couple of tracks or snippets as a preview, but I never hear the full project. It’s less about music and more about bringing a concept to life. With Bon Iver for example, it wasn’t really the story in the music itself, but more about talking to the artists and hearing what this project is about for them. They have the music, then they have the artwork, and then the website—those are three separate things. The whole Bon Iver project was all about collaboration. i,i stands for a collaborative spirit. So I tried to recreate that idea of togetherness and connectivity on the website."
“The Bon Iver product was made with data, so that was cool. But music is something human. It’s so visceral and emotional. I try to look at those qualities rather than numbers when I make something. In the end, I hope my work just enhances the experience a little.”
“I worked together with Spike Jordan, and we talked about Gunna’s alter-ego WUNNA (which is the name of the album). Gunna is a Gemini, so the idea was to create a doll version of his alter-ego and have it float into space in front of his actual astrological chart that we had an astrologist made for him.”
“I didn’t know that haha. I think that’s a good sign though. A lot of brand campaigns are just skipped past because they feel impersonal or because people just don’t care. People are more invested in artists than in brands, and when you make artwork as we made for WUNNA, those reactions come with the work. It doesn’t really bother me. It’s actually a great reaction for me. It might be weird to them, but that’s kind of the point. You always want to make something that catches people off guard a little bit.”
“Absolutely. I’m very aware of not being boxed in. I don’t want to be just the Atlanta hip-hop guy. If I was just doing cover artworks or photography there would be more pressure to have a certain look. But for me, in terms of style, it’s more about ideas and the creative process of combining multiple things you haven’t seen before. I love trying different things.”
“As a white man, there is definitely an added responsibility that I’ve always felt, but now even more so. I’ve always tried to be on the right side of things. People of our generation grew up inspired by Black culture: music, fashion, art. The least I can do from my position, with my skill and energy, is to give back to a community that inspired me so much. One way that I hope to do so is through mentorship and investing in talent. Creating opportunities for young designers that may not have benefited from the chances and privilege that I’ve had. Having gone to one of the best art schools in the US and studying design from some of the greats was definitely a privilege. But we need to break that system and think about who’s getting the opportunities both in education and in the industry. You also don’t need to go to the best art school to do what I do.”
“It’s very important for me to engage. I’m not an activist, but I try to influence the people and brands around me to hopefully change something. I have so many white people around me who don’t have black friends and they still don’t understand. And all these brands that are “for the culture” should do better as well. Nike can make a nice commercial about this, but their whole board is white. It’s not just a police thing, it’s everywhere.”
“I think that COVID-19 will forever change how we live. But this, more importantly, will change how we as a society treat each other.”
“I read this book called Sensemaking, by Christian Madsbjerg. I finished it right when COVID-19 started, so it might not be super relevant now, but I still think it’s interesting. He divides data into thick data and thin data. Thin data is: “young people brush their teeth for 10 mins.” With thick data, you attach historical, socio-economic, or cultural connotations to that. Companies now are using big data without understanding histories or cultures. That’s how you get products or services that forget a little about humanity.”