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SquidChain is a collection of chained interviews between crypto artists. The term Squid stands for “artist” according to a tweet by Hackatao on how creators should be defined within the crypto art scene. Instead of the standard curator-artist interviews, SquidChain will feature quick, possibly surreal insights into each creator’s artistic practice and life. So, here is how it works! The chain is simple, as each artist receives up to five questions by a fellow artist. They can be personal, broad, art-related or not, feel free to experiment! After answering these questions, the selected artist chooses, in turn, another creator in the crypto art realm to interview, and so on. Each time, the chain progresses with new questions to someone who hasn’t been interviewed before. Who gives new questions should specify why they decided to interview the artist they ask them to. SquidChain is a project by curator Chiara Braidotti and Hackatao. So, let’s get started!


SquidChain: BLOCK #5 (PAK + THATO)

“Thato’s extraordinary works have been charming since the first day I came across the crypto art scene”


P: How do you define yourself in the crypto art scene?

T: I’m describing my experience of interfacing with ideologies and theories through minimalism and complexity.


P: Your creations have a sublime geometric balance. What do you call it?

T: I use balance to convey and evoke emotions, it gives order and serves as the narrator. I don’t have a name for it yet.


P: Patterns in your work are impossible to unsee, what about the process behind them?

T: The Turing patterns are based on the Gray-Scott model which can be simulated in Photoshop, Blender, C4D, Houdini, Max/msp, Rhino and many other programs. I’m currently exploring the patterns in Touchdesigner.


P: As a crypto artist with a design background, where do you see yourself fit in more, as “designer” or “artist”?

T: A bit of both, design often demands self-control while art gives more freedom. I use self-control to explore artistic freedom.


P: The simplicity and pureness of your work makes me wonder what it is like where you live. How is your real-world experience compared to your creations?

T: Johannesburg is beautiful, chaotic, noisy and wild. Art is my refuge, I can create order when I’ve lost control and complexity when things get too quiet.


SquidChain: BLOCK #4 (MANARDS + PAK)

“I decided to continue the chain with Pak as we had a collaboration in progress, but it got temporarily halted due to the global situation. I really admire Pak as a creator and the tasteful worlds he generates, and I know many others do as well in the community!”


M: As digital artists, we all have a preferred software/tool we use to create. Your work is really thoroughly thought out and quite technical, have you thought about what role the software you use plays in the final look of your work, and how would it look if you had to switch to another medium, like painting, for example?

P: I see software as an expansion of the human - like an additional arm or leg. They affect our capabilities. As a result, our way of thinking and methodology. Therefore, to me, medium and methodology are overlapping subjects that are defined with their limitations.


M: Are there certain aspects of the medium you use that excite you the most?

P: I do not have a primary medium anymore. My works are becoming more cross-medium. Overall, limits excite me. 

M: What got you into selling your work on crypto art marketplaces and how do you see this space developing in the future?

P: As I once stated, I define myself more as a designer and less as an artist. However, a design client needs the work, whereas an art collector wants the work. Sometimes it's better to be wanted, than needed. Beyond this, crypto art is the future's art history to leave a trace in.


M: Name one book, one song, one artwork that you really like or that inspires you, or just purely represents your being.

P: Improbable singular answer... 

M: A new skill or activity you want to learn to do or start doing in the near future?

P: I don't pre-define the skill sets I prefer to dive in, but rather, try to keep planned projects. I'm sure the next project will expand my skill set in many branches however it's not easy to label any of them before the encounter.






“I’ve worked on a collaboration with Manards and haven’t had the chance to speak a lot with him. I love his work!”


F: What did you watch as a kid? Any cartoon? If so, which one?

M: Actually, cartoons have been a very important part of my upbringing, I believe I grew up in the golden age of Cartoon Network with cartoons like Dexters Laboratory Ed Edd n Eddy, Powerpuff Girls and many other classics. They definitely shaped my language and put a seed of imagination and a certain visual culture inside of me.


F: What' s your spirit animal? How do you relate to it?

M: I have never thought of it as a spirit animal, but dogs are and have been a very important part of my life. From the day I was born in my family we have had dogs in our household. I think I can have this certain observing calmness that dogs usually radiate and this skill often translates in art for me, for example, I am able to study a single object and learn through pure observation of it which helps a lot of if my goal is to recreate it and possibly play with the meaning of it.


F: An album and an artwork that speaks to you especially these days?

M: When working, almost always I'm listening to music. Lately, I have been listening to a lot of Yung Lean and my favorite album of his is Stranger. It is a nice mix of energetic/mysterious/nostalgic feelings that all are appreciated while I am working. I have been playing some Half-Life:Alyx in VR and I think I can call this game an artwork in some sense, it has been a great escape and fun, but also professionally looking at the enviourment of the game and the scenes and the level of detail has been very inspiring for me as a 3D artist.


F: Do you notice a certain repetitive theme or images in your dreams? How would you describe it? 

M: Mostly, I have very deep sleep and don't dream a lot, but when I do it is something intense/surreal/horrifying that makes me wake up with cold sweat. I am not sure if there is a pattern of imagery, but I think it is like a month's worth of packed .zip containing anxiety and fears every now and then processed/released in a few intense minutes during a dream. I also don't often remember much of it, but there are bits and pieces which are bizarre enough to take them with me in the waking consciousness


F: How are you finding yourself in this period of confinement? Is the internet enough to escape reality?

M: I thought I am fine because I have never been really outgoing and I like to spend a lot of time inside with my pc, but in reality, this state has been around for a while already, and I feel that I am building some extra stress and worries because of this situation which also makes me more tired and maybe not so productive as usual. Also, the weather has been so nice in my region that I have picked up rollerblading in the evenings/nights when streets are completely empty and it kind of helps to kill the high anxiety levels that build up during the day.



"I’ve chosen Frenetik Void as we have recently spent time together working on a collaborative piece, Transitions. During the collaboration we didn’t speak much, so now I have even more questions about his art than I did before!” 

G: What influence does where you are from have in your art, if at all? 

F: I don’t think my city influenced my work until now. I lived in a countryside neighborhood, an emotionally closed teenager focused on his private, internal reality, a bit detached from the rest. I don’t touch many social issues as I’ve never felt close to them. I had a privileged life and I need to be honest about what I feel.
Now that I’m on my own, “reality” feels closer, so I’m dealing with that - although I admit relationships and human psyche still is what gets me going. 


G: How does the crypto scene differ from other audiences and how they interact with your work?

F: The fact that the piece becomes unique changes the whole perspective of interaction. We artists all want to live for and from our art, and now it turns out it's possible. There’s a new flavor in creating and collecting that adds purpose.
Real collectors looking to “own” the piece may enhance the disposition of the individuals to learn more about works and artists themselves. That hardly happens in other digital platforms. 


G: How has your artistic process evolved over the last few years?

F: I see it as a sort of personal diary, it follows how I grow up with some clear breaking points, as the emancipation from my family. Each piece takes me back to my life context at that precise moment. They’re pieces of me, ha ha.
I guess I’m a bit obsessive about balance now. Pieces must balance my internal chaos, although I sometimes release raw work to tease myself a bit – regularity bores me. I like complexity, the ever- changing doubt of “what comes next?” with an unclear narrative unfolding. I have things to say that I can’t express with words. That's also the point. I leave it to whoever wants to dive into all this. 


G: What do you get away from art, if at all?

F: A glimpse of freedom.  


G: If you were offered an opportunity to show your art in a gallery tomorrow, which of your pieces would you show and why?

F: It obviously depends on many factors. Today, these are a few of my favorite or what I feel are my most “achieved” artworks:



Si cae me muero   





Torture of the jealous

Each one is a strong point in my work where they condense many aspects of Frenetik’s narrative.



"I’d like to nominate Giant Swan because his work is bleeding edge and always intense!" 


X: How long do you spend in VR on a daily basis? Do you have a limit on how long you spend in there before coming out?

GS: I try to spread my workload across the week as evenly as possible. Every second day I’ll use VR up to 7 hours at the very least, in blocks of 30-45 minutes.
Eye health is real, gotta look after them!


X: What’s your favorite piece that you’ve created and why?

GS: An entry into last year’s Inktober scene was inspired by the prompt “RIDE.” It was already late in the build and there was an early self-portrait in there that I absolutely hated, I would always sneak over to it and change it a little more. When I got to the prompt “ride” I realised I had to stop riding myself about it. I ended up making an entry of myself sitting on the shoulders of that first sketch I detested and learned to let it go.



X: How do you see crypto art evolving in the next few years , is there anything you’re hoping to be able to achieve with this technology? 

GS: I'm looking forward to minting my own experiences that give collectors access to my worlds the way I see them. Stay tuned, it's much closer than you think.


X: Have you ever hit a wall creatively and how do you deal with those situations?

GS: Creatively, I hit immediate walls when I complete something in my head before I'm physically done making it. Discipline can get you through those moments, but I'm often pushing to use them as a challenge: if I'm already done with a piece, then this isn’t rich enough. That’s why my work is often paired with detailed titles and cryptic notes. These are the pieces that are still growing for me even after I’m done with what you can see.


X: What’s your favorite quarantine food?

GS: Vegemite toast and a coffee. Three slices and make it a double shot while you’re at it. 





"We chose XCOPY because we were together at the dawn of SuperRare, but we still know very little about him" 


H: An artist’s style is the expression of their view on reality. What voltage does the electric chair you sit on when you create have?

X: The high voltage comes from within. I look more like Emperor Palpatine every day!


H: You are one of the most mysterious crypto artists around. It is now time you reveal at least what your breakfast is like.

X: I prefer that the art does the talking. For breakfast I had toast with flora, we’re rationing the marmite for the kids. Never thought marmite would become a luxury.


H: Your artistic research seems to be oriented towards portraying disturbed and disturbing characters or stereotypes… Who do you hang out with?

X: Right now, I’m hanging out with my wife and kids and our cat, Clyde. We’re trying not to kill each other in lockdown. My inspiration for characters is usually based on daily encounters and experiences. Everything is potential material. I get spooked the more we slide into dystopia and I try to document it through my art.


H: What is the secret ingredient of your art? You can also mislead us with a false answer...

X: The secret is to keep going. Let go of the last piece and move on. Don’t look back. Don’t get distracted by shiny new toys, focus on your next idea.


H: Maybe not many people know that XCOPY was a program to copy/duplicate the floppy disks of the Amiga 500. When you are not XCOPY do you turn into KILLSYS?

X: My art takes more inspiration from the Amiga 500 games and 80s cartoons than anything in “art history.” Crypto art is just another game for me, but I can use the in-world credits to pay my bills.