Hi! What's your background and where did the idea of these tiny pixel creatures come from? When did it all start? Was this digital exploration of forms and characters of yours always meant to become a series of crypto collectibles, or did this happen later on in your practice?
As a child, I mostly painted monsters. I mean really weird creatures with big muscles who could fight with all kinds of dark magic. My parents were never sure if Dragonball really had such a good impact on me. (haha) I associated drawing with collecting at an early age and therefore filed all my drawings in a folder. Every new drawing was like a new collector's item for me. I even collected friends' paintings at that time. For me it was like Pokemon collecting cards for the poor. When browsing through this folder, the memories of it are anything but poor though. I am glad that I kept the old works.
That collecting background was a decisive reason that I had the feeling to create collectibles later which I called PXLPETs. I came up with that specific pixel art style which PXLPETs are known for around 2016. Back then I needed graphics for a little smartphone game app I was developing. I posted images of my progress in my personal development blog and on Instagram and realized that people started to like my minimalistic designs. From that point I thought pixel art could be a thing for me.
Later, around 2018 I found out about the platform Steemit. I was amazed because I had never heard of such payment mechanics in combination with the current social networks. Paying my bills with my passion sounded great to me. Ever Since my Mom told me I had to learn and do my homework I told her I will become an artist anyway, so why? Why should I go to school? Well I guess that’s how a dreamer's mind works. And Fun Fact - I finished my school but that didn’t prevent me from dreaming... especially during classes.
Now, there was this platform called Steemit which leads me to the term blockchain. Everything I've read about cryptocurrency and blockchains was completely new to me. So I started searching the World Wide Web to acquire knowledge and worked on a concept for my future collectibles.
At this time I found out about CryptoKitties. This nostalgic Tamagotchi feeling immediately arose in me. So I started PXLPETs - a game that was based on Steemit blog posts and used the comment function as a game mechanic. A video on Youtube served as identification of the ownership for the beginning. The rules were simple. Upvote and comment on the Steemit blog post and you will take part in a raffle in which you can win a PXLPET.
The project was very well received but I felt the need to put these cuties on the blockchain. That was the time I found out about MarbleCards. With their service it's possible to tokenize URLs, which can then be included in your collection in the form of a digital card. I created a DeviantArt account where I uploaded 25 PXLPETs of the MarbleCards starter edition at random times. The Marblecards community welcomed me warmly and as soon as I uploaded a PXLPET, it was marbled within minutes.
The cryptoart scene became bigger and bigger and new possibilities for the tokenizing of art arised. The next thing I know is uploading my work to different NFT marketplaces like MakersPlace and Rarible, which are literally able to put your art on the Ethereum blockchain. The rest was magic and I am pretty grateful that I found all of these platforms I mentioned earlier!
You often shift from 2D to 3D, either focusing on single characters or on their relationship to the surrounding space. Can you tell us something about your creative process when starting a new piece? What's the importance of storytelling in your works?
Before I start a new work, I usually already have an idea in which direction I want to go with the style, the message and the colors. These ideas could be inspired by other artists, movies, literature or things which happened in my private life. I am also considering whether this style can be expanded into a series, as this increases the desire to collect. If you can assign the works to a certain edition, I think you can compare the individual works better and that makes it more fun to collect. It also makes it possible to assign the series to a certain place in the PXLPET timeline. Which I like because you can easily see how the whole project evolves. So most of the time these two things happen first - the idea for the visuals and if these visuals could become a series to make it a better collectible.
PXLPET pieces are often very different but you can still imagine the same cosmos they live in. It was important to me to give the whole project an identity and a red thread. I want to give my art an identity instead of realistically and technically perfecting it down to the smallest detail. I am in love with detail, but this love affects the outside perception rather than realistic proportions or perfect shading.
Even if future pieces will have nothing to do with a traditional PXLPET you will find at least one pet in my works even if it’s hidden. But like you already mentioned I most of the time focus on single characters and their surrounding space. This felt sometimes like a trap for me but then I realized that my collectibles don’t have to be just one pet like in the beginning.
At times when I wanted to try something new and get rid of concepts I launched the PXLPET DREAMS series. Here I was able to let off steam and tried my hand at digital painting, which has nothing to do with the classic PXLPET style.
I am making trips into the world with fewer concepts and framework conditions more and more often, which is fun! I'm far from finished and curious how the PXLPET cosmos will evolve.
An important reason why I draw at all is that I like to lose myself in visual phantasy worlds. Somehow there is something relaxing and magical about it for me and I would like to pass that on to others with my own worlds. Storytelling takes place in my works in the sense that a feeling should be conveyed that allows the viewer to create his own story. It’s all about the feeling.
For example there are two abstract PXLPETs sitting on the edge looking at something. Maybe you think of a trip you did with a special person? One of them even points at something. What are they pointing at? And here comes the space for the viewer and the own imagination. All that content and feels in an image with extremely simple shapes. I think I like that. I like to play and trigger the fantasy of others.
You have already issued a collaborative work on Async and there's a new one coming, what is it about?
The new work on Async will make the hearts of some inner childs beat faster. No matter how old they are. Like I already said I liked to collect my old drawings but I also associate my former action figures with collecting. The logical conclusion for me was to create a PXLPET action figure. I have already published several abstract versions of my PXLPETs. This time I wanted to add a special feature with the help of Async. What if you let many different PXLPETs become one gigantic one?
That was exactly the idea behind the PXLPET Action Figures Season One piece which published on Async.
With every layer you buy an individual abstract PXLPET. However, this time it has some properties that the collector can influence. Namely the position and the appearance. Depending on how the individual Layer owners decide, the PXLPET action figure looks different on the master layer. Every pet can also relax in its favorite place if it doesn’t want to hang out with the others. As with the other abstract editions before, there is also a dark version of a PXLPET with this edition, which has special abilities and is the price for the owner of the master layer.
I wouldn't say that my work is childish. However, since I have mostly nice memories of my childhood, I think it's nice to remember them again. I try to evoke these memories in an ironic way that grown ups can relate.
(Click the image below to see the video).
Async is doing such a great job pushing digital art to the next level and I can’t wait to publish more works through their amazing platform!
What should we expect from these Pxlpets? Will they grow up in the future?
Even though I did art on a daily basis for the last 10 years I felt the biggest growth since I discovered the cryptoart scene. That’s why I think that PXLPETs will grow too in a sense. I was always forced to do the art alongside my job and was distracted by stress because I had to deliver my work till a specific deadline.Thanks to cryptoart I have the feeling that all the pressure has been put aside and I can now completely get involved in receiving the creativity. I started with pixel art, found out about voxel art, made buildings in Cryptovoxels, created animations and recently also started to add music to my pieces. I can’t even explain yet what is happening to me and my art but it clearly feels like it’s rapidly growing compared to before. I also want to explore the space of fine art more and more in the future.
Special art and songs in our lives sometimes behave the same way as save points in video games. At least for me everytime I hear a special song it’s like teleporting to a point in my past. It could be good or bad times but somehow it gives you the feeling of being alive... What a journey. I love these experiences and I like to collect them like special inner collectibles. It would be awesome to also achieve some kind of feeling - a save point for the viewers of PXLPETs. I hope and believe that’s what you can expect from PXLPETs in the future. At least it’s a big goal of mine.
For the Kitty Bungalow #BuyArtSaveKittens charity event, the team at Async combined forces with 34 artists in one of the biggest art collaborations to create three Async artworks to auction off for charity. Each Kitty-themed masterpiece is custom-made with special features to showcase the power of programmable art.
Cats featured in “Pixel Story” are able to emote and communicate with each other with certain combinations of emotes triggering special effects within the whole canvas. Check out the mini comic to get an idea of the abilities.
Artists included in this collaboration piece includes: Pxlpet, Sparrow, Breadbreaker22, MLIBTY, PX99, Metagiest, TS Moreau, DinziBR, and Cryptokitties team. This is Async and Dapper Lab’s first partnership and collaboration. The Cryptokitties team created Pepito the Mascot Layer, which was bundled with an actual Special Edition Cryptokitty. The Master went for 6.66 ETH, and the total with all Layers included was 15.51 ETH.
“Big Trouble in Mao Mao City '' has cats that show off fighting moves as well as a variety of state changes. To check out all the possible combinations, try out one of our community member’s tool to preview Layer changes.
The artists involved in the street fight include: Alotta Money, Carlos Marcial, Vulon, Plouzza, Hidden Forces, Shortcut, BrucetheGoose, CryptotheGiant, Fabiello and TS Moreau. There was an epic bidding war over the “Shaolin Sphynx” Layer, spanning over the course of several days and the final winner turned out to be SwiftEagle at 3.2 ETH. The Master went for 10.1 ETH and with all Layers included it was 19.55 ETH.
And finally “Forgotten Cats of Fallen Leaves Forest” tugs at your heartstrings as kitties fade in and out of your memories depending on how often you come back to update them. This one has the largest amount of artists participating, 15 unique artists which include:Hackatao, Max Osiris, Ilan Katin, Serste, Primal Cypher, Matt Kane, Trippyogi, Reinhard, Daveed, Rutger van der Tas, Fabin Rasheed, Reviiser, Moxarra, Julia K. Ponsford, & Ruben Alexander.
The Master’s secret reserve price was triggered by Metavereum, and was instantly sold on Thursday for 10.1 ETH. Collectively this piece sold for a total of 17.06 ETH.
The auctions lasted for about a week with all three artworks as well as 27 unique Layers sold. Collectively Async artists raised over $10,000 for the feral cat shelter - an amazing feat in itself! The Async team is extremely happy that so many artists have donated their time and art to help cats in need and grateful for this opportunity to participate in this fantastic virtual event.
Async has released and auctioned another round of ground-breaking programmable art these recent weeks of May.
XCOPY’s second Async work, ”Doom Party”, is another important piece not only because of the COVID reference but because of the interactive possibilities between “Death’s Hand” and the rest of the Participants. The auction for the Master erupted in a three-way bidding war which ultimately was won by MOCA for 26 ETH. With the addition of the 9 Participant Layers as well as the device Layer, total sale of Doom Party was 68.9 ETH, the highest we’ve seen since launch period.
Leading up to his auction, XCOPY polled his Twitter community and asked which participant should be the next victim of his Death hand.
The new owner immediately started playing with “Death’s Hand”, a Layer that forces any of the Participants to change to their death scene, and will remain there until “Death’s Hand” changes to focus on another unlucky Participant.
A geometric, reflective Apple sits quietly in the scene as rendered sunlight alters the piece at 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm and 10pm UTC every single day. This is one of Async’s most active autonomous pieces yet, with 6 automatic changes every day.
Async has released and auctioned off some new and very memorable programmable art these last few weeks of April.
Pak’s first Async piece, The Tribe, was teased back in March and went up for auction in the third weekend of April. The Master went for 17.5 ETH to Metakovan. Its many Layers that make up this intricate artwork went to several different owners for a total sale of 41.5 ETH.
Almost immediately “The Tribe” began to drastically change, with the new Layer owners and Pak himself altering the forms and colors of the piece.
There are still some Layers available for collecting. Please note that most of them have 1 ETH reserve price, check them out here
The next day, Rutger van der Tas’ “Day/Night” piece was auctioned for an impressive total of 27 ETH (including Layers). This autonomous piece completely changes based on whether it is day or night time in the coordinates input by a specific Layer owner. Metakovan once again won this piece and set the new coordinates to point to the Singapore timezone.
Another remarkable autonomous piece was Alotta Money’s “Dictatorship”, where only the Master was for sale. It was acquired by Basileus for 20 ETH. It presents a window to infinite combinations and possibilities.
Alotta Money, as well as an autonomous script, fully control all Layers in the piece, so whether it be “Brothel Saturday” or a special event with unique characters coming out to play, one can never predict what will happen in his alternate universe.
AsyncArt, launched online in February 2020, innovates the NFT realm allowing creative people to showcase and trade programmable art. The first piece of such art ever tokenized on the platform is First Supper, a digital homage to Leonardo Da Vinci's Cenacolo.
First Supper, with 22 Layers, is the result of a collaboration between 13 major artists: Alotta Money, Blackboxdotart, Coldie, Connie Digital, Hackatao, Josie Bellini, Matt Kane, Mlibty, Rutger van der Tas, Shortcut, TwistedVacancy, VansDesign, and XCOPY. Auctioned on February 28th, the Master image was sold to MetaKovan for 103.4 ETH (14.037,58 USD). Among its Layers, purchased by different collectors shortly afterward, very successful were Coldie's Decentral Eyes, sold for 77.0 ETH (10.490,48 USD), and Visionary Spirit of Creation by Matt Kane, sold for 35.0 ETH (4.763,50 USD). A total of 263 ETH was made from the auction of 20 Layers.
The second programmable NFT auctioned on AsyncArt was XCOPY's Banksta. It was sold to the collector TokenAngels for 66.0 ETH (8.958,84 USD), becoming the most expensive work by a single artist to date. Its Master image sold for more than all its Layers combined, testifying how this particular art piece works better as a whole than others.