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.
Cryptovoxels project development happens so quickly that we figure it would be helpful to round up all the big points. Please note, this is not a complete list, and all the information is gathered from what was publicly posted on twitter and the Cryptovoxels discord. Without further due, this is what the team is currently working on:
Ben Nolan mentioned to the community that he is getting his head around the fact that Cryptovoxels feels 'feature complete' for now. So instead of making tons of new features, the team's focus is to make what we already have faster, prettier, and improve scripting. Make everything work real good.
Chat is another thing that is on the list to be improved. Ben has been digging into integrating Matrix, an open source project that publishes the Matrix open standard for secure, decentralised, real-time communication.
Matrix will open up some interesting opportunities for interoperability to occur. Using an open standard, Matrix can exchange data and messages with other platforms by bridges.
A proof of concept idea with a Matrix bridge could be having parcels connected to private chat rooms like IRC, Discord, Slack, etc. When a person enters a parcel, the Cryptovoxels chat can automatically be linked to the other chat platform.
Decentraland has recently integrated Matrix into their main client. If Cryptovoxels integrates Matrix then messages can send back and forth between DCL and CV.
The next feature that has recently shipped is the multiplayer server which runs your parcel scripts on the Cryptovoxels infrastructure. This basically enables multiplayer games and synced events such as doors opening or closing. More APIs are expected to be released in the future, for now the documentation sites at: https://wiki.cryptovoxels.com/en/Scripting/TheGrid.
Ben has also mentioned that he started working on an invite system. How it works is:
* You 'claim' some parcels
* You and friends get to build
* If you build, you 'submit' the build
* And get to buy at a fixed price
So you have:
* Choose your Neighbours
* New builders
* Encourage builds
* Fixed price
However, it might be that this idea could of evolved with the new Spaces feature that was just shipped with Cryptovoxels version 4. Spaces is essentially a free build mode with trimmed down features, such as no multiplayer. The idea behind Spaces for attracting new builders into Origin City goes something like:
1. Create an awesome space
2. Select a parcel on a build island
3. Submit your space as a build for that parcel
4. The submission is approved
5. The parcel is yours (at a discounted price)
Things spaces won't have (compared to Parcels):
* Grid Scripting
Things spaces won't be:
Users that log into the website and click their account will see the new Spaces tab and can play around with it now. https://www.cryptovoxels.com/account/spaces
The next feature being worked on is lightmapping and global illumination. Take a sneak peek below:
Babylon native will mean compiling the game into a standalone app that can be distributed through app marketplaces such as steam, windows, and potentiall the apple store. The software will run closer to the metal, giving performance a boost.
Finally, the Cryptovoxels team has been exploring VRM avatar support. VRM is a royalty free file format for handling 3D humanoid avatars. It is the most interoperable avatar format that exists, since there are dozens of applications (mostly Japanese) that already support it. Here's a fan made concept art visualization of what Cryptovoxels might look like with VRM support.
It's extremely impressive how much this small team is accomplishing, especially when you can see it all put together of just the past month!
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.
Hi Coldie! Can you tell us how did the whole project start?
I have been donating physical art to the Kitty Bungalow art show for the last few years. Last year, I brought in CryptoKitties and Crypto Kaiju who donated artworks. Following the success of these pieces in last year’s show, I was approached by KB about the virtual worlds I was creating. We decided to do an experiment and see how the charity would translate to a digital setting. From there we did an open call for entries, I curated a show including 40+ art pieces and VOX sculptures that took place in 4 parcels in CryptoVoxels.
In addition to the NFT digital art, we also had a physical art gallery. What blew us away was that we sold more than $2,000 in physical art as well! It was also the first introduction to several famous artists of the crypto art scene. I can tell you that a few of them are looking at getting into NFTs!
What was the scale of the event in terms of artists and other actors involved?
We had over 75 artists and builders contribute to the show. This includes Async who had 33 contributors in their 3 pieces they created specially for the event. I also had many builders contribute piece to the show include megavox sculptures that were auctioned as well. I tried to sell everything I could in the build. Might as well make as much as possible!
Any favorite contributions on the artistic side?
One of my favorite pieces was Matt Kane’s Excessive Force - Cat Devouring Bird after Picasso. This piece is not the usual for Matt in terms of subject matter, and seeing a different side to his art was really thrilling. Others agreed and there was a pretty good bid war going and it ended up selling for for 8.5 ETH (over $2,000) to Tennessee Jed. Take a look and get lost in the animation layers. Subtle, but SO TASTY!
I was blown away by the Async collaboration pieces. 3 distinct pieces that were very well thought out and all very successful turnouts! Big thanks to their whole time for all they did. You could tell there was a lot of love coming from them to help cats and it showed in the end result.
CryptoKitties contributed 3 very rare kitties, as well as kitties for a scavenger hunt. They also contributed to one of the Async pieces. Their team was so generous and always willing to help promote and do whatever they could to be sure our event went off as well as possible. I their kindness and professionalism, mixed with creativity and care was amazing to collaborate with!
So, how did the event go in terms of support, are you satisfied with how it all went, was it challenging?
Overall, there were no issues, somehow! So many people stepped up and dontated their time and skills to make this event really shine and be as successful as it was.
It was a challenge to get in the ear of crypto collectors and other who might be interested in the show. I was blown away at how many people showed up and also the diversity of collectors.
I know that Nala cat was involved too, did this help stir the interest of more people beyond the crypto art scene?
Yes, Nala is a literal cat celebrity and with her she brings a very passionate fanbase. We had Nala do her first Twitch Livestream which went well and many of her fans joined in, which is probably the first time many of them experienced a crypto art show or virtual live event. We really appreciate the support of Nala’s team to allow us to have her be so much of a piece of the show. We had a beautiful sculpture of Nala created by Ogar which was auctioned.
Looking back on the whole event, I am so proud of how it turned out. To date, Kitty Bungalow has received over $15,000 in donations from this event. It far exceeds what any of us were dreaming of. The best part about it is that they always need more money to help feral cats in need in the Los Angeles area, so the extra money will always go to a good use.
Having a second event at the Citadel Art Center is also really fun and rewarding. It is interesting taking down an exhibition and putting up a new one. It keeps the vibes fresh, the art new, and I look forward to putting on the next show there. To everyone who collaborated, created, donated, and enjoyed the show, THANK YOU. It was only possible because of everyone! I love this community and we now have a wider network including Kitty Bungalow who love crypto events and will continue to be friends with us as this whole space continues to grow and evolve.
Somnium Space has been showing off another cool new feature that brings the whole web to your hands in VR, the web browser. The team announced the feature in a tweet with a video showing Cryptovoxels, Decentraland, and Mozilla Hubs running in a massive web browser that's front of a user who is fully in VR.
It's nifty how there's a navigation bar at the top, giving users freedom to surf the entire web with just one websurface. This feature has enabled the team to quickly show the world some possibilities for when you bring the flat web into an immersive virtual world.
For example, browsing Amazon.com from a Somnium Space parcel to shop for a new VR headset.
How about browsing Opensea and purchasing a NFT with Ethereum while being fully in VR? The Somnium team has shown that it is indeed possible with a video that goes from start to finish of completing a transaction for some cryptoart.
There's also productivity apps, such as attending a video conference while you're in VR. Not sure how productive that is, but it looks fun.
The browser is also able to load webgl games, turning your wall into a giant display screen. It would be awesome to see how Google Stadia performs in Somnium Space.
The WWW is an infinite source of content. It opens up access to productivity, ecommerce, and gaming. From wherever you are in the virtual world, whether in outer space or chilling at your friends parcel, having access to the world wide web makes it feel like home. This is the type of feature that will keep on giving. Great work Somnium team!