Javier Arrés is a Spanish world-renowned visual artist, London Art Biennale Winner 2019, and the creator of the term “Visual Toys” to describe his crazy and fantastic gifs recognized around the world.
“… I received an email from the founder of Makersplace. He explained to me what NFTs and Cryptoart are, and proposed to be part of his platform. That really changed my life …“
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Can you please tell us a bit about your background?
When I was 11 years old, I got enrolled in art classes because, according to my mother, I couldn’t stop drawing. It was always something vital for me.
I was the kid who was going to study Fine Arts, but when I got to the University I was disappointed because I didn’t fit into the system. I left the University after five years attending only the classes that I liked but without being evaluated or presenting works. I only liked drawing, besides making a living and paying for my studies by working as a waiter in a pub. To be honest, I also spent many years partying, watching movies, and playing video games. That is basically the summary of my time at Art University.
So I quit and started studying design and got to know digital art. That was key because I combined my many years as a traditional artist with digital media, developed my style, and became a professional illustrator both in ink on paper and digitally.
I have worked for international illustration agencies such as Illozoo and IllustrationX, with clients such as the New York Times or the NFL. I also won different awards with my work such as the London Art Biennale 2019 in the category of work on paper or the Creativepool People Choice Award 2017. I also did exhibitions such as Art Capital Paris 2020, got featured at iDAF 2019 (International Digital Art Festival) in Manchester, the Gif-Fest 2017 in Singapore, and many more.
I was steadily getting into the art market with my “ink on paper” work and also my animated Gifs called “Visual Toys”. I was in a great momentum, and suddenly I received an email from the founder of Makersplace. He explained to me what NFTs and Cryptoart are and proposed to be part of his platform. That really changed my life. I have become number 12 in the world in sales in Cryptoart and my Visual Toys have been a great success. It has been wonderful.
What inspired you to make art?
I have always been creating. I have gone through many stages and I have evolved a lot.
In the end, when I decided to develop my own style it was a path towards myself in an honest way – the one you really like and fascinates you and that you would like to build or communicate.
In my case, I am a person fascinated by science fiction cinema, cyberpunk, and all its derivatives. I grew up in the nineties and the impact of cinema, as well as video games, was very strong on me. I have been able to enjoy their complete evolution to the incredible quality of today.
The games that I have liked the most and that have inspired my work are Roller Coaster Tycoon and Sim City, the entire saga. All this combined with my passion for architecture and the baroque (I am Andalusian and Andalusia is very baroque). The hyperdetailed, and pop iconography defines my style. It is a combination of everything. I wanted to put together everything that I like.
In the end, you create the work you would like to see.
Did you study at art school(s) or are you self-taught? What did you study? What were the “aha” moments? What did you find the most beneficial?
Self-taught artists do not really exist. It is a good marketing technique but everyone learns and develops their work in some way based on the study.
In my case, I started at eleven years old drawing a lot in classes, such as sculptures, still lifes, landscapes, many vases with flowers, etc. My classmates were all retired women and I was the only child. Then, as I have explained before about the University, I only went to the classes that I liked, without pressure. And then I graduated in graphic design and multimedia production.
My “Aha” moment I think was when I realized that I could and know how to give movement to my work in ink, combine everything, new and old. That was key for my Visual Toys.
Beneficial is everything that you know how to take advantage of or benefit from. For me, some classes were as useful as some drunkenness but without a doubt learning certain digital tools was without a doubt what took my work to another level.
How did you develop your own art style? Where do you go for inspiration? How do you keep your creativity flowing?
My style develops in some way as a result of my long experience working as a professional illustrator.
When you do not have your brand or style, they always ask for someone else’s style, and that in the end tires you, because you want your own world, your own aesthetic opinion. Let’s say that I recommend working hard, and working with things that you don’t like because in the end knowing everything you don’t like also reveals what you really love. That’s why I got fed up with commissions that I didn’t like, so I decided to create my style and try to make it known.
I am on a constant lookout for and inspiration and it comes to me everywhere; walking through the streets of Granada, seeing its incredible architecture, or watching a movie, playing a video games, etc. I am really fascinated by many things, and I love adding them to my work.
My creativity flows well because I am passionate about many things. I watch a documentary and I want to deal with that topic or I see a roof and I want to draw it. I’m a bit hyperactive in that regard. If I sleep well and there are no problems I always want to create. Everyday.
How did you start making a living as an artist? What was your first paid art job?
I got to my first paid job quite early, when I was perhaps thirteen. Some of my works from the art classes I was going to, got sold, but not for significant amounts.
But in terms of relevant payments, I would say that an exhibition that I did when I was 21 was the first time. People who didn’t know me at all bought my work and I sold enough to pay at least three months of rent. Even though I spent it all at the show party that night :). To continue talking about payments, I would say that when I sold the Art Biennial painting for 10,000 euros, it was the first moment that I saw clearly that I could earn a living from this.
Before that moment, it must be said that I worked seven years as a waiter and another nine as a graphic designer in Madrid for advertising agencies. It has been a long road in which I always had two jobs, the one paying the bills and the one as an artist.
Little by little the artist’s income was going up and when I got to know crypto art in about 2019 it was when I already started to earn a lot of money and was able to live exclusively from my work. I was thirty-seven years old at the time.
It has been a long road of progression and evolution and a lot of work.
What do you live from as an artist now? What are your main income streams and what is the approximate % split of each?
Now I live 100% of the Cryptoart. My sales have been spectacular and I am focused on that market, but it is not only to sell digital work because in my auctions I combine my digital work with prints, 3d dolls, and physical work that accompanies the digital one.
What are you currently working on?
I have several projects going on. My exclusive Artvatars generative collection will be published shortly – a very cool project from the great collector @MantaNFT.
I will also publish some collaborative works with the artist and famous YouTuber Antonio Garcia Villaran.
After that, I will publish new work from my Visual Toys 3D collection, an evolution of my 2D work.
And for February / March 2022, I have planned a new generative collection with Makersplace that I can’t speak too much about.
After that, I will rest for a few months, because I have not had a day off for a year and a half, luckily.
What do you think are the most important characteristics of an artist?
The will and perseverance. Be honest and know how to self-evaluate your work.
What are the art tools and other products and services you can’t live without?
A characteristic of all my work is that it is made with very few resources but with a lot of work time.
If you give me a piece of paper and a marker for me that is enough. In fact, I won the London Art Biennale in the category of work on paper with a two-by-two-meter work made with marker on paper. Three months of work.
What are your favorite art and other books (fiction, non-fiction)?
The last book I read and I really liked was The Impostor by Javier Cercas, it is about lying. I haven’t had time to read for a long time, that’s one of my unfinished business for when I take a vacation in a few months. I love to read but work occupies me all the time. For those rest dates I want to read two books, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and The Battle Painter by Arturo Perez Reverte.
As for art and aesthetics, I would recommend two books, In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki and The Last Art of the 20th Century. From Postminimalism to the multicultural by Anna María Guash.
What advice would you give yourself as a beginner artist? Or alternatively please include your favorite quote and the author.
My advice is to be patient, to develop solid work before launching into the world.
Art needs development, work, and a lot of discipline. Don’t be in a hurry, don’t be afraid of being wrong, always finish projects even if you don’t like them, and learn what you really want.
And finally, not everyone can succeed in art, it is difficult. I create art because I can not create it, it is what makes me happy and I did it for hours and hours when nobody paid me anything.
“Nobody lacks strength; what a great many lack is will. ” Victor Hugo.
Get in touch with Javier
Thank you, Javier, for joining us today!
All artworks by Javier Arrés, used with permission.
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