Born in the cultural hub of Russia St Petersburg Alex shell is no stranger to art. Having an in depth understanding of python programming. Creating his own mining farm Alex found Cryptoart in a way not to dissimilar to others in the community. With his mining farm becoming an expense rather than a profit Alex found himself asking what’s next?
Like many others the answer came as Cryptoart possessing no “manual” art skills himself but having the technical knowledge to construct/deconstruct images with coding Alex turned his mining farm into an art production facility.
But if Alex was simply gathering random images from the web it would be nothing of note. The fact is Alex’s viewpoint, choices of names titles and faces is nothing short of genius. If the point of art is to invoke thinking and question the world around us Alex’s art achieves this with grace and elegance. Without giving too much away of what his thoughts are he manages to invoke emotion and discussion. In his work “What if we all supported the LGBT community” nothing is given away yet at the same time a simple, yet important question is asked, what if?
This work was displayed at the 2020 Bloomsbury exhibition in central London. Leaving many perplexed in its meaning, it still managed to bring to the for front a vital conversation. A Conversation that would have been almost totally impossibly to speak about without being shut down. Like all great art no direct meaning is given the viewer can create their own.
Other works by Alex continue in the vein of forcing difficult conversations to the front of people’s minds. Another work featuring London mayor Sadiq khan titled simply “I’m not sure if we like such a mayor” this work gives us a conversation about the controversial London mayor and frankly I’m not sure if we like such a mayor ether. But the great thing is there is no answer reason or direct meaning given leaving the question open.
Before we get to the real profile and hear from Alex himself indulge me just a little and let me tell you a few other things that inspire me about Alex’s work; he is living proof that you don’t need to be able to paint or have any “manual” art skills to be a genius creative visual artist just a great idea and creative thought. Anything is possible by the power of determination and finally beauty can be found anywhere it doesn’t have to be visual (although his art is visually beautiful) it can be a beauty of invoking thought and feeling.
To own work by Alex head to: https://www.blockchainartexchange.co.uk/artists/alex-shell-store/
Anyway, I’m rambling now lets here from the man himself
What is your background in art, how did you get into crypto art?
I have no formal art education, my education is pure technical, M.S. degree in IT-related field. But my mom worked her whole life as a librarian and at the age from 7 y.o. till 20 y.o. I spent endless hours in the library watching and reading all kind of books, including a lot of beautiful art albums, so I've got some taste and love for beautiful things in art. I was born and lived till 30 y.o. in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, it is the cultural capital of Russia with huge amount of different museums so I visited them a lot during my life.
Journey to cryptoart started accidentally, I had GPU farm (6 videocards NVIDIA GTX1060 6G) for Ethereum mining, but at a time the mining become non-profitable I searched the ways to utilize this GPU farm, so neural networks come to my mind. I found interested topic in "Convolutional Neural Networks" that used for image processing, got inspired by "Image Style Transfer" topic using "Convolutional Neural Networks" so started to produce nice images just for fun. Being interested in blockchain topic and reading different news for it, I accidentally found some info for art on blockchain, so this was the moment I decided to try to sell my pics produced by GPU farm using "art on blockchain" i.e. tokenised images with proof of authenticity. Over last year I gained a lot of different skills in image processing using programming approach since I have almost zero skills in "manual" art production, 100% of my artworks produced without any image editor, all image manipulations produced by programming code I write in Python programming language. This limits me in many areas since I can't just draw image as normal artists do, but from other hand I have many other skills that most artists don't have since my "art processing tools" are just Python scripts written by myself and all image manipulations done in pure black/white linux terminal, even cut/paste operations produced by programming code but not by image editor.
What artists inspire you most?
I do like Russian art where I feel and understand the social environment and history of my country, artist like Aleksandr Deyneka, Arkhip Kuindzhi, Georgy Nissky and many others, and I do collect some non-expensive artworks from USSR era (and some modern crypto-art as well). Among "western" artists I mostly like Edward Hopper and Alex Colville .
Why do you create digital art?
I feel happy if someone purchase it. It is not matter of money as I do have quite well-paid full-time IT job, but if someone purchase my work it means for me that they respect my art view and my skills, so I’m happy.
What is your process of creation?
I always keep in mind what I want and what I can, in most cases what I want can't be materialized due to my limited tools/skills, so I constantly evaluate my art-ideas against my possibilities, against those programming tools I have or can create. Sometimes I see idea that can be implemented using my existing programming tools or I see new tool could be written quite fast within few days, so I start programming those new scripts for new type of artwork.
Is there any meaning you want to get across with your artwork?
It depends on the work, sometimes I just visually like what I created, sometimes there is an idea behind artwork.
Sometimes both visual attractiveness and idea exists in one work, like here: https://www.blockchainartexchange.co.uk/product/if-we-all-supported-the-lgbt-movement/
has crypto art impacted your life?
Sure, I spend 3-4 hours every evening programming new art-tools, so my wife don't see me any more 🙂 With cryptoart, I got new interest in life that excite and inspire me to produce artworks and art-tools. As an any artist, I dream to be recognized and respected, so cryptoart gave me that hope so I work in that new direction exploring new possibilities and having excitement if they buy my work. Online cryptoart galleries are new tools for amateur and professional artists to be recognized and to sell their art, so I feel happy that such galleries continue to develop and expand their influence .
Any advice for people thinking about joining crypto art?
There are 2 sides of it: creators and collectors. We are at the very beginning of long-term cryptoart journey, so both artists and collectors could gain a lot if they jump into that new vehicle. For collectors, I'm 100% sure that current prices for artworks will rise a lot so it is perfect time for investment. As in any other form of art, vast majority of money are in top 1-2% of artists, but current prices even for top recognized cryptoartsts are still small, so just buy all you can from works of top 1-2% artists, prices will be sure much higher in the future. For artists, due to the same reason, it is perfect time to start selling your artworks on blockchain and make a name in that field, filed is still relatively small but growing at huge pace, just see the monthly grow in sales for top cryptoart galleries.
Anything else you would like to add?
Make love, not war. For me the art is the most humane religion, this religion does not push you to do something, this religion does not punish for anything, you can be just yourself doing what you like and in art every view considered valid and valuable, there is no "wrong" view in art.