While exploring through the vast and varied lands of CryptoArt, you will find a particular artist that has always set himself apart from the rest and does fine work. Skeenee is a Belgian (don’t remind him) artist that has instantly recognizable work and is one of the prominent independent voices in the scene. From his tattoo works to illustrated skulls and an exciting animated style, he keeps death and visions of greed as fresh as possible while mixing it up with art that has no issue standing on its own. A dear friend to us here at meme and of course a verified artist on Marble Cards!
The SKULL maestro in the space at once had flesh, when did you lose yours and fall in love with skulls? Is there a deeper meaning to the animal skulls and bodies them for you besides looking badass cool?
Well, looking badass cool is enough of a good reason innit 😛
More seriously, I think I have had a thing for skulls & jolly rogers since I was a kid but my love/ obsession with them really started when I began studying the human figure.
In order to draw the human figure properly, one needs to learn the different “layers” of the human body: the bones structure, muscle groupings, how muscles interact with each others, then external layers, skin, hair… When I started posting my skeleton drawings on social media, people picked up on it right away so I pushed my exploration of skeletons a little “further” and it kinda became my signature content/art.
It’s also what sold well and what I became known for when I was tattooing, so that also pushed me to explore skull designs further and reinforced my “skull obsession”.
Knowing of your tattoo artist background and where you’ve taken things in the CryptoArt space, how do they compare now having done both and do you feel equally as comfortable in?
I love both mediums for very different reasons. I love tattooing because of its challenges, and I love CryptoArt for its creativity and its complete lack of rules and limitations.
Before getting into tattooing, I was spending a lot of time drawing with ink, which is by far my favorite traditional medium as it demands a high level of skills and precision to do right. There is very little room for mistakes.
It took me a long time to be able to finish an ink painting without fuck ups which to this day still gives me a sense of accomplishment when I finish one successfully.
There is even less room for mistake in tattoo and it´s the only canvas that can punch you in the face if you fuck up lol. I see it as the ultimate challenge for Artists. It was nerve wracking at first but I somehow liked that challenge.
Before getting into CryptoArt I was doing traditional Art and have always been bothered by how rigid it was. CryptoArt is the opposite of that, if there is one rule is that we are here to break the rules, to merge all media, techniques, and tools to create something new. I love that I use all the skills I have learned along the years to create something new and unique.
Many don’t know you were once heavily into animation, you’ve done animated pieces before but your latest piece is something extraordinary and has such a fun fluid sense of movement. How has your past experiences impacted this piece and will you be further exploring this side of animation more so or just an experiment?
Animation was my first love and my dream job when I was younger. After studying animation for a short year in Vancouver, I quickly started to work in commercial animation, producing mini games, interactive stories, commercials, interfaces, websites… and “prostituted” my skills for almost 15 years. It slowly burned out my passion for animation and I eventually completely stopped animating and shifted my focus on tattooing.
I had entirely stopped animating for 5 years when I discovered CryptoArt. If you analyze my body of work since I joined the movement, you will find very little animated NFTs in 2019 and can witness animated pieces slowly creeping back in. Nowadays most of my pieces are animated and I have been actively training my animation skills and adding new animation techniques to my toolset.
“Extreme F34r”, the creation you are referring to, is a good example of that. In this piece I am using animation techniques I polished these last months and a new tool I have recently learned to use: 3D planes and cameras.
Breaking down my composition into various planes setup in a 3D environment through which a virtual camera can travel, allows me to greatly enhance the feeling/emotion I want my pieces to convey. In this particular piece I want to enhance the feeling of confusion and chaos, so I simulated a jerky camera trying to follow the protagonist of the scene.
Seeing soo much change from the beginning of your journey (2019) in NFTs to now, what has been the grand lesson that served as your aha moment for an independent artist with a voice?
My motivation as an artist is to constantly improve my skill set and explore whatever ideas come to my mind, in a way I see myself as a researcher in aesthetics and as some sort of critique of society.
Since I joined the movement I have allowed myself to explore many styles and subject matters (skulls, nudes, ink paintings, birds, random shit…) and while I do not regret this chaotic exploration, it does confuse collectors.
While I think artists should not focus on finding a style that sells and reproducing ad nauseam, having some kind of consistent style or a link between your styles does comfort collectors and allows you to sell more efficiently.
I hate to say this but it is still our “job” and what feeds our families so in addition to being creative we also have to market our work. This is why I decided to focus on minting a couple of styles, and now keep my other explorations private.
We’ve met in person (NFC Lisbon) and it was like finally meeting a long lost brother in both our best times. That event felt different to many artists that attended. What’s your take on Crypto events and have you ever felt fully comfortable in one as an artist?
It was an awesome experience to meet you and so many of the artists/collectors I forged connections with these last 3 years. I have been working with creatives/ artists since forever but it had been quite a lonely venture until I discovered CryptoArt. Never in my life have I been part of such an amazing community of like minded people.
So yeah it was awesome to meet everyone and I usually feel on my own turf in crypto events. Well I should say “around crypto events” as I rarely attend speeches and spend very little time on conference grounds. That’s the thing about crypto events, usually the main event is quite boring and composed of 90% of people peddling shit or talking about things we already know, the real action is around it and in side events.
I can say I feel much more comfortable around you degens than around “normies”. To be honest my social life has been quite nonexistent these last years since all my time has been split between taking care of my 3 and 6 years old kids and creating, the little social life I had left got annihilated by the pandemic shitshow. So I am rebuilding a new social life by traveling all around the world to hit as many crypto events in order to meet you degens and I must SAY it works quite well with my busy schedule 🙂
Our artist community is a passionate one and as we all know many of us have gone through a rollercoaster of happenings and emotions with the current market. How has it evolved for you within the last 1-2 waves of artists joining in and do you have any choice words for someone looking for a platform more than having their own voice?
The market rollercoaster is something that takes time getting used and adapting to but nothing to panic about. The first down cycles I have been through shaked me but I now learned to live with them. It does not even phase me anymore and I see these down times as a part of the game and times of opportunities.
My advice to be able to sleep well during bear markets is to diversify your assets. It’s natural to be greedy and optimistic during bull markets but everything is cyclical, everything that goes up must eventually go down. So I try to cash 50-75% of my sales during bull markets and sell very little to stack cryptos during bear markets.
I actually like bear markets because I cease to be “obsessed” with profit and my focus naturally shifts on Art and creation. It´s in a way much healthier.
For Artists trying to find a platform. Rather than trying to find a platform, I think they should focus on fine tuning their craft, finding their own style/voice, and on involving themselves with the community/creating connections with other creators.
One of the main differences between traditional Art and CryptoArt is that our medium provides us with many opportunities to develop relationships with creators & collectors and to participate with the development of the medium. I feel many newcomers are missing out on this. I see a lot of Artists dropping pieces without creating connections with the scene thinking their past reputation alone will be sufficient to succeed.
I am afraid the crypto scene does not work that way. I think it’s essential to get involved and to forge relationships with your peers. The good news is that it´s rather easy to do so; while the traditional Art world is rather pompous and elitist, most Artists in our scene are rather approachable and often keen to help and collaborate.
To resume I think Artists who fine tune their craft and develop relationships will naturally find platforms. I don´t think it should be a goal in itself.
Let’s get a lil predictable because I know we are all genuinely curious… What’s next for you and are there any new collections coming up that you can speak on?
Sure, there are a few things I can reveal.
For my solo creations. I will be more focused and will stop shooting in all directions to concentrate on my SuperRare and Makersplace collections.
I have put a lot of effort into developing my SuperRare style, it is a synthesis of all my skills and a style I will keep pushing and developing. I see it as my true CryptoArt style and have a long list of pieces I wanna add to that collection.
Makersplace is the reason why I got into CryptoArt as they recruited me in early 2019 to be part of one of the first batches of Artists to join their platform. I will always be grateful and loyal to them, more specifically to Anne-Marie Alanes, Ryoma and Dannie Chu. I will keep developing my AR enhanced animated ink paintings “Re-animated Skeletons” series on their platform.
Most pieces of that series are NFT+ART, meaning that the physical original painting enhanced in AR with the animation of the NFT is shipped to the winner of the auction. I think it´s the coolest and most efficient way bridge physical and digital worlds. I am a total sucker for Augmented Reality and I am trying to find ways to add in more of my creations. I have no intention of ever stopping this series and will slowly add to it over the years. I am currently about to finish a “Bull & Bear skeletons” miniseries that will drop soon™. Then I am also probably gonna be working with Kolectiv on some upcoming projects. I can´t reveal much yet but it’s a platform that I hold dear as it was one of Alottamoney’s favorite. He convinced & helped me to join it to be part of their first release; it is a platform I will always have a soft spot for because of that.
Finally, I love the creations of many of my peers, have the chance to be on good terms with most of them and became friends with many of them; so in the future I am gonna be spending more time on collabs.
I love collabs as they take you out of your comfort zone and add an extra layer of unpredictability to the creative process. It’s something that I really enjoy. I have a couple in production that will be released at the end of the year/beginning of next year but it’s still pretty hush hush. I am also working on a few other crazy ideas but I´d rather keep quiet about those as I am not yet sure they are even doable 🤣 and have no schedule on when I would release them if ever lol.
I’d like to thank Skeenee for coming on and taking time out of his busy day to shed some more light on what makes him and his art. You’re an artistic treasure, am proud to share the community with and makes everyone love skulls like no other, haha. See you in the bloody arenas, I got some bones to post. Oh btw… I still have my pieces 😉
Twitter, Voxels SKULL Gallery, SuperRare, MakersPlace, Opensea, Voxels Megalo Tower
Extra: Cent Spotlight podcast from December 19, 2019 with Matthew from The WIP!