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The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept aliveThomas Jefferson
In the light of our egos, we are all dethroned monarchsCharlie Chaplin
Luminous colour, latin classicism and futurism combined with rebellious skulls are used as representations of freedom, resistance and counter-culture in Ekaitza’s artistry. Ekaitza opens up on his upbringing in a cartel controlled Mexico to his move to the US and a career in Artificial Intelligence and tech disruption. Ekaitza’s artwork already has a strong recognized brand. Ekaitza aims to move into full time art as well as more involvement in art projects, platforms and crypto art initiatives. We wish him all the best and for his fabulous art to continue.
What does Ekaitza mean – where is it from and why does it represent you?
Ekaitz or Ekaitza means “Storm” in Basque which is the language spoken in one of the regions my family originates from. I have always associated producing art to a controlled storm as technique, inspiration and emotions come into play during the concoction we call the creative process. Ekaitza is also a popular boat name in the Bay of Biscay, so if you happen to be sailing in the North of Spain or South of France and see a boat with that name – don’t assume that it is mine!
Your digital art trend seems to have begun with Avastars which took a turn towards classic Greek and Roman sculptors accompanied with huge luminescence colours and reflection and then onto Daft Punk style figures whilst currently the punk skull theme remains prevalent – can you walk us through the transition and the triggers that moved you through these different representations?
I guess it started with the illustrations for the curating crypto podcast. I wanted to give something back to the artists I was interviewing. While I’ve drawn landscapes and done some free hand work before, these are probably the first artworks that I’ve produced that are anything crypto related. I’ve also worked on a few other illustrations for some people in the space but had to call it wrap given the time commitment. The podcast will soon come back in video interview format with the great help of William Savas, a fellow collector who is keen to see this space grow so I am excited to partner with him.
As far as tokenized work you can see all of my early work on SuperRare to whom I am forever grateful as they took me in and trusted my early experiments. My first artwork “Anxia Sui” (Anxious Self) uses a painting from Adam Decoster that I manipulated with movement to generate the image of a third person that appears only momentarily by playing with the position of the eyes and the beard of the original painting. You can see how I slowly started to gravitate towards futurism, a reinterpretation of Greek and Roman sculptures by adding VR headsets and helmets, the female figure and the skulls everyone seems to be familiar with. I love the immersive use of color and a big influence has been the work of James Turrell.
The Avastars work was out of a pure desire to experiment and give these illustrations my own spin. I’ve gifted anything I produced to their respective owners and the only artwork I tokenized with an Avastars theme was a gift to Jim McNelis. I loved what the Brazilian duo Marmota and Milky produced for Avastars, given the number of traits created and the generative aspect of the project means they poured a ton of effort in to planning this along with the Avastars team and the outcome was phenomenal.
Would you describe yourself as an artist or something else? – your artwork has heavy crypto inferences as well as a spirit of resistance and activism against the current system – do you have a strong belief here?
My background is in Artificial Intelligence and throughout my career I’ve worked in technological innovation & disruption. I honestly struggle a bit with the artist tag, I see myself more as a creative person that loves to experiment in different mediums and have a deep love and respect for art, art history and those who dedicate themselves full time to creating art.
Crypto has an influence in my work as someone that has been in the space for 7-8 years so you will see pieces that will bring up topics such as freedom, resistance and counterculture. I believe strongly in being able to stand out for what you believe in.
Rebellion and resistance are themes in your art as well as views on war and challenging human emotions – the skull theme is often related to death but also it could represent immortality. Could you share your thoughts around some of the deeper meanings?
Latin America in general has a very unique relationship with death as an inevitable part of life. We are brought up not fearing death and embracing that it’s a part of our journey. In Mexico we even make candy out of skulls and write poems for the day of the death where we joke about death and we pay respect to those loved ones that have parted. Aside from this I am in love with the proportions and overall aesthetics of skulls and I’ve been drawing them since my early years on other people’s walls with aerosols.
I grew up in a region in Mexico that was controlled by cartels, so I’ve seen a great deal of unfairness, violence, indifference and inequality but also a great feeling of hope and the desire of an emerging working class to do better when the cards are stacked heavily against them. This is probably why resistance and a call to speak up are a recurring theme.
Has any crypto art “institution” approached you on your art – and if so, would you be open to being affiliated with them or prefer to remain the semi-anonymous renegade / maverick?
As a collector I have a really good relationship with quite a few of the people behind some of the platforms, some of the projects and some of the initiatives around crypto and NFTs. It’s a tight group I am glad to be a part of. I am less aware of the day to day tribulations, so I always have to do a bit of research when someone approaches me with a project or an offer. In general, I am just happy to focus on creating stuff that I like so I tend to decline most invitations to events, interviews, festivals but I think I am slowly growing to the idea of being a bit more open. Maybe.
Where are you at right now with your life? What are your thoughts on your near-term life pathway? Are you at an inflection point on which life road to take or comfortable with your direction?
I am really enjoying where I am in life both personally and professionally. To me this means a potential inflection point and an opportunity for new challenges. I think soon enough I will transition full time to producing art, advising a few more projects and maybe investing in a few.
You have done some collabs with Coldie – who are you also close within the digital art world and are you looking for further collabs in the near future – what elements do you think could evolve your current representations?
Yes, I’ve produced two collabs; one with Coldie and one with RYR, both of them being artists that I trust respect. I think there is one more collab in the books with RYR and it will be in physical form and I’ve talked to Lucho Poletti about collaborating before. My biggest issue is my availability but hoping to make these two happen in the near future for sure.
As far as who I am close with, a few artists have probably mentioned already that most of us met during Bitcoin 2019 in San Francisco and I’ve had the pleasure to continue to foster these relationships to this day. Any given day I am talking to Coldie, Lucho Poletti, Josie, Trevor Jones, RYR , Carlos Marcial, Tommy plus a great group of platform owners, builders and collectors. It’s awesome to keep in touch and see what they are working on and in general to be part of the conversation with incredibly talented and driven individuals. I’ve also been very fortunate to have a growing collector base so it’s incredible to connect with them on a regular basis and chat with people from very different walks of life that are super excited about digital art and crypto in general.
Could you share a little about your upbringing and how you got into art in a traditional sense, but also how you found digital art?
I grew up in a Mexican, Spanish and Lebanese family. The dynamics of a multicultural background paired with my parents pushing to learn about current events and history gave me a sense of global awareness and a desire to learn and explore. Luckily the schools I went to growing up had a strong preference for pairing art with your regular teachings and as a result since very early on I’ve been enamored with traditional art and art history. My family moved to the US when I was in my mid-teens where I’ve resided since. Digital art is where both my background and my love for art converge.
Where do you believe crypto art will blossom? Where is it going, and will it become more mainstream? What current technologies/platforms/trends and drivers do you see as laying the foundations for that future growth?
I am extremely excited about the future of crypto art. If you see how many people were following some of the artists just 8-12 months ago when most NFTs were going for around $80-100 dollars it just puts things into perspective. I provide oversight to a few platforms and projects, so I get to see first-hand what they are planning and building and who is looking to invest in these projects. The future looks incredibly promising. At a macro level, I expect greater flexibility in terms of tokenization, an increase in cross platform collaboration and carry over of history, fees and royalties as collectors and artist demand more robust solutions to current pain points. Art related NFTs is just the beginning to a much larger set of offerings.
You also have a decent collection of your own – recently purchasing the collab between Skygolpe and Carlos Marcial as well as a Giant Swan fan– could you talk to your collection as well as the recent purchases?
I have a small but growing collection across 3 addresses. I love art, so it’s hard to hold on to my ETH when a great artwork comes across from someone I have a lot of respect for such as Carlos, Skygolpe and Swan which I am super happy to have in my collection. I feel it’s important to support fellow creatives when possible so when I can, I don’t hesitate as I find it very rewarding beyond any potential financial future gain.
Which artists on SR impress you?
Everyday there’s someone that comes in and blows me away with what they create – the amount of talent that gets onboarded to the platform on a regular basis is incredible across disciplines. As a creative you recognize almost immediately which tools other artists are using, you recognize textures, materials, strokes and even stock presets and models that come with each tool so it’s easier for us to judge the quality of an artwork but also its easy for us to recognize when someone has done something incredible and I am often more impressed than disillusioned! I have my eyes on Gen Z in general and it’s no different in terms of Crypto Art. I also have a lot of respect for traditional painters that properly transition to a digital medium and those artists that are able to establish a solid brand from the get-go which is something insanely difficult to do while you experiment.
Which sports interest you and which countries would you like to visit and why?
I grew up playing all sorts of team and individual sports but mostly stuck to football (soccer) and Kung-fu (Wu Shu). As an adult I mostly follow the premier league and a little bit of rugby.
I’ve been lucky to have been able to travel internationally quite extensively as a former technology consultant in analytics, but I really need to explore South East Asia and South America a bit more. I do tend to gravitate towards South Africa, Australia and England as my favorite places to travel to mostly because I’ve visited them often and as a result I’ve established relationships and have great memories of.
Mentions: @wsavas, @jim, @coldie, @luchopoletti, @Josie, @trevorjonesart, @ryr, @carlosmarcialt, @tommy, @skygolpe, @giantswan