Crypto Art is the term used to describe cryptocurrency and art coming together. Vesa Kivinen was a filmmaker and visual artist but now is a full-time Crypto artist from Finland. In this interview, he describes art as being a new form of investment through crypto using blockchain’s Cryptovoxels where you can set up a virtual gallery. As this is a very new concept of representing and investing in art, there are still issues and struggles but Vesa’s belief in virtual art and physical art is unique and different. Take a look and hear about the artistic side of crypto.
Interview Date : 11th May 2020
- Vesa Kivinen (All Interviews)
- Crypto Art
- Do not get Family and Friends Involved
- Best way to start Crypto?
- Forgotten art in Toilet
- Open the Planets Clogged Arteries
- Pyramid analogy
- Influencers to Follow
- Crypto Podcasts
- Copyright through Blockchain Technology
- Interesting and Brilliant Artists like…
- Fight for Survival and Name
- Good Crypto Movies yet to come
Vesa Kivinen (All Interviews)
Crypto Art is a new and rare type of digital artworks. Associated with unique tokens that exist on a certain blockchain, this new concept is based on the idea of “digital scarcity”. This allows artist to buy, sell and trade digital artworks as if they were physical art pieces. This is able to function on the same basis as Bitcoin or Ethereum and other crypto currencies are; Crypto Art exists in limited quantities.
My name is Vesa Kivinen and I am a crypto artist and a writer for NewsBTC.
“Art for Crypto” is the term that is used for art and the cryptocurrency space. For me, it started when I still was involved in my production company making a documentary film about the monetary system in Finland. We worked on the documentary for about a year and released it on the internet nationwide. This was back in 2011 and even then we got quite a lot of attention from people. This made me watch other documentaries about the monetary system, like for example how the monetary system was in 2006.
This made me do something innovative on my own but it was very difficult because there weren’t many decentralized options, and in a way, I felt like I was the center of failure; if I would try to do innovation or criticize the system that was already there, one can imagine how futile of an attempt that would become. The turning point came 3 years ago when I was introduced to bitcoin. I was introduced to bitcoin of what it truly is about and went down the rabbit hole completely. When I understood the possible options of its integration even with art, it leads me to close my galleries and went in a completely different direction in becoming a full-time crypto artist.
We created the gallery in a Cryptovoxels in the shape of the pyramid of the Great Pyramid of Giza together with my friend Ogar. It is a golden floating pyramid with a couple of floors that we have made. You can take a look at my art pieces that have been put up for the exhibition.
The future of crypto art is going to be absolutely beautiful. Right now we are definitely entering a stage where we are waiting for the bull run. I do think that there is a disproportion of a number of artists in the space in conjunction with a number of collectors. The collectors are slowly coming in the NFT world and are starting to understand many problems with physical art pieces of what crypto solves here. Nevertheless, there is a big cognitive dissonance where many people have in crypto which is that they might be full-on in Ethereum and no other platform.
So, if someone brings them an argument saying “Ethereum it’s not really money because it’s not gold”, that is the exact same logic that they would use for the argument for why digital art should have value. Essentially, with the same solution on Ethereum now you can assign value in an ethereal way to a JPEG image. It’s just very counter-intuitive, and we have a history with computing where we mostly have seen in very good replicating many of things and be fast in doing so. It takes a while to start to reconfigure your own internal banking that is all of a sudden a JPEG image, and that can become very scarce. It just takes a little time just like anything else does.
I originally made 6 art pieces with the Pakistani Bollywood Actress Veena Malik. This was an art piece that was created after our project together as I got so much material. Now, one of the pieces that you will see when you come inside the pyramid is an art piece called The Universal Invitation at the entrance lot. As the name says, I wanted the people to feel like this pyramid voxel is a universal invitation for everyone.
My The most famous piece until now is probably The Beginning of a New Era which I created in the Veena Malik Project. Veena Malik is a Bollywood actress and she marched to the beat of her own drum. I was very inspired by her story when we got to know each other back in 2011. That is the time when I body-painted her and we made the beautiful 6 art pieces together. The launch of the art pieces became a very controversial story because she is Pakistani and Muslim, and she was going to appear in these body paintings. It does sound a little greasy to begin with, but once you see the actual art pieces, even in the part of conservative Pakistan, they understood that this was a bridge-building project as opposed to pouring gasoline over an already flaming fire. When we released it, the most important part of it for me was that we changed a little of the world.
It was a gesture that never had been done before that moment, and appropriately so news channels tuned in and asked Veena to appear on different TV channels like the BBC World where big screens of the art pieces were projected on. We conservatively estimated that through the news about Veena and this project reached about 300 million people (excluding how viral went on the internet).
I was very flattered, and I am now waiting for the opportunity to discover the next person that I might do a similar project with. Next time, perhaps it could be a Japanese star with whom I could marry together the same process as we did together with Veena. That is what I am here; to discover the pressure points of human evolution, and help to bring the art that is boiling underneath to the surface. I think that with the beautiful platform that crypto has opened up for this community, we are able to do it.
There are no pro-Wall Street artists, and there are no Anti-Bitcoin Artists either. All the artists in the space are pro-crypto, and I cannot think of another era in human history where you would have this unison voice of artists from a community where they are so opinionated and diverse in their foundations. I think that the crypto community has woken up to the potential of crypto, but when it comes to art and artist, they are still not aware of what this crypto art community truly is capable of. I think all of us who are in crypto and come here, do have many ideologies and desires in common,we are here for mass adoption. No matter what your talent is, or how you want to share your message, every voice is important and that’s what is uniting us here the crypto community, except for Nouriel Roubini who seems to be against the whole thing but there will always those kinds of people too.
When I truly got into crypto 3 years ago I could not sleep for 4 months. I went down the rabbit hole in such a way that I eventually had to start taking sleeping pills. I knew that I had to understand everything about crypto and everything relating to it immediately. However, as many may know, it is a lot of information to take in. Now, after 3 years, I am feeling quite comfortable but it did take a lot to get here. The red-eye represents that rabbit hole in the shape of a spiral that I never came out of.
When I became acquainted with Tom Vays, he became a collector of mine. Last year, at the CC4 here in London he collected the last art piece of the Fort and Flip pieces. This lead to him commission me in creating “Selling Banks Their Fat Asses Back” for him. He has a wristwatch that I think he paid 4 or 5 bitcoin for back in the day when the watch’s value in the real world was 400 to 500 dollars. However, now those bitcoins are worth much so and so he was pissed. That is the fate of pioneers; they have to part from bitcoin for very little sometimes in order to keep the whole market alive. So if an art piece like this is worth 1 BTC and once that art piece has sold out, you cannot get that commercially for less than 1 BTC from me when if they are sold out. Hence, if you have one art piece, it would be insane to sell it for 1 BTC again later on. You might ask for 3 BTC or even 10, and that is the beauty of it. Artists around the globe do the best they can to be remembered from his era. This is why a process like the Veena Malik process and all the other art pieces show the value of my art and hopefully give my name a reputation that can be remembered for the next generations to come. My art pieces are in the form of stable art and potentially going to go for a lot more in terms of their value in the future. Thus, people might make a lot more money out of these art pieces in the form of investing in some bitcoin. These are also is backed up by real assets, that are very much part of the blockchain. So I try to mix all of these things into a delicious soup to be enjoyed by thousands of people.
Do not get Family and Friends Involved
I had a friend who came in contact a few days ago when bitcoin had a price pop again. He said, “ I want to get in, can you invest for me?” Absolutely not! First of all, you should watch documentaries to start with to understand what this industry is about and what you are doing. If someone says “I can hold your money for you and make it grow infinitely”, stay away from those people. You know if you just want to get it, just open an account and invest in some bitcoin. Please try to figure out how to get it off online as well as learning about hot and cold wallets. I hope you won’t put your money into something that you don’t understand and do not give responsibility to friends or family, or anybody. How I use my bitcoin is a strategy which is pretty much the same now as it was when I first came in; I sell the art via crypto. I don’t invest money into the coins, I have collected a few via someone’s suggestion, and I have said done it early in the past, but that was it.
Best way to start Crypto?
Andreas Antonopoulos was the one who introduced me to this space in the best possible way. I thank him from the bottom of my heart for guiding me and making me understand the propaganda point of view that is all around us and illustrating what it really is about and how important decentralized cryptocurrency has become. Even the so-called first nations are now getting into a lot of trouble, especially during the on-going coronavirus situation where we are watching banks going crazy with money printing. This coronavirus has in a sense caused the perfect storm for observing what is going to happen to our fiat currency system altogether. I cannot imagine how hopeless I would feel if bitcoin and crypto wouldn’t be here today. So this hope is the light towards the future, something to build towards. It also is a way for an artist to be positive, and a way for someone in search of the truth of the world to go and find it. These are matters that are important to me personally, and I am sure that many other crypto artists and other critical thinkers in the crypto community do feel the same way.
Blood on the Podcast Floor
Shout out to the Bad Crypto Podcast team! They have been an important part of my development when I first got into crypto. I started listening to them when I first got it, and we have become friends along the way, but we really bonded through an art piece project called “Blood on the podcast floor”. I wanted to make something that wasn’t so serious and fun for a change, as they’re already are so many of these art pieces like the Veena Malik project or the Invisibility project which can be quite heavy in a way because of the controversial subject matters. I made the Blood on the Podcast Floor piece representing these guys as the king of hell of podcasts. In the art piece, there is a Johnny Depp story in, and things like pop culture references.
This group and I, we were originally introduced to each other by Adam Williams. This was at the commission by the World Cryptocoin were first had our mission together with the MC and the artists doing a presentation together during the live podcast. At the end of the live panel conference, we got signatures of many big and known names from the crypto community. People like Maxine Ryan, Charlie Lee, and so many others signed the art piece. We decided to give this signed piece away for charity. Thus, we are trying to raise 1 million dollars and when someone buys the actual physical art piece, that money will go to the Houston Women’s shelter in Texas. This shelter has been in operation as a charity for 14 years providing shelter for women and children, and now even for men, in cases of domestic violence, etc. Therefore, we are attempting to make the most expensive crypto art piece that I ever have made.
Forgotten art in Toilet
All of these names that have been signed which you can see on the piece is people who don’t really get along at all in real life. Nevertheless, we were able to have an all united group through crypto in trying to do something good for the world. I have admitted though, I no longer have that art piece in my possession because I am a very forgetful person. On one occasion I even forgot an art piece in the toilet at the Heathrow Airport. After that incident, I just got nightmare scenarios thinking “if I lose this art piece now, no one is going to believe me. Everyone is going to think that I sold it under the counter and I am going to lose my reputation!“ So I gave it away to a third party to have this piece in custody right now. However, the price for putting it into custody is that I cannot ask for any more signatures.
Later on, a female crypto influencer suggested that I would gather more signatures digitally. Because the actual origin of that art piece is a digital file. When the digital file is completed, it gets printed once and painted in order to create the actual physical art piece, and that will be it. I am going to include the digital version into the physical version for the buyer, but until that happens I am going requesting other crypto influencers and stars in the crypto space to digitally sign it and keep the ball running. we want to get several hundreds of signatures on to this piece and make crypto history. No one will ever be able to do this again on this scale. I am sure that there will be many who will mimic this process but I doubt that they will get to the same scope as we are going to.
Because the actual origin of that art piece is a digital file. When the digital file is completed, it gets printed once and painted in order to create the actual physical art piece, and that will be it. I am going to include the digital version into the physical version for the buyer, but until that happens I am going requesting other crypto influencers and stars in the crypto space to digitally sign it and keep the ball running. we want to get several hundreds of signatures on to this piece and make crypto history. No one will ever be able to do this again on this scale. I am sure that there will be many who will mimic this process but I doubt that they will get to the same scope as we are going to.
This piece was made for Delight Coin Foundation. This was a very cool moment for me as it was the first time I received the payment in BTC from the buyer. It did take me profusely 3 to 4 months to create this piece to bring all the content matter into the picture. The illustration of the old system of the past hundred years of history of the monetary system in the US. Especially for this piece, there is a documentary about it inside of this pyramid and on my youtube channel. It tells the story of what a healthy and unhealthy hierarchy is and how we can make this world a little better by balancing the centralized system with the decentralized system.
Open the Planets Clogged Arteries
I want to express that I think the central bank altogether and the monetary system has come to a point of corruption that one cannot ignore anymore. Metaphorically, if money is the blood that goes across the planet, it is the veins of how energy flows throughout it, but it’s gotten clogged, that’s how corrupt it has become. Despite this, we can say that Crypto is opening the arteries again. It is providing a lot of hope for so many people who don’t even have access to banks at all in the world
The concept of cryptocurrency, I suppose is something that when the lights come on, you will adopt it because it works no matter how little you understand of the system or about the history of money. Let’s say you are a high net worth individual, and you have to transfer your wealth across the country, you can have these massive transfers of bitcoin across borders and there is only a 13 cent or so of a service fee for whatever big amount of money. This information would be very relevant for you when you are trying to do such transactions. As soon as people realize just how badly the world is being ruled by some third parties who were nothing but glorified accountants abusing power. In my humble opinion, the time has come for us to cleanse a bunch of parasites out of the clogged veins of the planet, and open up the arteries so we don’t have a heart attack. This applies to the big power countries of the world and Japan is no exception either.
I have traveled a lot throughout my life. I was in Japan at the age of 11 years old, and I have been looking for an opportunity to go back to Japan because I love the culture, all of its intricacies and its weirdness as well. Japan is like an artist’s mind; somethings are very orderly and concise, and then there is a bunch of really weird stuff.
“I am Satoshi Nakamoto” art piece is one which I would love to present in Japan one day. I did call this “I am Satoshi Nakamoto” and obviously I am not throwing my head into the stupid game of saying that I would be Satoshi Nakamoto. However, this was the first art piece I created when I first entered crypto art. Back then, the pressing questions were “who is Satoshi?” and it still is. So I flipped it around and instead asked the question “What is truly important about that question?”. This technique is something we call “re-framing” in NLP. I concluded that it is the question “how am I Satoshi Nakamoto” that should be questioned. That is why you see through the hoodie into the world that is interconnected right now in the art piece. If you ask “how am I Satoshi Nakamoto” utilizing this technology, it’s will be a hundred times more productive for your life, and of course, you will not be caught up in any controversies of a claiming to be him? her? or them? whatever it is. Certainly when I ask myself “how can I utilize this technology? how is it important? what can I share about it to the world?”, that is when things make more sense and I can be more productive in initiating what I want to do from now on.
The Soldier of Fortune has the cutest puppy eyes that I could find as bitcoin eyes and you can see the piece as a repainted version, so it gets printed on to this 2mx1m canvas. Then I limited its number in the physical world to 3 pieces only, so only 3 pieces get painted. It is stable art in a way that the price of it is tied to bitcoin, and the price of it is 1 bitcoin. It will be 1 bitcoin now, in 10 years as well so you can imagine what it may become in the future. The logic of it is that I found myself trying to give many reasons to the people in the crypto space of what makes art valuable, and why it is an investment rather than something nice on your wall. You may invest some of your extra money into crypto art because you may think it is cool to be in crypto, but for some of us who have been artists for 20 years professionally, it’s not as cool. We have been put on the same line with a lot of things because there is an overwhelming amount of artists in the space right now and we come from very different points of art. Essentially if I would flip it around to be stable art, then the logic starts to make sense to the people in the whole community. It is easier to understand it because it is similar to the logic of stable coins.
You will come on a superficial level to see the space that we build. When you go through the statues, you will discover some secrets inside the pyramids, and we have laced the whole pyramid with secrets just like the real pyramids have deep secrets. I think that is the thing about crypto as well. You cannot treat it as fast food, and just come in like a friend mine whom I told “you have to do your research”, and she said, “well I don’t really want to invest myself in crypto, but I just want to come along the ride”.
There is an analogy here for crypto artists as well. I see a lot of artists that are coming in, and they take a photograph that they have not taken themselves and manipulate it through a photoshop app in like 30 min with no skill at all. This is the process of someone stealing others’ work, and they mint it on a platform and utilize the replication of that person’s work who is being ripped off into that image as well as the photographer. Then they put it up as original work in a way it makes people recognize it, just like Andy Warhol made a bunch of portraits of Marilyn Monroe. For art collectors here, I would say “this is why the old legacy art world system got corrupted to the absolute most corrupt state it could ever be now, and the crypto art place is where we are starting everything from anew”. The galleries aren’t here, all these unnecessary things that had been part of the old legacies are not in this space, but they are starting to emerge and look into this see if they can make money off this as well or not. Despite this, the crypto art community consists of artists who are sharing this space in between each other and there are very little standards.
Nevertheless, we also have to consider the artists who around 70 years old and who have had a career they have made millions of dollars of, and are on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. So in terms of quality and career, what you need to take into consideration is what that artist has done and how visible they are, or how progressive their careers are to see if the NFT or their art pieces have value. Is it only is asking for an insane price, or is it a steal for 100 dollars? You don’t have a lot of sophistication that has come into this space yet, and sometimes for people like me, it is a little frustrating. However, it is also a beautiful opportunity at the same time as a lot of names are have been recognized now, much like in art altogether just like a mystery; all of a sudden something which I would think is just stupid might be worth an insane amount of money and that’s just how it works. I am not being an art depressor here, but it’s tricky. I am trying to make the analogy that, when you are looking into investing in a coin or even managing bitcoin, it’s something that you have to take some time for. There are no shortcuts in the crypto art scene either, but you can try to make wise decisions. You have to learn who the names are, but luckily there are so many artists emerging now, and the community is still very small. Many crypto artworks will have a value 10 times the number of people are going to pay for at the present, and so the number of collectors will also increase exponentially. A while ago, there was this a CEO of a company in America who shared a post saying “I am ready to get a crypto art piece for my wall. All the artists please share your art” I sent him a DM afterward and asked “were you able to decide?“ he replied, “no, I am overwhelmed”. He received 200+ messages from different artists sharing all their art pieces and websites etc. So the guy just went down into complete shutdown. It is like “how do you deal with so many artists starting to spam your whole inbox?!” in a way, and someone who has not invested in that space, they need to learn and understand it plus make some adjustments to what they have been used to till now.
Influencers to Follow
There are several people who I follow for a variety of reasons, but I think the shining example of all would be Andreas Antonopoulos. That keeps coming back when I think of things, it truly operates with the sense of integrity that has been proven time and time again. So I am hesitant to say other names in this kind of content. For someone who is emerging into the crypto space now, that is the person who I would direct them to so they really can get a good understanding of it. Also, to get knowledge about the anti central system point of view and of what it truly means. So, it would be very smart to listen to Andreas for the first couple of months.
This art piece represents the artist awakening within me when I was a teenager. There was the artist Pink Floyd, and bands like Rush, Kingston Wall that inspired me. Shout out to Kingston Wall, one of the best bands to come from Finland. In this picture, you can see a pyramid shape inside of it. I wanted to contemplate the dark side of it with the white side. There was a band called LightBoxer and part of that band was the is a legendary Finnish guitarist called Aki who was part of it. We became friends through some other musicians back home and this became their album cover for their debut album which is amazing. Their music does not have any lyrics, but it certainly has the feel of being the light side of the world.
Then talking about podcasts, the Bad Crypto podcast is one, The Pomp Podcast with Anthony Pompliano, and shout out to Basic Crypto Podcast who gave me a shoot to be on their show very early on. Kenn Bosak is another one, check out Andreas as well on his podcast, and lastly, Crypto Stash who does a really good with illustrative videos of platforms and goes into comparing platforms as well.
Copyright through Blockchain Technology
Copyright with blockchain technology is something I have thought about that a lot, but it is a difficult matter altogether. In one way crypto is the last bastion of freedom truly. I think it is one of the most exclusive systems that we have in terms of ideas. It is very much gone down the root of only one opinion can be in existence, but if you utilize art in a certain kind of way, it does not only have to be only one opinion. For example, there is this artist in Finland who does a lot of art via logos. He takes international company logos and mashes them into being anti that company. He uses it for anti-capitalism purposes, and he has been sued numerous times. However, he always wins because he is protected by the legislation here through freedom of expression. Another example is Cole D? He presented his art where you can see that he likes Edward Snowden and he is taking his image, putting it together in 3D in such a way that it is obvious that the art is a contribution to the subject matter and Edward Snowden. I would struggle to believe that anyone would go after him for copyright because it’s a contribution to the issue.
the copyright issues will have to be negotiated, something that you will have to take case by case, but that is also insane as no one has the time to take such issues case by case. Especially now when there are more and more people coming into the platform every day. I think that in the platforms where Freedom of Speech wars are going on, we will go into the copyright issues of the future with it. Some of these will be moderated by fights and that will be tricky because there will be a lot of injustices happening. On the other hand, many of really crude rip-offs cannot survive. I am a firm believer of balance, and I think the universe is a big howling balancing machine in which we are a small number of ants that someone barely can see, but the truth of the whole is to save our lives, just like yin-yang, the good and bad keep have to grow in balance. Similarly, I do agree that crypto is the light and hope for the world, but unless you have been scammed once or twice or you have seen some really bad incidents, then you haven’t fully entered crypto.
Interesting and Brilliant Artists like…
When I first got in three years ago, there very few crypto artists. There was Crypto Graffiti, Cryptokitties was also just starting. Trevor Jones got here almost the same time as when I started.
Tom Badley does interesting art and he has worked for the central banks before actually designing money that both of us have used. He knows how to design money real cash, so he makes portraits of people like John McAfee and Jack Dorsey, and puts them all in his money art. Then he mints it as an NFT as well as prints them as currencies. He has a very unique skill set.
Josie Bellini comes from an interesting point of view as well. A self-educated woman who also comes from the banking system, so she understands the system. She turns all of her knowledge of banking system concepts and is learning how to make it into art. Her work is far more interesting than a lot of art that I see in the legacy art world because it certainly comes from a point of authentic understanding of what that system is. So there are so many different people who are doing interesting stuff here, it’s just a joy to watch it grow.
Fight for Survival and Name
Things can get a little vicious as gangs have formed due to money and greed as there is not a fair share for everybody in the crypto artist platform. It is one of those things people mistakenly credit all to capitalism, but it is a much older problem. Today we have Cryptovoxels, Blockchain Art exchange, SuperRare, KnownOrigin, and all these platforms are not only competing for dominance but survival. Some of them have invested millions of dollars for this pioneering initiative to come to light and be the next google for art. So the incentive of playing dirty, especially behind the scenes, is already getting there even for artists. If you go to the street and ask someone randomly if they can name some artists from the previous century, they will probably say something like “Picasso” and maybe a couple more but then they will start to struggle.
I am very aware of this and I try to play this game fairly. I acknowledge sometimes very good artists may do something before me and I may get pissed, but I swallow it and get back into the ring. In that way, I do my fights with my art. However, it is also a natural incentive that if you don’t have much art or creativity to become a contender, then you are going to try and utilize other ways to try to lead yourself into space.
Good Crypto Movies yet to come
I certainly would be interested in seeing some good content movies about crypto. But so far, I have not seen any movie of television series taking up this theme. In the future, if something would emerge I would love to play a part as I was a filmmaker for 10 years before becoming an artist. I when to film school and had my production so the film-making process is something I am very familiar with. However, I haven’t seen anything and am stuck with the documentaries; they are the most accurate representations. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to what the future may bring.
Interviewer , Editor : Lina Kamada
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