In Conversation with pxlq cover photo


In Conversation with pxlq

by Jeff Davis

pxlq is a creative coder working primarily within the Ethereum ecosystem and has a range of abstract styles featured on various platforms including OpenSea, Art Blocks, BlockArt, Beyond NFT, VIV3, and Rarible. We caught up recently to discuss generative art, crypto art, and the craziness of an Art Blocks drop.
Jeff Davis: Hey, it’s great to finally chat about your background. How did you first get into making art?
pxlq: I first got into art through pottery! I used to make hideous plates and cups as a teenager and bring them home to my parents to eat and drink with. I adopted drawing as a more affordable creative outlet and really loved just listening to music and drawing random things. I managed to find one in my old drawing book from about ten years ago that I digitized. Pretty shit but this is where I started.
pxlq_Ink Bleed.png
pxlq, Ink Bleed, n.d.
JD: You have to start somewhere! So how did you transition from drawing to digital art?
pxlq: I used to play Minecraft a lot, like all day. I would search for seeds to find worlds with big cliffs with rivers running between them. At that point I didn’t really understand how procedural generation worked, but I knew it was badass. Anyway, fast forward some years and I have a few computer science courses under my belt and I see a trailer for No Man’s Sky. This game really opened my eyes to the possibilities of generative art. Fast forward a few more years and I’m now a software developer. As a dev I spend a lot of time on Github, and I kept noticing creative coding repositories popping up on my feed. One of my favorites is Procedural Lake Villages by Anastasia Opara. Truly remarkable. But that repeated exposure to creative coding led to a realization that I could merge two things I already liked, coding and art, so I started experimenting.
pxlq, Curves.png
pxlq, Curves, n.d.
JD: And then how did you discover NFTs/crypto art?
pxlq: I’ve been in the crypto space for a while, mainly as a developer. I got involved in Ethereum in the early days and I never looked back. I was there when Punks were released. I remember thinking it was interesting, but more as another proof of concept for on-chain metadata. At the time the only real use cases that made sense to me were things like information permanence to combat government censorship. Clearly that thinking didn’t age well. Crypto art as a concept didn’t really click for me until SuperRare came around. Then I was like, oh shit, this is going to be big. I never really took myself seriously as an artist, so it wasn’t surprising when SuperRare didn’t take me seriously either. So, I decided to do it myself! I spent an entire weekend trying to mint an ERC-721 called Automaton, which was fifty deterministic simulations of cellular automaton. At the end of it I had some serious doubts regarding how I just spent the previous seventy-two hours. Luckily it was the best time spent all year!
pxlq, Dynamic Slices #0, 2020.
JD: For sure, given all the attention your work has received lately. So let’s talk Art Blocks. What was the inspiration behind Dynamic Slices?
pxlq: It’s quite a mundane origin story, but a couple things. I’m a big fan of the classic *rows of variations on the same shape* look (think Manfred Mohr). And one day I was drawing aimlessly on a pad in a meeting and I liked one of the weird circle shapes that came out of it—and I thought … hmmm, I should do that thing famous artists do with these odd looking slices. After playing around with it a bit I came up with a static version I liked. It was Erick who suggested they’d be cool with a dynamic component. Since Art Blocks really changed the game with real-time rendering, I figured it’d be a shame not to include some dynamic or interactive component. And that’s how we got from slices to dynamic slices.
JD: Then you’re ready to deploy, could you describe how you felt leading up to, during, and after the drop? How did you feel about the response to your project?
pxlq: I was nervous. I’m a big fan of your work, Jeff, and I wasn’t too confident following your big drop that had sold out so quickly. I really only expected a dozen or so to be sold initially and I figured over time I’d slowly sell the rest. I wish I had an Apple watch on during the drop, because halfway through I could literally feel my heart beating in my toes. After the drop, it was disbelief for a couple days. But I was so happy with the response from the community! I really got a kick out of how interested Dan from OpenSea was interacting with his piece. When others get excited about or interested in the things I make, it is deeply satisfying for me.
pxlq, Cyber Cities, 2021.png
pxlq, Cyber Cities, 2021.
JD: I’m a big fan of your work as well! I was very excited to see your Art Blocks release after mine. So what’s next, any new projects you’d like to share?
pxlq: I’m currently working on a new project called Cyber Cities! It’s an abstract take on a futuristic city in space. I like futuristic space-looking things so I’m really excited with how these came out! Some of them have spaceships that roam around endlessly, which really wouldn’t have been possible to include if it were not for the real-time rendering available through Art Blocks.
JD: Anything else people should know to better understand your art?
pxlq: As my tag line says, I just like to write code and make cool shit. There’s usually not a deep meaning underlying things that I make. At least not anything intentional. I think people should just look at it for what it is and hopefully they like how it looks.
JD: And what’s the best way for people to follow your work?
pxlq: You can find me on Twitter, where I post updates and have links to my works. And of course my website.
First published 17 February 2021:

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