by Liam J Kelly
It is becoming more and more common to find the art world adapting to technological changes. From Instagram posts to new communication channels relaying exhibition information; creativity and high-tech never seem far apart.
Thus it comes as no surprise to hear about the new ways in which the art world is earning its profits through cryptocurrency.
In an interview on December 4, 2017, BTCMANAGER spoke with pixel artist Mark Bern about working in this sector. More importantly, we discuss how he left the Dotcom crash in the early 2000’s to accepting bitcoin for his most recent art collection. In between we meet an innovative entrepreneur looking for new ways to express his vision of the modern era.
Could you tell us a bit about your entry into the art world? It seems rather unconventional considering your background as an internet entrepreneur. But, of course, perhaps I’m wrong.
I had quite an unorthodox journey into the art world. For years I was creating art prints for myself on my computer. A few years ago, I had a few friends over who were constantly complimenting my work without realizing it was created by me. After the support of several friends in the art world, I decided to send a few of my pieces to an art event. My work was an instant hit so I started my career as a pixel artist.
What are the programs or tools that you typically experiment with in order to create your pieces?
There are several working steps to take. From the empty screen to the final art piece, it can take a few days up to a few weeks. My artworks use several digital processes to create abstract forms resembling pixelated results.
Could you explain a little bit the stages leading up to the release of your first art collection “Marbella”?
Back in the ’90’s as a teenager I used a computer to start my own internet company at the age of 19. I was surrounded by geeks, hackers and other innovators in the field of information technology. Back then computers were not really part of our lives and I was fascinated to create art with new electronic tools.
I have been keeping my pixel art to myself for the past 20+ years. I was not really too keen on showing my artwork off to the public, as I do what I do for the simple joy of it. I first began showing my work in 2013. Since then I received a lot of coverage from various media outlets that find his work to be something fascinating. Many art critics have tried to find the perfect name for my work and to conceptualize my style, from “Abstract Pixelism” to “New Cubism.”
When did you first think to sell some of your pieces for bitcoin?
I personally got in touch with bitcoin in 2012 and already back then saw the huge impact crypto assets will have on economy and society. So selling my own art in exchange for bitcoin made really sense.
Do you think that accepting bitcoin for the sale of some of your work has been advantageous? In what ways?
Definitely and I realized that when an art collector from Australia wanted to buy art pieces using traditional bank check sent via postal mail to Switzerland. It took weeks and was extremely expensive so by switching to bitcoin the whole process was far more convenient and faster.
In regards to the the synergy between crypto and the art world, more museums are adopting new technologies. Do you think this is a trend that will change the way the art world operates?
From Photoshop to Instagram filters, it seems as if everyone these days can call themselves an artist. Modern technology and the digital world has certainly expanded the potential of creativity. But the ownership of computers does not make us all artists, just as purchasing paintbrushes does not make anyone the next Michelangelo. For me a pixel is the basis of everything in the digital world. If you look into the modern world, you will notice everything is a pixel. Now we don’t see it with great technology, like smartphones and LED screens, but to me, the simple pixel, the square at the end is still the basis of everything in the world.
Would you consider accepting other types of cryptocurrencies for your work?
As someone who worked and lived in the midst of the dot com bubble, do you notice any similarities in the current bitcoin craze? Any differences?
There are definitely some similarities especially when it comes to ICOs. Besides that I’m personally very convinced that cryptoassets and the tokenization of real-world assets will change the world completely. And this will happen much faster than during the first digital revolution in the 2000’s.