We finally caught up with BurgerPics, a 1/1 artist who produces work on the Avalanche blockchain. His work is poignant and has dark undertones, we feel it treads carefully between human and animal instincts beneath the surface. Without further ado, here’s his AMA..
How long have you been an artist and where did it all start?
I have been drawing for most of my life. I’ve been taking art seriously as a means of expression for about 20 years.
Are you professionally trained?
I studied Film/TV in school. Aside from a few art history classes, no, I have no formal training.
What was your first involvement in an NFT project?
About a year ago, some friends lured me onto Avalanche, with the promise of this new means of selling artwork. I first minted some old drawings on the X-chain, through Avalanche’s native wallet. It was cumbersome but pretty fun to mint a run of something, and then just pass it out on Twitter. It was a neat way to meet new accounts.
— BurgerPics 🔺 1|1 Art (@PicsBurger) February 16, 2022
Why did you choose to use the Avalanche Blockchain for your project and do you have experience with others?
I have some experience trying to list art on OpenSea. I was frustrated again and again by the gas prices on Ethereum. I see tremendous artists operating in that space, but the barrier of entry seems too high. Avalanche just *works*. It’s fast, it’s cheap. I can mint out a whole collection for a few dollars. That’s essential for an artist that hasn’t found an audience – a low barrier of entry. Avalanche is also not saturated with artists, yet. I have a chance at catching eyes on my work and carving out my niche. I also dig how little energy AVAX consumes.
Please explain your creative process?
I begin with a general idea, but I try to keep it vague. I choose a format in advance and stick to it for a while, so I don’t have to think about that. From there, it’s improvisation.
I know within a few minutes whether I’m going to keep or scrap a drawing. I just have a sense of what I like and don’t like, and I’d rather start over than try to repair something that isn’t clicking with me.
With the “BurgerPics” collection on Kalao, I try to make those quick, or work on them in clusters. I want the energy of the moment to go into each piece, what I’m feeling. I’m trying to mirror some expressions on the drawings, or some emotion in their heads, so I want them to have coherence.
I like simple, bold lines, and a few colors. I want to be able to convey something with a minimal amount of bells and whistles.
You’ve created some other interesting Projects such as Potato Dogs Pixels and Blue Bears, can you tell us a little bit about those?
I’ve minted a few art collections, on Kalao and NFTrade.
Good Meltmen is a set of ink and paper drawings I made about 10 years ago. I never really knew what to do with them, but I think about them a lot. I experimented with minting numbered editions and some 1/1s. I think the response was pretty mixed about numbered runs, so I don’t really do that right now.
Potato Dogs Pixels is a set of 50 animated GIFs, all 1/1. They’re pixel versions of another ink n’ paper set I made around the same time as Meltmen. I wanted to try out some pixel art, and I’m happy with the little weirdos.
Blue Bears is an ongoing collection that I started when Kalao’s marketplace launched. They’re digital oil paintings, they take a lot longer to make, so I don’t put them out as frequently. I like making portraits of things that have ambiguous faces, or no faces.
In terms of the name you go by is it Pics Burger? Or is that the name of the current collection?
That’s correct, previous collections did not have a “by” name, because unverified collections could not have descriptions added to them on NFTrade or Kalao.
One of the reasons I like using Kalao so much, they have made a real effort to verify artists who apply. NFTrade requires you to have a certain number of followers, a Discord server, and all these hurdles that small artists won’t be able to clear.
My artist name is “BurgerPics”, but my Twitter handle is @PicsBurger. This was initially a mistake on my part. I was looking for a handle that’s easy to remember, and also silly or irreverent. I had attempted about two dozen other names before Twitter said “yes” to BurgerPics, but only if the handle was “@PicsBurger”. I said fuck it I’ll take @PicsBurger.
You can refer to me as PicsBurger, but I’ll refer to my work as BurgerPics. It means nothing, or whatever you want it to mean.
We’re guessing you’re a full-time artist, when did this transition happen?
I am actually not a full-time artist! I’m juggling this with a day job, some side gigs, a family and two dogs.
I love to draw, so it’s not hard to motivate myself to work on this stuff in the margins where I have time. I would love to be able to do this full-time, so I’ll keep working at it and maybe someday I’ll be there.
Do you have a favourite piece of work you’ve made?
My favourite works change a lot. Right now, I’m in love with “You Like My Oven Mitt?”.
It’s a little skull-head goblin man excitedly drawing your attention to his unremarkable glove. He’s so proud of something so insignificant. I’m very satisfied with his expression, and the rough-looking brushstrokes outlining the arc he traces. It’s a whole superstructure built around something unremarkable.
Where does the idea for the art come from? We’ve noticed dark moody ideas in your work, which reminded us of Francis Bacon.
Yes, I love Francis Bacon. His work is really frightening in a familiar way. It’s like, if you’ve ever felt alienated in this world, or afraid of yourself, of your mind, or your identity. I’m just so impressed by what comes out of his work.
I’ve been honing my emotional range for a long time. I love art that serves many feelings. If it’s creepy, it should also be familiar or sad. If it’s melancholic, it should also have something funny about it. If it’s funny, maybe it should also be menacing. People are more than just one feeling, so I chafe at work that feels like it’s only going for one emotion.
We listened in to one of your recent Spaces and I think the audience was surprised by how positive you sounded, can you tell us about that reaction.
I love that, subverting expectations! I am generally a cheery person. I prefer to laugh. My art is darker and weirder though – I do have a lot of anxiety about the world, and the normal fears and worries that come with being human. I am also LGBTQ, so a big chunk of my youth was spent hiding parts of myself. I was afraid I would be found out, and that people would reject me. So I guess the shy, hopeful monster is how I felt as a teen.
I’m also just more comfortable drawing things that are imperfect, struggling, or unpleasant. These feelings are familiar/comfortable for me. But I love to laugh! I grew up watching cartoons like Ren & Stimpy, so I think grotesque shit can be really really funny.
What software do you use when creating your art?
I used to do ink on paper, but now I’m all digital. I have an iPad, and I use Procreate and a Zagg stylus. For video art, I use After Effects and Premiere.
Who or what inspires you as an artist, on-chain or IRL?
The list is really long, but some key visual touchstones from IRL: David Shrigley, Raymond Pettibon, Charles Burns, Mat Brinkman, CF, Paperrad, Mike Mignola, Junji Ito, David Lynch, Francis Bacon, Kathe Kollwitz & Die Brücke. Really, the list is much longer than that.
Music that influences my work includes Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, Fruit Bats, Grizzly Bear, Radiohead, Portishead & Eleanor Friedberger.
On-Chain artists… oh baby we’re just getting started in this space! @metamorphed_art has been a big supporter, both of my work and of the art space in AVAX. They’ve put together a great little community of artists and collectors on their Discord server. @Hodl_AVAX has been a great organizer in the space, and a friend whom I’ve been able to bounce ideas off.
I see artists on other chains whose work I really like, but we’re here to talk about Avalanche
Collaboration is one of our favourite aspects of the Avalanche scene, we picked up on a real sense of community support very early on in our experience of the space. Do you collaborate with other projects?
I am very excited to collaborate with the wonderful folks on this chain! I’m looking into project ideas, and I’m always open to suggestions.
@Crypt0R0ach and I have been trading a lot of messages about our work, and are trying out some collab ideas. @HungryShArX has a neat model of letting his holders vote on changes to future art. I may be interested in that model for a “choose your own narrative” set.
My next project will be a 1/1 set, called “Presto, Texo”. I’m working out what it will be, exactly, but one version is a surveyor’s account of the inhabitants and surroundings of a small, very weird, western town. I’ll tweet about it when I have something concrete to share.
My BurgerPics collection will continue on, indefinitely. That gallery is my “mothership”, so you can always find what I’m working on there.
If you could own any NFT what would it be?
I would love to own one of Matt Furie’s animated Rare Pepes. They’re extraordinary.
— Matt Furie (@Matt_Furie) February 22, 2022
If you could own any piece of art, what would it be?
I would love to have Klimt’s “The Kiss”. A few years ago, I got to see it in person. The way he used precious metals gives the painting this glimmer that really doesn’t translate when you’re looking at a print or digitized. It’s incredibly beautiful, and I found standing before it really emotional.
What NFT projects are you a fan of currently, and are you looking forward to anything releasing soon?
@Crypt0R0ach is working on some interesting skulls with a 90’s cyber vibe. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with that.
I’ll have a hard time sniping one, but I’d love to pick up one of @sarpsuerdas “Face Me!” 1/1’s. Both of these artists are on Avalanche.
Just transferred this piece to the winner! pic.twitter.com/pB45179UxA
— 🔺 crypt0R0ach 🔺 – 1/1 Artist (@Crypt0R0ach) March 4, 2022
We feel there is a real gap in the market for 1/1s artists, do you have any advice for budding NFT artists out there?
I think you should set up a collection under your art name, and use that as your Homebase. I found with my early projects, that they end up siloed off or easily scattered and forgotten. Get on Twitter and start following and chatting with artists you like. Reply to their posts with your thoughts on the work, start a conversation. Start posting your work, often. It doesn’t have to be something you intend to mint, just start showing people what you’re about, and what you’re interested in. Make your art, and list a set of pieces for cheap, to make it really enticing for new collectors to join your journey. Just keep making the art that makes you happy.
Make sure to follow BurgerPics on Twitter!
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