After graduating from a traditional art school, neurocolor began to create art that went against everything he had learnt there. But he discovered that there wasn’t a market for it. That was before he discovered NFTs. The Mexican artist tells Nina Knaack about finding unexplored relations between visual styles, and why web3 is the perfect place for avant-garde art to thrive and grow.
neurocolor is best known for his futuristic glitch paintings, but his creative journey started with a much simpler medium. Having learned to draw at a very young age, the Mexican artist quips that he could illustrate before he could walk. Instead of playing with toys, neurocolor would create cartoons, and it wasn’t too many years later before he was bringing them to life with Photoshop. “I remember feeling captivated by the unique visual languages I saw on my computer screen, and the digital aesthetic became a big source of fascination,” he recalls.
Studying visual arts at university was a natural choice, but he gradually felt more and more constrained by the academic institution. “I was being taught based on the idea that traditional art forms and institutionally validated movements were the only ones with aesthetic depth,” he tells me. “While I did acquire proper painting training, there was not much regard for digital research.” neurocolor continued to produce “traditional” artwork until he graduated, but deep down he had grown weary of conventional painting.
“Cryptoart is the perfect movement for this type of art to thrive and grow.”
Freed from the creative shackles of the academy, neurocolor began to experiment with less traditional techniques. Little did he realise that the shift would have implications on his ability to sell. Finding a gallery in Mexico that appreciated his own, unique style, which consisted of vibrant, cartoonish elements, and “noisy” images was difficult. “I was experimenting with glitch art on my computer, and I even started to sell my personal art as merchandise and fine quality prints online,” he recalls, noting that social media, namely Instagram and Twitter, as for many artists, was a particularly promising avenue. However, it was around this time that neurocolor discovered KnownOrigin, the NFT marketplace later acquired by eBay in June 2022. “I immediately knew that this was a game changer,” he says.
This was back in 2019, before NFTs had broken through web3’s collective imagination, let alone the world’s. But it still comprised the most enthusiastic audience that neurocolor had ever found for his art. “It was a revelation to be able to connect with an audience who appreciated the aesthetic ideas I’ve been exploring over the years,” he explains.
Having grown up in the age of the internet, neurocolor’s style is heavily influenced by video games, science fiction, and Japanese anime. “I have always been fascinated by cyberpunk films, science fiction, mecha animes, and video games,” he says. Although he had produced digital art as a side activity earlier in his career, due to concerns about making a living, he found that web3 finally offered him the opportunity to return to his passion. “I found my niche and a whole new environment. Cryptoart is the perfect movement for this type of art to thrive and grow.”
While neurocolor has a bold online persona, he keeps most details about his personal life private. Nevertheless, he tells me that much of his work, and his moniker, is influenced by his younger years spent at raves and experimenting with psychedelics. The bizarre hallucinations and lucid dreams they inspired sparked a fascination with perception and the workings of the brain. Artistically, neurocolor adopted the perspective that every colour is just a form of interpretation and a means of navigating the world. Having traversed this hallucinatory world of technicolour and its relationship with the brain, he felt that ‘neurocolor’ was a fitting name under which he could release his work.
Blending his traditional teachings with digital techniques, neurocolor has developed a unique style that lets the digital medium speak for itself. His artistic vision focuses on creating an aesthetic that pushes into new territory. “By finding relations between different visual styles and elements, I attempt to produce something that moves in unexplored aesthetic terrains,” he explains.
neurocolor begins his creative process by creating various assets, ranging from 3D sculptures to scans of his paintings. He then blends them together, placing a strong emphasis on composition, mixing styles, movements, and forms into a digital collage. Cyberpunk, vaporwave, generative art, and typography are amongst his main interests. “The resulting art form is an unexpected connection between previously unrelated elements, in contrast to the traditional approach of starting with a concept and then creating art around it,” he explains.
“I attempt to produce something that moves in unexplored aesthetic terrains.”
Indeed, any attempt to create a cohesive list of neurocolor’s influences is futile. He tells me of his fascination with books about culture and anthropology, particularly new theories which suggest that civilisation is much older than previously thought, and tales of magic and the ancients, which contributes to the imaginative scope of his kaleidoscopic imagery. “I like to think of my works as a form of visual poetry, creating specific sensations and vibes that escape the reach of reason and words,” he says.
neurocolor’s creative process has undergone a significant transformation since he began minting art on the blockchain. “Initially, my creative process was a hybrid one, and I would create paintings, take pictures of them, digitally glitch them, and then make paintings again based on the manipulated image,” he explains. Prompted to follow up on the economic success that came with his early mints, he experimented with other programmes, like animation, to do things differently.
With a style in which so many aspects are subject to change, the one thing that will always remain constant in neurocolor’s work is experimentation. Constant discovery, alongside self-discipline, are critical for an artist, he says. “The sword always has a double edge. If you’re successful, it’s easy to become complacent. I want to avoid being driven by market forces and keep on prioritising making new and exciting art.”
“It was a revelation to be able to connect with an audience who appreciated the aesthetic ideas I’ve been exploring over the years.”
Nina is passionate about telling the stories of artists and documenting their artistic processes, so that they can focus on creating. She’s written for a range of cultural magazines in the Netherlands, her homeland, including 3voor12 and the Groninger Museum. Her work as a contemporary art historian has seen her work at Museum Voorlinden, the Van Gogh Museum, and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Today, her main and ever-increasing focus is on the digital art world, and she is fascinated by the endless possibilities of web3 and how crypto artists are pushing the boundaries of creating without gatekeepers.
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