“I would rather create art about losers and give them a spotlight.” Georgie Miller sits down with Taya Ferdinand to explore the message behind the melancholy and the role of roosters in Taya's digital paintings, and how web3 gave her an opportunity that she couldn't turn down.
Upon first look, viewers of Taya Ferdinand’s work tend to find themselves amidst a frenzy of feelings. The deep hues, whimsical strokes, and soulfully grounding subjects spark nostalgia, intrigue, sadness, and calm in a few quick glances. The Ukrainian-born artist's digital paintings, lying at the intersection of folklore and spirituality, are just that.
“Many pieces show my own emotions at that given time,” Ferdinand says of her moody portraits. With a unique style blending magical realism and a sharp perspective on colour and light, Taya creates moving snapshots meant to capture the emotions of a single moment in each of her digital paintings.
Growing up alongside farm animals in the Ukrainian countryside and surrounded by rural folklore, Taya developed a deep, almost mystic, kinship with the natural world portrayed in her art. Farm animals are a frequent subject; her Chicken Collective explores the lives of chickens and their perspective of the world.
This collection of 30 digital portraits, set to music with glittering animations, illustrates the often forgotten animal of global culture. “Before creating Chicken Collective, I already had many artworks depicting them, and I was getting messages from people asking, “why chickens?” They are just farm animals and considered ‘losers’, so I thought, “I would rather create art about losers and give them a spotlight. They deserve to be respected, especially after how much they are treated as meat and seen as cowardly birds.”
The variation of colour and light across the same subject speaks to Taya’s ability to capture a different set of sentiments in each iteration of the series. “I want to transfer the viewer into another universe, to evoke lost memories of childhood and the feeling of magic that we have forgotten as we became adults. Our inner child is still hidden somewhere inside us.”
Before diving fully into NFTs last May, Taya worked as a graphic designer in Berlin. “Before web3, I never thought about being a full-time digital artist. Digital art and artists were used as instruments in achieving goals by other companies, like the game industry, or magazines.”
She quickly found that her illustrative talents and unique artistic voice had a natural home within the cryptoart community. Taya's paintings personify her animal subjects and illustrate their emotional significance, often portraying them in a nurturing light, providing comfort or sharing an emotional scene, producing a powerful statement on the relationship between nature and animals.
“I’m always trying new things which I would probably never do in the world without web3”
— Taya Ferdinand
“The possibilities of digital art are very wide, so I’m always trying new things which I would probably never do in the world without web3,” she says. Taya’s first foray into web3 came with her collection Tamed. Taking inspiration from animal folklore to ruminate on the “view of domestic animals in a non-consuming way and the spiritual connection they build with humans,” the series evokes the influence that animals have on our lives, their significance, and their role helping us connect with nature.
Woman and a rooster is the first of the Tamed collection and Taya’s earliest minted artwork. Inspired by voodoo culture, the painting features a seated woman with a patterned head tie, holding a rooster on her lap. The woman is adorned with light face paint and her eyes are closed, reflecting the woman’s introspective moment in solitude as she faces away from the viewer. Centred in the painting is the rooster, eye-catching and colourful, indicative, even in these deep moments of introspection, of the significance of the animal to human lives. Often used as a sacrifice in voodoo ceremonies of worship, the connection between the rooster and the woman presents simultaneous emotions of new beginnings and past tribulations.
With a signature style, Taya nonetheless experiments broadly across her medium to find the visual complement of every feeling and whim in her work. Taya’s Dreams collection, a two-painting series, explores the soul-touching emotion of human connection and spirituality within the female body. A study of the mystery of dreams and the mystical world of the subconscious mind, they are painted with a stark contrast of light and shadows, each illustrating a sleeping woman, surrounded by sweeping colour, half-naked. The two subjects give emotions of vulnerability, of teetering the line between euphoria and terror.
Taya’s captivating style and impassioned paintings lends itself to digital creatorship that could not be expressed without NFTs. “Now, the artist has a chance to be heard on their own,” she says. “This was the main attraction for me: freedom of creating and sharing your art with the whole world, and also the possibility to make a living from it.”
With several new ideas in the works, including incorporating her own compositions into her paintings, Taya is gaining accolades in the diverse cryptoart movement, exhibiting how mediums enabled by web3 technologies can transcend the digital and give voice to the deep-rooted moments and emotions felt by the viewer. “I’m very excited about what the future will bring.”
Yat Siu has a completely different vision for the metaverse to almost everyone else. And at the helm of an investment portfolio worth $5 billion, his perspective is as important as it is empowering.
The blockchain ecosystem is built on decentralisation, and a new form of brands are getting built on top. Tyler Scharf explores the emergence of decentralised ‘headless’ brands, how traditional brands like adidas and Nike are getting involved, and whether this new model of branding is future or fad.