Some artists vary their styles but stick with the same medium. Others venture into different mediums, tools and fields. However, only a few are able to be highly skilled in several distinct areas. Among these few, is Monika, our guest for today’s interview. From cakes to abstract art, from knitting to AI, Monika has found a way to express herself almost limitless.
Monika, we at ArtPacks love your art? Of course we do, but we’re also looking forward to a bite of the delicious pastries you make as well! We’re curious about how your mind works. What came first, art through food or abstract art? Thank you for talking to us.
Hello! So, for the first 10 years of my life, I lived and worked abroad from Austria to the UK to the Emirates (UAE) to New Zealand, and briefly India, back again to the UK, until I “settled down” in Germany.
During the time switching places and countries, I painted a lot, but without a steady surrounding and people around me, I stored everything away, creating what I felt I wanted and needed to create to cope with good and bad emotions and what was going on around me.
I changed jobs several times and I am currently working as a “practice manager” for a small dermatology clinic. Whenever we were invited to parties or venues, I brought cake, and I started decorating it in great detail until it was pointed out that I probably should not continue to do it for free, so I started my own small business on the side decorating cakes.
Even though cooking and traditional art require discipline and talent, they’re quite distinct crafts. Especially pastries and desserts, that allow no mistakes and follow strict rules. Most people would say it’s the opposite to abstract art. Do you agree? Do you see order in your abstraction?
Thank you for the interesting question: as I mentioned above, I first created the cakes to bring them to parties and venues, and I could let my creativity run free. When I started the cake business on the side, I had to fulfill the customers’ wishes. This led me to explore things I maybe would not otherwise and pushed my boundaries, but on the other hand, it limited the level of creative freedom severely. Of course, I had returning customers who gave me a rough theme or said “do what you want to do, we will love it”, and these were sure my best creations, but still: the cake had to be ready on a certain day, and I had to create it basically “à la minute” to keep it fresh.
With my paintings, it’s “me time”: I do not create for others, I do not create pieces with a hyped theme just to be part of something, I only create for myself… when I want to, how I want to, and I take how long I need to.
You’re currently venturing into AI Art. Do you use only words to create or do you mix your own art and see what comes out?
I have long enjoyed AI art “from afar”: as I described before, I enjoy the process of creating, and feeling the paint brush in my hand, seeing the colors, being able to touch them, to mix them, to mess around with them at times is a vital part of it.
At the same time, I saw AI art soar, and I welcomed it, even though it did not feel right for me at first.
While learning and evolving in my physical based art, I noticed some limits and boundaries I was not able to cross, no matter how hard I tried, so I used AI first just to mix it with my physical based abstract art (see “Art is a Window to the Soul”) after previously having mixed photo elements with it (see “What does the Future hodl?”), and after a longer time going back and learning and experimenting, I started a small collection of AI art, but made sure either the output still feels it is in the “Monika style”.
When experimenting with AI, I created a lot of amazing images, most of them showed me the possibilities, and I worked hard on some, but I could never sell them as “my art”. The emotions and feelings need to be right, so I will continue to either mix AI with my paintings or create some “Monika style” pieces with AI, but I will never lay down my paint brush nor turn my back to the easel with the canvas and acrylics.
You have a long background as a traditional painter, cook, cake designer, artisan and even dressmaker. Now your work is live on the blockchain, where the physical realm means very little. Was it easy for you to change this perspective?
That is another very interesting question, thank you for bringing it up: as I wrote before, I never intended to share, exhibit, or even sell my art because each artwork was a part of me, my life, my emotional journey, so even if I had wanted to, I probably would have never parted with a single piece for money or anything else because they are part of who I am, who I have become, and maybe even a series of artworks. How can one rip them apart by sending parts of a series all over the world – or even “take them” from me?
On the blockchain, I had the opportunity to digitalize, tokenize, and that was a wonderful compromise: I could show my art, sell my art, but the physical piece remained with me.
However, I noticed a small desire for some collectors to own a physical piece of mine, too. So on Foundation (and LooksRare), you will find dedicated collections of either abstract art on canvas or tokenized self-made and individual, unique scarfs (believe me, big brands are starting to tokenize their merchandise, and I already did that back in October!) where international shipment and transport insurance is included in the sales price (all buy-now because if you fall in love with a piece for your home, you should not go through 24h nail biting during an auction), and the canvas or the scarf comes to your home.
Today, you will find my works hanging in homes in the USA (along the East Coast mostly, which is kind of remarkable), the UAE, the UK, and some even made it to Asia. From postcard size to canvases of all sizes to scarfs!
What’s your earliest memory related to art?
Well, I grew up on a small farm, mostly agriculture but also some animals, and while the summers were very busy for us, we had a lot of family time in the winters. My father knotted carpets or made cushions for chairs, my mum cooked and baked and painted with us, and of course we tried wood works and used all sorts of materials that we had on the farm. Indeed, I would have become a carpenter if it hadn’t been for a severe saw dust allergy.
When you’re depleted of inspiration, what drives you to keep going?
Inspiration is all around us, and as I said before: I create to cope with my emotions, and of course not every day leads to me sitting at my desk with a paintbrush in my hand, because mostly things need to stir inside me for a while, and when the time is right, I just get up and turn to my colors, and when I start, I mostly have no idea what the end result will be. Sometimes it is finished after some hours in one go, sometimes I work on it a little bit each day for weeks. Some works are never finished.
How do you think NFTs are changing the way we experience art?
NFTs and the underlying concept of tokenizing tears down some gates that we experience in Web2. However, the space is certainly not as decentralized as we want it and need it to be because some folks take their Web2 power plays into Web3.
Still, at this stage, we as artists are more in control of what, how and where we publish. We can have our own Smart Contracts, connect with new friends, and also become small collectors ourselves. We have it in our hands to cheer others on, to onboard them, to help them in every stage of their journey. We can build our own bubbles (which is nice as long as we remember to not forget to look beyond, too), teach and learn from one another, draw inspiration from all around us.
We have the tools to build our own little or larger virtual galleries. We have visionaries like Nik who together with Fer as a curation powerhouse (and more people, to be fair, like Mondoir or Ali Nabu, for example) aim to bring the traditional and NFT world together, so that we as NFT artists can not only sell to early crypto adopters (who are often more trading than art focussed) and new crypto enthusiasts and believers but also to traditional collectors who might purchase an NFT through traditional ways and then gets NFT and crypto curious and will hopefully set up a wallet and enter the wild ride that is Web3.
Everyone can help build, evolve, and improve this space. Absolutely everyone.
What’s your ultimate goal as an artist?
I just want to be happy and healthy. Along the way, I create art to express and cope with my emotions. When I mint it and it sells, I know my art and ultimately a deep personal part of me resonated with someone, and that is amazing and more than I could ever wish for.
Monika, thank you immensely for this interview and for being so inspiring. Having you at ArtPacks is a gift!
Follow Monika on X (aka Twitter)
PS: I’m still waiting for a bite of your cakes :p