IX Shells on using displacement for growth

We spoke with IX Shells and ARTXCODE on her creative growth, the digital art evolution, and value of genuine connections.
Published on
8 April 2023
Written by
Ash Herr
 IX Shells on using displacement for growth

We spoke with artist IX Shells and ARTXCODE's Toni on IX Shell's creative growth, the digital art evolution, and value of genuine connections.

You've been with us in the early days of Foundation. Can you tell us about your start in web3?

IX Shells: I started minting on Foundation in 2020 and I remember minting my first piece for 1 Ethereum. I spent a lot of time on Discord, where I eventually became a moderator for Foundation. My intent was to expedite my learning by becoming a part of the platform while simultaneously assisting others in understanding Foundation. I got a lot of energy from sharing the art of other artists and helping other people. I think being on Foundation really helped push my art and my name even further in the space, especially in the early days.

You were also involved in the Tor Project, which eventually led to a 500ETH auction. Could you tell us more about that?

IX Shells: The Tor Project's creative directors discovered me through my Foundation artworks and reached out regarding my piece, Magnetic Flux. The team had a fundraiser in mind due to the economic downturn and pandemic's impact on their organization, which led to layoffs, halted funding for projects, and the need for system upgrades. As a long-time user of Tor, I knew I wanted to be a part of this, so I created a piece inspired by Tor's onion encryption. I shared it on Twitter, spreading awareness about Tor. Even before it sold, I had a feeling that it would do well because there was nothing like it out there at the time. Now digital artists can preserve the things that are really important for us with NFTs. 

A still of IX Shell's Dreaming at Dusk piece sold to PleasrDAO for Tor Project
A still of IX Shell's Dreaming at Dusk piece sold to PleasrDAO for Tor Project

How has your creative practice evolved since then?

IX Shells: The TOR auction pretty much broke the internet for me. I had so many notifications and messages that my computer broke! That piece allowed me to join conversations previously inaccessible and helped me shift my focus onto my artistic practice. My life, along with my family's, has transformed; we moved from the countryside to the city, and I’ve been able to support them as well. My work is now featured in gallery shows, the Buffalo Museum's permanent collection, and LACMA. My life has become a river of opportunities and I’m incredibly grateful to keep growing.

How has PleasrDAO played a role in your journey?

IX Shells: PleasrDAO is the collective that acquired the piece that got me into this place right now. They also demonstrated the power of collaboration and showed Kraken's CEO how a collective could own a digital asset and do much more together. PleaserDAO is filled with supportive and innovative people that have now become my friends, and we're closer than ever. Their involvement in my projects is crucial, as they've helped me grow. As a DAO, they are well-organized and connected, working to expand further, integrate more artists, and create impactful events in both the DeFi and NFT communities.

It's been two years now since you've really delved into NFTs, where do you think the space is heading? 

IX Shells: I think right now we're in a phase of seeking clarity and balance. There’s so many new tools popping up every day, especially with AI. I think we must ensure sustainable growth without self-destruction. I think it's crucial to have responsible individuals in positions of power to prevent abuse.

I’m seeing more and more Museums and institutions increasingly embrace digital art, and recognizing its value. Digital art can really become the new norm for these institutions because of their flexibility, and how we don't have to spend so much on transportation, or that it doesn't really occupy space unless we want to. The evolution of this space depends on thoughtful consideration of the future, and when I'm ready, I'll share more ideas.

IX Shells working in Touch Designer. Photo credit to Val Schnack.
IX Shells working in Touch Designer. Photo credit to Val Schnack.

You’re doing a project with ARTXCODE and Fortune, can you tell us more about that? 

IX Shells: 1337 was made to symbolize hope and alliance. I really resonated with the creative director at Fortune’s vision in spreading a positive outlook in the world, rather than just focus on what's wrong. As an artist from a developing country, I believe my involvement in Fortune can help Latin American artists feel seen and recognized, opening doors for them to participate in a new world of web3 too. I live in Panama and we are still a developing society. There’s not a huge crypto community, and not many artists have really applied it. In Panama, we often joke about how late trends reach us, not due to disinterest, but because of the systems keeping us from global wealth while our resources are overused and abused. This stagnation impacts our economy and creativity. My art, persona, and desire to engage with the world represent this struggle. Stepping out of my comfort zone benefits others, not just myself, and I've stopped pursuing traditional jobs to focus on art and personal growth. Now, I'm rejoining the world to make an impact, enriched by my artistic experiences and personal transformations with digital art.

How did you make this piece for Fortune? 

IX Shells: I made the piece using a 3D displacement algorithm in Touch Designer. This is a piece that symbolizes growth through displacement. Reflecting on my own experience in moving to Toronto for education and a better life, I like to link my art to personal experiences and emotions. While technical skills are important, imbuing creations with meaning is really the true challenge.

IX Shells Fortune Touch Designer Process
IX Shells Fortune Touch Designer Process

I'm curious to hone in on ARTXCODE and how y'all collaborated with IX Shells. How did that partnership come together initially?

Toni: ARTXCODE supports artists like IX Shells by handling project collaboration challenges, legal obligations, and securing the best terms and IP protection. We manage operational tasks, letting artists focus on their work. My corporate finance law background helps safeguard artists' interests and spot unfavorable terms, even with great collaborators.

We help artists filter requests, evaluate potential collaborations, and work closely with our artists on executing concepts from their conception to the end result. Additionally, we emphasize art display, organizing events showcasing digital and algorithmic art in physical spaces, respecting each piece's unique needs. Ultimately, our goal is to uplift and assist artists in every possible way.

IX Shells: I've known ARTXCODE for about six years and initially reached out to Sofia seeking a critique of my work, as I was disconnected from the art world. Our connection grew over time, and she played an essential role in connecting me with collectors, selling my work, and representing me at shows when I couldn't attend. Sofia does a lot for artists pro bono, with a primary goal of promoting generative art. Our relationship is based on genuine friendship and connection, which is essential for me, as it makes the process more meaningful than just focusing on the final result. 

I also like the elegant way that ARTXCODE works with the artist and to bring attention to the art without being just extra flashy. I haven't frequently sold art or used conventional methods, preferring genuine interest over potential benefits. I'm proud to work with people who share these values and focus on creating opportunities for others to join my artistic community.

Behind the scenes in Touch Designer for 1337
Behind the scenes in Touch Designer for 1337

How does it feel to be included in print in this way for Fortune Magazine?

IX Shells: It's overwhelming but also a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I think it's a dream. I'm proud, and I think my father would be too. He collected magazines and stamps so it all connects. It's crazy to think about how people in the future will discover my past work in a magazine as well. The support from friends, family, and followers makes me feel proud and supported.

1337 for Fortune Magazine's April/May 2023 Issue
1337 for Fortune Magazine's April/May 2023 Issue

Minting for IX Shell's Edition, 1337, begins April 10, 2023 at 1:00 pm EDT. Read more about IX Shell's artwork for the cover of Fortune Magazine in the press release.

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