I’m Stephan Duquesnoy, and I’m a digital art lecturer at the University of Arts Utrecht and digital artist in The Netherlands. In my work I tend to take mathematical ideas of natural beauty and combine them with romantic era aesthetics. Basically, there are a lot of ornaments, classical compositions, women, and flowers!
My work also tends to be a reflection of my own mindset at the moment that I’m making it. I carry persistent depression with me, to live with that I always try to be alert of what I feel and experience. My personal work acts as a coping mechanism which lets me express my relation with the world and myself, instead of keeping it inside. Even though my work has strong roots within the old school theory of beauty, there can be a contrasting unsettling edge to my work. That edge is where my personality tends to shine through, and is often tied with the underlying symbolism and themes in my work.
My career has been quite chaotic, I started in Information Technology as a programmer, but ended up studying theater. From there on I moved on to doing game concept art as a job, ran an art outsource studio, a fashion tech startup, teaching digital art and designed games for professional hackers. This varied history all comes together for me in my own work. For example, large portions of my work are procedurally created through tools I create myself in Houdini, in combination with handmade assets in Zbrush or painted textures in Substance Painter. I somehow have this weird kink, that I want to make as much of my art by hand as I can, so I rarely use pre-made assets. I think this has to do with me being a lecturer, I just need to have those moments where I learn something new in my work, or it becomes boring.
So yeah in short. I like classical art, do everything by hand, and I struggle with some mental issues. And in my own work, everything just feels like it naturally connects
I started in NFT in December 2020. And sold my first piece for 100 bucks on Makersplace, and have been active in NFT since. Although I do not drop as much art as a year ago, because I started spending considerably more time on the creation of my work, as the floor prices slowly went up!
Where are you from?
The Netherlands, and I live in a small city next to The Hague (Which is close to Amsterdam, but then again. Everything is close to Amsterdam)
What is your favorite thing to do on a weekend?
At the moment I also work a couple of days in the week at the University. So the weekends tend to be the moment I can actually focus and work on my own digital work. Its hard balance to figure out, but slowly getting there, but I’m hopeful I will find some opportunities this year to think about doing things in the weekend that aren’t work ! I’m really looking forward to just being out and about again, with my sketchbook and just observing the world as it passes by.
One thing you cannot live without? I absolutely love my sketchbook, it’s always in my bag or near me. Although it doesn’t get used as much as it used to. But when you pull me from the screen, and I’m out in the world, you can be sure you can find me sketching in parks, subways, or anywhere.
Who is your favorite artists (Non NFT)? There are just too many to name. In general I’m really attracted to the pre-raphaelites and romantic era art. In general the aesthetics of the 19th century really appeal to me. I think this is a time in art where there was a certain balance between the scientific analytical side of art, mixed with the desire to express ourselves or our place in the universe.
There are also a ton of contemporary artists I admire, although a lot of those artists entered the space last year. One artist that stands out to me is Kris Kuksi. He makes these amazing elaborated sculpture/collage pieces, that really tie into my fascination with historical artists, but he finds a way to blend that with our contemporary experience of the world.
Who is your favorite NFT artist? It has to be Android Jones. Andrew has been a role model for me since the first day I started doing digital art. He was one of the first artists who made me realize you can make masterpieces digitally, through conceptart.org. When he left his game-studio to pursue his own performance art career, he made me realize there is more to art making than just pretty pictures. And planted the seed to one day create my own work without any constraints. When I saw he was on Superrare, and how he set everything up, I immediately realized I wanted to follow in his footsteps, and jump into this weird NFT space. After 15 years of observing his work and career, I had my first interaction with Andrew through NFT twitter, which was a huge confirmation I’m on the right path.
What made you pursue NFT art? Ofcourse Android Jones as well. But I think the core of it is the independence. I have always struggled with art. I’m not someone who is excellent in working on someones vision, I need constant challenge in my work, and I can not repeat what I already know. Most digital art jobs however need you to do exactly that, there are briefs, compromises, deadlines, and comfort zones you need to reliably work in to be successful. It sounds terrible, but it just bores me too much to be in that production environment. But when I can make my own work, without compromise, I’m just simply happy and content.
In the online world however this is a hard path to choose. Because pre-nft the only way to really be successful is to create a lot of art. So you have constant social media or patron updates, or can do a lot of commissions. But I’m quality over quantity person, I need time to do things. So even if the work is good, if you do not produce enough it never gets out, and thats where it ends.
I decided for myself that that is what life is. And was about to dedicate myself to my academic lecturing career, and keep making art as a hobby. But that’s when NFT happened
NFT in a way resembles the World of Warcraft auction house to me. I can make something, invest in it. Put it for sale, and make a healthy margin on it. The more time I invest in the quality the better the return. So business wise, it just made sense with how I see art creation, and how I love to work. From day one it felt very natural to work like this. I can still share my work with the entire world, and don’t have to gatekeep anyone through a patreon account. Instead I work with actual patreons who support me and my expression by collecting my work.
What is the one piece of NFT art you wish you had purchased but missed out on? Ofcourse the work done by all the amazing artists in Bloom. I feel like I’m in a catch22
with them. The prices of there work is always slighty out of reach, and when my floor goes up, and I can afford them, everyones floor went up!
But the work I really wish I purchased, is a work I wish I never sold. It’s called “Portrait” and on Makersplace. I sold it for a 100 dollars at the time, as it was my genesis in NFT. However it is also a work that I created while my dog was diagnosed with cancer, and finished on the day she died.This was a really fast and complicated goodbye for us, as she always was an huge pillar of support for me. A lot of my emotions from those days are in that piece, and in a way it feels to personal to have sold it. I would love to buy it back from secondary at some point in the future.
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?
I would love to go back to East Asia and the giant cities in that part of the world. There is a sense of being alone, and detached there, that feels weird but very comfortable to me. Getting lost in the mass, feels like home in a way.
Do you make other forms of art?
Next to digital art, I also draw a lot. My sketchbook is a such a huge natural extension of myself, and I love the freedom that freehand sketching gives me. Experimenting on paper, and abstract ideas that happened during a train trip, are often the starting points for new ideas and concepts. I’m especially looking forward again to summer, being outside, and just drawing in the sun again!
How did you come up with your specific style?
Lots of experimenting. I have always had a bit of darker, melancholic side to me. And I have always loved classical art, and concepts like vanitas. At some point I just started playing with that, in my sketchbook, mostly through sketches of skulls. I started making those sketches in 3D, and thats when the ball started to roll. Slowly the skulls went away, and made room for more surreal abstract elements, and started adding more classical art inspirations. And thats how it ended at where we are right now!
How has your style evolved over the years?
My work started with digital painting, and creating art for entertainment games, which also was more cartoony or casual in design. Slowly I started playing with more darker elements in my work, using a sense of realism. In my personal work the fascination and groundwork of my current style has always been there, just never truly developed.
What is coming in the near future?
Lots of exciting things. There is ofcourse a Nifty Gateway drop with NFT Culture coming. I’m also working on an exhibition piece for a large historical art museum in the Netherlands which will open soon! I have plans for a new personal series and some collabs with other artists are also in the works. I haven’t dropped new art in a while, but for good reason!
Do you have any upcoming drops?
Yes! At the end of march my work will drop on Nifty Gateway, in a collection shared with the awesome artists at Bloom! It will be a multiple edition piece, with an affordable price!
Links and such:
Link to Website: www.stephanduq.com