Katalina is a PhD designer and a digital illustrator with more than 15 years of experience in Adobe Photoshop and several years in other programs such as Clip Studio Paint and Adobe After Effects. She loves drawing portraits, crypto logos in different art styles, Warframe fan art and most recently – derivative pieces of World of Women ladies.
Her personal project is called The Inexplicit – a collection of RP stories written by a colleague/friend and her. What happened to be a fun talk in between the studies turned into the project of their lives as it continued for almost a decade. Almost all of her artworks are focused on the characters.
NFT marketplace links:
Where are you from? (Provide a little bit of your background, have you moved etc)
I’m coming from a small country in East Europe called Bulgaria – a place with a wonderful nature, rich history and old traditions. I love traveling to other countries, but my roots are here and thanks to web 3 and social media, don’t have the need to move elsewhere.
Can you tell us about your background and what lead you down the path to becoming an artist and ultimately experimenting with NFTs?
I grew up in a family of teachers, with humble origin, but strict rules. It wasn’t easy developing a character in a society where the role of a woman was to finish education, create a family and children while also having a ‘stable’ 9 to 5 job. While my parents wished for me to become a lawyer or a dentist, my vision of the future looked entirely different. The biggest inspiration for that was my older brother and his journey in design having a great influence in my early years. Unfortunately, chained by the expectations of others, I followed a path that satisfied everyone but myself.
Despite all challenges, art has always been an essential part of my existence. From high school (where I studied fashion design) to Bachelor and Master’s degree at the university (the Department of Industrial design) and working in an office (seven years for slot game companies). The PhD course played a significant part of my personal development, where the meaning of design took on a new form – solving creative problems, learning about the
internal processes in the brain, building mental patterns. But most of all, it was a journey of knowing your inner self and finding your own reason.
The real challenge began after graduating my PhD degree back in 2018. I quit my ‘stable’ job to become a freelancer, taking all kinds of projects related to graphic design and digital illustration. While struggling to find enough clients I tested different opportunities like blogging, streaming, MLM companies, crypto trading… and the natural transition to NFTs thanks to a friend of mine. Each of these fields had their unique communities, helped me appreciate every moment and shaped my personality. But the NFT community appears to be like no other. It’s what made me stay for the long run.
When did you mint your first NFT? What platform did you choose and why?
I think in my case the platform chose me. Back in August 2018 me and a group of amazing artists from the Steemit community (a blockchain-based blogging and social media website) were invited to test a new marketplace for digital art – where each work had a Proof of Authenticity. I minted my first piece on 10 September 2018. The platform is known today as MakersPlace.
Can you tell us one thing you cannot live without? (and why)
If I need to pick one thing, I’d choose the ability to dream, to create whole worlds in our mind. Anything physical can be acquired throughout our lifespan, no matter the difficulty. But that sense of creation, the vastness of your mind, where each idea emerges from, can’t be replaced or satisfied with any physical product.
Who is your favorite artist(s) (Non NFT)?
Oh, the list is quite long. I’ve been a huge fan on many digital (and some traditional) artists since my high school days, some of them have transitioned to/or tried the NFT space: Stanley ‘Artgerm’ Lau, Kerem Beyit, Ross Tran, Zipavika, Dilara Yarcı Diniz (dilarayrc), Qing Han (qinniart), Richard Schmid, Ergojosh, Stan Prokopenko, Dave Rapoza, Allen Williams, Wenqing Yan (yuumeiart), Wlop, Marco Grassi, Karl Kopinski, Guweiz, Loish, Kim Jung Gi, Ilya Kuvshinov… this list goes on…
What about their style resonates with you?
If you compare all of them, they have something in common – they all try to find their unique style and express their rich inner world in the most unexpected ways.
Every single one of those incredible artists have something I feel I don’t and that is something that I can learn from – incredible knowledge about anatomy and perspective, recognizable style and color choice, complex compositions and inspiring stories, and characters that make you want to live in their worlds.
Who is your favourite NFT artist? What makes this artist unique?
Choosing one artist seems to be quite difficult at this point – my list goes even longer than the previous one. But if I have to mention one that really stands out in my mind, I’d pick Peter Mohrbacher. His surreal fantasy illustrations are iconic, especially his Angelarium series have had a sizable impact on the way pop culture depicts Angels. I can’t even comprehend the level of imagination a person can have to be able to express it so vividly on the digital canvas.
What made you pursue NFT art?
When I joined this path NFTs didn’t exist as a term. I wasn’t fully aware what a Proof of Authenticity meant back in 2018. For me it was just another medium for selling my personal works. At that time, working for a slot game company, doing some client work and streaming in my free time was the only source of income. But all of that was creating someone else’s ideas. Even as a freelancer I wasn’t getting enough creative freedom. Everything changed when I started selling my works on MakersPlace and slowly gained financial stability. I’m still finding it hard to believe, that collectors support and appreciate what I love doing the most – painting my own ideas.
Getting into NFTs is the easy part. Staying and proving your value is hard. But that’s also my reason to strive and keep improving my skills. I found my new home among the community – amazing artists and collectors, trusting friends and believers.
What is the one piece of NFT art you wish you had purchased but missed out on?
There are many pieces I wished to have had the chance to add to my small collection. But I think the one I regret of not having the most is a World of Women lady, a project created and Illustrated by Yam Karkai (@ykarkai). I’ve done numerous WoW derivatives, but couldn’t afford to buy a single one.
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go? Why this location?
Japan. It’s been on my list since high school years. I was a huge fan of Japanese culture, manga and anime, Japanese samurai and parts of their history. Their ‘life in every breath’ way influenced my journey and helped my personal and artistic growth.
What are your other passions besides art? Why?
Sewing. Since my early days in high school I’ve always had a passion for sewing. And being a plus size individual with unique body shape it wasn’t easy to find clothes that fit me well. So I was making them myself. Unfortunately, don’t have the time anymore, but would love to go back to it in the near future.
Reading. Something I developed a love throughout the years. I used to hate books with text only in them as I was obsessed with the visual part more than anything else. Later found so much beauty in the words as they were able to inspire and provoke my imagination just as the sketches next to them did.
Human mind and personal development. Another passion I found in the last decade. A huge part of my PhD studies involved the human brain and how to learn and be creative, to
solve creative problems and communicate with the audience on different levels; how to build visual forms in design using knowledge and strategies from other fields. How to learn something new every day. It’s a human nature to be curious and to improve. It’s a never ending cycle, that’s why it’s called a life-long learning journey.
Do you make other forms of art?
Aside from sewing, I used to draw with traditional mediums. That feeling of holding the paper between the fingers and smudging the dry pastels to create a smooth gradient, spilling the ink and making ‘happy little accidents’. That physical interaction with the canvas is no longer the same when working with digital tools, but the digital media has its own beauty and undeniable advantages.
Writing has been a second nature after painting. Although I wasn’t taught how to write. It was just a form of expressing my ideas, the ones I didn’t have the chance to visualize. Later, with the help of my friend and colleague, we created The Inexlicit project – a series of stories around many characters we created. What started as a fun chat in-between the studies turned into the project of our lives.
How did you come up with your specific style?
I wish I could define my style as unique, but it was mostly my recreation of everyday life with a spark of some fantasy/dream-like elements, inspired by the great masters and digital artists of our century. For years I didn’t even consider myself an artist due to my background in design. But my passion for drawing lived long before I even knew what design was. Especially drawing characters. There’s something fascinating in the shapes of a human body. Something that always makes me draw my characters just realistic enough to keep proper anatomy, but also showing characteristics that are lacking or missing in our reality.
How has your style evolved over the years?
From grayscale traditional sketches to anime style and semi-realistic digital portraits, my style evolved so much for the past 15 years. But the fear of ruining the paper when working with traditional mediums was restricting so I learned to experiment with color years after I transitioned to digital tools. The same fear of failing was blocking me from expressing my creative ideas and it took a very long time to get rid of those mental barriers. Learning about myself and how to perceive any difficulty in life helped me understand and evolve my artistic journey. Art should never be a burden, a competition or a fear. Art should liberate the soul, not restrain it. Now I am able to experiment with colors, textures, lighting, compositions and different software without worrying about the end result. The process of creating and learning new techniques along the way is more rewarding and utterly satisfying.
What is coming in the near future?
I was blessed to have an amazing friend Monika who recommended me for the MojoHeads project (unique NFT collectible showcasing the beautiful faces of the art world). Group C, where I’ll be joining, will be released beginning of April.
I also wish to go back to my roots, explore more fashion design and incorporate it in my paintings. That might require learning software for 3D sculpting and 3D cloth modeling like Marvelous Designer.
If you could collaborate with one artist who would it be?
I have a list of incredible NFT artists I dream of collaborating with. But I think one name stands out most and that is the creator of World of Women project Yam Karkai (@ykarkai). Our styles are so different yet I can’t wait to see what outcome will be if we join our creative minds.
Do you have any upcoming drops?
Yes. I’m currently working on several WoW derivative ladies and preparing a collaboration with the wonderful artist and friend of mine Monika. Digital portraits of the characters from Inexplicit will also be minted in between the drops.
Biggest piece sold?
My biggest piece so far is called “Elegance in Red” sold to the wonderful Irida – one of my biggest collectors and friends. A derivative piece representing WoW lady #2678 from the special World of Women verified collection. It was also one of the 18 finalists in the second WoW Art Contest.
What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that?
I’ve made many mistakes in my life that I consider failures. But the biggest one is probably in NFTs. I wasn’t serious about it when joining in 2018. After minting a series of artworks on MakersPlace I focused my attention to freelance work and streaming career. Every sale I made from 2019 through 2020 was highly appreciated, but also unexpected.
I only realized how much I’ve missed when I started creating NFTs full time at the beginning of 2021. When engaging with the community, learning about other artists’ journey and struggles, their path to success, sharing about my own life and experience became part of the creative process. NFTs for me are not a solo job, I see it as team work. I am getting better every day, because the community both strengthens and inspires me.
Anything else you’d like to share?
If you have the eyes to see the best of every moment, any difficulty turns into a new challenge, a new opportunity. It’s not about “I can’t do it”, but “how can I do it”.
How can I become a better artist? How can I improve my skills? How can I achieve the best results? These questions have haunted me for years now. I still don’t know the right answer, maybe because I haven’t asked the right questions, namely:
How can I become a better person?
How can I help others?
How can I be the best in what I love doing?
My wish for everyone is that they find their own best answers, their reasons and passion. I’ve found mine.
I may not be the best, but I adore what I do.
And all the love and support from the people from the community lets me believe I’m probably doing something right.
Where can collectors find your work?
MakersPlace, Foundation, OpenSea, KnownOrigin
Link to Website: https://www.artstation.com/katalina_ooma