My name is Stephan Duquesnoy and I am a professor of digital art at the University of the Arts in Utrecht and a digital artist in the Netherlands. In my work, I tend to take mathematical ideas about natural beauty and combine them with the aesthetics of the Romantic era. Basically, there are a lot of ornaments, classic compositions, women and flowers!
Links to Stephan’s work on NFT Markets
My work also tends to reflect my own state of mind at the time I do it. I carry a persistent depression with me, to live with it, I always try to be attentive to what I feel and experience. My personal work acts as a coping mechanism that allows me to express my relationship with the world and myself, instead of keeping it inside. Even though my work has strong roots in old school beauty theory, there can be a disturbingly contrasting side to my work. This is where my personality tends to shine through and is often linked to the symbolism and underlying themes of my work.
My career was quite chaotic, I started in information technology as a programmer, but ended up studying theater. From there I moved on to game concept art as a job, ran an art outsourcing studio, a fashion tech startup, taught digital art and designed games for professional hackers. This varied history is found for me in my own work. For example, much of my work is created procedurally using tools I create myself in Houdini, in combination with handmade elements in Zbrush or textures painted in Substance Painter. I kind of have this weird bent, that I want to do as much of my art by hand as possible, so I rarely use pre-made items. I think it has to do with me being a speaker, I just need to have those times when I learn something new in my job or it gets boring.
So yes in short. I like classical art, I do everything by hand and I have mental problems. And in my own work everything seems to connect naturally
I started in NFT in December 2020. And I sold my first coin for $100 on Makersplace, and I’ve been active in NFT ever since. Although, I’m not giving up as much art as I was a year ago, as I’ve started spending a lot more time creating my work, as price floors have slowly risen!
Where do you come from?
The Netherlands, and I live in a small town next to The Hague (which is close to Amsterdam, but again. Everything is close to Amsterdam)
What is your favorite thing to do on a weekend?
At the moment I also work a few days a week at the University. So weekends tend to be when I can focus and work on my own digital work. It’s a difficult balance to find, but I’m getting there slowly, but I hope to find opportunities this year to think about doing things that don’t work on the weekends! I can’t wait to be outside again, with my sketchbook and watching the world go by.
One thing you can’t live without? I love my sketchbook, it’s always in my bag or near me. Although it is not used as much as before. But when you take me out of the screen and out into the world, you can be sure you can find me sketching in parks, subways, or anywhere.
Who are your favorite artists (Non NFT)? There are simply too many to name. In general, I’m very drawn to pre-Raphaelite and romantic art. In general, the 19th century aesthetic really appeals to me. I think it’s 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 that I look up to, although a lot of those artists entered the space last year. One artist that stands out for me is Kris Kuksi. He creates these amazing elaborate sculptures/collages, which really ties 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 must 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 to make me realize that it is possible to create masterpieces digitally, via conceptart.org. When he left his game studio to pursue his own career in performance art, he made me realize that there is more to creating art than 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 put it all together, I immediately realized I wanted to follow in his footsteps and jump into this weird NFT space. After 15 years of watching his work and career, I had my first interaction with Andrew via NFT Twitter, which was a huge confirmation that I’m on the right track.
What prompted you to get into NFT art? Of course Android Jones too. But I think the main thing is independence. I have always struggled with art. I’m not a great person to work on someone’s vision, I need a constant challenge in my work and I can’t repeat what I already know. However, most digital art work requires you to do just that, there are briefs, trade-offs, deadlines and comfort zones that you must reliably work within to be successful. It sounds terrible, but I’m too bored to be in this production environment. But when I can do my own work, without compromise, I’m just happy and content.
In the online world, however, this is a difficult path to choose. Because pre-nft, the only way to truly succeed is to create lots of art. So you have constant social media or customer updates, or you can make a lot of commissions. But I favor quality over quantity, I need time to do things. So even if the work is good, if you don’t produce enough, it never comes out, and that’s where it stops.
I decided for myself that this is life. And I was about to dedicate myself to my career as a university lecturer and continue to make art a hobby. But that’s where NFT came in
NFT kind of feels like the auction house of World of Warcraft to me. I can do something, invest in it. Put it up for sale and make a good margin out of it. The more I invest in quality, the better the return. So commercially it made sense with the way I see artistic creation and the way I like to work. From the first day, it seemed very natural to me to work like that. I can still share my work with the world and I don’t have to monitor anyone through a patreon account. Instead, I work with real bosses who support me and my expression in collecting my work.
What is the NFT piece of art you wish you had bought but missed out on? Of course, the work done by all of Bloom’s amazing artists. I feel like I’m in a catch22
with them. The prices for these jobs are always slightly out of reach, and when my floor goes up, and I can afford it, everyone goes up!
But the work that I would have really liked to buy is a work that I would have liked never to sell. It’s called “Portrait” and on Makersplace. I sold it for $100 at the time because it was my NFT genesis. However, it is also a work that I created while my dog was suffering from cancer and that I finished the day she died. It was a very quick and complicated goodbye for us, because she has always been a huge support for me. A lot of my emotions these days are in that piece, and in a way it’s too personal to have sold it. I would love to buy it back in high school 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 feeling of being alone and detached there, which I find weird but very comfortable. Getting lost in the crowd is like being at home in a way.
Do you do other art forms?
Besides digital art, I also draw a lot. My sketchbook is a huge natural extension of myself, and I love the freedom freehand drawing gives me. The experimentation on paper and the abstract ideas that occurred during a train journey are often the starting points for new ideas and concepts. I can’t wait to get back to summer, be outside and draw again in the sun!
How did you find your specific style?
Lots of experimentation. I’ve always had a darker, more melancholy side. And I’ve always loved classical art, and concepts like vanity. At some point I started playing around with that, in my sketchbook, mostly through sketches of skulls. I started doing these 3D sketches, and that’s when the ball started rolling. Slowly the skulls disappeared and gave way to more surreal abstract elements, and started to add more classical artistic inspirations. And that’s how it ended where we are right now!
How has your style evolved over the years?
My work started with digital painting and creating artwork for entertainment games, which were also more cartoony or casual in design. Slowly I started to play with darker elements in my work, using a sense of realism. In my personal work, the fascination and foundations of my current style have always been there, but never really developed.
What’s coming in the near future?
Lots of exciting things. There is of course a Nifty Gateway drop with NFT Culture coming soon. I’m also working on an exhibit for a big historical art museum in the Netherlands that will be opening soon! I have plans for a new personal series and collaborations with other artists are also in the works. I haven’t released any new art in a while, but for good reason!
Do you have any drops coming?
Yes! At the end of March, my work will land on Nifty Gateway, in a collection shared with Bloom’s super artists! It will be a multiple edition piece, with an affordable price!
Links and more:
Link to website: www.stephanduq.com