Artists FVCKRENDER, Victor Mosquera and Baeige are very clear about how they didn’t want to spend their careers. “We all have a background of working for somebody else for a number of years,” FVCKRENDER tells nft now. “And we were never happy with that.”
They’re also very clear on what they needed to evolve. “Going full-time freelance, it was a very scary move,” he adds. “But it was probably the best decision I’ve ever made.”
FVCKRENDER is adamant that the explosive emergence of non-fungible tokens — or NFTs — in the past year is the ultimate space for creators to work for themselves, and to retain control of their artistic vision. No, it’s not an opportunity to become an instant millionaire, but it has been a serendipitous merge of market demand and the blood, sweat and tears it took to get to the point where they could just focus on their art.
FVCKRENDER, Baeige and Victor are, nonetheless, bullish on what NFTs can mean for artists — for their livelihoods, their creative expression, and their ownership.
FVCKRENDER and Baeige, who’ve been a couple for 13 years and are engaged, share a living space in Vancouver, B.C. Victor just so happens to live right next door. And on Dec. 2, the work of all three artists will be on display at Art Basel Miami as part of nft now and Christie’s The Gateway showcase. FVCKRENDER’s piece for the exhibit, EXISTENCE, comes with a sculpture as a physical gift; Baeige created a deeply soothing Haven, inspired by a recent retreat in the desert; Victor’s takes a surreal dip into the history of Japanese and South American traditional fishing practices with Tenkara. Despite living and collaborating in such close proximity to each other, each of their artistic viewpoints are beautifully distinct.
The trio, known affectionately as “the Vancouver crew,” spoke with nft now ahead of the exhibition’s opening. (Editor’s note: The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Victor: It’s funny that we’re the Vancouver crew because none of us are actually from Vancouver.
nft now: Where are you all from?
Baeige: Well, Quebec, but a little town outside of Montreal.
Victor: I’m from Colombia. I’ve been living in Canada for the last 10 years. When we first met, I was based in Toronto. They were based in Montreal. But we ended up just kind of meeting each other randomly.
Baeige: It was love instantly.
Victor: Yes, it was like love at first sight.
FVCKRENDER: When Victor was in Toronto and we were in Montreal, we’d be like, “Oh, we should go to Mexico. We should go to L.A. We should go to Miami.” So every time we were meeting, we were going to these destinations other than Canada, which was pretty fun.
nft now: That sounds like a very nice long-distance relationship.
FVCKRENDER: Now [Victor] lives right next door to us.
Victor: Literally, while I’m talking right now, I can see my place from the window.
Baeige: We kind of have a mother-father-son thing.
nft now: You collaborate a lot with each other, but what about your work as individuals — in terms of aesthetics and specific focuses?
Victor: My work is mainly 2D. I come from a traditional painting background, drawing and painting with oils and gouache and watercolor. I dove into digital because I started working for movies and video games, and the nature of the industry kind of requires people to work digitally. But I still draw everything from scratch.
And now, with NFTs, I’m mixing a little bit of 3D animation into my work, and I also do the audio for my work. I think my work is very inspired by spirituality and the human psyche and the relationships that we have as humans to the things that we can’t touch, but which really dictate everything in our lives.
Baeige: I never went to school for what I really wanted — architecture and interior design, but I’m very, very inspired by it. I’ve always tried to integrate those elements into dreamscapes, to focus on creating something that soothes myself, that soothes other people when they look at it.
FVCKRENDER: I consider myself a digital surrealism-type of artist. I don’t like to put any labels on, but I’m trying to create something that wouldn’t be possible in real life even though it still feels kind of real. I like when people see my art and ask questions like, “Oh, could this be real? Is this real?” My work is also very inspired by mental health. I myself have been dealing a lot with past trauma and crazy anxiety, so I use my work as a diary of how I feel in that moment of time.
Baeige: We’re three very anxious people. I feel like all of us can relate to that idea of using escapism in our work to think about something else. I feel that’s kind of the link that ties us together, that sense of relieving stress and relieving anxiety with our work.
nft now: What about making art during the pandemic? Was it more difficult or was it easier?
Victor: It was weird.
Beige: For me, it really helped escape the reality of what we were living through. We had to stay home. We had to be working in a room in front of a computer. It felt like if you could create your own world, you could kind of feel like you were someplace else. If I hadn’t been creating, I think I would have had more mental issues.
FVCKRENDER: It was more challenging, I think, because I was pretty much only working all the time.
Victor: I can relate to that. I sort of felt like, if I was at home, I might as well be working. But not because I was more inspired — it felt like a chore. Some good things came out of it, but not necessarily bad or better. It was just different.
nft now: Before you were full-time artists, did you have other career considerations?
Victor: I always say that I work 10 times harder just to be able to not have to do anything else. People that know me can confirm this. I’m useless besides art. I literally wouldn’t be able to do anything else.
FVCKRENDER: I was working in a restaurant pretty much 40 hours a week. And I’m the type of person that I’m so extreme in everything that I do that 40 hours is not enough for me. So I needed to fill my brain with, like, 50 more hours a week doing something else. So I decided to learn how to do 3D [design] and 3D animation. I applied to school. They refused me so many times I decided I’ll just learn by myself while I work in the restaurant. And after three months, I started to do music videos for big locals in Montreal, and I was like, “Oh s–t, like I’m getting paid for this.”
nft now: Did any of you see the NFT boom coming?
FVCKRENDER: No, not at all. It pretty much exploded in our faces.
Baeige: We’d hear some people talking about it, saying how they were releasing NFTs, and we got curious. We started looking into it, and then we all just jumped right in.
FVCKRENDER: I mean, it made a lot of sense to us because we were selling art and there was no right way for people to buy digital art with true ownership. We were truly thinking that this would change the world.
nft now: Do you remember the first NFT you sold?
Victor: Of course. I might actually go and get it tattooed on me relatively soon.
Baeige: What was the name of it, of yours?
Victor: “Patterns Unfolding.” Actually, yesterday was my one-year anniversary of minting it.
Baeige: Mine wasn’t just one. It was a big gateway release, like a big drop with multiple works at the same time.
FVCKRENDER: She’s too humble. She sold 701 open editions. She crashed the website. It was $500 for one open edition and she sold 701 of them. She killed it.
nft now: In some coverage of the NFT market, it sounds like artists are becoming overnight millionaires. Is that true? What advice do you have for artists who are exploring the space?
Victor: It feels like the same thing when a music artist you’ve never heard suddenly explodes. Then you read their history and see they’ve been making music forever. Never listen to anybody that says, “How to make a million overnight.” You’ll see a lot of NFT projects that are like, “Do this and you’ll be a billionaire tomorrow.” It’s total bulls–t.
FVCKRENDER: All of these artists that are seeing success right now, they have a long history of not making any money.
Baeige: We’ve been grinding for so many years that when NFTs came into play, we were ready for it. I think that’s the main misperception people have about NFTs, thinking, “Oh, I’m gonna get rich tomorrow.”
Victor: Knowing that we were going to make our art no matter what, that’s why we got into it in the first place. We didn’t get into art because we thought we were going to be making money. We just wanted to do it.
nft now: Continuing the thread of advice for other artists, are there any rituals or habits you’ve developed over the years that help structure your time when you’re creating?
Victor: I used to have a routine when I was learning how to make art. I was so crazy about it that I woke up at, like, 6 a.m. every day. I would download the curriculum for art schools in America that I couldn’t afford, in a language that I couldn’t speak.
But now I’m a complete mess. There’s no schedule. I wake up whenever I feel like waking up. I go to bed whenever I go to bed. I do listen to the same songs pretty much every time when I’m working because it puts me into the mindset of working. But yeah, there’s no schedule. That’s out the window for me.
nft now: A good number of crypto artists use pseudonyms, and are largely anonymous. Do you think, among your peers, that there’s a broader desire to let the work speak for itself, more than the person making it?
Baeige: We’ve always wanted a little more privacy. It’s good for the art. It lets it be what it is.
Victor: The work is what we do. I’m not an internet personality. I’m not an Instagram model. I’m not a vlogger. I’m an artist.
Baeige: Now, with NFTs, it’s a little bit harder to be behind the art. I would put my art on social media because I wanted to go outside of my comfort zone, but I didn’t want to put myself — the human being — in front of it.
Victor: I’m sure there’s plenty of artists that want to put their faces out there. Andy Warhol was an example of that — that was part of his style of selling his art. But that’s not my style.
I feel when people try too hard to sell themselves in the art, it can be that they’re compensating for something lacking in the art itself. I just want to make the craziest art that I can because that’s what I do. I’m an artist. That’s it. Period. So if I can make art that speaks for itself, then that’s what creates the community around me. That’s what’s worked for us. That’s the way that I know.
FVCKRENDER: You’re so smart.
Victor: It’s because I wake up at 11 a.m.
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Photo credits, from left: Matthew Miller, FVCKRENDER, and Baeige