SR x MDC: Steven Baltay

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The interview was conducted as part of the SR exhibition “Motion Design, NFTs, and Art.”

The exhibition features Gavin ShapiroaeforiabeyondbolaBlake KathrynSasha KatzAdam PriesterSteven BaltayJames OwensmecceaEsteban DiaconoAlessio De Vecchi, and Render Fruit (click links to view interviews)

Co-organized by SuperRare and Motion Designers Community.


Steven Baltay is a 3D artist based in Brooklyn, NY. His work revolves around surreal representations of organic forms that evoke surprise, disgust, and satisfaction.

New ideas come from old ideas, and creativity is about combining those two things until something new and better happens.

I think the more time I spend learning about art, the more I can tell when something is derivative or fundamental. So it probably just comes with time. If I love a work of art though that’s all that really matters to me. It’s ok if it started from a tutorial or purchased assets. New ideas come from old ideas, and creativity is about combining those two things until something new and better happens.

Art is tricky because it’s so subjective. I usually think of it in terms of how strongly it makes me feel something or how unforgettable it is. Sometimes a work gets to me in a certain way and I keep wanting to go back and look at it again. That’s how I know it’s special.

I would say any type of motion design can be a good investment, the power of the piece outweighs the specific style or genre.

Autophagia
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How do you develop your own signature styles?

I’m always working on that and I think it’s just something that happens with time. My style is a collection of everything I love and it’s slowly been refined over and over again into something that’s getting close to my own language. I’m always adding in new ideas and fading out old ones, and it’s interesting to see how things slowly change over a few years. Here’s two frames from my upcoming abstract film FISHΞRMAN that shows what i’m obsessed with lately:

What tools do you use?

I work in sidefx Houdini, and render in octane. For clothing my favorite is Marvelous Designer. I do basic compositing in aftereffects. For character animation I prefer Maya. And If I need to do any character modeling I use zbrush.

My work usually involves organic heads or bodies, and the feeling I aim for is typically a mix of satisfaction and disgust

What themes/subject matter/topics do you often address in your work?

My work usually involves organic heads or bodies, and the feeling I aim for is typically a mix of satisfaction and disgust. Lately I have been using gold accents more and playing with the ideas of wealth, extravagance, and consumption.

Can motion designs become a fine art genre and enter the mainstream art market through cryptoart? 

I really hope so. It has always bothered me that painters can sell art and have shows, but motion artists aren’t always treated the same way. Hopefully crypto art will open doors.

How to define motion design (characteristics etc.)?

I would say at the simplest level it’s anything made up of moving images. There’s many different styles and formats but I think that mostly covers it.

Motion designs’ role in contemporary culture?

That’s a great question. It seems like motion design has been growing faster and faster. Instagram is filled with animations and I guess it’s becoming a popular way for people to broadcast ideas. Maybe we can look at motion design as a contemporary language for culture to travel through.

The role of social media in your art career? 

Social media has been amazing because it gave me a platform and a community. Without instagram I probably wouldn’t have been able to become a freelancer and then focus on my art so much. The main problem I have with social media is that I end up adjusting what I make to fit each platform’s algorithm. On tik tok I used to try making short catchy content to get views, and something I make for vimeo would be way slower. Instagram and Behance all have their own formats. And even the crypto art market does too in some ways.

Exfoliation
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A loving execution to enter the core of a personality. Now let me see who you really are.
Should motion design be considered as art or design? What’s the difference between art and design in your opinion?

I don’t have a great answer for this. I always thought of design as being part of art, but I’m sure designers would say the opposite. I think it’s really a question that depends on where you’re standing. I use art as the word that encompases all of human interaction, but obviously I look at it as an artist.

What is motion design’s past, current and future place in the art world/market and art history?

I think it came from a very technological place with the earliest animations being magical inventions. But recently when I was in school it seemed like the fine art world never accepted motion design in the same way as traditional painting or sculpture. Now it looks like animation is close to being mainstream and with crypto it could even become the next significant trend.

Why do you think motion designs are on average highly valued in the crypto art market?

Motion design fits perfectly with crypto art. Having an animation playing in a gallery was always a tricky thing with projectors or tvs. With crypto all those problems are gone. And with NFT tokens images, videos, and 3d files are all viewable and tradable in the exact same way.

Free Sample
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The first SuperRare release of Steven Baltay “Free Sample” is about uncontrollable cravings, ice cream, and taking more than just a taste. Steven Baltay is a 3D artist based in Brooklyn, NY. His work revolves around surreal representations of organic forms that evoke surprise, disgust, and satisfaction.
What are the differences between the crypto art world and your original background?

I’m not sure if I can answer that completely. Crypto art is so new, and I’m still just figuring it out, but as a 3d artist I would say that so far crypto art has given me more freedom to create whatever I want, and sell my art instead of taking on work from clients.

What value has crypto art added to this motion designer community? What do you think of the team up between motion designers & cryptoart?

I think the huge change is that motion designers can make a living as artists now by selling work. Animators usually post work on social media to help find clients so they can get hired.

What do you hate about cryptoart? What aspect of it should be improved/corrected?

The biggest problem I see is that a few large investors have all the power over what is considered valuable crypto art. I’m hoping as more investors enter the market everything will diversify.

Juice
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One of the last pieces from my slime series. Inspired by my fascination with the “oddly satisfying” movement. Created with Houdini+Octane.
What has been your cryptoart experience by far?

So far it’s been fun! It’s an exciting time to be a digital artist and I can’t wait to see how big the crypto art world grows. Hopefully it’s here for a long time and more artists can use it as an alternative path.

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