Olga Fradina is a Kiev-based artist and designer whose work I discovered on the Tezos-based marketplace Objkt.com in mid-2022. Since then, I’ve managed to collect quite a few unique pieces, on both Tezos and Ethereum, and as a collector I’m always eager to see what comes next.
Olga’s work is abstract and layered, but carries a unique precision, with muted colors dominating much of the work. The artist was kind enough to answer a few questions for marg.art via email exchange in February of 2023, as the war in Ukraine passed a grim, first anniversary.
This interview took place prior to her first long-form generative release on fxhash. A new work, Momentum, is to be released this weekend on the platform.
First, I know you are in Ukraine — how is the situation where you live, day to day? To what degree has the impact of war had an effect on you, and your work? And is there anything, beside collecting your art, that readers can do to assist or help in any way?
The war completely changed my life. And, paradoxically, not everything is for the worse. I have been involved in art since childhood, I went to different studios. But my main job for the last 20 years has been interior design. This was always not enough for me and at the same time I drew something for myself and was engaged in ceramics. I didn’t make money from it, my customers were my architect friends. The work routine did not allow me to do this anymore. When the war began, almost all projects stopped and I was able to devote myself completely to art. During the first months of the war, this was not possible. But when the troops retreated from Kyiv and it became calmer, I devoted myself completely to my work. A year of war has now passed. And I don’t know if I could have endured it if there was no NFT artistic community. Communication allows me to forget a little about what is happening outside the window. So everyone who likes, supports, buys (my work) helps me in the most complete way.
Odd as that sounds, that is somewhat refreshing to hear, that some semblance of normalcy still occurs. I’d love to know more about your creative routine, if possible. Is there anything special you do to get into a creative mindset?
I work at night — during the day there are many things to do, communication, the dog is very active and wants to play all the time! I like to stay alone and immerse myself in the meditation of work. I can’t have anything to distract me.
Can I get some insight as to how you compose these images? For example, a recent piece, Dig.N.26 is one of my favorites. I love the layers and details. Do you use traditional, commercial tools, or do you have any custom tools that you use to create this imagery?
I work with standard commercial tools. 3D work is done in Cinema 4D. When I started doing digital art and NFT, I planned to continue the theme of interiors by transferring it to the digital space. But I was so fascinated by procedural processes and generative art that I completely changed my approach.
I prefer to always be in the role of a student. This gives me a reason not to stop.
I’m currently learning TouchDesigner on my own. And with my old friend we are jointly doing projects in p5.js. He has been my assistant for interior visualizations for many years. He knows programming languages better than me. I study in the process of creating a project and study with a teacher. We jointly look for ideas for the base code, then I deal with variations and the search for artistic solutions. I have always loved research and experimentation. And with generative art, I felt myself in the right place. The same with the Digital Nature collection. I immerse myself completely in the search for aesthetic finds using different tools.
I know you’ve been in the design world for some time. What influences have had an impact on your design work, as well as your art? Can you separate design work from art work, easily?
My design practice is probably still different from my art. In interior design, I use a lot of natural materials – stone, wood, cement, textiles. My interiors are very sensual and tactile. I love handcrafted things, Wabi-Sabi philosophy. In the beginning, I was also fond of many interiors in search of my own style. Now I know exactly what I’m doing.
Likewise with art. I think I’m still in the experimental stage. I sometimes want to do very calm things, sometimes I want an emotional outburst. But I would like my art to feel closer to my interiors. In the latest collections, I explore a lot of textures.
I love a lot of art and the list can be very long. And at different times it changes a little. But if I am asked to quickly name my favorite, I know what to say quickly: Cy Twombly and Pierre Soulages. And everything Axel Vervoordt does — from interiors to his gallery and curation.
Congratulations on the success of your two drops on Verse. Both collections were incredible, and sold out quickly. I had to opt to purchase my Lithograph (above) on secondary, but I’m almost glad I missed out on the initial mint, as it shows there is a great market for your art outside of the Tezos ecosystem. I also know you have collections on Foundation and Opensea. Will you be continuing to do multi-chain releases in the future?
I am honored to collaborate with Verse. I think their curation is very high quality. For me, this is the first collaboration with the gallery and I am happy that it went well. I plan to mint more on Ethereum. Now I am preparing a separate collection for this. I like Tezos. When I was choosing which platform to start with, I liked the idea of CleanNFT — but I think we need to develop further.
All of your series have unique names. At what point do you know that you’ve created something new, as opposed to something that may fit into an already existing series?
Everything happens intuitively. I see that another topic has begun. I may have a different mood, experience new emotions. Sometimes after a while I want to go back and add a few works to the collection. I feel that the topic is not yet closed for me. But it always turns out differently after a while. I work with emotions and they are never the same.
I know you have an AI-based project called 27.000.27. What do you think AI’s role will play going forward in the art world? What tools do you use, and look forward to using for these images? Are they all created from text (prompts), or do you use images to begin them?
I started experimenting with AI in the summer of 2022. But later in Kyiv there were big problems with electricity and for several months I had the Internet for only a few hours per day. I’m using Midjourney, and it’s not realistic without internet. When I had a permanent internet again, I could not tear myself away from AI research for a week.
My interest wanes and rekindles. I see artists who work very individually with AI and make quality art. I do not think that I am now a great specialist in this area — I would like to develop this topic. I want to explore other applications, as well.
I use mostly text inputs without an image. I like to mix my different arts with each other. Sometimes amazing results are obtained. I don’t show much of what I do. I made a second twitter account for this. But in my opinion, I overestimated my capabilities — a lot of social networking is difficult.
When I work with AI, I feel like a bit of an art director. It is difficult for me to predict the role of AI now, but I think it will be significant. I think about it a lot. Everything is moving so fast right now. Looking back just a few years, things were different. I remember when the first social networks started and it was a little entertainment. Now, for many, work is unthinkable without it. Sometimes it seems strange.
What do you think of generative art? I know you’ve released a 1/1 series on Objkt.com called FOREST — are there any plans in the works to do a long-form generative project a la fxhash, and if so, can you give us any further information?
When I started to get interested in NFT, I first saw works of generative art. I immediately felt an interest in it. But I haven’t been programming since the time I studied at the institute and I didn’t remember anything. Before, I didn’t have much passion for programming. But my interest was so great that I started learning programming from the beginning.
Now I try to study the history of generative art, I read interviews of great masters. I am very interested in developing in this direction and I still have a lot to learn. In fact, I study there a lot now that sometimes it seems to me that my head will burst! At the moment, we have already released the first project (the long form Between on fxhash) and are preparing several more.
One final question: what piece of advice would you give to girls who wish to pursue a life of art and design?
I would advise all people in art to know history well and to be inquisitive and open to new things. I have many friends of creative professions and some of them are stuck in their development and cannot achieve what they want. I analyzed what unites them, and I think that they are not very interested in what is happening around them. And it is very important to believe in yourself and what you are doing. And if you do it with passion, then it will surely bear fruit.
But it is also important not to think that you have already achieved something. I prefer to always be in the role of a student. This gives me a reason not to stop.
My immense thanks to Olga for taking the time to answer these questions. If you’d like to follow the artist on Twitter or other places, here is a Linktree which also contains links to marketplaces currently selling works.