Who is the Creator 2 Featuring José Delbo
I now know how a young Robert Rauschenberg felt in 1953 when he knocked on the front door of the home of his idol Willem de Kooning to ask if he could have one of his sought after drawings, not for an art swap, but to erase it!
In my case, I contacted the legendary comic book artist José Delbo in August with an equally unusual proposal. I wanted to appropriate one of his artworks to create something entirely new from it. I was nervous because I had to explain to him that to make this piece ‘work’, he couldn’t have any say in what I created. Therefore, he’d have to trust me entirely that I would approach this collaboration tactfully and I wouldn’t in any way tarnish his long standing reputation.
I guess we’ll find out on Thursday, October 15th if Mr Delbo needed to worry or not when the work drops on MakersPlace as, just like everyone else, he’ll be seeing the completed animation for the first time.
It was a big ask but that wasn’t all. I also explained that I personally wouldn’t create the animation myself but that I’d hire professionals to do everything for me and this act was essential to the piece. Once completed, I’d sign it ‘Trevor Jones’ and I’d call it a collaboration. To be honest, I’m a little surprised José agreed to all of this in the first place.
The idea was borne out of a tweet of mine in August that caused a bit of an uproar. I’d posted a link to a blog article I’d written the beginning of the year titled ‘Who is the Creator’ discussing various types of creative collaborations and why I hire people to work on my animations. I’m a traditional painter, not an animator and me producing my own subpar animations to tokenize was simply out of the question. I’ve always had a focus on quality and part of that process means hiring people with ‘a very particular set of skills’, that I don’t have.
Image – Violet holding the original paintings ‘Violin, Grapes & Bitcoin’ (Who is the Creator) and ‘Cubist Satoshi’ with ‘Ethereum Girl’ behind
After my first NFT ‘EthGirl’, a collaboration with the innovative and talented Money_Alotta, my subsequent drops have all been created with my paintings, my ideas, my photoshop ‘grunt’ work, and my vision, but fully realised through the outsourcing of the digital animation part. Relying on ‘hired guns’ is not a foreign concept in the art world with this practice being found in abundance throughout the Renaissance workshop era all the way up to today with contemporary artists like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, but my admission did rock the boat somewhat in cryptoart land. Although I’d never kept my practice a secret, after my tweet, it appears that it also wasn’t common knowledge.
The controversy got me questioning why people were so shocked in the first place. Does anyone think less of a Scorsese or Peter Jackson film even though they don’t work the lighting, camera or create the VFX themselves? Of course not, but then a second point of contention was that I didn’t credit the people I’d hired. Again, do architects credit the workmen who build their monumental structures and what about ghost writers who write autobiographies or who are even hired by other famous writers to work on their book with no credit given? My take on it (as well as Koons’ and Hirst’s and other artists who hire staff) is, why should I credit an employee for doing work that they’re paid for.
Regardless, I decided to explore how far I could run with this, to find out if there is a line that can be crossed for art being created in such a manner in this wild west of NFTs and if so, where is it? What kind of artwork and the production of it will be accepted by the majority of the community and which practices will be deplored?
What if I quite literally had nothing to do with the physical or digital elements of the work other than coming up with the idea?
View the Jose Delbo collab artworks at MakersPlace
José gives me one of his brilliant drawings, I write a script and send along with the brief to a professional to animate for me and then I connect with a musician to produce the soundtrack under my instruction. Once I’m happy with the final piece I send it to MakersPlace to tokenize on my account. Do I deserve the credit for it, or is that not fair?
My argument is that although I didn’t create the original drawing or the animation or even the music, I am in fact the writer, director and producer of this art piece and there is no need to credit someone for following a brief and making edits that I ask for. So, in my opinion ‘yes’, absolutely it’s fair — but at the end of the day, I’ll let the cryptoart community be the judge and jury.
Something I only began to fully understand after I’d left art college is that for an artist to truly grow, one must constantly challenge one’s own preconceptions of what art is. An artist should always explore new creative processes with a focus on pushing boundaries – especially their own. I wouldn’t have even contemplated an art project like this a year ago. Now, not only am I loving everything about it, I’m already looking forward to where this exciting ‘collaboration’ leads me and my work to next.
Along with this somewhat controversial piece Who is the Creator 2, we also have three more unique pieces dropping on the 15th. I hope this collection of work will be viewed now and in the future as innovative and significant. This is a body of work by two artists who, although having a combined 90 years working as professional artists, are still capable of growing, adapting and pushing boundaries.
It’s been an absolute honour working with the great José Delbo. I grew up in the 70s/80s and when I picture ‘comic books’, I think of artwork like José’s, which sparked my imagination as a young boy and very importantly, inspired me to draw.
Lastly, it’s not important whether people agree with me or not on the statements I make about this work. My aim is that through Who is the Creator 2, I encourage each viewer to think about what this piece is and to question what it represents.
Is the ‘Art’ the final animation (the creation) or is the ‘Art’ the concept/credit for the creation itself? Or is it both?