OG duo Hackatao is among the pioneers in the NFT field and has played a significant role in the crypto art revolution. By moving away from urban city life to nature, they have demonstrated that the world of blockchain art is limitless. The duo remains anonymous, developing their unique style and surprising the cryptocommunity every time with their work. Today, Hackatao is ranked #3 in the top NFT artists on SuperRare, where total sales of their work have exceeded $7 million. And their massive Queens+Kings collection still reflects their worldview.
In an interview, we discussed in detail how artists have moved from the world of traditional art to digital one, how they have achieved such a success and how they see the development of the NFT market in the future.
We are pleased to meet with you today and discuss current issues of space and your vision as artists. So, let’s begin.
Your duo is a rare example of fruitful long-term work between two close people. You’ve known each other since as far back as 2005. What did each of you do during those years?
As you know, we consist of two parts making a whole, S + N. In the years prior to our blending of art, S experimented with graphite, photography, Photoshop and printing, all the while developing his own floating & surreal style. N on the other hand, found herself working creatively by painting on walls, defining what would cement her unique flat style.
Your first creative work was the Podmorks which have become your calling card in the world of traditional art. How did you come up with such interesting unique creations? What was the first public reaction to them?
Podmorks are the first artworks we created together. They appeared in S’s dream and came to life through pottery and thanks to N they get colors and eyes! These small totemic sculptures have grown with the time also becoming canvas, pvc prints and nowadays also digital 3D or Pixel on the blockchain.
Until 2011, you exhibited at various Italian exhibitions, and in 2011 you participated in an international exhibition for the first time. What kind of experience was that?
Yes! It was DADAUMPOP curated by Igor Zanti in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that took it to India. It was very exciting, we had incredible feedback from the public as our art had been greatly appreciated.
Back In 2012, you had your first large exhibition, for which your duo created 46 works in just a few months. Where do you get your inspiration and ideas for creativity?
When you are immersed in the process there is no need to ask for inspiration as you are lost in the flow of the creation already. Inspiration comes while you are creating. If you stop, you’ll fail.
Our surroundings, be they personal, universal, social or intimate and so on. The experience of existence has many avenues to garner inspiration from, we should choose only to see them.
Despite the successes of your career, 2016-2017 were watershed years for you in terms of your assessment of the traditional art market, the importance of gallery owners and their commissions. What events prompted these reflections?
We left Milan in search of living a life that was more disconnected from the centralized world of art. We have always believed that it is possible to live decentralized but connected through the web. A new experimentation era had started. Our ideas started to brighten but it was not easy to find them a market until we entered the crypto art realm.
You are the pioneers of the NFT market. In 2018, you were among the first artists that the SuperRare platform started working with. What were your first steps in the blockchain art field? And what were your impressions of working with the SuperRare team?
2018 was a pivotal year as it sparked the “creation” of the NFT Spaces. We believed in the future of the art world and as such, started the process of bringing that future forth along with other OGs. We brainstormed and layed out the foundation of the new system, offering advice from a technical and artistic standpoint. We also participated in the advocacy for rights and values such as the secondary royalties for the artists in the space. It was and continues to be our preferred space as it represents our reserved nature and we can create freely with no interference from intermediaries.
What major challenges have you encountered in your NFT journey?
Consistency and non-wavering belief are for sure two factors that helped us to emerge in this new world. A challenge that was not a real challenge we could say. Making art is a need for us and we cannot avoid it; and we have lots of fun doing that!
Since 2018, you have been prominent representatives of crypto art and are actively involved in building the NFT space. Why did you decide to develop more in this direction?
This is the Digital Renaissance and the idea of being digitally native and decentralized is very appealing to us. It was a natural decision.
You are among the artists who have successfully created a unique style. Please tell us a little bit about your process from start to finish. What tools do you mostly use to create your digital works? How much time do you usually spend on a piece?
The creative process is the most beautiful and pure moment for us as we see it as a way of channeling our nature and “childlike” wonder. We invest a lot of time into research and often question ourselves. A spark of thought could come from any avenue such as a conversation or a text as well as collaborating or brainstorming within our community. The main tools we use are our minds and our hearts. We are always working and creating, art never stops. We often experiment on the digital side of art, for instance we are currently invested in generative art.
During the pandemic, you started experimenting and looking to develop your creativity in other areas of the blockchain industry. You released your social money $MORK and also published your first Podmork HOD in 3D VR. What could you say about this diverse and new experience for you at the time?
The pandemic arrived with challenges, but led to more innovation on the digital landscape, a double-edged sword if you will. We have, however, been living off the grid and pursuing a decentralized lifestyle even before the arrival of the pandemic. That period was filled with creative energy for us. We were living in two parallel worlds, our house in the middle of nature, far from the lockdowns of big cities, and in the crypto realm that was exploding.
Your first NFT works from 2018 were 1/1, but later, Queens+Kings collection of 6,900 NFTs became your greatest brainchild. How did you come up with the idea for this large-scale project?
The Queens+Kings project was born from the requests of our community to explore the PFP scene. The idea was to experiment with new artistic journeys bringing technical innovation. We wanted our avatars to be interchangeable, to make collectors a part of the artistic process.
Subverting the traditional relationship between artist and collectors. This is the uniqueness of our Q+K project and it is really appreciated by the most active collectors.
What is the meaning of this project? How do you see the development of this metaverse?
Innovation, Evolution, Connection & Sovereignty. “We are all Queens+Kings” is a mantra that is at the heart of this project.It allows for all collectors to actively change and express their identity in a manner that is both fun and meaningful. Our community is filled with incredible purveyors of art and is one that is fully immersed into our process. Creators and collectors collaborated in the artistic path subversing their traditional roles. We believe that sovereignty is the right of all and that it is paramount to living a fulfilled existence and this is why participants in the project have full responsibility over their Queen+Kingdoms.
Your work Hack of a bear created in 2021 was the subject of bidding at Christie’s auction, which for any artist is a big honor and, sometimes, a goal in itself. Why do you think your works are so highly appreciated and recognized by the entire crypto market as those among the best ones?
Art consists of a power that is a constant flow of ideas from the past being reimagined in the present. As long as the piece brings good feelings to those that experience it, that is all that matters.
Obviously for us to collaborate with Christie’s and work on Da Vinci’s artwork was a dream come true.
How has your art changed globally since you entered the NFT market?
All of our Art will always be quintessentially Hackatao. Our styles are always present and we believe that is a vital aspect of the relationship between Artists and their Art. We feel our art has constantly evolved, rather than” changed”. You could say that we changed the medium, not the style or the approach.
You remain completely anonymous all the years. What is the reason for this? Do you plan to reveal your real identity in the future?
We enjoy a discreet and decentralized life, and believe that the art should always be the focus. “Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards”, who knows what the future holds. Unlikely though.
You have a large and loyal community. Please describe it. What is it like?
Our community is filled with lovely artists, collectors and everything in between. We share a wonderful relationship with them all and they are always involved in the creative process. Our community is also our daily support. It’s so nice to share our art projects with them and it’s always meaningful to receive their feedback. We love involving our collectors and we are eternally grateful for their support.
How did you build your community?
The same way Zeus constructed Mt. Olympus. Ahahah
How do you develop it? What methods do you use?
We always brainstorm together with our community as we ourselves are a part of it. We believe that all hierarchies should be subverted and as such our community has no favorites, rather many parts of the whole. Communication in any community is vital and as we humans have yet to develop telepathy, we’ve settled for Discord and Twitter.
How do you think people feel when they look at your art?
We hope they feel however the piece makes them feel. Everyone is different and perspective matters.
How do you define your art?
It is very difficult to self-define, especially for us as we don’t necessarily like definitions.
What are the key actions you have taken to build your career?
Always residing within the creative flow. Hard work, consistency. Belief in our dreams and create.
What advice would you give to aspiring NFT artists? What is the key to success?
Look to research, innovate and collaborate. Create your own realm and build it up, give it your all.
The key to success is to find it within yourself. Do not repeat what has already been done, find your own path and follow it with love.
Over the past couple of years, the NFT market has experienced a crisis, lots of hype, a great boom and crazy sales volumes. What do you think about the current state of the industry?
We think that the Bear Market is an opportunity. To focus on artistic creations instead of sales. It’s probably the best way to clean the market from speculation while shifting the focus only onto the art and experimentation.
As far as investment approach is concerned, do you think it’s worth investing in the NFT art in 2023?
Maybe investing is not the right word, we prefer experiencing or enjoying. And yes, it is always time to buy art if you feel the resonance within you.
What will the NFT industry look like in 5-50 years? What is your vision for the future of it?
Who really knows? That is why we strive to remain present within the space and learn and grow as it does. We hope that commercialization and centralization do not weave their way into the space. We expect a lot of change as it is always changing, and we’re ready and excited for that.1 year in the crypto space is 10 years in the traditional one. Can we really predict how the earth will be in 500 years?
What do you think the NFT industry lacks in order to gain mass acceptance by the global community?
The paradigm shift is inevitable. NFTs have given many creators the opportunity to live and thrive with their digital creativity, the language of our time. It is inevitable, but like any revolution, unfortunately, the previous generation anchored on the old model must… disappear.
We believe that as time passes, more people catch on. Some are simply faster than others.