Hi Everyone! Crypto Northerner here with another editorial for MakersPlace! The aim of the Artist vs Collector Series is to highlight artistic talent in the digital art space. We often solely see the artwork itself, but miss key details and background information about the artists themselves. Here we aim to bring the artists to life, highlight the thoughts around their creations and follow them through their artistic journey.

Javier Arrés was one of the first artists I did some real background research on after his fantastic, fun and colourful visual toys caught my attention. The detail is immense and the work laborious – its real art in its truest form, based on real themes, brought to life through focused animations and imagination.

“Neo-American Football Pop Altarpiece”

Maybe we can start with art in general and talk us through how you grew up with it, why you continued with it and how you found digital art?

I was always a child who drew – my parents enrolled me in drawing and painting classes at the age of eleven because the truth was that it was already something that I was passionate about. After that, my life was that of a normal young man but always combined with painting classes. I have painted a lot in oil, formal works, still lifes, landscapes – all very classic and academic. I learnt the basics of all this the classic way. Everything was aimed at me studying Fine Arts, I started it, I did it first in Altea, a beautiful town on the Alicante coast, very close to Benidorm. After that I went back to the University of Granada, where I am from. I left Uni in the second year because the truth was I didn’t like it at all – it was like a factory of serial artists who didn’t even think, all very academic, all without time to recreate and investigate, in short, an outdated system. I spent years going alone to the drawing course, because I liked it, but I never turned in any work. I was a free spirit and had been doing the same thing since i was eleven years old, and I was looking for something more.

During those years I was always curious about digital. I was a 100% computer kid playing all the video games on the PC and game consoles. I was interested in that world – I saw a lot of quality and more creativity and freedom. That is why I studied and graduated in Graphic Design and multimedia production (2005/2008). There the classical and traditional artistic education met with the new and digital – and here we are today.

“AK-47 Conqueror Parrot War Machine”

Your work is highly recognisable – the fun animation, hyperdetail, fantasy, toy like art – how did you find this as your brand?

Before creating Visual Toys and defining my style in terms of hyper-detail or compositional entanglements, I had been working as an illustrator, graphic designer and art director for many years. This is important. When you work many years for clients, publishers and brands, you always suggest things, go further, take risks, look for personality, and those ideas are always rejected for more traditional, less original ideas. I’m mostly talking about when I was commissioned with picture books for young people / children. There – it is difficult to sell a drawing, idea or personal style and curiously when it is done it is usually very successful. Let’s say that my style arises from being fed up having to draw many very beautiful, great but very commercial and stereotyped styles in my opinion. I imagined something different with the things that I liked and look to combine everything that I really wanted to draw, and in the end it was games like Sim City, Roller Coaster Tycoon, movies like Blade Runner, Back to the Future, Star Wars, books like Where is Waldo (Wally is Spanish). Also architecture that I love, types of construction, lights. To sum up, sometimes it is important to do alot of high quality artworks for many years, but ultimately that is not what your creative heart wants or likes. I searched for something that was uniquely mine.

“Crypto Combat”

How did you find Makersplace (MP) and how has the relationship been with them ?

Makersplace found me! They wrote to me and they told me about their platform, the NFTs and crypto art. They were very friendly and everything was great. I am very grateful to them. Currently I am more than happy with them – they help me a lot with certain incidents and I owe them for encouraging me to enter the crypto art world. The fact that I have only minted with them is that my work requires many days of work, my production is very tight due to the laboriousness of its drawing and imaginations. Luckily I have a lot of orders in the queue and some other things in the pipeline.

“Crypto Toy Coin”

Could you maybe detail some of the commission works you have done? I’ve noticed the ones for magazines, the NFL, whisky companies, even an MTV interview you did, as well as for the Hong Kong government?

I have had several very interesting ones. Some I have obtained on my own and others come through representation agencies, such as IllustrationX which is the one that now represents me exclusively. For magazines I have done several covers for These Football Times, it is something that I like and I hope I can do many more. The NFL were two very important assignments with a lot of work. It was first an animated digital landscape mural to explain and present in a fun and imaginative way how the NFL’s new voice app works at the NFL’s annual private owners and partners fair. The next one was for the stand they put up on the day of the Superbowl, there were many in the street, hotels, surrounding areas – everything was sold. Well, I made a mural of about 3 meters for the NFL stand, from the NFL lab department. That one has not been released as an NFT yet because I want to modify a complete side and make it less corporate. For Hong Kong I actually think it was a publication in the South China Morning Post, but that illustration was commissioned from me in Singapore, and it was also published there. It was something simple and fun for an article about bacteria and dirt on cell phones. The interview on MTV Asia was on the occasion of the First Asia Gif Art Festival, I was the invited international artist and they interviewed me for that, it was a great experience, I was a bit nervous I won’t deny it haha. I have also done an illustration for The New York Times and Corriere della Sera amongst others.

What’s the most laborious piece of work you have been involved in and how long did it take you to finalise your artistry? The “Neo American Football Pop Altarpiece” looks fantastical! The detail is amazing – must have taken weeks?!

The Altarpiece was a lot of work – a lot! – but the most laborious works are undoubtedly the large-format ink works like the winner of the Biernnal de Arte, which took me about two months. There are currently two large-format for sale at the Gagliardi Gallery in London and another in Florence waiting in a warehouse to be sent to a Fair when Covid passes. By the way, of these large formats, two of them, including the winner of the Art Biennale, are digitized and will go on sale in the near future.

Could you maybe talk about some of the awards you have won over the years and the due diligence and process that goes into getting these awards?

The most important was the Art Biennial 2019 in the category of “Works on paper” – it was also sold the same day for an amount that I could not imagine – it was a great day. Also winning the Creativepool People Choice Award in 2017 was important because there was a lot of competition and being chosen by the public en masse is great. There are also many mentions and although they are not awards I have also been able to exhibit in places that for me is like an award, such as Art Capital Paris 2020. I would say that what you have to do to win a contest of that level is not to be in a hurry to win it. When I started to develop my style I did not imagine winning them and I did not even know them or anything. The important thing is to have a serious, solid, committed and honest work and once you have some weight, you can safely launch yourself into the most meritocratic contests you can find. I say this as Spanish above all. In Spain the contests are all very politically rigged, the subsidies spoil everything – there are friends amongst the judges. Sadly, it’s a waste of time. I looked especially in London, to be able to exhibit there and make myself known. I believe that if they see something that is good and that after all they can do business with it, they take advantage of it and help you. For example – I have had orders from, New Zealand, USA, Germany, Singapore, England – none from Spain as well as being ignored by several Spanish Illustration agencies. I was booked first from an agency in the US and then by another from London. In short, go show your art already developed where there is an art market and where art contests really work on merits and don’t give up. The most important thing is a quality or unique work.

“Capitol City”
“Javier Arrés – Winner – Works on Paper @ London Art Biennale 2019”

If I picked out 2 of my fun favourites – they would be “Murderer’s Tombstone” and “Pizza Van” – how did you come about with the concept and what finalised the piece?

Glad you commented on those two Visual Toys. My creations respond many times to how certain daily objects could be more spectacular, more unique or more original. In the case of “Murderer’s Tombstone” I am a person who likes to visit cemeteries. I have not visited many because it is not a hobby shared by many people!, but I think that there are some very beautiful ones. In them there are very simple tombstones but I love the spectacular ones – that of gypsies, bullfighters or artists or kings. For me a spectacular tombstone or funeral monument seems to me a basic that we should all aspire to. To leave between all an art museum cemetery with each one his style but without rules. Of course, sometimes I think what my tombstone would be like or that of certain real or imagined characters and in this case the work is an imagined tombstone of a murderer. It is a bit controversial because a murderer should not deserve so much praise, but that is precisely why it is interesting to imagine it. In “Pizza Van” it is something similar. We all know food trucks, I love them and they have something special but once again I imagine it beyond. I try to imagine it more striking and unique and at the end of the day I wonder what my food truck would be like. I translate it into my visual language because at the end of the day I would love to have a “Pizza Van” in real life as I would like to have a real tombstone that would also be crazy fantasy.

“The Pizza Van”

The “DJ Wanderer” also stands out versus some of the other art pieces you have done – another great and fun piece – is there a story behind this? 

I’m a fan of the entire Mad Max saga, of those post apocalyptic aesthetics. I imagined one of those characters that could swarm through those worlds. A character not seen in those movies or stories. A DJ who goes from settlement to post-apocalyptic settlement playing worn-out records from the pre-apocalypse era. Many born in that world never listened to music until this enigmatic DJ visited them. In the end its all about imagining stories. I have mine, but I love listening to what others imagine by observing my work. All are valid, the important thing is to imagine.

“The DJ Wanderer”

The work done for Olympique Marseille, Real Madrid, Barcelona, River Plate and PSV are immense – can you talk towards these pieces and your interest in football?

I played soccer as a goalkeeper for about five years, federated and competing but not professionally. Regional categories, many games, promotions, victories, defeats – everything. I have seen matches at Anfield, Bernabeu, Camp Nou … I like football. But not only practicing football or watching the big games – I like visually everything that surrounds it, the stadium, the fans, the flags, the food stalls around it, the sound of a full field before a great night, the shirts, the ball, the colors of the goal nets, the lawn mowing, the spotlights, the players … Everything. And also of course vintage football, the kits, the mud fields, the faces of the players of the past. Everything. For me it is a current human cultural expression that fascinates me. I think my passion shows in soccer jobs. I try to capture not only the most popular stars and icons in them. That is mandatory but for me there is more. For example. For the work of PSV in which the stadium is the protagonist, I spent hours circling Google maps around the stadium and around the city. I like to see its architecture, monuments, I investigate what is eaten before the game, curiosities that always exist. And I decided, in the case of PSV, to use a type of reddish brick and its herringbone arrangement that is around the stadium, on the ground. Of course I used light bulbs and electronics everywhere as it is Philips equipment and included monuments. I think everything adds up in soccer to identify a team. Because these are not just franchises but they change the look of a city. They are teams from their city with history and many cultural details of their own. For Marseille, the city was key, its maritime spirit etc. Each team has its soul. I would also like to take the opportunity to say that all modern soccer stadiums, such as Arsenal or Atletico de Madrid, seem horrible to me. Stadiums without personality that could be in London or Japan. I do the opposite. Let this team breathe its personality, city and history through every pore.

Are you looking to take part in any collabs in the coming year?

I am always open to collaborations. But right now my time is limited, but for sure at some point I will at least do one.

If you could think of one artist, past or present – who would you love to collab with? How do the artworks complement each other?

Artists of the past fascinate me a lot. History is something that makes me imagine a lot. I think I would love to collaborate with Goya. I don’t know how it would be, or how I would explain it to an 18th century genius, but just knowing him would be enough. At present my dream is to collaborate with Wes Anderson, because I think my style could fit very well with his stories. I am fascinated by his cinema and it seems to me one of the few visually interesting proposals today. He takes risks. An absolute genius. If Spielberg calls me I don’t care either haha!

What sports are you into? Who is your favourite football, (any sport team?) and which countries would you like to visit in future and why?

I don’t practice any, but in the past I practiced a lot. I really like surfing and snowboarding. I’m from Motril, a small town on the coast, I’m from the beach. But very close is Sierra Nevada where there are ski slopes. It is a privileged place. If everything continues well, the intention is to move to a house near a beach with decent waves, I surf and so I move a little. I think that if you are Spanish you don’t have a favorite team, you are from a team. I have been with Barça since I was little, I really like Atletico de Madrid, but my team is Barcelona. I was from that team when they were not winning, when it was difficult or almost impossible for the team to reach a Champions League semi-finals. Everything has changed a lot thanks to Cruyff, for me the Da Vinci of Soccer. But I also want to say that the entity, the club, certain directives mixed politics and football, terrible ideologies that occur in that Spanish region, Catalonia, which made me feel like a fan despised by the club. It is something complex and quite regrettable. Just saying that when politics and sports are mixed is a sign of something bad. As for countries to visit, I must say that the plane makes me nervous. I do not travel calm and my hands sweat all the way. Even so, I would like to visit countries like the United States, perhaps in a less touristy way but that is difficult. Asia fascinates me too, but my idea for the future is to be in a nice quiet house near the sea and dedicate myself to my family, surfing (if possible) and drawing. Traveling stresses me out although the truth is worth it.

“La Masia”