MakersPlace is honored to host a drop for one of our favorite NFT-native artists, marubu. To celebrate this event, we snagged the first interview with this mystery wrapped in an enigma to learn about his creative process, why he went full-time digital, and how the Berlin club scene influences his work.
Scroll down past the interview for (compressed) previews of his upcoming drop artworks.
To kick things off, I’d love to know a bit about your decision to remain anonymous in the space — what do you think are the benefits and drawbacks of staying anonymous as a career decision?
In the beginning, I wasn’t looking for anonymity as a necessity. marubu is just a shortened version of my first, middle, and last names. The reason was that I wanted something that’s easier to handle for an international audience. I don’t have a big problem with people knowing who I am, but I think the work can speak more strongly when you don’t have too much background on the person.
Some of my friends are so extroverted; they’re like rockstars. But sometimes, I think their charisma might be bigger than the work. I think it’s nice when people know nothing about me but still like the work, but I don’t care if someone knows my name or face.
Can you tell me about the upcoming collection?
For this drop, I didn’t want to do something totally new. I’ve worked on some new direction, but it’s more like an advanced version of what I’ve done before with the portraits. It’s a little more complex, a little more extravagant.
The story or vibe is inspired by my time here in Berlin when I was going to a lot of clubs. I want to get across this energy, especially in my early years in Berlin, when the club scene was experimental and half-legal. Everything felt so huge and interesting. I don’t know if people can tell, but the work tries to get across this feeling of really, really good club nights with people who are very far from normal. There’s an otherworldly vibe. Sometimes it can be tough and hard, but it’s also beautiful and colorful.
I’ve done this with the other collections, like Fancy Fatalies. I like when it’s a little bit fucked up; there’s dark energy. Not too happy-go-lucky, but still fun and with pleasing colors. Not childish, but not taking itself too seriously either. It should all be fun to look at.
What’s your process look like? What mediums do you work in to bring your art together?
I come originally from working only digital. Then I got bored a few years ago and moved to drawing and painting. I returned to digital because I realized that what I like most is stumbling into accidents and coincidences. It can happen with drawing and painting, but it’s much faster and more surprising to do something unplanned digitally. I like that way of working, especially now that I can draw on the iPad.
Then from there I take the drawing from the iPad into Photoshop and mess around with the layers and see what comes up there. And with all these layers, I go into AfterEffects and start animating. AfterEffects is the same process of figuring it out and realizing how much I didn’t plan that goes into these pictures. That has sort of become my style, just from messing around.
Also, I didn’t want to get too complicated. I know myself: when I go too deep into the technology of things, my stuff becomes boring fast. I realized this: when I get to the end of a cycle of making an artwork, my mindset should be, “Oh, that looks good.” When I get too technical, I think of my work, “That’s well done. I did it the right way.” So to avoid that, I think I only use 3% of the software at most.
Your style is unmistakably yours — and it’s primarily portraits. Is there more like “Death Can Wait,” which shows a full-length character?
Yeah, it’s definitely the plan of going somehow into that direction, although I don’t know yet what the overall like look or concept will be. I have a few things that I have played around with full-body figures. As soon as I have a set of at least five to ten that feels like a consistent train of thought or a style that I can recreate, I might have something. I don’t want to do it just because I feel like I “should” do something else. I know how it should feel, but it’s there right now.
But portraits — even when I was painting — they just come so naturally. The pull of faces is so strong that even when it doesn’t start as a face, it ends up being a face. Faces are so quick to recognize. People are always looking for faces. You can see it in every object — “Oh, look, it’s a face. Haha!” So I never get tired of doing more and more faces. It gives me a much quicker emotion than a setting or something. I like artworks of different things, but it’s harder to get an emotion across. It’s great when it does that, but it’s not as easy as a face.
Is that one of your pieces behind you? (*Looking over marubu’s shoulder on Zoom.) It’s incredible.
Thanks. Yeah, I wish I had more time to do that. It’s weird because, in my experience, people are not willing to pay as much or enough for the work you put into a painting. To make the work, you have to pay a lot of money for the paint, the frame, the canvas, and all this stuff. But somehow, people still think that’s something you should get cheap. I don’t know. It was a lot of fun, and I love doing it, but it’s not as rewarding. Most painters sell their work for way too little money, in my experience.
More paintings from marubu
Who are your characters? Where does the source inspiration come from?
I usually look at like just random photos — the pose is so important. There are so many you can do, you know — there’s the side, the front. I was going through photos and saw this one guy looking up and thought, “Oh, I’ve never done that,” so that went into the Offbeatz collection. So it’s helpful to look for inspiration in photos.
With this drop, for instance, I wanted them all to be confident, strong, above everything else because that’s the club world. So the pose had to give a certain attitude.
When did you get started in the NFT world?
Not long ago, probably March of last year. I watched it from the outside for a while. I have a friend living in the U.S., Young & Sick. His brother lives in Berlin, and we got to talking about him. He was having these huge sales.
For me, it seemed like this natural progression. It’s the kind of thing that I had been waiting for. For so long, digital art was frowned upon. This “Oh, but it’s not a painting” kind of attitude. I always thought the opposite. You appreciate the digital when you go to a concert or see a great music video. That’s what gets your attention.
All these people used to work for clients and companies, and now we get to see what they can do when you let them. There are so many talented people who were just treated like hired guns, but they’re artists.
It took at least half a year or something for me to get going. And then the name thing — it was like starting all over again. But once I got started getting attention, I released my first three NFTs — the Fancy Fatalities — and @ModeratsArts bought all three at once. And that helped get the whole stone rolling. It was freeing because I could just do what I wanted to do, and it paid the bills.
Below, you can see a preview* of marubu’s upcoming drop artwork. Enjoy.
* All files are compressed for faster load times.
CLUB RUIN by marubu
A decadent lust for life energy combined with a rather destructive vibe. Worlds that belong together like day and night. Inspired by the Berlin club scene and the burning of many nights. Capturing that raw energy, that otherworldly escapism. Beautifully wild with grand darkness.
This is Club Ruin, founded by six eccentric night birds.
Club Ruin Member #001 – MRB.EXE
Psychedelic wild child with a large backpack of dark secrets.
Club Ruin Member #002 – EQUINOX
A loaded gun with neon glowing synapses.
Club Ruin Member #003 – NIHILIST
A darkroom nomad that couldn’t care less.
Club Ruin Member #004 – INDUSTRIAL HYBRID
Loves to get lost; eats broken beats for breakfast.
Club Ruin Member #005 – WASTEFUL PIXEL
Always the last soul standing on the dance floor.
Club Ruin Member #006 – SPEEDCORE
Raised by wolves with a matte-black soul.