We recently caught up with glitch and 3D artist NoNoNoNoNo (aka FiveTimesNo) to celebrate his work for this week’s Spotlight.

Brady Walker: In your bio, you lead by calling yourself “self-taught.” Can you walk me through the process of your own self-education? Where did you start? Who did you follow?

FiveTimesNo: Well, I suppose I’m not 100% self-taught, as I did take art classes throughout grade and high school and dropped out of an art and design university course. 

Everything I do now has been through teaching myself how to use various software and techniques since nearly all the tech I use now didn’t exist 20 years ago when I was at school. 

That said, I started making art when I was four years old, and it is something that I have done my entire life because I love it. It is just as important to me as breathing or eating. 

When I was old enough to find artists and styles that resonated with me, my first favorites were the likes the abstract expressionists, the constructivists/suprematists of the early USSR, and post-war British graphic design, especially that of Vaughan Oliver and Peter Saville.

Just a few iconic album covers by Vaughan Oliver

BW: Do you have any advice for the autodidactic creators out there? (I desperately want to know!)

FTN: Absolutely! Just do what you feel is right. Follow your own path and create according to your own emotions or what looks beautiful to you. Most importantly, keep learning. 

There are endless tutorials out there for every type of software one could imagine. Following tutorials not only teaches you new techniques but can be instrumental in helping you find your own style by putting your own spin on some new techniques you’ve not tried before. 

The Demilitarised Zone Between Your Soul and Mine 158 by NoNoNoNoNo 

BW: Tell me about your pseudonym and why you chose it. 

FTN: If you watch a film or TV series and something bad is about to happen or someone has received some bad news, the characters often say “no” out loud about 4 or 5 times in a row. I thought it was kind of cool, plus I have this whole British faux-miserable thing going on, and saying “no” to everything in a kind of tongue-in-cheek way just seems to fit my personality.

BW: Can you tell me about the piece “The Demilitarised Zone Between Your Soul and Mine 187”?

FTN: Absolutely. Essentially this one was made after I received a diagnosis of cancer over the summer. Specifically, Marginal Zone Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. As you can imagine, the thoughts that can run through one’s mind, the worry and fear, all of that is a bit disorientating and difficult to come to terms with. While the cancer was eating away at the lymph nodes in my abdomen, my mind was also falling apart, hence the disintegration in both places in that piece. 

The Demilitarised Zone Between Your Soul and Mine 187 by NoNoNoNoNo

BW: You have a few series with very distinct naming conventions and a looser stylistic connection. I’m thinking of The Demilitarised Zone Between Your Soul and Mine and Blissful Caustic Portals to Luxurious Self-Annihilation. Why create a series like this instead of naming them individually? What ties the pieces in these series together?

FTN: Since I tend to work in several differing styles, I felt it was easiest to make a series based on the style and keep all the works in the respective styles within those series. It just felt natural to me, plus since I am quite prolific, it’s practical in terms of saving me time when it comes to naming each work!  

The Demilitarised Zone Between Your Soul and Mine started out as a series of works that helped me deal with the breakup of a long-term relationship by creating these strange, glitched and messed-up 3D people and since then has just kind of continued as an outlet for expressing various emotions. I suppose it’s the emotions I’m exploring and expressing that tie this particular series together, whereas, for a series such as  Blissful Caustic Portals to Luxurious Self-Annihilation, it’s the very fact that that particular series always features glassy rainbow caustics that binds it together.

Blissful Caustic Portals to Luxurious Self-Annihilation 22 by NoNoNoNoNo

BW: The Soul of Man Under Late Capitalism is fairly consistent, but as I looked through your work, I challenged myself to guess which image belonged to which series, and I often mixed up Arrogant Colours, Insecure Generations, and ____NEGATIVVE_LΛΛNDSCAPE_. How do you know when a piece belongs to one series versus another?

FTN: I actually love that you had a difficult time putting some works into their correct series! Maybe I should be a bit put out that they didn’t all necessarily seem immediately evident as to where they belonged, but I love the fact that you tried! Honestly, it’s mostly the technique and software used that gives them their sense of belonging. For example, the  ____NEGATIVVE_LΛΛNDSCAPE series is all abstract, handmade 3D landscapes, whereas the Arrogant Colours… series are abstract 2D landscapes that are generated in Processing, then heavily edited in Photoshop.


BW: ____NEGATIVVE_LΛΛNDSCAPE_ reminds me of one of my favorite bands, Negativeland, and the images are something I’d expect to find associated with Negativland. Is there an affinity there?

FTN: Unfortunately, no connection there, I am afraid to report! I just liked the sound of a landscape that was a bit miserable or negative in outlook, even though it’s a bright and colourful series for the most part!

BW: How does your work in 3D influence your glitch work, and vice versa?

FTN: I’ve only been working with 3D for about five years or so now, but it was HEAVILY influenced by my glitch work at the start. In fact, I only moved into 3D work simply because I thought it would give a greater definition to my 2D glitch work. Not all of my 3D work is glitchy these days, but there’s always some element of the glitch aesthetic in both the DMZ and  ____NEGATIVVE_LΛΛNDSCAPE series.

D M Z 1 6 1 by NoNoNoNoNo

BW: What do you hope people feel or take away when they see your art?

FTN: I think that should be up to the viewer. So long as they feel SOMETHING, I am happy, and my job has been done. I think the worst thing for me as an artist would be for someone to look at my work and simply feel nothing. Even if they have some sort of repulsion or negative response, they still felt something. 

Art should always make you FEEL, in my opinion. I realize that this may be a bit of a cop-out, but I suppose I take the more Lynchian view that art can and should be open to interpretation by the viewer and that there’s no right or wrong way to feel or interpret a work of art.

res_C9109733_GETBREXITDONE by NoNoNoNoNo

BW: Right at the top of your LinkTree, you have a call for licensing your art. Has anyone taken you up on that? I’d love to see a NoNoNoNoNo-designed album cover and album campaign.

FTN: I have indeed created many album covers or sold previously made works as covers. Mind you, these have always been for smaller, less-established musicians which never involve large marketing budgets or campaigns, but I do have some loyal clients who I regularly make album covers for.

BW: You have a few distinct styles — heavy glitch, geometric minimalism, abstract 3D, and figurative (though still pretty abstract) 3D. Where do you feel most at home? Are there any particular artists who have inspired these diverse outputs?

FTN: These days I think I feel most at home working in abstract 3D — it just feels the most comfortable and natural place for me to be right now, and the possibilities are endless. I love the freedom that working in 3D gives me that just isn’t there in 2D work, such as the ability to easily capture different angles with the camera, explore a strange landscape that I created from one of my own images or create my own lighting setup. 

As for influences or inspirations in terms of where I am at right now, I’d really struggle to name anyone who is currently influencing me consciously. I’m sure I’m constantly being influenced unconsciously, however!


BW: How has your recent battle with cancer affected your art practice?

FTN: It’s made everything in life, especially making art, more difficult. Obviously, most of my time right now is being taken up with health issues and just dealing with the general ravages that chemotherapy has had on both my mind and body. I’m doing my best to keep creating through this battle, but it’s a slow process. Everyone tells you about the physical sides of having cancer and the treatment, but nobody ever talks about what it does to one’s mind — the depression, the inability to think clearly and, especially for me, the lack of any drive to really create.

BW: How are you feeling these days?

FTN: I’m up and down at the moment but starting to feel more up than down. I’ve completed 5 of 8 rounds of chemo, and my body is starting to respond positively, so things are starting to look up! I still have a lot of fighting to do, but I’ll get there!

The Demilitarised Zone Between Your Soul and Mine 140 by NoNoNoNoNo

BW: Which artists have had the biggest impact on your work?

FTN: Turner, Valette, Pollock, Rothko, Malevich, Lissitzky, Rodchenko, Auerbach, Lynch, and Oliver are some artists who have always made an impact on me, whether directly or indirectly.

BW: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self about art and creativity?

Don’t worry about trends, don’t worry that some people simply won’t like your work. Just create what feels right, what’s in your heart. That’s what matters. Nobody will be happy with your work if you are not happy with it. And just keep going. There is no right or wrong way to be creative, so long as you’re creating.

The Demilitarised Zone Between Your Soul and Mine 159 by NoNoNoNoNo

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