Brady Walker: How do you think about your own creative license in a collaboration like this?

Tania Rivilis: Collaborations like these present a unique opportunity to take NFT-based teamwork to a new level. Platforms like MakersPlace greatly simplify collaborations and provide a space for artists from various backgrounds to blend skills, styles, and ideas. Unfortunately, collaborations aren’t as commonplace in the traditional art world as they ought to be.

Working in tandem offers the remarkable prospect of seeing your work through another artist’s eyes.I’m truly thrilled that Animus has gathered an impressive lineup of artists to work on Olga’s photograph, and I’m equally flattered to have been invited to participate. I am grateful to Animus for their total commitment to the project, as well as their passion for and dedication to artists and creativity.

Dana by Olga Shpak

BW: How did the process of painting the work change your perception of Olga’s photo?

TR: Olga’s works are replete with poetry and address modern issues of gender and self-expression – I am deeply impressed by her works. I am particularly moved by her interpretations of the image of Saint Sebastian. I appreciate how Olga processes her subjects, often taking comprehensible themes and transforming them into complex, mosaic-like explorations.

In painting from Olga’s photo, I found that my perception deepened. As I attempted to bring my own interpretation to her work, I found myself being drawn into the layers of her imagery, the intricate details of the emotions and meanings she portrayed. It’s a process that can fundamentally change how one perceives a photograph, opening up new depths and avenues of thought that might not have been apparent at first glance.

BW: Did you feel pushed out of your creative comfort zone with this collaboration? If so, how? If not, why?

TR: Olga’s work resonates with me profoundly, so I was thrilled to be a part of this collaboration. When Animus presented me with Olga’s photograph of a woman, I had to pause for a moment, as I predominantly paint male portraits.

However, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and work on something different. As Olga herself said, she enjoys stepping out of her comfort zone because “surprise — the beginning of a creative search.” 

The work took some time, as I changed the background, and removed or added hands, which weren’t in the original photograph. I wanted to add something of my own, my interpretation of Olga’s work. So, to answer your question, yes, I was pushed out of my creative comfort zone, but in the most exciting and challenging way.

Letter to Dana by Tania Rivilis

BW: Can you describe the process of adapting this photo to a painting? Did you take the prompt literally? Were you entertaining any directions that you ended up not taking?

TR: In my works, I try to abstract from photo references, unless, of course, it’s a commissioned piece. In Olga’s works, I feel the primary focus isn’t an absolute copy of her work but a deep emotional understanding of the imagery. That’s what I attempted to do with the piece that Julian (Animus) chose for this collaboration.

Initially, I painted a portrait that was quite similar to Olga’s reference. But afterward, I realized it didn’t quite capture what I felt when I saw her work. So, I decided to add a narrative and poetry, tying this work to my piece from 2021 titled “Body Chess.” That piece was also involved in a collaboration with Laurence Fuller and his poetry, uniting these two works into a love story that transcends time. It felt symbolic to me.

To connect this work to my current state and situation, I incorporated lines from the poems of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa into the letter the woman holds in her hand.

BW: How would you advise artists entering their first collaboration? 

TR: Perhaps the first step is understanding if an artist wants to form a creative union with someone else. This decision is one made from the heart, and not everyone is necessarily ready for it. If the artist feels prepared, the next step is choosing the artistic language the collaborators will use to communicate with each other. In the NFT community, this is often easier, as artists are already open to new experiences and ready to step out of their comfort zones.

Once you’ve chosen who to collaborate with, the most crucial aspect is communication. You need to understand whether you’ll grant each other complete creative freedom or if you’ll meticulously trace each stage of the process. Regardless of the path chosen, it’s a question of full interaction and trust.

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