To celebrate the third anniversary of artist Alan Bolton’s joining MakersPlace, we invited the artist for an interview looking back on his web3 career and ahead to what’s coming for 2024.
Brady Walker: How has your vision of yourself as an artist evolved over the past three years?
Alan Bolton: Over the past three years I feel I’ve grown a lot as an artist. I’ve continued to experiment and learn new skills. I’m not afraid to try new styles and I’m a lot more confident now in my work and who I am as an artist.
BW: Following that, how has your process evolved? Are there creative pathways you feel you’ve exhausted? What new pathways have arisen?
AB: My process is continually evolving as I am as a person. Although I am primarily a 3D artist, I do experiment with new mediums and styles. Taking a look at my portfolio of work you can see I have a very fluid style. I love to create art for myself and what feels right. Each piece can take a new direction.
Throughout my life, I’ve worked with graphic design, 2D art in Photoshop, DJing and creating music, and been a photographer and videographer. I never want to tie my whole identity as an artist to “3D.” Who knows what the future will hold? New pathways will always unfold.
BW: You studied Business & Management at university. Did you have a sense of yourself as an artist at that point, or was the inclination something you discovered along the way?
AB: I’ve always been very creative from a young age. I got my first taste of digital art at around 15 years of age when I found Photoshop. I absolutely loved it. Social media wasn’t really a big thing then but some of my friends used a site called “Bebo” and I would create graphics and art for all their profiles. I continued to make digital art in my free time and I made a lot of artworks inspired by my favorite music artists. I have a few deadmau5 pieces I made in 2009 which is funny as I went on to do a six-part music/art collaboration with him on MakersPlace in 2021.
BW: What skills developed during your business-focused education and early marketing career have best served you as an independent artist?
AB: My college degree helped me in a number of ways. Firstly, I moved to LA after college on a graduate visa that I only qualified for due to my degree. It was this experience that really gave me the confidence in myself as an artist to go all in on a creative career. I worked as the head of content for a YouTube channel for 1.5 years before returning home to Ireland and working as a freelance artist full-time. You have to think of yourself as a business. I did a host of entrepreneurial, marketing, and accounting modules in college and these all served me very well in working as an artist full-time.
BW: Your work often toggles between the darker, maximalist aesthetic for which you’re primarily known and this colorful, playful aesthetic that is sprinkled throughout your body of work — with some occasional blending, as in THE IMAGINATION ROOM. Are you intentional about separating the serious themes you explore in the darker work (e.g., such as identity, consciousness, and time) from the lighter themes (e.g., information overload, your love of music, and crypto culture)?
AB: I love to create for myself and what I’m feeling in the moment. A lot of my work is inspired by different philosophers and spiritual concepts. I love listening to podcasts and lectures on different topics and ideas often flow to me. A lot of the time, I have the title of the artwork before I start. I keep a notes app on my phone for titles, and they provide great inspiration for me to get started on a piece. While my work does toggle between light and dark themes, I feel the darker serious themes are more special to me.
BW: Your more serious work tends to focus on ancient themes — God, consciousness, the self — through a sort of cyborg lens. Has this exploration offered any insight into what our future as a species might hold?
AB: As I mentioned above, these artworks are often inspired by what I’m watching and listening to in the moment. The questions about consciousness, the meaning of life, simulation theory, different religious ideologies, and AI are all topics I love to explore and who knows what the future holds. We’re living through a very interesting period here on earth.
BW: Your IG feed is a virtuosic collage of individual posts that become a beautiful wallpaper when viewed as a whole. How do you manage this and what’s the process like?
AB: My Instagram feed is definitely my biggest creative project to date. I’ve been collaging my feed together since 2017. It’s been great fun and it makes my profile stand out, but I’m not gonna lie even after all these years I still get confused during the process from time to time. It’s all done in Photoshop where I divide up the feed in specific dimensions to be exported in. The most difficult part of the process is having enough content. I usually create 6 or 9 posts at a time and then collage them all together. It’s best viewed on my website on desktop where you can view the collage in full. http://www.alanbolton.art/instagram
BW: After breaking out to focus on your personal art away from client work, what have you learned about yourself? Has the creative process offered any personal psychological insights?
AB: I’ve always wanted to work for myself. I’ve learned that I work best on my own schedule and doing my own thing creatively. I like to be in control and own the process. I’m the type of person who will take on 10x the workload just so I can do it all myself. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Having the freedom to create what I want when I want has been incredible. Over the past few years, I’ve traveled and lived in a number of European cities. It’s been a great inspiration to take in new places, cultures, and museums and create art as I travel. Barcelona was my favorite location I lived in during 2022. This was a big inspiration for me and a lot of my work at the time.
BW: Do you use any analog tools in your practice?
AB: While I don’t sketch artworks before creation I’m a big fan of pen-and-paper lists and fleshing out artwork ideas. I have a notepad with me all the time and I often use this to write out details of an artwork. I’m also a big fan of to-do lists and bigger featured drops that require a lot of promos and social media content etc. I will write out lists of everything I need to be created.
BW: Have you thought about your creative direction for 2024? Is there anything you’re excited to try and explore?
AB: I’m looking forward to the new year to release some new pieces and to continue to explore new ideas and styles. Over the past few years, I’ve continued to create a lot of art and keep them to myself. I’m probably one of the few artists who has a large portfolio of unseen work. I sometimes will look at a piece again and again for months and make changes. I’m very selective with the work I release.
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