London-based Icelandic artist Kristjana S. Williams has branched out into a new medium as she launches her first new NFT collection, Head in The Clouds, which is currently on display in the artist's pop-store in Carnaby Street.
On show until Spring 2023, the collection has been released in partnership with VIVE Arts and is available to purchase globally through the platform. It contains a unique series of artworks algorithmically generated from three core artworks: Heart of Nature, Contemplating Skeleton and Drifting Skeleton.
It might sound like a dramatic change of pace for a collage artist, considering the medium is one of the most tactile and analogue mediums still going. But for multidisciplinary artist Kristjana, whose work spans laser cut collage, animation and digital design, computers are just another tool in her artistic toolkit.
"I like working with my hands as much as I enjoy working digitally," she explains. "I love going to museums to research and find inspiration and to markets to collect findings which I can use in my work.
"I visit antique stores, map houses, markets, and even scroll through the New York Library online to find copyright-free engravings. I use a lot of Victorian engravings in my collages, which was how the world used to be documented pre-photography, together with watercolours and pencils. When you start digging into that world, it's vast. I don't use one engraving style but mix them all up, which is where my strength lies."
Speaking of engravings, the concept behind the artworks in Head in The Clouds grew out of wanting to animate an engraving of a skeleton Kristjana was working on for a different project. "I wanted to create a skeleton with sensations and emotions," she reveals.
"Head in The Clouds is about travelling, which is one of my favourite things to do, like so many other people in this world. It is about all the sensations you may have while travelling when your head is in the clouds. There may be tingling sensations, anxiety, and excitement.
"These feelings may also occur pre-travelling when walking on clouds before embarking on an exciting journey. The skeleton is a perfect way of illustrating emotions such as anxiousness, patience or worry."
Each edition in the Head in The Clouds collection is a unique NFT that has been generated at random via a rules-based system that Kristjana devised. This allows for subtle variations of the core image, which ties back to her aim to convey different human emotions and personalities through the image of the human skeleton.
She adds: "I wondered, what if you spin two wheels and you end up with a random chance of combining a certain personality with a certain emotion? You would achieve all the possible variations. There is a hint of playfulness. Indeed, we are not always in control of our emotions. There are so many underlying and outgoing factors which affect all our emotions. I feel like the two wheels give a bit of truth about how we are human."
Kristjana used Victorian engravings from medical charts as the basis for this collection because she wanted to "supercharge" the emotion she wanted to convey. By including little motifs such as a watch on a little chain or two glasses of wine clinking, she could visualise the anticipation she yearned to express in a wholly new way.
"It was really fun because I could illustrate emotions such as anxiety with only a few elements," she explains. "In the NFT format, you can express emotions using colour and motifs such as shooting stars or a fire with an anchor, playing around with different variations."
Priced between 0.5 ETH and 0.4 ETH, the Head in The Clouds collection is available to purchase now in cryptocurrency through the VIVE Arts NFT platform. Visitors will also be able to view the artworks in Williams' pop-up store on London's vibrant Carnaby Street, alongside her range of 3D original artworks, Limited Edition prints and interior products.