Exploding Heads – Art meets Digital and Art wins

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Have you seen the exploding heads by Jon Noorlander, the Swedish artist? No? Then please google him and then come back and read this article because my excitement won’t make sense otherwise.

The reason for the interview today is that he is moving into fine art with a new series of images created once as a physical exhibition but soon to be available as a NFTs on the Pixeos gallery.

I seem to have started my article at the end. Have you checked out the exploding heads yet? Yes? Good let’s begin, again.

Jon Noorlander’s father is Dutch (hence the name which is toponymic) but he was raised in Sweden, before moving to London and then the US where he now lives in New York. He came from an artistic family; his mother paints and his father is an architect, and at one stage he considered he might follow in his footsteps until he discovered 3D animation and design and instead created a career in advertising.

Of course, over the past twenty years, advertising and design has changed dramatically. Think of the popular Netflix series Mad Men where teams of people worked on accounts, now Jon says you have to do a lot more with a lot less budget and people. But maybe that is a good thing as Jon relies more on digital tools to bring his ideas to life.

“Certainly, digital tools have made leaps and bounds when it comes to design, especially in 3D, but you still have to have the original ideas.”

Animation is based on mathematical algorithms. Jon prepares each frame, feeds in certain values and evaluates the different outcomes. His twin careers have meshed in the middle with his professional day job of executive creative director at Method Studios and now his increasingly high-profile career as a digital artist.

He enjoys the balance between the two careers. In fact, his art began as a way to promote his day job. He began experimenting and soon found a calling card with his series of exploding heads.

(you have googled the exploding heads already, please say you have)

Watching the exploding heads is addictive. Jon says he calls them disturbingly satisfying. Some of the animations have sound attached as well which makes them even more addictive.

“The whole things started with me trying to figure out the different technical aspects of 3D software and now I have more than 30 of these exploding heads. They have sort of blown up on TikTok as well with one video – the one with the bananas – receiving more than 55 million views.”

Technology meets art and when blockchain is introduced it becomes even more interesting. Jon only discovered blockchain a month ago but already this has had a huge impact on his artist career due the discovery of NFTs or non fungible tokens.

NTFs are one of the hottest aspects of blockchain technology today. NFTs use the immutable nature of blockchain to render unique digital assets. NFTs also have provenance built it too – thereby satisfying the holy grail of putting art safely onto the net without having to deal with issues such fakes, duplicates or counterfeits.

“I’ve only been in blockchain a few weeks but suddenly my entire twitter feed has utterly change and is sprinkled with a whole new alien language. It began with Nifty Gateway reached out to me and asked if I wanted to a drop.  I didn’t know what a drop was – but once they explained, I said yes. And my first collection sold out in minutes; I knew I was onto something.”

To be financially validated brings a powerful agency to an artist.

Jon is now looking at converting an art collection into NFTs on the Pixeos gallery. He originally created 21 large digital abstracts called The Sculptures. An art curator in Mexico spotted them online and reached out to Jon. These abstracts are based on millions and millions of particles.

“I based them on nature, used nature as a starting point, then viewed them like an aerial photograph. Then I did multiple layers so it creates a very complex image. They have an organic feel to them as a result.  The layers also make it feel as though the images are moving but they are static.”

The art curator was doing an exhibition on abstract art and spotted the collection on Instagram.

“He tweeted me and asked if I would exhibit them in Mexico and I said yes.”

Jon sent over the images which were printed in Mexico, some of them were huge – 44 inches by 56 inches. A number were sold during the exhibition and the remainder are now hanging back in his New York office.

Creating NFTs of the 21 images emerged when Pixeos contacted Jon. The collection is expected to go live in Q4 of this year with the date as yet to be confirmed.

Despite being very much sought after as an artist, Jon is not planning on giving up the day job.

“I still enjoy directing commercials; that part of my job is very satisfying, but it is interesting to see how the blockchain art world is global. I don’t have to be anywhere to be a blockchain artist. And the traditional impediments to becoming an artist are removed as well – I don’t need to be discovered by a traditional gallery, I can use social media to reach an audience.”

To follow Jon, go to Instagram where you can find him @jonnoorlander (what do you mean you haven’t watched the exploding heads yet…)