CA·TALK｜Adam Spizak：To Be or Not To Be
In the interval between history, text and personal experience, how does the artist become a medium for experiencing the inversion of time and space and the reincarnation of technology? This question seems to be the most fundamental question for artists and their creations in the 1960s, but is it still valid as the scene moves from the first video art (new media art) to Internet art to today’s NFT art? Especially for many NFT art creators who do not have artistic logic and traditional artist identity, is this question still valuable?
Both of these questions may be enlightened by crypto artist Adam Spizak, a London-based Polish illustrator and 3D designer who currently runs his own creative website, Spizak.com. He is a veteran designer with nearly 20 years of digital design and hand-drawing experience. He studied mathematics and physics at university, and most of his family are professional soccer players.
What triggered Adam Spitzak’s visual nerve and thus changed the course of his life was a film, Flight of the Navigator, an American science fiction adventure directed by Randal Kleiser, released in 1986. The film first introduced him to VFX (Visual effects) and CGI (Computer-generated imagery), and he became interested in computer-generated animation.
Then, in 1991, the release of Terminator 2 really fascinated Adam Spitzak with the creation of special effects for movies and the various digital tools for 3D design, which bought him the opportunity to become a 3D digital designer.
At that time, as a front-end engineer, he taught himself the skills of 3D digital software and created 3D digital animations, until around 2002, in order to master the tools and skills of digital visual creation, Adam Spitzak enrolled in a computer science program and then received a degree in computer graphics and multimedia in 2006.
After graduating, Adam Spitzak continued to work in front-end development and code-generated visuals, and in 2008 he finally received industry recognition in the 3D digital field and even won several major awards in the field of visual design. In 2010, Adam Spitzak officially left his job as a front-end development engineer and really worked as a digital artist.
Since then, he became interested in visual effects in 1989 after being inspired by the movie “The Navigator’s March” — he became fascinated with VFX and CGI in 1991. In 1994, Adam Spitzak created his first work in Photoshop. In 1997, he began experimenting with more sophisticated tools for computer-generated visuals. In the mid-2000, he started learning 3D design. In 2006, he graduated with a degree in 3D design. In 2008, he started his career as a professional artist. In 2010, he became a digital artist. The 21 years of experience in learning and creating art built a solid background as a digital artist. In NFT socialization is the main mode of scenario, but as an artist, the value of the creation is still directed to the work and the artist’s reflection on the environment and the time.
Looking at Adam Spitzak’s work, his vision is clearly influenced by the language of the film camera, and to a large extent, the construction of detailed images is based on a narrative framework of story logic. In the choice of images and symbols, Adam Spitzak has a special preference for religious (mythological) figures, skeletons/death, mechanical and heroic images, and he does not explore the value of human production from the standpoint of religious values. Where do the roots of such ideas and values come from? I believe it comes from the influence of religious culture in the depths of experience, even if Adam Spitzak says he is an atheist but the influence of the environment on people is always unconscious.
In this edition of CA Talk, we talk to Adam Spitzak, a British-Polish digital artist, from whom we may be able to understand how art affects our lives.
CA: Were you born in Poland, but have lived in the UK for almost 20 years? Did you choose to join uk out of consideration for your career development?
Adam: That’s one of the main reasons, but also because I’ve lived in the UK for so long and started my own family here. The UK is no longer a foreign country to me, so I wanted to be a part of it.
CA: You mentioned you don’t have a strong religious ties, but you were born and raised in Poland and came to England in your 20s. Poland is an ancient Roman Catholic country where 95% of the population is Catholic, so why do you think you don’t have religious-cultural ties in your values and creative experience?
Adam: I mean that I and my family don’t have any religious consciousness or religious beliefs, my family are very “secular” people. But what you said about values and religious cultural connections through experience, I don’t really think about them subconsciously myself, maybe they are there, but they are indirectly influenced by the environment they are created in, not subjectively created.
CA: What did you first study before going into digital design?
Adam: Math and physics.
CA: Did the idea of studying digital design come about after being blown away by “The Mariner’s Office” in the ‘90s?
Adam: Not really, but after watching “Voyager India” and being impressed by the visual effects, I had the idea of creating graphics in CGI. It’s hard to imagine how I felt at that time because, in the early 90s, it was impossible to make your own VFX. But in the years between the release of “Mariner’s Mate” and “Terminator 2,” CGI started to become a trend. Then in the mid-90s, there was an exciting movement in Europe focused on creating on the PC with many visual artists, musicians, and coding engineers joining. I was only 14–15 years old and witnessed the impact of this movement, especially the sensory impact of the technology, so I used saving and my parents’ support to get an Amiga 500 with Delux Paint and started teaching myself software design.
CA: Did you have any other art-related training during this time?
Adam: I never had formal art training, all my experience came from my own observation and practice, I think life is the real “training” for an artist. But to refine my skills, I chose to pursue a career in computer graphics and multimedia after 2000.
CA: It’s clear that you are obsessed with tools and technology. I guess it takes time to use digital media as a language of self-expression from the initial interest. Do you regard yourself complete that phase?
Adam: I can only say that I am now able to balance the interrelationship between technology and creativity, and know how to make technology work better for me. I think technology is very necessary, and only with enough skill can I express myself more fully. Of course, the artist cannot be controlled by technology, but how to make the technology serve the creation depends on the core in the artist’s mind.
CA: There are many icons and symbols in your work that appear to be serious, cruel and even dark themes such as religion, death, etc. Even though you say it has nothing to do with religious beliefs, I think these cultural ideas still influence your value judgments.
Adam: I don’t deny that, I deny that it’s a matter of religious affiliation. But my interest in the sci-fi/horror genre is probably also influenced by John Carpenter, one of my favourite filmmakers, and many of his scenes in horror films, such as “A Nightmare on Elm Street” had a profound impact on me. Of course, it may also have something to do with my own personality, as I am a very introverted person who spends most of my time on my own or with my wife. When I’m alone, I tend to think about the past, life, (genetic) death, existence after death, and the good and evil of humanity.
CA: It’s another level to express personal interest in art, and to choose a proper image or symbol, right?
Adam: That’s true.
CA: What do the characters of ancient Greek mythology symbolize in your creative thinking?
Adam: This is not from an artistic perspective, but a literary or even philosophical one. The gods in ancient Greek mythology actually represent our primitive emotions, such as love, anger and fear, and they are the most human symbols.
CA: What about the skull and crossbones?
Adam: It’s a cultural and emotional symbol that helps focus people’s thinking about humanity, death and reality.
CA: You are taking these figures and symbols, and combine them with modern technological scenarios through digital design. What’s the intention of this patchwork and reconstruction to illustrate?
Adam: I think this approach helps us to better understand the contrasts and connections between history and life in the present. People could easily perceive how much things have changed, but underneath that change, the question of what makes us who we are today, without losing ourselves and our nature, is still overlooked and lack of indepth thinking. No matter how times change, mankind is always in an internal battle.
CA: Your work always reminds me of cards, is it my subjective interpretation or do you intend to create it in the form of cards?
Adam: I just like the way the elements are framed and presented, like old posters of classical paintings or film and collector’s cards, the frame is not just for decoration, but also to plan the visual path. The “frame” actually provides another “exit” that helps to bring people into another space.
CA: Are you a heroic person? Do you want to save the world?
Adam: If you’re talking about heroism on an ethical and moral level, yes, I have a heroic mindset because I’ve always believed in doing the right thing. Heroes often represent the best human qualities, such as sacrifice, bravery, selflessness, loyalty, etc.
CA: So are you a cynic?
Adam: No, I’m an absolute realist and always think in a positive way. But even that doesn’t mean I’m going to cover my ears and see only the brightness of the sun and ignore the obscurity hiding in the shadows. On the contrary, the more I understand how cruel and dark the reality is, the more I will actively seek the brightness.
CA: You entered the NFT field in March/April of this year, how do you define the NFT scene? Has it influenced your work?
Adam: As you said, it’s a new scene, and for an artist, the only thing that can change and influence his creation is his experience and thinking, and the scene just gives the artist another environment or atmosphere to create. Technology is always just a tool.
CA: How do you define the identity of an artist? Do you believe that artists have certain social obligations to fulfil?
Adam: I think each artist will have their own answer to this question, just as each person has determined from their experience and behaviour how art affects their lives.