Welcome to the 8th Cosmic Convos already. Germany is nothing short when it comes to amazing artists. By chance I discovered several artists who all come from the same country. This week the artist even knows the previous artist I interviewed, how coincidental! Dominik is a great example of someone who does what he likes and sees where it takes him. Started with an interest in graffiti and street art, which later grew into an obsession for concept art and world building. Every step in his life has made him the independent artist he is today. Inspired by many new sources of inspiration, his love for graffiti and street art can still be found in many of his works. The dystopian world he depicts in his work all seem to be interconnected in the same universe. I wonder how far he can take his worlds and can’t wait to see how this develops over the years. I will no longer keep you in suspense and dive with me into the world of Dominik Guembel!
Rei: Hi Dominik! You told me you go to the same school as Felix (the previous artist from my Cosmic Convos), which is quite a coincidence. Am I correct in assuming that you are also from Germany? What else can you tell me about yourself in general?
Dominik: Hi Rei, it is a pleasure to be on your Cosmic Convos. It was a funny coincidence to see my friend Felix being interviewed by you in the last Convo. Felix started studying shortly after I graduated from the same University and through a weekly drink and draw group I once organized we connected. From there on we kept chatting and drawing together online.
And as Felix I am from Germany too. I grew up in a really small village in the south of Germany and since there is not that much to do and it gets boring I spent my time with video games, skateboarding and drawing. Doing those kinds of things were not that common for the people living around me so I had a hard time connecting with other kids my age. Happily though through skateboarding I found the chance to travel a little bit and meet like minded people that also like that sport but also street art. I guess that kind of saved me from giving up on these things. So one thing led to another and after finishing school I did not feel comfortable enough to start a career as an independent artist and therefore I went for the alternative and started studying graphic design. From there after graduating I still did not feel like being an artist is something that will work for me so I started working as an exhibition designer for museums. That was roughly five years ago and looking back at it now, this job probably prepared me a little bit for the multidisciplinary style of work that NFT would offer me a few years later. Every project I did at this job gave me the chance to try out new media I never even touched before. A lot of 3D visualization, Editorial Design and most important Animation.
But also it showed me how much I like to focus on doing my own projects and to apply all this new knowledge. And since more and more concept art opportunities came around the corner and I started to have my first NFT sales I decided to quit my job to be a full-time artist about five months ago. So now with the age of 28 I can finally call myself an independent artist I guess.
Rei: Tell me more about how you started making art. How would you describe your own style and how has your art evolved over the years?
Dominik: For me as well as for probably most other artists the urge to draw was always present from a young age on. I can remember drawing stick figures battling against dragons and monsters. At some point with 11 or 12 I got into contact with graffiti and dived deep into that scene. That quickly took over my life and mixed with the interest for graphical design. For a long time I focused on making graffiti, took part in jams and had my first little exhibitions. At some point though I kind of lost that vision and focused a lot on skateboarding and traveled through Germany and France. Through that I got exposed to a lot of street art but also photography and cinematography. My friends and I filmed a lot of skateboarding videos of us and I did all the cutting and motion graphics with a super old computer that was for sure not able to handle anything I wanted from it to do. It was a really interesting phase for me since I experimented with a lot of media and failed a lot but I did not care and just went on. But as mentioned before I struggled with what I really wanted to do with my life after school and I went for studying graphic design and hoped to someday combine this with making my own art. This seemed like a safer route to go since I always had a lot of doubt in my own work. I learned a lot of things at university that for sure changed my style a lot though I sooner or later got bored of the traditional path of graphic design and a friend of mine introduced me to concept art. And oh my art god, that opened a whole new world to explore for me. I got so obsessed with this and in the end graduated with a bachelor thesis about world building and concept art.
So in conclusion I would say my art style is a combination of a lot of different media and artists I admire but is still mainly influenced by the defined lines and bold colors from the graffiti and street art scene.
Rei: You seem to be inspired by sci-fi and maybe the cyberpunk subgenre, which I personally love. What are your sources of inspiration for creating your art?
Dominik: Movies and series are probably the biggest source of inspiration for me. Once I see something in a sci-fi movie I like I start to dive deep into all the information, concept art and so on that is available of it. But when it then comes to creating my own work I usually start browsing Pinterest a lot and collect all sorts of stuff that seems fitting for the idea I have in my head. Thinking about a specific movie/series that has influenced me a lot in recent times it would be AKIRA and LOKI. This 80s/90s style of sci-fi is something that resonates a lot with my taste and the influence of it can be found in my recent projects PAGSIRA and MAGIDELIK.
But other than that I collected a lot of stuff I find inspiring over the years. For example, at some point I stumbled across the Design Manual of NASA which describes how to place text, logos and how to build infographics in their style. I never needed it so far but I am pretty sure there will be a project in future where this will come in handy.
Rei: How much are you working on art each day? Does it take a long time to make your art and how exactly does this process work?
Dominik: Right now I probably spend between 8-10 hours a day on art every day of the week because a lot of projects are happening at the same time. But that also includes research, writing emails and having meetings. On rough days that number can go up to 14 hours though. Nothing I can recommend to do for a long period of time. That takes a toll on your health even if it is fun to make a lot of art.
But normally I try to have a regulated „work week“ with my art with working 6-8 hours a day from Monday to Friday. Not really the classical artist life but it helps me to keep my mind refreshed and ready for new cool opportunities.
When it comes to how long my projects take it also varies a lot. Everything between a day to several months is possible. Usually I work on multiple art projects at once to not get stuck with one and then having an art block. But usually when I am close to finishing one artwork I already start a new one to keep the flow going and take some of that energy and inspiration over to it.
Rei: I see many of the same shades in your works. Do you want to transfer a certain message or vibe in your artworks or is this not something you consciously think about?
Dominik: Most of my art projects are born from a feeling or interest I had at that time. So there is for sure a connection to current topics we deal with as a society but also on an individual level. Now stir that together with an interest for sci-fi and fantasy tales and you get the confusing and obscure messages my images are sending. So right now a lot of those artworks have a more futuristic and grim narrative but with the hope of change for the better in the end. Kind of the happy ending we all look forward to in stories.
Rei: I’ve seen you love hiding Easter Eggs in your art. Can you give me an example of how to do this? Does this mean that all your artworks are connected in some way?
Dominik: Oh this will be a tricky question to answer and not spoil all the secrets. But what I can tell is that for now all my easter eggs are more „traditional“ and do not use the possibilities the blockchain has to offer at the moment. In general I try to come up with an easter egg or riddle that also fits into the story of an image and make it an extension of it.
So for example with the artwork Oni&Ino Chapter 01, the main characters investigate distortions in the fabric of space time and found symbols scattered all around a crime scene. These symbols are given to anyone who wants to join the hunt as a jpeg which can be used to decipher codes and highlight certain places in my artworks. In the case of that project I can say that these easter eggs connect all the artworks through a secondary storyline.
Usually how those easter eggs are made varies a lot. It can be anything that makes it possible to distort a message and needs a certain technique to make it readable. Though I have to stop myself most of the time to make it not too hard.
But sometimes I just hide names of people I like in my artworks, so that is pretty straight forward.
Rei: Since when did you start making NFTs of your art? How do you like the journey in the NFT space so far?
Dominik: NFTS first crossed my path around December 2020 when I saw @fvckrender talk about it on Instagram. I had no clue what that is and where to start with it. So I applied at nifty gateway right away without knowing how big of a deal that platform actually is. Of course this did not work out since I had no portfolio that would fit such a big art platform. So I gave up for some time but around February my friend @synticfaye and I talked about it again and she invited me to an artist chat she and @TheBakaArts organized. From there on everything went crazy fast and I minted and sold my first NFT on Foundation. Since then I focused more and more on making artworks for myself and selling them as NFT.
So looking back at that journey that is now only a year old I am amazed how many doors it opened for me and gave me and others the chance to pursue a life as an artist we could have never dreamed of before. I am excited to see what is about to come in the future and where this path will lead.
Rei: Do you have any specific goals you want to achieve in the NFT space?
Dominik: There are a lot of smaller goals I hope to achieve in the NFT space in the future like getting on Superare or dropping my own small collection (soon). But I think the overall goal for me is to help others losing their fears and struggles of becoming a full-time artist and push them to success. That probably sounds super cheesy but seeing others succeed makes me as much happy as doing so myself.
Rei: Which artists do you look up to the most, in the NFT world and in general? I know it can be many, haha!
Dominik: Oh you are so right when you say it can be many. There are so many crazy talented people out there and a lot of them influence me to keep pushing and pursuing that path. But to name a few that probably influenced me a lot and still do so: @TheBakaArts for teaching me the ways of NFT, @ashthorp1 for always making my jaw drop with the newest hot shit I have never even seen before and last @LooonaLou because she is such a powerhouse of connecting and helping people. I could name a ton more but these were the first that popped into my head.
Rei: I love to ask this question of all the artists I interview. Looking at your art I see that you are already thinking a lot about what the future might look like. What do you think the world will look like in the next 10/25 years? What place do you think NFTs will have in this world?
Dominik: There are two futures I always look at. The one I hope we will have and the one that is more pessimistic given the current state of the world.
I really hope that in the future people can come together closer and fix our planet and try to push society to a more healthy state. I see for sure that a combination of science and art could achieve that. What place NFT will have in that future I am not sure about since that technology is still new to me and right now I am focusing more on the art side of it. But I am certain NFTs will play a big part in bringing people from all kinds of fields together to collaborate on projects for a better cause. Like for example I still think about how I could collaborate with engineers or other scientists in some sort of way. Who knows what that could lead to?
The other future would be that we are now in the last deep breaths of society as we know it right now and it will crash in the next few years. And no matter how hard we try to change it, there is no way around it. Kind of a dark tone to answer this question but I hope even in this scenario that there is still hope for a new beginning.
Kind of similar to how I like to write and illustrate my stories and artworks. A well balanced mix of happiness and sadness.
Rei: Lastly, where can people find more about you and your art?
Dominik: You can find the majority of my NFTS on my Foundation or OBJKT. If you like to read up on my stories and get a look behind the scenes you can check my work on Artstation, Instagram and most importantly Twitter. Thanks for having me on your cosmic convos!
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Art admirer turned NFT collector.