Anthony Kyriazis always knew he was different. But it was only when he realised that this was a good thing that he could play a leading role in shaping the 3D digital abstract art movement. He speaks to Nina Knaack about balancing work and passion, using art as a self-exploratory tool, and how he is using NFTs “to create a heritage for my children.”
Anthony’s love for design and art began when at school. “I loved drawing and would get lost in my own imagination. I was not just replicating things and had a very intuitive approach instead.” However, Anthony felt like he did not really excel. “I enjoyed it, but had this notion of not being good enough, since I did not stick to the common style.” Nonetheless, the urge to draw stayed. Over time, he came to see his instinct to give his creations a unique signature as a strength rather than a weakness. “It took me a while to understand that being different is actually a good thing in many ways.”
Known by his name Onyro, his artwork is characteristic for its moving imagery. Dreamlike and almost in a state of trance, his pieces often contain living organisms floating in perfect harmony and moving at great ease. “My love for organic objects and environments comes from ambient, electronic music and their artwork, like the cover of the Cascade single (1993) by The Future Sound Of London. That visual accompaniment showed me that there were other people out there with the same imagination as me. I also vividly remember watching The Abyss (1989) and loving all the liquid morphing effects in the movie. These things made me want to learn how to create in 3D myself.”
Onyro’s road was not the artistic route, however. After school he studied multimedia design, with a special focus on interaction design for the early internet. Curious and eager to explore, he was always experimenting with the newest technologies. “There was a lab at university with a few Silicon Graphics machines (an advanced visual workstation in the 1990s). I would secretly sneak in the room to teach myself how to work with these programmes. Of course, back then in the nineties there were no video tutorials or anything, so you had to figure it out by yourself.”
His career as a Flash Web Designer soon took off, landing him multiple industry awards. But the real work happened at night, working on his biggest passion: making abstracts and motions. “Throughout my career I had never considered myself an artist. A designer, yes, but making art just felt like a hobby. Creating it was always an escape. Something I did for me, to push myself and try to do things nobody else did.” At this time, Onyro’s design career was accelerating further. He founded his own digital agency and ran creative departments for a range of advertising agencies. Having also just started his family, this left little time for his own artistic work.
That all changed when he discovered Houdini, a 3D artistry tool. “I had seen a lot of art on Instagram that I liked and noticed the creators constantly referenced Houdini as being the programme they used. I got myself a copy and started experimenting and creating.”
His time working with Houdini made him realise how much he had missed making art. So far, however, he had done little with his creations beyond making them for himself, as a way to process life. Whilst he was familiar with blockchain technologies – he had previously mined Ethereum (when it was a proof-of-work chain) to earn some extra money – but he did not know much about NFTs, which he only began to explore when the energy cost of mining became too high.
It suddenly clicked that minting his own NFTs could be his form of mining. And a better one, “because now I could create something everlasting if I used the blockchain from the creator's perspective.” Anthony’s main driving forces were his boys. “After researching web3 I understood that NFTs gave me the opportunity to create a heritage for my children. Something I could pass on, a timeline for them to be able to see how their father evolved, how he expressed himself, and how he learnt his way through life.”
“It took me a while to understand being different is a good thing.”
Onyro’s art forms a catalogue of the emotional journey he has experienced throughout his life. “When I got a divorce, I was going through a very reflective time; my works are about how I found my way through it. I learnt how to develop new exchanges with others after really getting to know myself with the help of therapy, and that journey is portrayed in my art.”
In that respect, Anthony’s work is very much about the exploration of self. “I now know what the journey of inner contemplation is and how that is needed to cultivate and maintain relationships. It is necessary to know oneself, to be able to communicate clearly, to fight for something you want, and to enable negotiation. To not be afraid of expressing your deepest feelings, to find love and feel loved without being afraid to show the real version of you.”
“NFTs gave me the opportunity to create a heritage for my children.”
Anthony’s art is exactly portraying these ideas of learning and observing in a meta way. In his work there is always something growing or pulsating, giving the observer a peaceful feeling. “By developing knowledge of yourself you learn to attract what is good for you. When there is a transfer of the same energy you can feel the harmony within. I try to express the beauty of this balance in my own abstract way.”
Anthony calls the imaginary worlds he creates ‘organica’, which is also the name of his genesis piece, whilst the word ‘Onyro’ (derived from Oneiro) refers to ‘dream’ in Greek. “In my dreamy cosmos I want people to connect with themselves, to feel calm and relaxed. My goal is to give an experience that opens up new possibilities, by creating a mindfulness destination in the metaverse.”
The idea that his subconscious spheres are minted on the blockchain and have the provenance and potential to live forever, is deeply meaningful for Anthony. “My art is a timeless record of my emotional state during a certain period of time. I do hope that my work can offer hope and strength, in the same way it gave me a reason to push forward and keep on evolving.”
Onyro feels strongly that he has grown as an individual because of his art. “More than my design career, my art is the real investment I make in me. It’s showing me the paths I can take in becoming a better version of myself. It is an absolute privilege to be able to share that with people who are genuinely keen to get to know me and who are also looking for ways to get to know themselves better. That’s the real power of art.”
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