How a fascination with churches brought noCreative to the mecca for digital artists

Nina Knaack
March 27, 2023
“When something appears unusual, it is more likely to leave an impression” — noCreative

3D artist Kristian Levin counts Vogue and Bang & Olufsen on his client list, but it was only when he created his moniker, noCreative, to share his personal art with the world that he unlocked true creative freedom. Now a SuperRare artist and member of the esteemed art collective, Bloom, Kristian tells Nina Knaack why moving to web3 was one of his best career moves yet.

“I remember when we passed by any church, my dad would always go inside,” says Kristian Levin. “We weren’t particularly religious, but he loved to admire the space and the architecture.” Growing up on a farm, churches were hard to come by, and so was art. 

Only when he visited his aunt in Copenhagen did Kristian have the chance to see either, and it was on those family visits to the Danish capital that he first truly came into contact with paintings and sculptures. He was immediately captivated by the artworks he saw in galleries and museums, and discovered a love for the spaces in which they were displayed, as much as the works themselves.

It was a passion that took him a while to fully realise however. Instead of art, Kristian studied Japanese at Copenhagen Business School. He loved watching Japanese cinema, but soon realised that this love did not extend to the language itself. Dropping out after a year, he began working in the art department at a magazine company, retouching their imagery. An apprenticeship at a photo studio followed, after which Kristian quickly moved on to a top-tier retouching studio in the capital, where he spent 13 years working on high-end interior, art, and fashion design for the likes of Vogue and Ganni. “I learned a lot,” he recalls.

Amaterasu Omikami, by noCreative, is inspired by his interest in Japanese culture.

In particular, Kristian developed his expertise in the field of 3D art, but his journey wasn’t always smooth sailing. He recalls how, earlier on in his career, he struggled to achieve the results he wanted. “It was about being able to throw a ton of power at it; the technology simply wasn’t there," he explains. It wasn’t until a friend introduced him to a new rendering programme that Kristian was finally able to achieve the realism he was looking for.

With this new technology behind him, Kristian soon began documenting his 3D art journey on Instagram, using the handle ‘noCreativeAbode’. “The name came from the idea that I did not have to be creative here, per se. It was more of a place where I could experiment and play without the constraints of client-based wishes,” he says.

As it happens, Kristian’s unconstrained experimentation actually led to new clients. First, an old friend of Kristian’s asked him to produce a 3D bottle cap shaped like a heart for his digital retouching company, ELI. Following the success of that project, Kristian received more calls requesting his 3D skills, such as creating confetti and designing cliffs for an Icelandic photoshoot. “They really liked the results and, in Photoshop, it would have taken them so much more time to achieve the same thing,” he says.

When ELI decided to launch a 3D department and offered Kristian the leading role, he eagerly accepted the challenge. “We did not always know what we were doing, and often had to resort to a lot of researching and experimenting,” he recalls, but it wasn’t long before his team were creating 3D designs for major clients like Bang & Olufsen. 

Alongside his work, Kristian diligently maintained his Instagram account. Gradually, the word ‘abode’ was phased out of his handle, and what was left, ‘noCreative’, turned out to be quite effective. “It catches people’s attention because it is clear that I am working in a creative field,” Kristian explains. “I enjoy using juxtapositions to challenge preconceived notions. When something appears unusual, it is more likely to leave an impression.”

Juxtaposition is a recurring theme in Kristian’s art as much as his lifestyle. “When we visited various churches, my dad would explain how each brick had to be carried to the top by hand, as cranes hadn’t yet been invented,” he recalls. “It is a stark contrast to now, where I can create those same spaces instantly, using 3D technology.”

Cherubim, by noCreative, reimagines the churches that he would visit as a child. “I can create those same spaces instantly, using 3D technology.”

3D art has the further advantage of allowing creators to build spaces that would be impossible to create in the real world. In noCreative’s work, for example, it is common to see fabric suspended in mid-air. “I have had a long-standing fascination with cloth work. Before I began working in 3D, I used to visit abandoned places, such as factories, where a friend would throw sheets into the air while I photographed them.” Drawing on his expertise in image retouching, Kristian finds the relationship between the hard structures of a room and the soft textures of a piece of fabric to be particularly captivating.

The striking use of lightweight, airy fabrics in the otherwise empty space is another example of the juxtaposition present within noCreative's designs. “There’s nothing else there, and yet the fabric serves as a sort of spirit,” he explains. “I am not at all religious, but I still experience a sense of awe when I enter a church, as though there is something larger than myself.” The barren surroundings evoke a feeling of solitude, and Kristian intentionally omits human figures in his art, too. “It imparts a meditative quality to my work, which helps me achieve a state of awareness and consciousness,” he shares.

“When something appears unusual, it is more likely to leave an impression.”

— Kristian Levin

Despite learning about Bitcoin back in 2010, Kristian did not immediately become interested in cryptocurrency. “I did not really see the point of it, other than for trading, and that was not really my thing,” he recalls. “When I heard about Ethereum in 2016, my interest finally peaked. I had already been considering putting photos, their metadata, and origin on the blockchain as a way of proving their authenticity, but I never took it any further.” 

Four years later, Kristian stumbled across NFTs. He quickly minted three of his digital works on MakersPlace, and they sold for $100 a piece. His reaction was one of surprise and delight: “‘Are you kidding me?’, I thought. ‘I just made money from the art I create for Instagram?’”

Now fully established in the NFT ecosystem, he enjoys striking a balance between his commercial work and his personal art. “Getting involved in web3 has been one of the best decisions of my career,” Kristian says. “I am now exhibiting my art worldwide and feel more creative than ever before. But engaging in commercial work provides me with the impulse to transform my ideas. Through the duality, I’m constantly driven to push the boundaries of my art.”

“It was more of a place where I could experiment and play without the constraints of client-based wishes.”

— Kristian Levin

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Nina Knaack
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Nina is passionate about telling the stories of artists and documenting their artistic processes, so that they can focus on creating. She’s written for a range of cultural magazines in the Netherlands, her homeland, including 3voor12 and the Groninger Museum. Her work as a contemporary art historian has seen her work at Museum Voorlinden, the Van Gogh Museum, and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Today, her main and ever-increasing focus is on the digital art world, and she is fascinated by the endless possibilities of web3 and how crypto artists are pushing the boundaries of creating without gatekeepers.