Maciej Drabik has always poured his emotions into his art. But it remained only a hobby until he discovered NFTs. He speaks to Nina Knaack about how web3 gave value to his creativity.
Maciej discovered 3D art when he was just 15, and knew at once that he longed to master the artform himself. Slowly, he began to develop his skills as a self-taught artist: a journey which was accompanied by one of self-discovery. But life took a different path and Maciej pursued a career in advertising. Although he was able to create art in his spare time, this was no longer enough for him.
After ten years in the industry, the pull to return to his childhood passion became overwhelming enough to persuade Maciej to make a change. He left his job in the commercial agency industry and found a career in which he could use illustration, 3D art, and animation. “I realised how much I missed the actual creative process and switched to making illustrations and doing visual effects for films, tv, and games full-time,” he recalls.
Maciej sees his work as a reflection of his emotions and a form of self-therapy. Each piece serves as a journal, a testament to the feelings and events that he wants to process. “For me, creating 3D animations is a way to express the emotions that I want to get out of my system, whether happiness or anger,” he explains. “By putting these feelings into a piece of art, I process the events that produced it.” In doing so, Maciej hopes that his work will not only touch his viewers, but also help them to recognise their own emotions in his art.
Since Maciej’s emotions form the roots of his art, his body of work is extremely diverse. “Sometimes I just create for pure entertainment, but on another day, I can strongly feel that I need to address a certain, serious topic,” he says.
As for his style, Maciej’s work is a distinctive and eclectic synthesis of comic books, CGI-animations, retro sci-fi art, and baroque paintings. Ultimately, style is a means to an end for Maciej. “My main goal is to have fun while creating visual arts,” he explains. “Being able to actually play around is what I love most about making autonomous work.”
Maciej’s day job continues to shape his skills and allows him to evolve as an artist. Working with other artisans has given him invaluable insight, which he incorporates into his personal work. “I am learning a lot by working with highly skilled professionals, artists, and directors. It is incredible to be able to witness how others make visual effects for movies, TV shows, or game cinematics. It definitely helps my own artistic practice evolve faster.”
However, until 2020, Maciej never imagined that his personal, “autonomous” work could be valuable. Creating art and sharing it online was just a hobby, and the things that he produced were very different from “a painting in a gallery.” This changed when he began to support his friend Dutchtide’s Midnight Breeze project, a series of 130 anime-style dreamscapes that has since traded almost 4,000 eth in volume.
After this noteworthy introduction to NFTs, Maciej’s web3 journey took off properly, with his work getting picked up quickly by collectors such as Norcal, Artifaction, and Dave Krugman. Maciej began minting his work with zero followers on Twitter, and without busying himself with any marketing.
His fanbase gathered themselves organically, which, for Maciej, is even more of an incentive to continue creating. “My goal is to repeatedly surprise and amaze my collectors with new and original ideas,” he says.
Drawing inspiration from the broad scope of his emotions, as well as the things that he encounters in his daily life, the creative process comes naturally to Maciej. “I strongly believe that visual artists are great observers and can make visual connections between a lot of things that are often not obvious. I try to give an outside perspective to my viewer,” he explains.
“Creating 3D animations is a way to express the emotions that I want to get out of my system.”
— Maciej Drabik
For Maciej, each of his creations are uniquely valuable. “I have a sentiment for every artwork I have ever created,” he shares. “They are like pages in an old calendar and remind me of how I felt and where I was at a certain moment in my life.”
One work in particular holds a particular importance for Maciej, however: his Death Loop collection, a series of three animated, looped artworks, showing the recurrences in which those who battle with addiction are trapped.
“I rediscovered the pure joy of creativity.”
— Maciej Drabik
“I made this series during my own rehab process and have been brutally honest in the animations,” Maciej discloses. “It shows my own struggles while working on the issues I had. Making this collection helped me to say farewell to substance abuse, and hopefully it can help others as well.”
Though he goes by the moniker ‘Negative Vibrations’, Maciej does not want to be limited to negative themes. Through his art, Maciej shares the message with others that they are not alone in their struggles, building his work on the hope that people can find solace in that thought.
Above all, perhaps, participating in web3 and its cryptoart scene has inspired Maciej himself. “I was living in the bubble of a concept artist for a long time,” he explains. Before finding cryptoart, this is all that Maciej had envisioned himself doing, yet, by becoming a hub for digital artists around the world, the web3 art scene has become a truly inspirational place for artists like himself.
“In the NFT space, I rediscovered the pure joy of creativity by looking at new styles and aesthetics,” he recalls. “It reminded me to keep pushing myself to look for different ways to tell my stories to the world.”
Maciej sees web3 as a chance to focus more on centring his life around creativity. “Through my art sales, I can fund bigger personal projects, like making my own animation film,” he says. “I want to take the time to make things that have never been done before and now I have the luxury to be able to do that.”