Zak is a great talent and a rising artist in the NFT space. A big supporter of artists and collectors alike, we are honored to have sat down with him and learn more about his background and why he got into NFTs.
Where are you from?
I come from a pretty diverse family (geographically)- Father was born in France, Mother was born in Britain and they met in the Middle East. I was born in Canada but spent my adolescent years (8-21) in a small town on the east coast (US). I was later deported by US Immigration in 2012 and started a new life back in Canada, but that’s another story.
Can you tell us about your background and what lead you down the path to becoming an artist and ultimately experimenting with NFTs?
Music has always felt first nature to me- I’ve been in bands/ writing music since I was 10 years old; so capturing emotion and vibe is easier (for me) through that medium. My sound history goes back about 12 years now (gigging, studio, live sound, FOH Mixing for summer festivals), it has been a big part of my life.
As for visuals- I think I began doodling and painting out of necessity- in some ways it has really helped my hyperactive imagination sort itself out a bit. Later came the digital aspect which has been a learning curve for me, but so rewarding.
I came into the NFT space in Feb 2021- through a collaboration with an artist I met on Instagram, Jeremy Torman (@tormanjeremy) . He needed sound design for his BEAUTIFUL AI StyleGans work and next thing we know- “Knock” sold for over 4 ETH. I had no idea what NFTs were at that point, I had only been in crypto for 6 months prior to that. Needless to say, it was one hell of an introduction to NFTs.
When did you mint your first NFT? What platform did you choose and why? I minted my first piece in March 2021 on Foundation. After being invited to FDN by friend & INSANELY talented abstract painter, Mo Tuncay (@paschamo).
It is a very special piece to me, French Inhale- owned by Mentalist420, who once told me that it acts as a measure of progression of my journey in NFTs. The audio for that piece was created to ground the listener in the moment- hence certain elements weaving in and out of disjointedness, to keep the listener present. Creating it felt like some kind of healing ritual, if that makes sense.
Can you tell us one thing you cannot live without? (and why)
I cannot live without a creative outlet.
Without an outlet, I feel like I short-circuit- too much input and not enough output.
Who is your favorite artist(s) (Non NFT)? What about their style resonates with you? Who is your favourite NFT artist? What makes this artist unique?
Esto Andrews / Alex Pardee / Salvador Dali
They all lean into obscurity. This is something I am drawn to in my creative process.
Getting the poison out of my head.
NFT Artists, there are so many I could list but 4 off the top would be
Andrés Zighelboim (@andreszighelbo1) has by far some of the most thought provoking art I have seen since entering this space. He takes you on mind bending journeys with his work.
Laura (@LauraDoodlesToo) is an extremely talented digital / traditional painter and a true community leader. Laura, along with her team are building a 3D metaverse sound adventure game, @auralliagame.
SenΞPaul (@Sen3Paul) one of the best cinematic 3d artists in the space, his “pick your own ending” BOT series was the first of its kind and still blows my mind.
LaserLewDude (@laser_lew) is a freaking laser wizard. Builds his own tools and sets up these otherworldly mirror/glass/fog environments- in his closet.
What made you pursue NFT art?
After being in the community for a few months, and meeting so many like minded people- It just felt like home to me.
As far as my personal pursuit of success in NFT art- This space has given me opportunities that I would NEVER have had outside of here. Coming here felt like I finally had a fighting chance.
What is the one piece of NFT art you wish you had purchased but missed out on? My dear friend RΞY’s (@reylarsdam) early work, his 1/1 work is on Jupiter (unattainable for me) now haha If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why this location? South Pole to see what Admiral Byrd was talking about.
What are your other passions besides art? Why?
Being the best possible father and partner I can be. It is something I will always be working on. I could not do what I do here without the love and support from my family.
Do you make other forms of art?
I love to paint and write music.
How did you come up with your specific style?
Over a long period of time. Honing in on the tools and software I use to make them work for me and keep creativity alive. A lot of happy accidents
How has your style evolved over the years?
Certainly, I have spent the last decade honing my sonic brand with my sound design. Working with other artists is where the fastest and most groundbreaking evolutions occur.
My visual has taken many avenues to get to where it is today. Experimenting will always be my best teacher because experimentation ends only when the need is met. If I continue to push growth in myself, there is no need to ever stop.
After Jeremy and I sold that collaboration piece when I first started- it was that point on I really wanted to learn more about Machine Learning. Discovering how I could use my archive of vector art, music and sound design skills to combine with this powerful coding tool. I spent the entire year of 2021 studying how it works, how to bend this new tool to help me in my creative process. (ex. Using my archive of vector artwork as datasets to train my own custom StyleGan Models).
Beginning in 2022, I decided to change things up and go back to my vector art roots via my Meta-Garbage movement.
What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that? Anything else you’d like to share?
My greatest failure is taking in too much external influence and ignoring my intuition.
I started this year with the mindset to just have fun and create my own moments-rather than trying to land myself in the right place, at the right time & in the right light. Trusting my gut is essential to how I operate. Which leads me to the last thing I wanted to touch upon- give a little insight into my Meta Garbage project (why I am calling my art garbage).
When our band was gigging FT- we were definitely a “bands band”, which means our music was an acquired taste- like Tool or Incubus. So after we would perform our set, we would get sparse clapping from an overall unenthused crowd. One night I came up with an idea to ask the crowd to ‘boo’ us after every song. People LOVED IT and would get REALLY into it. It carried on and we became that band everyone loved to hate.
By the end of each night- people would be standing and clapping regardless because they had a great time, so it was a win for all.
I am essentially applying this concept to this project. So I asked a group of artist friends and collectors of mine to record videos of them reacting to my Garbage art- the only rule was they had to hit record before opening the folder. So instead of sending them my art- I send them a random strange photo- to get a natural reaction of shock, confusion and/or distaste. I think we have 14 videos to date, and I have been using those 14 videos as promotion material to get peoples attention on the project. Its been hysterical. Ive never had more fun doing any kind of project.
What is coming in the near future?
The way I am running the Meta-Garbage program is in three tiers:
Trash – Editions on Known Origin (Sold out…for now)
Rubbish- 1/1’s on FDN (Current)
Garbage- 1/1 Large Format with Unlockable apparel (platform TBD)
If you could collaborate with one artist who would it be?
That’s a tough one, I always just reach out to artists I like and think would work well together, stylistically. With that said, Xsullo.
Do you have any upcoming drops?
I will be releasing the available 1/1’s in my “(artisanal) Rubbish” collection- which after sold out will unlock the 3rd tier of the project – Wearable Garbage.
I won’t talk too much about it but I will tell you that King of Midtown (first 1/1 Rubbish collector) has seen/received prototypes and I am very excited to show everyone what Ive been building (more than just footwear)
Where can collectors find your work?
Link to Website:
NFT marketplace links:
Contestant Series- https://opensea.io/collection/tustonts-contestants
“Staring Contest” Audio Visual – https://foundation.app/@_Tustont/foundation/41626
Bloomies – https://opensea.io/collection/bl00mies
AudioVisual Chapter Series – https://opensea.io/collection/blooming-crescendos-series