Artsted Observatory: Tommy Kwak's profile


Today we are chatting with one of the artists participating in the Artsted Observatory project in collaboration with VOLTA Art Fair: Tommy Kwak.
The show created in collaboration with VOLTA Art Fair will showcase works by artists from different backgrounds who find a common interpretation in the digital universe.

Tommy Kwak's work explores the transience of landscapes and natural forms through the large formats of his ethereal photographs. His work has been exhibited in New York and Iceland, and he has recently worked for brands such as Louis Vuitton in their stores in Manhattan and Cologne.
From 2010 to 2016 he took part in an art residency in Reykjavík, Iceland, at the SÍM Residency program also participating in Villa Reykjavík - an international art festival.

What is your artistic background?

I studied graphic design in art school and have worked as a designer for the past 20 years. However, about 10 years ago, I started to get into photography, shooting mostly street and documentaries when I moved to NYC in 2006. A few years later, I made my first of 12 trips to Iceland, and like many others, I fell in love with the country and from then on shifted my focus to landscape and nature photography. I am still shooting this type of subject matter, but I also like to experiment with the medium incorporating analog effects to create more abstract photographs, like in the Palm series listed on Artsted. Currently, I'm represented by Clic Gallery, and I produce work as both fine art prints and NFTs.

When did you first hear about NFTs?

I first heard about Foundation early last year which piqued my interest. Then when one of my gallery connections offered me an invite to Foundation, I jumped on it! That was in April last year.

Tommy Kwak, Palm 9 (Turks and Caicos)

What are the perks of working with new technologies for artists like you?

It's exciting to explore, learn, and create work using new technologies like NFTs and blockchain. Another perk is the community of artists in the NFT space, and how easy and quick it is to connect with others and create strong and supportive relationships with each other as we all navigate this new space.

How did NFTs change your perception of digital art?

Having been in the NFT space for over a year now has changed how I approach a new body of work, especially if I intend to mint it on the blockchain. With a new series of work, I now try to ensure the pieces are visually cohesive as a family but different enough to stand out from each other, and by also embracing "rarities" in pieces, which are all important aspects of a successful NFT collection. I'm not sure if this is for the better or worse, but it is a small part that has changed in my practice.

Tommy Kwak, Palm Tree Miami

What are your future projects in digital art or beyond?

I have plans to mint older work onto the blockchain as a way of preserving and archiving my work and also creating new bodies of work, specifically with the unique aspects of NFTs in mind. In the traditional art world, I am currently working on my first photobook "Lifeguard Towers: Miami" which will be published by Brooklyn-based Blurring Books. This book contains 40+ images documenting all the 38 colorful lifeguard towers on the 8.5-mile stretch of Miami Beach and is set to ship this holiday season.

Artsted Observatory will exhibit the works of the artists on the platform’s roster with a spotlight on the 4 categories of creative mediums that found their home in the non-fungible tokens technology: Xiaoling Jin - representing digitally native work, Tommy Kwak (photography), Marco Calzolari (video and performance art) and Francesco Vullo (sculpture).

Written by
Anna Frattini