The Ballad of Cardano’s Muse - Kris's Story
A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.
― Salvador Dali
Kris (@heavymetalcryp) is one of the first people I met in Cardano Twitter. I have come to see her as a personal friend, brilliant artist and advocate for the underdog. However, she is far more than that. Kris is a creator - of so many things - including music, physical art, NFTs, Cardano infographics and so much more. Although currently she focuses on the graphic arts, her creative journey started primarily in the field of music. She was enrolled in piano lessons starting around age six. Later on, as a teen, she sang mezzo-soprano/alto in choir, played drums, and later ultimately received her Bachelor's degree in music; orchestral percussion and jazz traps (i.e. drums), with a minor in piano. Additionally she wrote some piano sonatas and percussion pieces while there and at one point taught herself electric guitar.
While her artistic journey was influenced by her mother, who was a graphic artist, her teachers and professors really helped her to have confidence in her inner artist. They were the ones who were there at each event, even if only by necessity; but they were the judges of merit in this situation. They were the ones who complimented her ear, made educated criticisms, and encouraged her. Eventually she realized that any one type of instrument would not suffice because the work itself demands specific sounds to reach its potential. Sometimes the work doesn't need a piano, but rather a guitar, or a great synth sound. It depends on what the artist needs to say.
Kris has followed a varied pattern in the graphic arts as well and has experimented with sculpture, sketching and digital art. The art medium is determined by the nature of the project. The right tool is the one that takes her to the destination she visualizes, and how she gets there is...how she gets there. As a young artist her mediums were either limited to what she could afford, or the way she lived (usually in an apartment), meaning that a simple sketchbook or her computer were the primary outlets for creativity. This where the fractals came from. Making them is meditative, often a slow process, experimenting, recoloring, changing the lighting.
Some time after working in fractals, Kris had the inspiration that NFTs could combine many components of digital art and music, which would allow her to use her unique combination of talents. The digital legends series developed organically as Kris combined and created using the context of both fantasy heroine and historical figure. As she began receiving positive feedback from the community, Kris realized that one work could have greater value as a series. To her:
“art and science are intertwined; inseparable as the twin pillars of humanity's quest for outer and inner discovery and understanding. It simply fit, in my view, to paint men and women that had achieved exceptional things in either of those fields, to try to preserve some piece of their lives and story on Cardano, particularly Beethoven, since he was someone who means so much to me that doing his CNFT had me in tears more than once as I struggled to be happy with what I was doing, artistically or musically”.
Kris doesn't spend too much time worrying about her specific art “style”. While she loves modern art, there's something about the textures and light in older paintings that also calls to her. Her mother and grandmother both had scores of art books full of prints from NC Wyeth, Rockwell, Goya...on and on. While there is no doubt she is influenced by this she also likes being a little irreverent, a little "RPG character" mixed in there. Most of all, the personality of each subject drives the creation. As Kris works, she comes to feel how the personality would want to be portrayed. Ada was so very clever, full of herself even. Ludwig was an incredibly just and enduring soul, and Marie was so dedicated and determined. But they all shared one thing in common: sheer drive and passion, for their craft, for ideas, for beauty. And they all understood how mankind, art and science were inextricably linked. The same can be said for Carl Sagan, which is why he is next - and after that, Josephine Baker. And this is how the Legends series was born and developed.
Kris’s professional career, in digital ad operations, was lucrative but creatively stifling. Her art has long been a refuge from the stressful, chaotic and demanding world of commercial graphics. However her long time hobby is rapidly taking on a life of its own as she combines the new opportunities provided by digital art and her love of Cardano. Kris found Cardano, like many of us, while looking for an investment vehicle. Early on she invested in a variety of cryptocurrencies. She was intrigued when someone described Cardano as a “nerd coin”. Once she investigated further, she liked its slow, methodical approach, its low energy usage, focus on decentralization and community. Kris feels that SPOs are Cardano’s circulatory system, keeping things moving and secure. The more centralized we become, the less Cardano we are. The promise and spirit of what this chain is, and what makes it unique - cannot exist without SPOs. Kris believes strongly that if we do not stand firm and support the single stake pools, we will lose a huge piece of what makes Cardano special; because its not just about power over the network, we're talking about the loss of a global community.
That's the other thing at stake - community. SPOs are crucial to the identity and the community of the project. There is an SPO out there for every holder, every political view, every charitable view, every region, every crypto perspective. Delegates may come and go anonymously, but they align with particular stake pools due to the mission, humor and voice of the stake pool operator. Cardano provides a space where everyone can have a voice. That said, the environment is incredibly competitive. Even a self sustaining SPO can no longer sit passively at home and grab blocks. If that day ever existed, it's now over. SPOs need to ask themselves hard questions about their pool size, what they're willing to do to grow it, and sustain it, and maybe decide if they're better off staking their own ADA elsewhere to help preserve another pool and continue to advocate loudly for SPOs in general - that, too, is valuable and needed. As for those pools that are relatively comfortable, middle-to-large sized pools, she hopes that those with the voice and power to do so, use it to help lift and amplify smaller pools. Otherwise we're on a long and slow road to power consolidation and really, then, what's the point?
Of course, stake pool operators are not the only ones facing challenges. The entire Cardano ecosystem will be challenged and changed as it scales and grows. NFTs are no exception. NFTs are primarily a vehicle for art at the moment, with additional functionality on the way. As a medium, they have value in that they expose people to ideas, images, and sounds that otherwise they'd perhaps never think twice about. That said, in any new space there will be bumps while the space matures. There will be projects that make it, and those that don't. Some will deserve their fate, some will not. Reality is, to be a small artist in this space means doing your own thing, being patient, consistent, and tenacious, because the space is still defining identity for itself and Cardano. It is important that artists believe in themselves and not let other people's buying decisions determine self worth. The idea that this is easy for the vast majority of creators is, and will continue to be, a myth. This will not get easier either; as more people discover Cardano from other chains, or enter the space from the traditional art/music world, there will simply be more competition. The best use of an artists time is to focus on their own work, get better and create their own kind of value in the space. Kris understands the outside world’s confusion about the role and purpose of NFTs. She understands that from the outside, the space may appear to be illogical and confusing. She continues to educate about why NFTs are important, the value in new presentations and mediums and the power behind the idea of ownership.
In regard to her current focus and future directions, Kris is currently focused on several commission projects: two token designs for one stake pool, a portrait job for a someone who lost a dear friend, and of course the ongoing art and music work for the Mini Ninja Heroes team. In addition to all that she continues to work on her Legends series as time permits. Once the heroes are over (four more coming), she is planning something more fantastical, an elemental gods/goddesses series starting with Sango, whom she felt really inspired to paint after finding out about his story from the Afrixx team. She also will finish out the "Seasonal" Ada mints thru 2022 then she'll be permanently retired as a concept. Additionally it is also important to Kris to continue to try and give back something to the Cardano stake pools. One of the heroes coming will be used to help promote the SHIFT stakepool, and she is planning on doing a special piece outside the main sets entirely for Faso Pool; the subject is Yennenga, a princess of Burkina Faso that lived centuries ago.
One thing we know for sure, whatever and wherever Kris goes, excitement and interest follow. Her artistic talents alone are worth watching. When you add in her ability to marry art and music in different styles and periods, her passionate advocacy for the underdog and her desire to help others simply because its the right thing to do, she becomes an unstoppable force in Cardano and beyond. Personally I can’t wait to see her future creations and what comes next.
By Traveler Jo | CardanoArmy.io
You can find Traveler Jo somewhere close to the sea. She loves Cardano, kayaking and food - not necessarily in that order. She's busy exploring the world, always in the company of her husband, tired dog and indignant felines.