‘Slave to the Beast’ by Rooks

CAN Review – ROOKS’ imagery and visual aesthetic are instantly recognisable. His artworks do not drop very often onto the cryptoart market, but when they do they make an indelible mark on it. The work has aspects of cubism and surrealism, but ROOKS has clearly created something of his very own in his canon of work to date. His immaculate line and complimentary colour work in ‘Slave to the Beast’ (above) invites the viewer to explore every curve. There is also a sense of motion within this piece as smoke drifts up from the demonic figure near the top of the image, as well as the tears that ooze down the side profile of the multi-faced central character. The surreal nature of the artwork possibly points towards creative conflict between the heart and the mind, whereby the passion of the heart is being stifled by the more pragmatic ‘slavish’ mind that keeps us all under control. It’s an image that reveals more aspects with each viewing, particularly with the complexity of the central character, and the graduated tones and colours have a very seductive quality.

Where ‘Slave to the Beast’ entices us in with curved lines and warm tones, ‘The Loather’ is a very different prospect. Again, we see a multi-faceted character, but this time the lines are smudged and have a rougher edge that jars the senses and draws comparisons to the cubism movement. The cooler tones also reflect the negative qualities of ‘The Loather’ and the added grafitti elements that adorn the character are similarly alive with negative connotations. The smoke and tears of the previous artwork have been replaced by bloody streams that emante from the nostrils and gum line of the figure and one of the eyes is in the actual shape of a tear drop. While the overall image is seeped in a sense of despair and self-loathing, there is an energy to this artwork that is very compelling.

‘The Loather’ by ROOKS

As ROOKS reveals later in his interview, he comes from an animation background, and his final piece incorporates a small animated element in the shape of a spinning coin that hovers above a framed mountainous landscape that resides within a curved opening in the characters head. This in turn hosts additional layers of eyes, teeth and organic shapes which drift upwards.

‘Fazed’ by ROOKS

CAN could list a number of additional artworks by ROOKS that have equally compelling qualities, which strongly suggests an artist that is at the very top of his game.


Social media links and website profiles
Website – https://www.rooksxx.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/rooks_xx
Website – https://zora.co/rooks
Website – https://knownorigin.io/rooks
Website – https://app.rarible.com/rooks/created

What is your background as an artist in general?
I have been passionate about drawing from a young age. I studied 2D animation at Animation College in Auckland, NZ, before moving to Melbourne, Australia, to pursue a creative career as a graphic designer and animator. The past few years I have been creating art and working on many freelance gigs but nothing really tickled me right until I created ROOKS. ROOKS is a pseudonym I’ve created, which has allowed me to express myself more freely and without any feelings of self doubt or restrictions. The more artwork I’ve created as ROOKS, the more I realised this is the art I’ve always wanted to create but wasn’t confident enough to make under my real name. Self-distancing is powerful, it’s called the Batman Effect, DuckDuckGo it.

What is your overall process in generating art?
I generally put on some music and start sketching until I get into the flow state, that’s when the magic happens. When I’m in the zone, ideas start spilling out onto the page. If one of them is a proper vibe then I’ll continue and expand on it. I’ll sometimes stumble upon the sketches months or years later and be like ‘Ooof! That’s the one!’. For example, ‘Slave to the Beast’, I sketched that up a few years ago and have now formed it into a finished artwork.

How would you describe your art in your own words?
Subconscious interpretations of fragmented memories and emotions.

Favourite artists / influences?
So many influences.

Visual Artists: Hongmin Lee, Toshio Saeki, Jamian Juliano-Villani, George Condo, Peter Saul, Ken Price, Andrey Kasay, Alex Gardner

Music Artists: Slowthai, Headland, Alix Perez, Black Coffee, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Kaytranada, Pugilist, Modern Hypnosis Also inspired by fashion designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Virgil Abloh.

How did you discover Crypto Art NFTs?
CryptoKitties were the first NFTs I heard about back in 2017, but didn’t really think too much about them at the time. Later on in 2020, I came across the lads, Ronin (@RoninDaCC) and Q (@NiftyQ_) on NFT Live talking about Josie Bellini (@josiebellini) and her crypto art. That’s when NFTs clicked for me and I realised how blockchain tech can add value and create scarcity in digital goods.

Has the digital nature of cryptoart NFTs changed how you approach your art practice? 
Before cryptoart, my artwork has all been created using traditional mediums like pen, paint and paper. I’ve now transitioned my art practice to an Apple Pencil and iPad. I’ve found that it’s allowed me to be more efficient with experimentative artworks. Keep an eye out for some animated artworks.

What if anything, has surprised you about this new area of art practice? 
I was blown away by the cryptoart community on Twitter! So supportive and welcoming. I’ve connected with some incredibly talented artists and have now got some collabs lined up which I’m excited about. Artists are thriving because of cryptoart and I love to see it. Lesser known artists are now coming up big and have the opportunity to make a living from their art. Big things are happening, and I’m stoked to be in the space early and watch it grow.

How would you like the field of cryptoart and nfts to evolve over time?
Easier access/onboarding for artists and collectors not familiar with NFTs and crypto. I would also like to see more encouragement for cryptoartists to enter DeFi, once you discover that you can earn selling your art plus be your own bank, your life will change forever.

How can access and information to this new field of art practice be encouraged? 
I can imagine it would be daunting for non-crypto newcomers into the NFT scene, there’s quite a bit to learn such as setting up MetaMask, buying/sending ETH, gas fees, marketplaces, marketing, etc. I believe as the space progresses we’ll get to a point where artists can mint an NFT as easy as posting a pic on Instagram. Until then, I think it’s best for current cryptoartists to help guide newcomers into the space and put them onto great informative posts and videos by Matty (@DCLBlogger), Anorak (@Anorak_NFT) and GT (@GTSewell).

You can view more work by Rooks via his social feeds above.