*Interview Taken by Gabriela Mateescu
Gabriela Mateescu: Hello Nico. Let’s start by knowing more about you. Tell us about your background. How did you start doing digital art and learn the programs? Where does your inspiration come from?
Nicoleta Mureş: Hi! When I studied painting in Cluj-Napoca, I was looking for ways to improve my works at the moment, I thought experimenting with a different medium will add a new dimension to them. I really liked that mixture of techniques and luckily I had the will to learn how to use different softwares because they were open source and the internet is full of tutorials for them.
One of the key moments in that period was reading Christiane Paul’s Digital Art, it was eye-opening and after that I decided to take my practice in that direction completely. Now I am inspired by anything that stands out from the multiple layers of life.
GM: You started exhibiting very often in the recent years and you work with a gallery now (Sandwich gallery), going to art fairs. Your career seems to be taken off and we would like to talk about this route. Can you share about your path after graduation and maybe give some advice on how to start. This period is the hardest for a young artist. You feel lost and don’t know where to begin.
NM: I am still at the early stage of my career and I could use some advice too, haha. After graduation I didn’t have a plan, I just promised myself I’m gonna stick to doing what I love no matter what. I think it’s normal to feel lost but it’s important to begin somewhere, anywhere, after you make that first step you can take the second step and the third and so on, and they can be baby steps, but it’s important to have consistency and to put yourself out there. And if what you are doing starts to get dull, maybe a change of paths will help, I always tried to keep a balance between different activities, a constant switch from a job to traveling, going for walks, reading a good book, watching a movie or series, doing sports, etc. It’s important to take breaks and to find the motivation to come back to your craft, but each one has to find its own.
And eventually the opportunities will appear, it may pop-up from unexpected places, the first commissions came from people I didn’t know at all, and I never knew how to approach a gallery. It will happen naturally if you remain dedicated to your work, I am sure somebody will notice it, but there’s no timeframe for that so you need a lot of patience.
GM: How do you transform your digital vision into real objects? Do you find it hard to work with prints or installation? Is it an extension of your online work or do you find it as a compromise?
NM: I am quite fascinated by the interventions in different types of “reality” and I like to change that constantly in my works. So the process can start in our physical realm then go to the virtual one and finally some pieces end up in our physical reality again. And I love the yielding of the digital medium, I love to make prints and to physically touch my works and I want to experiment more with installations in the near future for sure. I don’t think it’s a compromise, you just have to be creative and to trust the story you want to tell.
GM: YYour nude characters face a problem when published on well known social media platforms. Did you face censorship problems also in relation to exhibiting in some places?
NM: Yeah, well it’s very curious that when I usually post a new work on Instagram for example, they don’t get censored but they did when I exhibited in Liste Art Fair earlier this year, because other people were trying to tag me in their stories and Instagram kept deleting them because they were “too explicit”. I must recognize that I had the biggest work in print so far exhibited there and it was very detailed but I still couldn’t call it inadequate and something similar never happened in any IRL shows.
GM: Where do you find inspiration? As I see, your human characters usually have mundane lives, but always with something odd happening there.
NM: True, I just think this is the natural way of life. I am sure everybody has some surrealist experiences from time to time that make them question reality and make them feel like they are living in a dream.
The thing with inspiration is that it’s a process, I don’t think it comes overnight, it’s an accumulation of experiences, images, feelings, senses, etc. It’s like a puzzle, as you add a new piece, you get closer to completing it.
GM: You are currently working outside of the art world, with a regular job. How do you find a balance? This is one of the main reasons most artists quit. After working 8 hours per day in another field, it is tiresome to be creative and start working on your art.
NM: I don’t think there is a difference between a full-time job to freelance because you still have to make compromises for money. Of course it is frustrating at times and you can feel like you are wasting your life but a lot of artists had jobs in the beginning of their careers so we don’t have to be so pessimistic about it.
A good thing about this is that I have a fixed schedule so I improved my time-management in the last few years. I like to focus on my work whenever I have a bit of free time. But mostly, as I said for a previous question, I try to find an equilibrium between all the daily activities and I’m always searching for something exciting in the mundane. A major breakthrough for me is that I never take very long breaks, even if I leave space for thinking and enjoying little-things I’m never totally disconnected from the art world (which would be quite difficult with all the virtual media).
GM: With our latest project, Dynamic Links, it was your first time coordinating other artists. How do you feel in this position, to curate, to organize, to choose artists? Do you see yourself as an artist/curator in the future?
NM: What I really liked at this project was to see how other artistic practices developed in collaboration and how we should support each other more. I will always appreciate all the curators for their tough work, now even more with this sneak-peek in the backstage haha. I still think I am not a curator because I just touched the water with my feet and I will definitely want to focus more on my art practice but it was a great experience and I love how all the projects turned out. <3
GM: Recently you worked on a music video too. Can you share more about this collaboration?
NM: I worked with Shayna Klee on the music video for her first single I Know Where You Live. This collaboration was very fun and exciting to be part of. I don’t usually work with others, but we had some cool conversations, I could very easily figure out what we have in common and I felt a connection with her style of telling stories. Then, there were some months of brainstorming and going back and forth with the constructions of the scenes. I would definitely do this type of partnership again. I also had some difficulties with it because all I know on the technical level is self-thought but I really wanted the best outcome I could do at the moment. Overall, a little challenge from time to time is very welcomed.
Nicoleta Mureş (b.1996) is a graduate of the University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca. By using photography and 3D human bodies, she creates digital collages representing individuals trapped in virtual realms.
Her artworks predict a dystopian future, where people have to deal with unreal emotions, isolation, desembodiment while being influenced by the way in which technology fuels humanity’s desire to consume.
Gabriela Mateescu is a visual artist based in Bucharest. She uses the avatar Anastasia Manole for her digital work and is the co-funder of spam-index.com platform.