Shir Pakman’s memorable aesthetic immediately strikes as holding deep meaning and significance. Combining thoughtful concepts related to a varied set of ideas across the female gaze, canonical art, and nature and humanity, Pakman brings these together into a holistic whole on the digital surfaces of her works. Bridging the expansive gap between traditional art genres and contemporary digital practises, Pakman’s artworks are idiosyncratic renderings of peaceful and sensitive figures caught between worlds.
Institut and Platform are delighted to collaborate to bring together a special set of five of Pakman’s works, offered exclusively for sale across our two platforms. To celebrate the online exhibition and drop we sat down and spoke with the artist about her story, her practice, and the future of NFTs.
Could you describe how you work? What hardware and software or programs do you use?
I start with a reference, which I illustrate digitally. I like illustrating very simple and sketchy illustrations. They don’t feel like the final product, they’re without colour and very raw. This is what I take to 3D. I try to build the 3D illustration as close as possible to the raw sketch. I feel it gives it a bit more of a human quality, not losing the mistakes or the sense of it being something that can be done by hand and not in a program.
The software I use is Procreate for my illustrations. I use Autodesk Maya for modelling. And I use Cinema 4D for the render with Octane Render. After I render the image I like to take it back to Procreate to go over it again to make it feel more painterly than just the render.
How did you become an artist who works only in the digital?
I studied 3D animation and I made a 3D animated film in my final year. And after that I worked mostly in branding, advertising and 3D design. So that was my focus. But I find it easier to work on one frame and not animate an entire scene. I was also always attracted to classical art and I painted a lot when I was younger. I didn’t find the time to do it as an adult with work and life in the way. So I tried to take that kind of artwork and that reference world into the 3D world, where I found I did stuff faster and was more efficient.
To give more detail: From 2013 to 2017 I attended the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, majoring in Screen Based Arts. My graduation film was featured in festivals around the world. A few years before this I had started painting and studying art history and was a private painting instructor. I went on to work as a 3D designer and animator in a high-tech branding company. I left the company a year and a half later and began freelancing as a 3D designer and artist. I always strive to make more artistic work. The art which I have developed and explored for years has always been something I have kept for myself and I call these “personal works”. These are free and allow me to create whatever I want and are not influenced by my career or by money.
My NFT journey began in September of last year. I decided to give it a try after I talked to some friends in the space. It was definitely a learning curve. I found amazing people and connected with artists all over the world in a way that I never have before. I feel what keeps me grounded and selling in the NFT space is creating things I would have created for no money at all. It is kind of cliché to say but I really don’t think of money when I create my art or about how much time I need to spend on each piece. I price my works based on how I value my art and the years I’ve poured into my practice.
I am very honoured when I get to talk to someone who has collected my art and I feel that there are real art lovers in the NFT space.
When it comes to your subject matter, which can feel traditional in aspects like the iconography and the figures, what are your reference points and influences?
I am inspired by traditional paintings. I want to work with art that really changed the world and that everyone knows, the kind that you can’t see and think is something else. But I try to give it a more modern approach and also see it from a woman’s point of view. All of these traditional works are from a male gaze and reflect how a man sees a woman. These are all icons that we really know and so this is how we see the world. I wanted to try to give more power to the females in my works, they're a bit bigger and not traditionally beautiful.
My artistic influences come mainly from Classical figurative art (renaissance, Dutch, German, British, etc.). My favourite artist, who really got me creating and started my obsession for art, is Lucian Frued. I was always drawn to human figures and portraiture, and I was fascinated at how one can capture the soul of a person using brushstrokes. I use a very modern technique in my art but I feel that with the right intention and eye, it doesn’t matter what tools you use for creating.
My idea is always to bring together older traditions and mix them with the new. The compositions, gestures and concepts have not changed much but the content, tools and point of view can be very different and relevant for today. I always try to push the boundaries of my medium and look for a common ground between different ways of creating visual art.
Also seeing these kinds of works in 3D is something different. 3D is what you see in gaming and movies. It doesn’t really relate to traditional art, it's like the opposite. Finding a way to link to traditional art and making people see the work and say “Wow, I recognise this”. It gives something extra. You don’t see 3D things in traditional art.
What are your honest feelings about NFTs? Is it liberating for artists or overhyped?
I think it’s both. When I thought about going into NFTs I saw a lot of stuff and thought that's not my kind of art and I don’t want to be a part of it. But over time I saw that there's more and more varied art. If you take away the hype elements and take away the collectibles, which I’m not sure are art driven, then you find a lot of amazing artists. For me with NFTs, it’s a love-hate relationship. But it's still such an early world, it's still evolving so much, so over time the things that are more valuable will stay.
Can you speak a bit about the works you’re showing with Institut and Platform?
I’m a vegan! And so the figures with the vegetables, it’s a way for me to appreciate nature, food and everything that these give. I wanted to show these works because they’re nature driven and set in the outdoors which is a subject that I love. The others are earlier works. They show the bigger figures that take over the space with their body.
The three pieces (Gently Peel the Skin to Reveal the Seeds Underneath, It’s Time to Harvest the Peas and My Little Baby) are about the intimate and close relationship between nature and woman (also man). The appreciation for nature when treated kindly. These works were done in a few different 3D programs and also with Photoshop. Set within a theatrical composition, Scouters, shows two young women carrying a log against a natural backdrop. The flat background gives the feeling of a stage, making it feel like the women are posing on the stage. A classical portrait of people and nature, the roles are reversed here. Typically, men would “handle” nature and the hard surroundings, while the women would stay at home, or take care of the garden and farm. Scouters is done in 3D with a technique that imitates brushstrokes on a canvas. The brushstrokes were handmade then imported into the 3D program to give a more cohesive look. Portrait of a Boy. A boy hugging himself with big eyes looking blankly at us. He’s sitting in a field daydreaming. There is not much giveaway as to where he is and why he’s there. He is vulnerable and alone. A storm is approaching, both a storm outside but also a storm from within. Similar to Scouters, this work has handmade brushstrokes which are then imported into the 3D program to give a more cohesive look.
What’s in store for you for 2022 and beyond?
One step at a time. What I like about NFTs is you don't really need a plan. You just create and upload and for me it's a good excuse to keep creating. I’d do it anyway without NFTs but I do need a solid foundation, like a real job to balance things. I had a few months of doing only NFTs and it kind of messed with my head because I was only trying to create and sell, and it's a bit of a gamble sometimes. I won’t create tons of stuff and upload it, but rather whenever I feel I want to create something I'll do it and see how it goes. I’ll continue to base myself in the NFT community. I have many friends here and have met many talented people, so overall it's very exciting.