IX Shells – The Afro Netrunner

This one is worth the wait. This month’s artists feature is non other than IX Shells. Itzel Yard…
IX Shells

This one is worth the wait. This month’s artists feature is non other than IX Shells. Itzel Yard is the highest-selling female NFT artists. Period. A Panamanian computer-science student who loves math and art, IX broke records and put the NFT world on notice when her record-setting piece, created in partnership with The Tor Project sold in May for 500 ETH. I’ve been chasing her for a while and she graciously agreed to speak with me. I am so grateful for her time. If you read only one BlkChain interview, this is the one.

How’s it going? How are you doing?

Everything is great. I think I finally caught a break with emails and projects coming up. I’m focusing on coding and its hard to focus these days. In the past I would just focus on my art but there’s so much happening at once. 

I would imagine that you’re busy these days.

It’s better now. I was in between happy and freaking out and taking advantage of the opportunities that have been coming my way. Next week is the show in LA and I think that will change the course of everything,

I saw the pix of the billboard in LA. They look pretty amazing. Is it all women in the show?

Its all women and non-binary in the show. 12 really cool women who are also prominent NFt artists. Katheyn Blake, Nicole Ruggiero, me and a few more people. Yeah it’s crazy that I’m one of those names and I’m still getting used to it. I’m trusting the process. Nicole is one of my best friends.

When did you first hear about NFts and what attracted you to the space?

Last October I spoke to Lady Phoenix about an upcoming event, I helped put together “The Creative Code Art Festival” which I wanted her to take part of. She mentioned to be very busy working in something big related to crypto art I’d heard of SuperRare but didn’t really know a whole lot about it. I got more and more curious about the movement after my friend Nicole had her beta sale at Foundation and a generative artist I admire, Dmitri Cherniak, released his first project on Artblocks, which sold out in 20 minutes. So that was wild to see. I started learning more and more, then I was invited to Foundation where I minted my first NFTs and grew my collection to what it is today.

Was it the opportunity to make a living that appealed to you?

He shared how amazing the technology could be and I was attracted to the ability to be able to use technology to create something. I didn’t think about selling. I just nerded out on the technology aspects. I had already been doing generative art for fun.

How do you describe generative art for someone who doesn’t know what it is?

Generative art is an abstract output from an algorithm. We aren’t able to control the results. There are certain types that can be manipulated but the ones we focus on are automated algorithms that create outputs that are random and amstract.

Are you studying computer science?

Yes I’m still studying and on standby. I am enrolled in Computer Science at the University of London in 2018 and I’m still taking classes. It’s a special bachelor degree for older students. I’m 30 now and still trying to finish school. I really want to complete it and have that in my bag so to speak so that I have a backup. I think I may need to move to London so that I can focus.

Tell me about your process. How do you create a piece. Do you first conceive of them in your mind 

I have certain programs that can randomize things but there are some that allow me to control things like color. I’m drawn to monochromatic colors in my work. I tend to be a little obsessive when it comes to colors too. When I’m done with an output then I start to imagine what it looks like and start to try to connect it to other stuff. The piece in the show in LA was very colorful but i initially started thinking about how the women are all interconnected and how LA is the base for Bladerunner and how they used a poem from Nabokov that speaks about how everyone is linked an connected and that poem was the basis for my piece in the show. My hope is that this sets a precedent for women doing more work in the community. I try to make people see what I see in the work.

How did you show your work before NFTs? 

There’s a lot of work that I have that I’ve never shown. I used to post alot on Instagram which is where I used to share my work. I would create stories with my work and I was able to meet a lot of people that way. 

Do you have a favorite piece of yours that  you’ve created?

Yes I’ll send it to you. It’s called Sea Wall Part 2.

What is CreateCodeArt? Can you talk about that and the mission behind it?

Creative Code Art is a page I started with my friend who lives in Tehran and it’s very restrictive there. He set up the page and i started to suggest things that he could share and since then (2015) I’ve been sharing on the page. So it’s something that we both do. We have so much fun sharing with each other..

What software do you use to create your work?

My main is Touch Designer. This is what I use but I’m still relearning some other software that I use.

Can you talk about the collaboration that you did with Kai Gani?

That was a very special collaboration. He created the concept and used one of my panels to create the visuals and used one of my panels. We divided the project between both profiles and then he selected the ones that resonated with him the most. He selected The Scholar the Warrior and the sage and I picked the mother, the lover and the child. I love my mom and everything I do is for her and sometimes I feel like a kid and sometimes I feel like I’ve had to grow up faster but there’s still that child in me. The lover — well there’s a lot of my work that is inspired by love and my past relationships so those are basically my archetypes. Sometimes I think that Kaigani created that to analyse me and we sold out!.

I’ve talked to some traditional artists who are thinking of moving tonfts. You’re the opposite have you always wanted to be an artists in the traditional sense?

I never really saw myself in any of this. I never wanted any recognition or anything. I rend not to make everything about myself. It feels like the NFt space has created this thing where i have to share more of who i am and that’s not really like me. I never thought about myself becoming a traditional artist or even being in the spotlight. I just wanted to make enough money to help my family. I’m very simple in real life. But in the metaverse, they really focus on achievements.

What’s it like being you in Panama? Do people know who you are?

Everything is mostly online. Even tho i’m in this space and i’ve been on TV and gotten some press people still dont know who i am. My friends are like wow but they aren’t on twitter. A lot of it is on twitter wne web3 and i’m fine with it because i dont really want all of that. Alot can happen when yo get too much attention so i prefer to be under the radar here in panana. I want to live a real life. I still live int he same house in teh country and i dont drive. I just want to help my family most of that stuff is online.

How did the tor project come about?

Idid an interview and one of the UX designers there saw a iece of mine called Magnetic Flux and she reached out and aske if i wanted to doa fundraiser for Tor. I love tor an everything about what they stood for so i immediately said yes. I’d tried to work with them before but i didnt even have the right kind of computer. So we met and made a Signal group and started to communicate. They are really nice people and they are from all over.

During the CH room when the auction was closing it was so exciting wathinc it go up. What were you feeling at that time? You’re the highest selling femal NFt artists?

I was in shick! I was sweating. I wasn’t looking at teh screen i was just listening to you all screaming. I didnt even know what was happening. I was so lost and my mind was running so fast. I never thought it could happen to me.

How has your career changed since then? Does anything you drop just immediately sell out?

There are alot of people who want to work with me. I’m taking it slow and being more cautious and I want to create something that’s going to be good. 

How do you decide who to work with?

Its not even me its the time that decided. There are some projects that are easier and some that are more difficult.  If I see someone that is already doing well and doesnt need more help then i’m more inclined to help them but I will always do a project that wants to make an impact. I just want to make meaningful words and something that will benefit in the end. But now i’m so busy with emails and galleries and there’s a lot of back and forth. That’s where my mind is right now. I’m also building an ArtBlock project that has been in the works for months but it needs my full attention. Once i do that alot with change i’m sure

How has the financial aspect of being the top selling female artist allow you to help?

Yes i’ve been able to help my family. My family doesn’t have lots of money and before this they were supporting me for the past 2 years. So i have been able to give back and help my family. My grandmother was in the hospital, too and now i’m able to help with the things that she needs so its nice to be able to help there as well. Its a really good feeling to be able to help.

Tell me how Herstory DAO came about and the importance of elevating women in the NFt space?

We have ben marginalize for ages. Creating black art that shows the colors and shapes its challenging when the majority of people dont look at art the way that we do.  There aren’t enough black collectors or black people int positions of power. So we need to take advantage of this opportunity to not let the system opress us. Its smart to create a group of women that support each other. We are early in the space too so thats great.

What are you working on next? Where will we see you popup next?

LA London Panama and then germany. There are some galleries who want to show my work so thats where my work will be next. Then Artblock swill happen in the next few months. Artblocks is like my thesis and something that will change my secondary market as well. There are a lot of popl waiting for that thanks to my friend Dmitry who has relly pushed my work to his collectors After that i will be in a positon to help more. I’m slowly becoming a collector and that is really exciting. I feel like making an anonymous account and just collect as much as i can. I am also now a part of the PlsrDAo.  They have been really supportive and they are doing amazing things in the space. They have alot of plans for their collection nof NFTs. I am also a founder member of Meebits DAO.

Whats your message to young black girls who are just picking up the computer for the first time

I would say learn generative art! Learn to code! Kid are sponges so i would say love th emath! Dont hate math!

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