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Cementing a Digital Legacy with Arabella
This week, we are excited to bring you our interview with Arabella. She is an artist and author living with terminal cancer, navigating what that means for her digital legacy. Her work combines interests in portraiture, visionary art, the history of medicine, and biomorphic abstraction. She combines her traditional oil painting background with love of digital art to create vibrant her vibrant NFT portraits. Learn more about her process and story below.
You often talk about leaving a digital legacy. Can you share what that means for you?
My future is precarious having terminal cancer, and after all of my paintings sold when the news was out, I was left with no inventory. NFTs, were in a way, a solution to a problem both in regards to my digital legacy and the future of my artwork.
While I have an arts organization in Cleveland where I live that will take care and keep whatever works of mine are donated (along with press, photos, ephemera), there was no way of taking care of my digital legacy. I had an idea to delete any trace of me online after I am gone, with the exception of my website. But many people seemed to object to this. Instead, having a little ecosystem of collectors that carry my legacy in the digital space is a pretty cool concept. And my most recent work has all been digital, not oil paint.
The thing is, most people do not understand they are leaving behind a digital dossier of their life online, so why not make certain what happens to it? I’ve had many artist friends pass away, some are still celebrated and some are totally forgotten. Culture is so fragile, and we don’t know how long this infrastructure will last, but I’m big on recording things for posterity. You never know when there will be renewed interest from later generations; I’m at the age where movies and documentaries are being made about my friends and family. Perhaps you may have a retrospective, or a book published, and to have blockchain records will only help.
What inspires you about portraiture?
Portraiture has always been interesting to me because every decade seems to have its own aesthetic through the ages, as does each artist. No one person ever creates one that is the same. My favorite female artist is Tamara de Lempicka and she influenced the way I do my portraits because it was so different. Now that I am painting digitally and not with oils, my style has changed to meet the technology in a way. Portraits are for me the ultimate test; you can be doing it for years and still be learning.
Tell us about your recent NFT all female group show?
I am part of a collective called the Super Psychedelic Sisters. Initially, it was a way to onboard other women, but then I realized we could create an immersive show with the goal of not only onboarding more women artists, but being the first show like it in the Midwest and beyond. This wasn’t a typical white cube with monitors exhibition like we’ve seen so often. We created a psychedelic garden along with physical art.
The event went very well, and as a result of that show, I am helping curate a Dark Art NFT show at my gallery in Buffalo, NY this spring. They are a pop surrealist gallery, and it is a great match!
What’s one piece of advice you would give to fellow artists?
Don’t ever copy someone else’s work and try to pass it off as your own, no matter how much you think you altered it. I see so many new artists in the space doing this. Study art and design history, and yes, use images to practice, but you are only hurting yourself by passing it off as your artwork. If you think no one will notice you took liberties with a fashion editorial buried in a 1996 copy of Harper’s Bazaar, you are wrong. Visual memory is a powerful thing, but don’t worry, you will come into your own style.