In-depth with Yasmaanik: on art, blockchain and financial freedomyasmaanik
Meet the artist behind “Aiarts.ir project” – Yasaman/@Yasmaanik, a true inspiration in the NFT space who has been around since the very beginning. Her willingness to adapt and create opportunities is astounding, and we are thrilled to share her insights in this in-depth interview.
With enter.blog, we aim to inspire people to observe and create amazing art and music. Today we are meeting Yasaman from Iran – @Yasmaanik, a headstrong artist with a fresh perspective on what it means to create art. She was one of the first artists to enter the beta of enter.art, and has recently amped up her presence with her new collection “AIarts.ir”.
The collection is created with what she calls her assistant “YasAI” – her own personalised artificial intelligence algorithms. With her upcoming works, she is planning to add more layers such as hand design, motion geography and video arts in the form of augmented reality as well.
Yasaman is a character of her own, and can best be described as an extremely passionate artist with a strong belief in the power of blockchain and the economic freedom it gives to creators. We asked her a bunch of questions to get to know what drives her, what inspired her journey to the NFT space, and to hear more about her art collective Cinema Touraco Art Studio. Let’s take an interesting dive into a very special mind.
What makes you so passionate about working with blockchain?
Since childhood, I dreamed of working and earning money through the Internet because I believed it would give people more freedom. Along with art, I was always interested in learning Forex and knowing the financial markets, and I read about it. In 2016, after some practice and basic activity in Forex, I became acquainted with blockchain and Bitcoin, and decided to start trading in the cryptocurrency market. It has been a while since I felt that working as an assistant director and filmmaker did not meet my goals. After that, I quit my job and started my free journey.
At first, blockchain was just a money-making phenomenon for me. Since I lacked the right experience in technical analysis, I chose to invest in projects by studying their goals, applications, and solutions they offer, and this was the main source of enthusiasm for me. By studying the concepts of top projects, I became more aware of the differences between a centralized vs decentralized world. Since then, I was a great believer of what a great revolution blockchain could bring, and have lived with it ever since.
You have been in the NFT space for longer than most, can you tell us a bit about how you got into it?
It’s true. I’ve been in the blockchain space and spending my time exploring art and technology commonalities. At the time, there was not as much information and resources available as there is today, so I had to find reading material and identify strengths and weaknesses myself. As a result, I concluded that NFTs can solve many problems in the art world.
So, in addition to digital illustration and painting, I tried to innovate in the field of directing for the type of activity and work interaction with members of my group, introducing them to blockchain and inviting them to accept the rules of collaboration for NFT projects.
Given that resources were limited, and artists are often the last to show technological developments, it was hard work and time consuming. But eventually I managed to gather friends across different countries and so far, we have had our first successful collaboration. Currently, I am working with several artists from Germany, Italy, Iran, Syria and possibly Argentina on my new project.
We’ve had the pleasure of being introduced to you already during our beta – what made you apply to enter.art?
I received an email from a friend in Asia saying that he saw me working on NFT platforms, and that I had recently written about networking and gas fees on one of them. He wanted to introduce me to a new platform that operates on Binance Smart Chain and has a low gas fee. He sent me a link to enter, and told me that you were accepting a few artists for your beta launch.
I asked him if he himself works for the platform. He said no, but he was one of several early investors who took an early interest in the project and he was optimistic of its potential, and sent me information about the initiators behind the project. After conducting my own research, I realized that influential figures in the world of art and blockchain are involved in this project, and being curious for new challenges, I decided to mint some of my artwork on their platform.
You founded Cinema Touraco Art Studio in 2016, can you tell us a bit about the project?
In fact, the idea of forming the Cinema Touraco Art Group came to my mind in 2013, when I was working in a film institute. After one of my short films won an award at an international festival, I thought of forming a small group and working on the idea of launching a dedicated local cinema social media so that filmmakers could meet their needs online. But I failed because of my inexperience and lack of support. After that, in 2016, I tried again with the help of a friend of mine and this group, whose members had now changed, to implement a new idea related to making 3D video and creating holographic images. The result was acceptable, but it did not last long.
In 2018, I immigrated to Georgia and established the “Sound of Pictures” institute, which once again had to be paused due to financial problems and high taxes. So I tried to change my strategy. At that time, I was working as a freelancer in the field of content production, and as a cryptocurrency trader. In 2019, I heard about algorithmic arts and art production by artificial intelligence and found it to be very interesting. This time I reached within the Cinema Touraco network and managed to launch a successful project via outsourcing the smaller and more time-consuming bits while leading a small group of neural network specialists.
Finally, in 2020, the Cinema Touraco group was able to focus on examining the social aspects of technological effects such as artificial intelligence and blockchain on art. This is to happen via research called ”artist collaboration and artificial intelligence in a decentralized era” focusing on things such as the use of blockchain in presenting and monetizing art, designing a system for gathering funds while offering new monetizing ways on blockchain to artists and other NFT investors. This was the actual birth of Cinema Touraco. A collection of people who may live miles apart but with similar thoughts and ideas each contributing in a fair and prosperous future for the decentralized world.
Right now you are showcasing a brilliant collection on enter.art, could you tell us a bit about the process of the collection?
The collection I am currently minting on enter.art was produced in 2020 and is the product of the “Artist and Artificial Intelligence Collaboration” project. The works are created by artificial intelligence algorithms that I personalize and call my assistant, “YasAI”.
It has been minted on enter.art under the title “AIarts.ir” collection. This collection is a pre-sale upon opening the first gallery of artificial intelligence and community art works of AIArtists in Iran. It will soon be possible to order physical versions for first market buyers around the world.
You have a background from theatre, how does theatre play a role in your life and art today?
Theatre is an international art that directly affects the culture, human feeling and ultimately the collective spirit and conscience of a society.
Theatre introduced me to a greater understanding of my own spirits and inner self. Theatre, in my opinion, is a complex expression of the most basic human needs and in a way causes a deep knowledge of instincts in human beings. In my personal life, I think theatre has increased my ability to listen to a conversation and the ability to argue differently, and to provide analysis and prediction about personal and social life choices. In creating the work, theatre taught me the ability to create meaning through narratives and metaphors. I owe much of my inspiration to theatre.
You have quite a unique approach to bringing computers and technology into your art, what makes you so interested in the technical aspect?
As a child and teenager, I worked using pastel, watercolor, and oil painting techniques. All these techniques were very enjoyable for me, especially the dry pastel, which had a pleasant combination due to the direct contact of the color and the screen with my finger. But in the end, it often happened that the final result was somewhat different from what I had imagined in my mind. Therefore, I wanted to retouch it many times to convey exactly the concept I had in mind. But this was not possible. Unlike working with digital tools, materials and physical tools are limited. This consequently led me towards the direction of digital painting and later multimedia arts.
You left the movie industry to pursue education in digital arts and technology – can you tell us a bit about the journey you have been on?
I really liked working as a first assistant director in the movie industry and I learned a lot. However, what I disliked the most about directing and filmmaking was that it was very expensive and making short films often had no return. I concluded that it would be better to reach financial independence first and then pursue my interest in art. I took a risky job and quit shortly after. I knew that the new path was going to be torturous. I was sad because I thought I had given up some of my dreams, but I was trying to convince myself that I had not failed, just redirected to achieve success. I decided to begin this decision with a solo voyage that lasted 52 days.
Backpacking in 2016 brought me a lot of experience. This trip introduced me to cryptocurrencies, as a female independent Iranian artist. Due to geographical algebra, I was never able to use Mastercard, Visa and any kind of access to the international banking system while travelling solo on an adventurous journey. I also needed to carry the required budget in cash for two months. So you can imagine that coming across a decentralized financial system was like a dream come true.
Once I returned, I worked as a crypto trader and digital creator. The real Journey had just begun. Despite all the hustle of filming projects, working as a freelancer was full of flexibility. And it gave me the opportunity to read more about digital art, interactive technologies, media arts, and blockchain. After about a year, I took a bigger risk and left my country for Georgia to pursue my goals in a new geography. A decision that could both end up good and horrible. But in the end, it made me grow. I registered an institute there and worked in the Cinema Touraco group.
It was an interesting experience, but was not financially successful. The tax rate was high and I could not start a successful business in that small and lovely country. So I worked as a digital creator, copywriter and director of social media in a Georgian Iranian financial holding company. After that, I returned to Iran and, in addition to taking courses in jewelry design and jewelry making with silver and stone, I started researching the art of artificial intelligence and the application of machine learning mechanisms in art.
My house was next to the Opera House and there were a few nice cafes. One of the coolest ones was the place where a few freelancers did their work with a laptop. I also spent many non-working hours there. At that time, in addition to digital illustration and painting in the field of blockchain, I was also working as a freelancer installing and setting up Masternode servers. I also had a Discord channel to support my services.
One day while I was installing in a Linux environment, a Spanish freelancer who usually sat at a desk behind me suddenly asked, “Jasmine, do you draw with artificial intelligence algorithms?”
I was surprised and said no, is it even possible to create a painting with artificial intelligence? He told me that I translated a story for a game company that said something, and that since he saw me create a page of code and algorithm on the drawing board, he guessed maybe this is the same type of drawing. I told him that no, I do digital painting and set up MasterNode servers that are somehow related to mining. But these fields are separate from each other. I don’t even know how to code and I have saved the installation process. I follow the necessary code from GitHub for each project and run them according to my experience, but this is completely unrelated to my paintings. He smiled and wished me success. That got me thinking, that if I could draw with AI code and algorithms, why not start?
How do you engage with your followers?
In the last few years, I have had more interaction with my friends and followers. But these last two years have been limited due to my busy schedule. I plan to be more active on social media from now on and interact more with my friends and fans. And maybe from now on I will publish more about art and NFTs, video and live. I would like to have friends from all over the world to share and discuss my work with. I also like to collaborate with artists from all over the world and I’m really glad to have made some good friends at enter.
See the collection and follow Yasmaanik’s works on: