Marko Zubak, also known as Mlibty, is a celebrated crypto artist. The Croatia-borne creator is best known for his Mlibty “Shadows” series, where he uses rough lines and jagged edges to depict figures who believe “my life is better than yours.” Zubak studied painting in Italy and Barcelona, and his work merges digital and traditional mediums. He is just as comfortable creating paper toy sculptures as he is building galleries in Cryptovoxels.
Mlibty’s avatar, Anonymous Official, represents the pitfalls of bureaucracy. The character looks nothing like Zubak and represents the opposite of what he stands for. We talked with Zubak to understand more about how the avatar came to be.
What's the common thread between your more traditional art and your work on the blockchain?
My work has always tied the connection between the digital and physical. When I was doing more traditional art, like paintings, I used to use a digital image as a base. I would often make something on the computer like a photo collage that I would print and put in a painting. The natural next step was to animate. I also make folded paper toys, which I model digitally. There are elements of traditional sculpting technique, but there are still elements of digital. That's why the transition to blockchain NFTs was totally natural.
What inspires you?
Everyday life, things around me, and some artist friends I know. I'm also inspired by collaborations – things that come up from something you start spontaneously and build. And I get inspiration from other people's responses to my work.
Describe the Mlibty “Shadows” series.
It's an old idea that actually started with a series of sculptures. The first drawings and sketches started in 2010. Almost 10 years later, I started making these small sculptures, Mlibty Shadows, that are all similar from one to another. Mlibty stands for "my life is better than yours." The acronym is not something that I stand behind, it's commentary. These shadows represent all people, all together – humanity. They’re not a specific person or gender. They don't even have ears, legs, or hands. They are just a body and head. I usually put them in streets and different city scenes.
The Shadows are sort of the opposite of my paper toys. The paper toys are constructed and they are strict – you have lines and folds that make them look very controlled and beautiful. The Shadows are rough. The idea is to make an anti-toy. They're made of raw materials with texture, like cement, sand, or even epoxy. They are not beautiful. With time, I started to make them bigger. I started to draw and paint them, and even to take photos of the oldest sculptures and put them in different spaces when I travel around. They represent the wrong way of thinking – my life is better than yours.
Where did the idea for Anonymous Official come from? How is it inspired by Mlibty?
Mlibty started with paper toys. The first Mlibty series was about policemen and people being beaten by police. Within that series, I have a sub-series called Block Head. I created paper toys that all have the same body, but the head is a cube or has rough edges. Several of these Block Heads are anonymous officials. The inspiration for these officials was dealing with bureaucracy – bureaucrats who work for the state who are just doing their jobs, but they're doing their jobs for the wrong side. I started imagining, who are these people? What are their lives like? What do they love to do? And I always failed to find any sense of who they are. They're just anonymous people who are working behind some kind of desk doing some kind of shitty job. That's the base of this series. I started to bring these paper toys into the metaverse. The first model I did was in Cryptovoxels. Then I decided to cut it into pieces to be able to make the avatar for this character. This character in the metaverse represents the opposite of what I stand for. I like this character, but it's not representing me and not representing what I stand for.
Tell me about your first metaverse experience. And your first metaverse creation experience.
I started using Cryptovoxels in 2019. It's my favorite platform because it was the first one. It's based on cubes and it's relatively simple to build. Soon after, I bought a spot where I did an installation. That's when I started to think the metaverse was not just about having land, but about having a piece of art as an experience.
From there, I just started to build many other things. Soon after came the Bronx Bronx Island project where I even did a video filmed and edited instead of the metaverse. It was called “Broadcasting From the Underground.” I made a second part of the idea for Mona spaces.